Archive for September, 2009

Jane Smiley on English majors vs economists

September 8th, 2009 No comments

An English major rants about the ludicrous disparity between common sense and economic theory in Other Economists in the Room:

…if I come to your country with my enormously expensive army and I steal, or attempt to steal, your oil, in order to make it into gasoline and blow ever more pollution of all kinds into the air, then the cost of the war (in lives, money, social, and environmental damage), the moral cost of the theft of someone else’s resource, and the ultimate cost to the planet and its living beings of global warming will not, according to economics, be factored into the cost of the oil, because those things are “externals” and are considered to be free. Well, they are free, to the shareholders of Exxon, but they are not free to the planet. You would think that economists, as human beings, would look around once in a while and say, “Gosh, something ‘external’ is going on.” But they don’t seem to.

Categories: politics