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Saturday, November 18, 2017
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We have to wake up and smell the flowers
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We have to wake up and smell the flowers

13 pages · 3.07 EUR
(October 2012)

 
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Stephen Marglin is responding to the following questions:

How did you become an economist?

Do you just switch from tool to tool, if I may say so, or do all these theoretical approaches of yours have something in common, a common idea or habit?

If I understood your last book right, the hypothesis is that if people think as economists they are undermining communities and social ties. If so, let me ask provocatively, should economists not refrain from any economic policy advice? If mainstream economic ideas are undermining social cohesion, and you have some arguments for that, then why not get rid of all these economists?

Could you give an example for a policy recommendation taking community into account?

From the perspective of mainstream economics, the decision to outsource a branch or not would be based on a cost-benefit analysis, and they will attach monetary values to the costs and to the benefits. What would be the alternative, would you try to quantify the social impact of outsourcing as well?

On the one hand, your Keynesian heart says that we need growth to alleviate distributional conflicts, and on the other hand, your ecological heart says that we do not need it?

What are the concrete policy measures that we can take now that would bring us closer to the long-run solution to the economic problem that Keynes described. There is distribution, but what else?

But there are obstacles, for example the French government just raised the retirement age; in Germany pay-as-you-go health insurance was watereddown and the labour market was flexibilised. Would you say that this is only because we use the wrong models or have the wrong ideas, or does it have something to do with interests or with growth being a necessary ingredient of the economic system as it is?

Do you really want to advise the trade unions or the social democratic movement to be against growth from tomorrow onwards, and to promote cultural progress along the lines you propose, or do we need to change culture more slowly while using growth as a tool to redistribute income and then use that as a tool to change culture?

But when you think back 20 years ago, your spirit was probably different. At the time of the Bhaduri-Marglin model, were you still thinking about wage-led growth as a strategic option for social democracy?


quotable essay from ...
Interventions
Stefan Ederer, Eckhard Hein, Torsten Niechoj, Sabine Reiner, Achim Truger, Till van Treeck (eds.):
Interventions
the author
Prof. Dr. Stephen A. Marglin
Stephen A. Marglin

holds the Walter S. Barker Chair in the Department of Economics at Harvard University.

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