Saturday, March 11, 2017

Economists: Do They Make Sense?

Perhaps it is because I am writing a long work centered in the 14th century amidst the academics studying grammar and logic, among a few other things, I have become concerned by the use of words and the application of logic. Let's leave aside the induction/deduction issue and consider a NY Times piece by one of those Harvard folks.

The piece states:

The question is whether Mr. Trump can alter these disturbing trends. Few economists point to flawed trade agreements as the main source of the problem, as the president often does. More important is what economists call skill-biased technological change. When entrepreneurs introduce new technologies — think robots, for instance — those advances are likely to replace unskilled workers. At the same time, skilled workers are needed to implement and maintain the new technologies. As the demand for unskilled workers falls and the demand for skilled workers rises, the wage gap grows larger. The solution is to increase the skills of the labor force through better education and training. Yet this is easier said than done.

Yes it is easier said than done. The assumption in the above, and it may be correct, is that as technology advances, technology developed by engineers using scientific advancements, no T&M parts here, I include Math folks in science, it is after all the Queen of all of them, and frankly I have no idea what Technology means. Then we have these smart productive people building better machines and improved medicines and treatments, and real smart people using them, where do all the other people go? Namely the people who failed to be productive in High School or majored in graphic arts, History, or political science. We can afford just so many lawyers and I suspect that they too will become somewhat obsolete.

What is a skilled worker? Clearly an economist most likely is not a skilled worker. What can they make? Charts, projections, like the Roper curve, which often do not turn out even nearly close. Can they install a light bulb, a faucet, a bookcase? The solution is not to increase the capabilities of the labor force. We cannot do that. People must make a choice to defer some gratification and work hard and be productive learning the skills. You cannot "teach" them. Frankly I have never been able to "teach" someone, especially some one who would rather be drinking beer or watching some football game. 

What motivates someone to do this? Generally the reality of the alternative. More so the reality of the economic choice they are making. If we want these types of people then we can spend money on them. Namely we give student aid to those in productive fields and no others. No loans for economics, history, political science. Full room board and tuition for engineering and science. Oh yes, throw medicine in that pool as well. That way at a very early age we can send real economic messages to students. Get a good job and at no cost. They win, the economy wins. The criteria for these sets of funding are merely performance. Do well in Grammar School, you get a good secondary, then do the same and a good college, and so forth. I believe that is economics without economists.