"The mind is a compact, multiply connected thought mass with internal connections of the most intimate kind. It grows continuously as new thought masses enter it, and this is the means by which it continues to develop."

Bernhard Riemann On Psychology and Metaphysics ca. 1860

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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Economics is Not the Same as Monetary Profit

A recent report that I happened across today exemplifies the total lack of understanding of economics prevalent among today's academics. The report argues that "The constant use of economic arguments in defense of research funding perpetuates a rarely articulated but implicit misconception that the natural sciences should be subservient to economics in the pecking order of intellectual authority."

This is flat out wrong. The reason is that the popular concept of economics is that it is defined (consciously or not) as any activity that produces a monetary profit. So, for instance, if we make swindling legal (which is all that most economists' palaver about innovative deregulation is) then it's now economics! 

Go to the popular market monitoring Internet sites like MSNBC and you will experience with very little digging all sorts of supposedly objective articles pushing the "economics" of pornography, prostitution and illegal drugs, for instance. Money, as anyone not brain dead knows, is merely a convenient fiction that can be issued at will. It is only the force of an arranged political agreement that gives it backing. So when Abraham Lincoln issued "greenbacks" that were the basis for internal improvements including the construction of the continental railway the force of the Union being victorious in the civil war provided their credit worthiness. Of course, we know what happened to the worth of the Confederate notes of Jefferson Davis. 

"The fault, dear academics, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." True science is the only pathway for the future survival for humanity. It is the responsibility to enable that sort of science to profit and to deter that which has the opposite effect. For example, should it be profitable to develop a means to defend ourselves from meteor impacts, from drought, or from earthquakes? Or should our priority be to fund meretricious research into ways to win at Texas Hold'em?

The definition of economics is purely political. This is why we have the risible threat from Wall Street that any candidate that takes away their feeding trough by returning to the Glass-Steagall regulation of the separation of "investment banking" from deposit banking will be punished by being cut off from funding.

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