A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job. The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks “What do two plus two equal?” The mathematician replies “Four.” The interviewer asks “Four, exactly?” The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says “Yes, four, exactly.” Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The accountant says “On average, four – give or take ten percent, but on average, four.” Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says, “What do you want it to equal?”
Economics is a very fluid concept that permits economists to use statistics to arrive at the outcome desired by their employer. In the case of politicians, they appoint accountants who will fiddle with the figures and provide them with a result wrapped in jargon that no one understands, so he can fool the electorate into believing what he wants is economically desirable. That’s the reason most political decisions are disastrous.
The entire monetary system is nothing but a gambling den where huge risks are taken with other people’s money; where money has replaced goods as something to be traded; where billions can be made overnight not by producing, making or growing something essential for human survival, but by buying virtual money in one currency then selling it for another. Money isn’t backed by gold reserves or anything of value; it’s a worthless promise by morally corrupt governments that simply print more money if they need it. We’re destroying the natural world to accumulate virtual money that represents nothing but unadulterated greed.’
Economics is soulless. Monetary profit is the sole criterion for success. If a hotel, or open cut mine, or housing estate will make more money for the developer or government than a pristine ecologically valuable lake and forest, then the hotel, mine, or houses will be built. However, if the total costs and returns were calculated, including the mental health of those affected, the loss of biodiversity, the loss of an important source of clean fresh water, the increased pollution, busier roads, need for extra sewage, roads, waste treatment, then the profits will be seen as illusionary, far outweighed by the value of the natural resource. When a market garden is concreted over for a car park, the costs of replacing the food produced by the property are not taken into account, because that will be someone else’s problem. Attitudes to the consequences of development versus conservation are reduced to immediate monetary profit and loss equations. Morality doesn’t get a look in.
The sole value of anything to an economist is its worth in dollars; or if he’s working for a politician, votes or power. To an economist, ‘good’ is a profit, ‘evil’ is a loss. There’s a field of economic study called ‘Return on Beauty’ and Japanese software can measure the ‘smile’ index – 100 being a from-ear-to-ear grin and zero being closed lips. Economists talk about growing money in an expanding economy as if money is a naturally occurring vegetable and the planet a balloon they can go on inflating forever!
Zillions of wise words have been spoken and written over the ages urging us to value truth and beauty, the common good, and the notion that more than enough is too much. We have been exhorted to respect nature and all life if we want to survive and lead a ‘good’ life. But rational economics sneers at such notions.
The inevitable result of a society based on capitalism alone, is that a man who is clever or sharp, or wicked enough to amass all the money in the world, is a good man, even if every other man woman and child are enslaved. And now that 99% of the world’s wealth is in the hands of 0.01% of the human population, that result is looming ever closer.