|The plight of the majority in a loaded-dice policy environment
Alfred Korzybski observed,
"The layman, the "practical man, the man in the street, says, "What is that to me?" The answer is positive and weighty. Our life is entirely dependent on the established doctrines of ethics, sociology, political economy, government, law, medical science, etc. This affects everyone consciously or unconsciously, the man in the street, in the first place, because he is the most defenseless."
The term, "the dismal science" leveled at economics was, in reality, leveled at the dismal people who manipulate others by giving primacy to economic arguments in their justification for their offhand treatment of others.
So why in a democracy do people have no recourse against such abuse?
It is instructive to know why economics was called the "dismal science".
This term was coined by Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) the Scottish historian, philosopher and mathematician. In his 1849 satirical essay "Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question" which advocated the reintroduction of slavery to the West Indies to call attention of the hypocrisy of British abolitionists who appeared to be indifferent to Britain's child-labour and punishing conditions in the factories of the day.
Today we see a government that has sought to reduce the public sector for a long period, oblivious of rising poverty and a boom in food banks and a Chancellor dismally citing "affordability" as the criterion for refusing to pay nurses and others in the National Health Service, rises in wages that compensate for their loss in real incomes over the last decade. This has, of course, nothing to do with economics given that the NHS efforts in the last 2 years have resulted in an ability of the population who recovered from Covid to generate well over £250 billion in income over the next 10 years, which otherwise would have been lost to families as a result of these people having deceased.
In the context of Carlyle's complaint it is not economics that is dismal but rather the manipulation of the state of affairs of the constituency's wellbeing at the hands of politicians that is the issue.
The previous article, "Ludwig von Mises calculation and knowledge problem revisited" outlines the emulation of modern political parties of the old Soviet Union's party apparatchiks and momenclaturas in making sure they and their benefactors and supporters gained more from their macroeconomic manipulations, which they refer to as "policy", than the rest of the constituency.
With time, this issue is becoming a stark reality in the United Kingdom and it represents a constitutional issue. This is because to maintain their advantages, policy makers will impose a range of legal and regulatory constraints on freedom and expression and will try to dismiss and trivialize normal objective critical analysis of their actions.
This all makes sense of a joke in the Soviet Union cited by Albert Hirschman which goes as follows,
"In capitalist countries man exploits man, but in Communist countries is the other way round!!"
Sadly, this is funny but true. We cannot avoid the question as to just how much economic instability we need to tolerate under the continuation of tiny factions capturing political parties and imposing prejudicial policies for the majority? Constituents are beginning to realize that the current constitutional settlement of the United Kingdom affords no protection for our economic freedoms against political party abuse.
Hector McNeill is director of SEEL-Systems Engineering Economics Lab
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