Monday, January 16, 2012

Seven principles for arguing with economists — Noah Smith

Good logical analysis by Noah Smith

Read it at Noahpinion
Seven principles for arguing with economists
by Noah Smith
Principle 4: Argument by accounting identity almost never works.
Example: "But your theory is wrong, because Y = C + I + G!"
Suggested Retort: "If my theory violates an accounting identity, wouldn't people have noticed that before? Wouldn't this fact be common knowledge?"
Reason You're Right: Accounting identities are mostly just definitions. Very rarely do definitions tell us anything useful about the behavior of variables in the real world. The only exception is when you have a very good understanding of the behavior of all but one of the variables in an accounting identity, in which case the accounting identity acts like a budget constraint. But that is a very rare situation indeed.
 Notice, however, the "almost." This is the theoretical aspect MMT, which uses stock-flow consistent modeling and the sectoral approach developed by Wynne Godley to estimate the size of the government balance necessary to counterbalance the non-government balance.


TC said...

I agree. You need to keep your eye (and analysis) on the accounting, otherwise you end up thinking about things you can't measure directly or even indirectly.

It all starts with accounting. What economics forgot is it all ends with accounting too. You need to reconcile any story you tell with the accounting data. They don't, so you get stuff like "loanable funds" that has almost zero relationship with the empirical data from the end of the accounting.

It's like they 1/2 know the accounting at the beginning (see Nick and Scott on S=I, which is not true and can't be true due to the accounting) and then just throw it out the window at the end because it "excludes too many good models"

Tom Hickey said...

"Accounting identities are mostly just definitions."

Right. Accounting identities based on standard accounting practice, which is the language of economics as it relates to the real world and these people are so married to their modeling based on physics (equilibrium) that they can't see the forest for the trees. They are lot souls wandering in a hell of their own creation and forcing a large part of the world to live in that hell, too, because of their influence over policymakers.

BTW, TC, don't miss this at Asymptosis.I posted it yesterday here. JKH lays it out beautifully in the comments there.

Interestingly, he recommends that people wishing to go into economics qualify for a CFA instead of an economics PHD. The CFA requires a good background in accounting, finance and economics, which are all necessary to do economics in a modern monetary economy. Instead, most economists are back in the barter days that never actually existed other than in someones's imagination.

vimothy said...


I find this post confusing, because what Noah says seems to go directly against the sorts of things that people who describe themselves as MMTers often say.

Could you maybe talk more about MMT models vs neoclassical models? Since accounting idenities are always true, the fact that MMT-type models doesn't contradict them doesn't seem very interesting. What do MMT models say about the behaviour of relevant variables?

In particular, how would you characterise the dynamic behavour of MMT models? How do you do this without reference to steady states? What branch of mathematics are you drawing on here? (I'm guessing that you can't be talking about Godley style models, because they obviously do have steady-state equilibria).

vimothy said...

I also find the idea that a CFA is a substitute for a PhD in economics quite strange. I looked over the "Candidate Body of Knowledge" for the CFA programme. There is a section that (by the looks of things, briefly) covers some very general topics in economics. Presumably it does so from a fairly mainstream poibnt of view.

In particular, what I find strange is the idea that you could learn about economics by not studying it. If economics is not something that you are interested in, why study it at all? If it is something that you are interested in, how does it make sense to say that the best way to learn about it is not to learn about it?

Tom Hickey said...

MMT SFC models are Godley-based, as I understand it. This is where the accounting identities come in.

They are equilibrium models from the accounting point of view in that all shifts in flows have be accounted for wrt changes in stock and vice versa. An accounting system is always in equilibrium by definition, because the accounts always must balance in double-entry bookkeeping.

This is shown by the accounting identities, which just say that there has always to be SFC with accounts in balance.

So there is no shock-return to equilibrium presumption in MMT as I understand it. This is deal with in terms of changes in stocks and flows. with the accounting identities showing different results from different scenarios.

Then the question is determining the likely scenario based on knowledge of conditions, realizing that there is uncertainty inherent in the system. Economics cannot predict the future, but it can forecast possible outcomes wrt different data sets in terms of velocity and acceleration of flows, with consequent effects on stocks.

Forecasts can be made based on SFC modeling and accounting identities. For example, to the degree that two of three variables must sum to zero are known, then the third is computable. Application of SFC modeling is based on data gathering and trend forecasting, and that data all relates to stocks and flows recorded in the accounting to the degree that the data is nominal, i.e,. reported in the unit of account.

