In physics, if your theory predicts one thing but nature does another, we know nature is right and we change our theory. In economics, if nature doesn’t fit theory, they stick with the theory and try to describe how nature is wrong.
Sadly, economists don’t lose their jobs when their theories don’t work and they keep trying to push them, despite not creating the results they want. On the contrary, many of them gain influence from their peers, journalists, and politicians.
Many of them, for example, believe economic growth will solve nearly any economic problem—disparities in wealth, poverty, and so on. They don’t see growth often exacerbating these problems, however obvious. Sadly, many politicians, journalists, and peers follow their advice.
I found a video that illustrates economists who believe in perpetual growth:
The people in this video believed their models. They spent time, money, and other resources not expecting to waste them but to make history. They kept trying to rise. Looking back, they look ridiculous.
You could say they had to try these things to enable the Wright Brothers to make their planes. I’m not sure economists and the people following them are learning from their experience.
Steady state economics
Human societies can endure without growing, yielding prosperity, abundance, and happiness for all. I read about human societies that endured hundreds of thousands of years in southern Africa in Affluence Without Abundance. Meanwhile, we haven’t made a couple hundred since the steam engine.
I’ll leave writing about steady state economics for another time. For now, I wanted to show the video, which I believe effectively illustrates growth economics.
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