Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It Ain't About the Economy; It's About Politics

At the outset, when I first began this blog, I wanted to bring to the reader’s attention some of the cultural myths arising from our political economy that we usually take for granted and, as a result, don’t give much thought to, ascribing to them instead, the status of received truth.

Unfortunately, we have dropped the adjective, “political” from the term “political economy” and refer to the subject simply as economics, as if it were indeed a hard science, bereft of human desire, emotion, and irrationality.

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This tell-tale omission brings to mind the admonishments George Orwell made in his essay, “Politics in the English Language”, in particular his claim that political prose was formed “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
The pure wind I have in mind is our political penchant to treat the concept of “the economy” as if it were real and not simply an aggregation of selected statistical data.  This reified entity then becomes subject of all types of conjecture concerning what to do to improve its performance. 

At the moment, the “economic” debate is focused on whether to introduce austerity measures in order to reduce the debt that strangles economic growth – it’s hard not to use metaphors that reify the subject when speaking about the economy – or to continue with deficit spending as a kind of fiscal stimulus that will “jump start” the economy and bring back healthy economic growth, like giving an electric jolt to a severed frog’s leg in a high school biology lab.  Maybe it’s time to give the invisible hand a jolt.

Dropping the figurative language to reveal human intention, it doesn’t really matter whether the prescribed course of action is able to achieve the intended results in the selected data sets.  What’s really at issue is whose ox is going to get gored.  Those who propose austerity measures want the poor of today to pay; those who propose fiscal stimulus want to off load the tab to future generations.

As I have said in a previous blog, sometimes you just have to say “fuck the economy”.
If we are ever going to get our economic house in order (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), spending must be balanced by adequate revenues.  In other words, if you don’t got the money, you gonna have to make due with what you got; if you want more, you gonna have to come up with the cash; and nobody wants to pay more than they have to.

Like I was telling you, it ain't about the economy, it's about politics.

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