Orthodox economics, we’re told more and more often these days, isn’t up to the task of dealing with a post-pandemic reality. The latest exemplar in the Observer complains, for instance, that old-fashioned economics relies too much on cost-benefit analysis. It’s an odd complaint. After all, why wouldn’t we want to do things that have the most substantial benefits and the fewest costs?
As so often with these critiques, the complaint really boils down to economic theory not supporting the kinds of policies they would like to put in place – that perhaps says more about the policies themselves, rather than the base science used to decide on the policies. Or, to be a bit pithier – “diddums”.
The basic point being missed by all these calls for this new economics is that the old has examined, debated even, all of the questions and problems currently in the air. There are libraries full of commentaries, tens of thousands of very bright people have worked for a couple of centuries to get to this current state of knowledge. Most of what is in the current political air has already been considered – and found wanting.