The record also reveals the actual items that correspond to the nominal values, e.g., this many $s in inventory corresponds to that many items of stuff. So there is always a connection between the nominal and the actual in recorded transactions.

Unrecorded transactions do not provide economic data. They make up the informal economy, which can only be estimated.

I think that the point that TC, JKH, and the MMT economists make is that to the degree it claims to be a science, economics has to deal with observables. Accounting is the way that those observables get recored and reported nominally in a monetary economy.

Those nominal values have to be connected to the actual and this happens through the transactions that are recored in the accounting journals of firms, households, and governments, as well foreign entities dealing in the unit of account.

It is all traceable to some accounting record somewhere, or one that can be constructed from data if it has not been recorded, e.g., most households don't actually record sources and uses of funds, or prepare an income statement or balance sheet. But every household has one implicitly, and it can be figured, as when one gets an audit call from the IRS and calls in a CPA.

Tom Hickey said...

Vimothy, looking around the world right now, it seems to me that we would be a lot better off with monkeys throwing darts at a board. The advice of mainstream economists has been either non-existent ("no one could have seen this coming") to abysmal ("expansionary fiscal austerity"). :o

vimothy said...



The dynamic models in Godley and Lavoie’s "Monetary Economics" certainly do have steady states. I'm sat in the library at the moment, but when I get home I will try to dig out some quotes from the text. In the meantime, here’s a quote from the abstract of a Godley (2004) paper:

“…A comprehensive system of stock and flow accounts, using four sectors and seven financial assets, will be deployed, followed by a narrative description of a theoretical model which can be numerically solved to yield sequences evolving in real time towards steady states.”

Or this, from a paper (Taylor, 2008) that reviews his work:

Another of Wynne's major themes is the analysis of steady states in dynamic macro models through the use of ‘stock–flow norms’ or ‘magic ratios’.”

In fact, you implicitly invoke the steady state in the OP when you write,

"MMT... uses... the sectoral approach developed by Wynne Godley to estimate the size of the government balance necessary to counterbalance the non-government balance."

What are you referring to here if not the stability of the dynamical system? I.e. "counterbalance"--with respect to what?

A dynamic model is dynamic model after all. Just because you label it a neoclassical economic model that doesn’t mean that it acquires magical properties not given to other dynamic models. Since the model is dynamic, we would like to know whether it converges from or diverges away from the steady state solution. We can then characterise that trajectory and the nature of the steady state qualitatively. (Obviously, this is easiest in the case of linear planar systems). This is true in any context!

So in this sense there’s no hard distinction between the type of models that Godley wrote and the type of models that are taught in graduate macro. We all have to use the same techniques and mathematical tools.

Now, the question of the behaviour of any given variable is not a question that can be answered with recourse to accounting identities. BY definition of identity, they are always true. So we need to bring in something else if we want to understand why a variable has behaved in a certain way in the past, and why it might behave in a certain way in the future. To do this you must necessarily go beyond identities, into behavioural equations. Godley and Lavoie certainly do. Presumably, MMT modellers do this as well. If they write formal models, then they have to.

That exposes you to all sorts of traps and problems. Can you really write an aggregate consumption function for the household sector? What does it mean to aggregate preferences in this way? And so on forever and ever. I’m afraid that neither MMT nor Godley and Lavoie have any easy answers here. If they have, they keep them pretty close.

vimothy said...


Let me try to address a few more things here.

Firstly, I’m not sure what you mean by “an accounting system is always in equilibrium”. If you mean that the accounts are supposed to balance, then I agree—and I’m sure most people would. But I wouldn’t describe that as an equilibrium. If on the other hand you mean that a set of accounts constitutes a dynamical system that must always be in the steady state, I have to say that I don’t think that makes a whole lot of sense.

You also write that “forecasts can be made based on SFC modelling and accounting identities.” And no doubt they can, but forecasts cannot be made on the basis of accounting identities alone. If I tell you that a = b, then you can hardly be expected to predict the value of either variable from that fact. There are an uncountably infinite number of solutions that satisfy that formula. In order to get somewhere, you need to take a stand on how people behave—or at least, how the variables in question behave, which ultimately comes back to people.

