Because of the success of science, there [has emerged] a kind of pseudo-science. Social science is an example of a science that is not a science. They follow the forms, gather data, but they don't get any laws. The haven't found any yet. Maybe someday they will. [But] they are not scientific. They sit at a a typewriter and they make up something. Maybe true, maybe not true, but it has not been demonstrated.Economics is a social science, and as Feynman implied, it is mostly bollocks.
The Australian economist, Steve Kean, has written a book called Debunking Economics. I think he was over-ambitious. I think he should have written a book called Junking Economics.
Relationships among the interacting processes of the economy can be discerned, but the economy continually evolves, with the result that the economists are always trying to apply to a new crisis what would have been the solution to the last crisis if anyone had thought of it at the time.
What's worse, they present the transient relationships among x, y, and z as immutable mathematically expressible laws and then award one another Nobel Prizes for the effort. But five years spent gaining a PhD through manipulation of some obscure bit of math will do little to help anyone understand the way the world actually works.
That is why there are few rich economists -- other than those who write the textbooks.
The futility of economics has been made abundantly clear during the present depression. The crackpot Austrian School economists say creative destruction is the way forward. Everyone's got to go bankrupt before the economy can rise, phoenix-like, cleanses of all malinvestment. That's when these nuts plan to sell their "physical" gold and silver for thousands and thousands of dollars an ounce and buy up the world -- that's if a survivalist with a gun hasn't hijacked their stash of precious metals first.
The Keynesians are equally mad. Their solution is more debt. The government must borrow without limit and keep spending until demand swells to suck the tens of millions of unemployed people back into the workforce.
As to who will pay back the debt, they tend not to dwell on that, although if pressed, all they can say is "our kids will handle it."
Then there's the question of what the Keynesians want the government to spend all that money on. They seem to think that every dollar of government spending yields a dollar's worth of public benefit, which is absurd. Most government spending goes on harassing, bullying, brainwashing or shaking down the citizen.
For example, do Americans really benefit from the Homeland Security Administration? One might as well ask whether the Germans benefited from the Gestapo.
Or would American kids be better off with more training in political correctness in the guise of education? Or would Americans be richer if the government subsidized the conversion of more grain to alcohol, or the construction of more windmills?
One could go on. But the cure for today's depression is apparent to anyone giving thought to its cause, which is that the globalized corporations took tens of millions of jobs from workers in Europe and America -- jobs paying ten, twenty, or more dollars an hour -- and gave them to Third Worlders prepared to work a 72-hour week under often dangerous and unhealthy conditions for pennies an hour, people like Steve Jobs, the Walmart Waltons and the Bill Gates pocketing the difference in pay.
Thus the cure for the poverty created by the off-shoring of jobs can only be the repatriation of the same jobs, which can be achieved in one of only two ways.
One is a tariff, much more urgently needed today than in the days of Smoot-Hawley when America had to compete only with the likes of England and France, countries no more competitive that the United States.
The other is some form of wage subsidy, such as I have outlined elsewhere (and here), that would provide employers in the West labor at a price competitive with that avaialable in the Third World, while providing workers with a living wage.
But this is all fantasy. Nobody cares about your income or whether you starve. Nobody who can do anything about it, anyhow. Well, yes, they do care. If you are earning more than a subsistence, they would like to insure that in future you earn less.
Those who rule consider you to be either a useful slave or a useless parasite. They see that in a world of high technology and automation, those who bring nothing to the workforce but a pair of hands are worth no more than pennies and hour and perhaps not even that.
Personal economic survival will increasingly depend on an ability to make oneself useful to the plutocratic elite, which means being some kind of technician able to operate the increasingly automated systems for the production and distribution of goods and the control of the population. For those lacking such talent, there is a final solution. It is called depopulation, and it will be pursued with increasing force and violence as the populace succumbs to economic stress and demoralization.
Economists who blather endlessly about the debt crisis, the financial crisis, the Eurozone crisis serve a useful purpose: they give hope where no reason for hope exists, thus distracting those who might otherwise rebel.
Nothing can effectively impede this drive for a new feudalism except the nation state, which was constructed on the ruins of medieval feudalism. Hence the genocidal assault on the nation states by the plutocratic Neofeudalists. The impoverishment of America will minimize the greatest single threat to those intent on destroying the right of the people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.