Saturday, March 10, 2012

Now that your rose is in bloom

“Capitalism is an inherently unstable system.... Capitalism is notorious for its ups and downs. We have a whole vocabulary to refer to them: booms and busts; recessions and depressions; upturns and downturns....”

“You would expect that we would know this about capitalism's history and therefore not believe that we could somehow manage to escape instability. But over the last thirty to forty years we, as a society, have been unwilling to think critically about capitalism. And it shows. We thought we weren't going to have another crisis like the one we had in the 1930s, or like the one the Japanese have had since 1990. We imagined that these problems were no longer relevant to modern life. So we were unprepared for the mess we're in.”

“So another reason this crisis is so different is that it's coming at the end of a long period of denial. Let me give you an example: When I began my work as a PhD student in economics, the typical curriculum had a course about the business cycle, to introduce students to the history of economic ups and downs in their own country and others. In 2007 the vast majority of graduate programs in economics had no course on the business cycle at all. We thought we had overcome it, outgrown it. We had come to believe that we were in a new economic system, a mature capitalism, and that we had all the mechanisms to control it.”

--Richard Wolff, “Capitalism and Its Discontents,” The Sun, February 2012.


Ellen D. said...

Personal Finance and Economics should be taught in high school...maybe even as early as 9th grade before kids start dropping out. It is certainly as important as Algebra.

Melissa said...

I'm always so glad I took microeconomics as an elective in college--I wish I'd taken macroeconomics, too. What's funny is that I felt the same thing in my college class--there were certain things that were taken for granted, or other things that seemed patently untrue that were taught. And now the whole field seems to be going through an upheaval, redefining things it thought it had already figured out.