Of course much data of interest to economics is recorded in accounts—although far from all. And much of that data is nominal. But then you still need to use theory to relate the nominal quantities that you record as monetary flows to the real values that are of interest in so far as we’re trying do something of relevance to human wellbeing here. A nominal quantity is not simply a monetary quantity and a real quantity is not simply a quantity of stuff. Real and nominal have a different meaning in economics. It’s easiest to think of a real price is a relative price, as the price of a good in terms of other goods. Again, in order to make sense of this, you need to bring in human behaviour.

Finally, you might find it easier to understand where I’m coming from with repect to dynamic modelling if you saw a dynamic model. This is taken from a conversation I had with someone on a different blog, so it’s quite arbitrary, but I think that’s appropriate, given what I’m saying here:

Here's an example of that, using a simple dynamic Keynesian multiplier-accelerator model, where s in (0, 1) is the marginal propensity to save, Y(t) and I(t) are output and investment at time t and G-bar is a (constant) govt expenditure:

(1-s) Y-dot = -sY + I + G-bar
I-dot = aY-dot – I

The system is simple, with a unique steady-state at I = 0, Y = G-bar/s. It’s easy to show that this cannot be a saddle-path—instead it is a source if a > 1, a sink if a < 1. Under some parameter values, that sink is an attracting spiral. Under others, that sink is a repelling spiral, and the economy goes through a series of ever more extreme booms and busts until corrective action is taken or output goes to zero.

Nothing changes about the behaviour of the system if you say that this isn’t an economic model. At the end of the day, it’s just a pair of differential equations. And notice how for certain parameter values the steady state is nothing like what we would typically think of as “steady”.

Tom Hickey said...

What are you referring to here if not the stability of the dynamical system? I.e. "counterbalance"--with respect to what?

"Counterbalance means that the SFC will be maintained no matter. The variables will adjust. How the variables will adjust is another matter.

There is a degree of uncertainty involved in everything that involves human choices at the micro level, as well as surprises that external conditions brings, such as Fukushima.

There are also probabilities that can be computed on the basis of historical data.

Then, wrt macro, there is the discretionary v. non-discretionary distinction. The government's fiscal balance is to some degree discretionary for government while the non-government balance is beyond the government's control. So if the planners can correctly estimate the non-government balance, then they can recommend a government balance that maintains the economy at a steady state of full employment without generating effective demand in excess of the capacity of the economy to expand to meet it through growth. So here in principle there is a model for addressing the big three of macro — full employment, price stability, and growth.

From what I have heard, I think that there are two chief complaints that MMT economists, especially, have about the mainstream approach, although other heterodox economists are on board with this too.

First, the mainstream approach doesn't adequately understand the modern monetary economy theoretically due to a presumption of the neutrality of money. It is built on a barter economy model that is insufficient to the task.

Secondly, mainstream models do not observe stock-flow consistency, apparently because mainstream economists are not trained in accounting and finance.

The New Keynesians fell into the trap of trying to comprise with New Classicalism and their work has been adversely affected as a result.

It looks like the Chartalists and Circuitists are working through their differences and Steven Keen is pioneering the way to dynamic modeling.

So this is a work in progress. If other economists get on board with the accounting and financial basis of the modern monetary economy, then they would be welcome. But otherwise, I don't think that people who understand these things will be open to modeling they see as deficient in conforming to reality, i.e., a modern monetary economy.

Tom Hickey said...

vimothy, not being an economist it would not advance the debate for me to comment further on specifics. You should address those questions to an MMT economist to get a definitive answer concerning their position. All I can do is state the general insofar as I understand it from them. I don't have the background to do otherwise.

There are obviously a lot of things that go into doing economics other than accounting and finance. The MMT and other heterodox objection is that many economists don't take these sufficiently into account so their methodology doesn't accord with actual conditions in a monetary economy, not that everything tehy do is irrelevant.

The fact that the mainstream economists were blind-sided to the developing global financial crisis is evidence of that deficiency, and the fact that they could not explain it in retrospect is further evidence. Now the fixes recommended, especially "expansionary fiscal austerity" in the UK and EZ, are further proof of that something is wrong with their methodology, or they have wildly incorrect data, or both. MMT economists explained beforehand what to expect and that did in fact happen. They also have policy prescriptions based on their macro theory that explain why expansionary fiscal austerity is an oxymoron and 180 degrees off course, and what to do instead. When steps are taken in that direction, things improve.

You are correct in interpreting my statement that the accounting identities reflecting actual changes in stocks and flows show that the system is always in equilibrium in that sense. But in that sense alone, which is trivial one one hand, but if you don't see it and think something else applies, it is anything but trivial.

For example, those that think that government and non-government can run a surplus simultaneously clearly don't get this "triviality." The failure to get it is very costly when economic policy gets based on it.

The question of equilibria in the sense of steady states is debated by various schools, and, as you know, there has been disagreement about it. This are a theoretical and methodological questions that go beyond accounting and finance.

According to MMT economists and some other heterodox economists, the issues cannot be correctly stated wrt to a monetary economy without an adequate foundation in accounting and finance. Of course, theoretical models can be constructed without such reference that may be aids to thinking but they are not accurate representative models wrt current conditions.

Tom Hickey said...

Alfred Marshall warned about the use of mathematical models as more than aids to thinking, since they are abstract and virtual, based on assumptions regarding changes in variables, and remain so unless connected with concrete data about the actual. I am give to understand that one of the chief problem with succeeding econometric approaches was that they tende to double down when their predictions didn't work out instead of questioning the connection of the assumptions to reality.

Here, I think that both Chartalists and Circuitists would say that the connection between assumptions and reality is often dificient owing to lack of attention to accounting and finance.

The MMT economists tend to be institutionalists also, and I don't detect any objection to behavioral economics or cognitive economics. In fact, some of them criticize other approaches to economics as not being close enough in touch with findings of other social sciences.

They are also open to the philosophical dimension of ethics and social philosophy, taking into account public purpose and the kind of society in which one would want to live. They see efficiency as subservient to effectiveness, and they regard distributed prosperity to be not only a social goal but also an economic one, in that they are demand side and hold that income underlies effective demand and supply-investment respond to effective demand. (Credit is income-based, since rational lenders are not going to make loans that can doubtfully be repaid.)

As far as I can see, MMT economists are willing to argue with New Classicalists and New Keynesians based on Post Keynesianism and their own developments. They seem to me to be quite aware of the other side and have often been quite specific about where they think the errors lie. Very often this has been in terms of lack of appreciation for the role that accounting and finance play wrt to the issues under discussion.

So I don't see that one system is just beging pitted against another, the way some Austrians throw up supposedly self-evident apriori principles as ultimate criteria. That's just pitting one system against another. On the other hand, I have seen mainstream economists act as if bring in accounting and finance is an illegal move in the game of professional economics.

BTW, I distinguish between nominal (value expressed in the unit of account based on market price) v. real (inflation adjusted), and nominal (value in the unit of account) v. actual (units having "substance" in JKH's terminology).

vimothy said...



“vimothy, not being an economist it would not advance the debate for me to comment further on specifics. You should address those questions to an MMT economist to get a definitive answer concerning their position. All I can do is state the general insofar as I understand it from them. I don't have the background to do otherwise.”

That’s fair enough, although I’m not sure whether I agree. I think it could advance the debate we’re having here—I would have thought that you are better placed to give a definitive answer concerning your own position than anyone else. I know that I generally find that I advance my own understanding, limited though it is, by discussing things with other people, even if those people have a perspective as limited as my own.

Either way, it’s good to think about economics, because it’s an important topic that affects all of our lives in different ways. For better or worse, economists have a degree of influence with policy makers, and economics provides a framework that people use to understand events, which structures their response in particular ways.

But in order to think about economics, and especially to criticise economics, it helps to know something about it. It seems hard to debate the relative merits of different schools of thought if you’re not able to say anything about their respective approaches to problems of interest.

Because you obviously still want to say things about the different schools—MMT did this, which demonstrates this, neoclassicals didn’t do this, which demonstrates something else, MMTers think that there should be more of this, neoclassicals are resistant, and so on—and of course there’s nothing wrong with that, as far as it goes. (In many ways I’m quite ambivalent about economics qua economics, because it seems like modern ultra-rational progressive-liberalism taken to the nth power. But I don’t feel that that’s incompatible with enjoyment of the subject, or respect for its achievements).

I suppose I’m struggling to find the right response to your comment. I think there’s a lot that could be said, because a lot of what you wrote isn’t right. But at the same time, it seems hard to bridge the gap and talk about these things if you’ve already made up your mind that you don’t need to think more about them, to look into them any further, because they’re already settled, or because you’re not enough of an expert to make sense of them.

