Saturday, March 28, 2015

Whither Economics?

Looking for a path through the darkness, I read 2 Wikipedia articles: "History of economic thought" and "Schools of economic thought". The former was a lot more informative than the latter. I think I know most of the players now.

I think that next I will read "Value and Capital", by J.R. Hicks, 1939. It is subtitled "An Inquiry Into Some Fundamental Principles of Economic Theory". He formulated the IS-LM model (Inventment/Savings - Liquidity Preference/Money Supply), which seems to still be highly regarded, particularly by Krugman.

There were some good online posts with people actually starting to talk about an economy of plenty. On Twitter, the tag is #postscarcityutopia, which is a better, since "economy" implies scarcity, and I'm interested in what happens when things really aren't scarce. Here's one titled "Why Not Utopia?" from the New York Times. Here's the venerable Robert Reich talking about it an abstract sense in a post titled "The “iEverything” and the Redistributional Imperative".

There's also a few people - Martin Ford (‏@MFordFuture) has a book "Rise of the Robots" coming out in May - who are being somewhat alarmist about increased automation, like this article, titled "Robots are leaving the factory floor and heading for your desk – and your job". I try to inject a more positive outlook and #postscarcityutopia thinking into these discussions.

I had mentioned before a story by Bruce Sterling (@bruces) that showed an interesting post-scarcity future. I asked him by Twitter what it was, and he was kind enough to answer. The story was "The Beautiful and The Sublime". It was published in 1986 and set in 2070. Hard to believe that was almost 30 years ago. I reread it, the message still rings true. I really think we should be there decades before 2070. It is available in the "The Year's Best Science Fiction 4th Annual Collection" and in the Sterling short story collection "Crystal Express". I had a copy of the latter in the basement bookshelves, yay!

No comments: