Thursday, February 20, 2014

Peter Radford — Adam Smith – Socialist?

It is, apparently, not odd to attend classes in a business school and learn all about modern microeconomic theory. The lessons hammer away at efficiency and marginal pricing. They drill home the arguments about efficient markets, especially those that relate to capital. And they go on about the great laws of supply and demand that operate in the timeless vacuum of a market uncluttered by human frailties.

Then off go the students to be drilled into how to make those very frailties into weapons for profit. These other lessons are about how to impede the free market by rigging the game, and by building ‘barriers to entry’, by enforcing patents and copyrights, by eliminating competition, and by interfering in the labor markets to reduce wage bills.

What is learned in a business school education is almost exactly a negation of what is taught to economics students. Both sets of students are taught the wonders of market magic, but then the business school students are taught a myriad tricks to defeat that magic in order to produce long term profits and rents unsustainable under a true market magic regime. Only the economics students, cut off from reality as they are, continue on blissfully unaware that their magical world is being riddled with holes dug by their business school peers.
Peter Radford asks,
Should society be indifferent to profit levels but scandalized by higher wages? Does a rise in the minimum wage undermine employment the way the economists preach? If so, does not high profit?
Smith certainly seemed to know the answer. I will leave it to you to think about. I know what I think.
Real-World Economics Review Blog
Adam Smith – Socialist?
Peter Radford

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