I remember an old Peanuts cartoon, in which Linus and Lucy and a few other characters were pointing at a newspaper and laughing. Charlie Brown appears in the frame and asks them what they’re laughing at. Linus says that he doesn’t know and Charlie Brown asks him the obvious question: then why are you laughing at it? To which Linus replies, because we don’t understand it.

I mean, how do you know that these things you say are true? It seems like you’re taking a lot on faith here. Knowing that you are a philosopher, I find it strange that you could be happy with this. Wouldn’t you like to learn something of the specifics? Isn’t that where it all actually happens, where all the action is? If these ideas are right, then they’re likely to be right in some specific ways. And if they’re wrong, then they’re likely to be wrong in specific ways as well. So it seems like specifics are something that we should pay attention to, and not leave entirely to the experts.

Tom Hickey said...

@ vimothy

Fair questions. I have never gotten very deep into the study of economics for several reasons. First and foremost, life is time, and one has choice over how one allocates one's time. Studying economics was never a high priority for me. My interests lie in other directions.

Secondly, as a philosopher, it is my considered view that the key fundamentals of the philosophy of economics as it is now practiced and implemented as a policy instrument are deficient. in fact, this lack is so severe that the entire system is inadequate to serve as the life-support system for the society, and certainly for global society going forward in this century. We need a rethink and complete overhaul of the paradigm of economics and its methodology, based on knowledge available from other disciplines.

I find that most mainstream economists have so unduly isolated themselves that they are out of touch with reality. I would argue for a replacement of the existing econ with a new approach that rests on sounder philosophical grounds than aggrandizing self-interest (maximizing utility), which is simply puerile in my view.

I haven't gone deeply into my own ideas about the philosophy of economics here or on the other MMT blogs. But I've said enough that most people probably get the drift that my position is pretty rad in emphasizing quality over quantity.

So getting involved in an approach to economics that I see as wrong-headed from the outset seems like a waste of my time. If I ever write about the philosophy of economics it will be to address what I see as problematic philosophical presuppositions of the present system that are inadequate examined, if at all, and to advocate another system altogether as more suitable for a global life-support system.

Moreover, there are similar problems with the political system and major cultural and social institutions. Finally, there is also the hypocrisy of saying one thing and doing another that further undermines the entire enterprise.

Thirdly, I came to economics by way of trading, and I learned early on that economics has about zero to do with short-term trading, which is basically about trends and their momentum, i.e. technical rather than fundamental. Traders look for volatility and could give less of a hoot about the value of something they aren't going to hold over the weekend. I've traded some pretty dodgy stuff because there was a play to be had in it.

I only got interested in economics to the degree I have due to the GFC, after none of the mainstreamers could account for how and why it happened even though I could see it obviously building based on previous experience trading and in trend forecasting. That struck me as really strange.

I happened on MMT purely by chance through a blog comment Ramanan left somewhere that I no longer recall. His comment impressed me and he gave references, which I checked out, even though at first I thought the ideas were off the wall. But I was able to see the light pretty quickly after checking the references provided.

MMT was the first approach to econ that interested me, since it began with money, accounting and finance, which seemed obvious to me as the way to approach a modern monetary economy. My interest was piqued, and so I decided to allocate some time to it and got Randy's book, which Ramanan had also recommended IIRC. But otherwise, my knowledge of MMT comes mostly from the blogs. I have not taken time to read many papers, other than the most salient ones.

Tom Hickey said...


Fourthly, to get into economics at all deeply requires doing the math, which is not something I particularly enjoy. I was interested in chemistry as a kid and I started out in it at college. But it soon realized that I was a word guy and not a numbers type. I should have figured that, since I was a B student in math in high school and an A student in everything else, and I was in the upper 90th percentile on the SAT verbal and only in the 8o's on the math. (Don't recall the exact figures now.)

Numbers just don't hold much fascination for me, while words (concepts) do. So I switched majors to where I could be a star without have to work as hard and would have more time to party. Yeah, that's really how I thought about it at the time. I went into philosophy, which I found absolutely fascinating.

Ironically though, I wrote my dissertation in the field of philosophy of logic (Ludwig Wittgenstein on certainty), not because I was most interested in this topic, but rather because this is what the prof I most respected was into and I wanted to work with him. He had PhD's in physics and philosophy and taught mostly philosophy of science and was also an expert in Wittgenstein, who fascinated me. But I am more interested in quality than quantity, concepts rather than symbols. This is where I think economics goes awfully wrong from the start.

BTW, I did minor in business, where I studied Samuelson in Econ 101, and took accounting and finance-investments. That was fifty years ago, so I am a bit rusty on that.

Finally, I have always been interested in trends and trend forecasting, and most of the stuff I post here that is not directly related to MMT has to do with trends, although I generally don't connect the dots. There's only so much time I have to allocate to this stuff, since I am working on other things in my field.

Hope that gives an idea as to where I am coming from, what I am interested in, and why I am not really interested in pursuing econ in more depth, although I certainly would I had say a forty eight hour day. It's just not on the front burner now.

But another reason I don't want to get into econ deeper is that I would have to get into developing my philosophy of econ as a counter to what I see as the failed foundations of modern econ. This would involve beginning with ontology and proceeding through epistemology, ethics, social and political philosophy to evolutionary theory, psychology and the social sciences in building a foundation for econ. Clearly, that is a huge task and I am already working on other things in my specialization, which is philosophy of spirituality and comparative spirituality — which is where everything begins, passes through and ends, IMHO.

Tom Hickey said...

@ vimothy

One question I should address specifically:

I mean, how do you know that these things you say are true? It seems like you’re taking a lot on faith here. Knowing that you are a philosopher, I find it strange that you could be happy with this. Wouldn’t you like to learn something of the specifics? Isn’t that where it all actually happens, where all the action is? If these ideas are right, then they’re likely to be right in some specific ways. And if they’re wrong, then they’re likely to be wrong in specific ways as well. So it seems like specifics are something that we should pay attention to, and not leave entirely to the experts.

That is not what philosophers do. We look at arguments analytically in terms of implicit and unexamined presumptions, norms posing as values, illegal moves in the use of symbols and language, failing to symbols with reference, and so forth.

As a citizen who happens to be trained in philosophy (broadly speaking, reasoning), I am interested in what public intellectuals, some of whom happen to be economists, say and do, with a view to how that influences the prevailing universe of discourse and gets translated into behavior — cultural, societal, institutional, political, etc. This is where the rubber hits the road, and where philosophers can make a contribution to achieving clarity.

Let me give an example from economics. The Rothbard wing of the Austrian school readily admits that their starting point is a priori, They advance their assumptions as self-evident first principles, and they require the debate to be framed in terms of those principles, when it is the principles themselves that are in question. This is the ancient logical fallacy of begging the question. Moreover, they claim that economic method must be based on methodological individualism and then interpret this in terms of an extreme version of ontological individualism, an illegal logical jump in the absence of justification. Justification is not provided and even denied to be necessary, since ontological individualism is presumed to be self-evident, which it is not. It is part and parcel of a central philosophical issue that is far from being agreed upon and which is now being pursued through the interdisciplinary fields like consciousness studies that bring the latest scientific advances into the reasoning.

Tom Hickey said...

Those trained in contemporary philosophy of logic and language are pretty good at ferreting out issues, seeing what these people say about them, and how they approach them. Opponents who are experts in a field generally want to direct the argument into detail rather than examining what is obviously problematic even at the surface. But what matters in advocacy is what one says publicly as a supposed expert acting as an advocate for a position. That view and advocacy for it get phrased in language designed to persuade people, e.g., electorates, and it is presumed to rest on expert testimony if the advocate is an expert. But, one is only an expert in one's own field, and there are often illegal jumps in this regard.

There are other problems, too, First, there are often disagreements among experts, casting donut on any opinion being definitive. How is the non-expert to decide when there is a collision between experts? Usually, by the rhetoric rather than the reasoning. Secondly, the public argument exists as such on its own independently of specific fields, These arguments can often be met on this level without critiquing the expertise, e.g., where claims can be shown to contradict fact, or when implicit presuppositions are found to be problematical when made explicit.

For example, how often are the so-called experts proven wrong, or cannot account for what is in their own portfolio, or exceed their portfolio, or recommend action that turns out to be either ineffective or damaging, yet are given the opportunity to do it again — over and over again for that matter. What does it take to disconfirm such failed hypotheses? Answer, these are not serving as hypotheses in a theory, but rather as ideological norms that are privileged from falsity.

What I am particularly opposed to is the TINA justification, or the excuse that the world has experienced its greatest progress under the existing system so we should not upset the apple cart. I reject that line of reasoning for the simple reason that these hold for every system that was previously dominant, and if we accepted this kind of justification of the status quo, humankind would never progress. It's just self-serving sophistry put forward by beneficiaries of the status quo, as ever.