Or rather, as Smiley explains in a HuffPost piece, in “Mrs. Ticknor’s Social Studies class in 1962, when I did my report on ‘The Communist Manifesto’ and kept misspelling the word ‘bourgeois’.”
She began the essay by complimenting Paul Krugman’s piece in the New York Times Magazine about the sorry state of economics (she “read every word” and “[doesn’t] disagree with any of it”), but feels he is “missing out on some big issues that also need to be discussed and understood before we actually know what is going on in our world.” To wit, how economists are corrupt, soul-less, corporate-teat-sucking, child-sex-favoring fools only concerned with lining their own pockets while they sit in filth chewing the bones of tasty endangered species.
Be that as it may, I fear that she missed out on one of Krugman’s main points: in brief, economists have been seduced by beautiful abstractions and drawn away from the study of the real economy. Part of the solution, in Krugman’s view, is moving away from a math-model driven science and toward a more empirical, behavioral economics. To simplify a bit: economists should care more about data.
Smiley, in her essay, said, “If you want to know what’s happened to production in the US in the last generation, I suggest you read Marx.” She explains how, as Marx had explained so many years ago, employers export jobs to the periphery in order to keep the wages of workers low. But here is the problem. Marx, while he didn’t succumb to math-driven modeling, did produce a number of beautiful abstractions that have diverted study away from the real world.
I’d urge Smiley, if she wants to know what’s happened to production in the US in the last generation, to follow Krugman’s words of advice and become a little more real-world oriented. Perhaps she could start by looking up the change in the real income of workers over the generation or so since she wrote that report on “The Communist Manifesto” in 1962 and kept misspelling “bourgeois.”
If she can produce that single bit of data, then I might think she has half a clue about the economy, economics, or even production in the US in the last generation.