Many economists like to think of the markets as a place where equals negotiate and bargain to find mutually beneficial deals. Employers and workers need each other and so come to a deal that benefits them both. As these agreements are reached voluntarily, there can be no injustice in the system, as otherwise why would they have agreed to it? There is therefore no need for government intervention as people are well able to look after themselves. Unfortunately, in the real world, things are very different. In the real world, employers have market power over workers that prevent the market reaching a fair balance. It is for this reason that strong unions and government intervention is needed. Continue reading “The Power Of Employers”
In Ireland it is common for people to go abroad towards the end of college to somewhere warm and work for the summer. J1 visas are easy to get and it’s a great experience. You get a job for the summer, go drinking and do a bit of travelling. I was no different and this summer I sent 3 months in America with a group of my Irish friends. There were seven of us in a 2 bed apartment house, which was a smaller group than most Irish; it was more common to have 10-15 people in a house. It was a fantastic experience and I don’t regret it a bit, but this post is not about my J1, but rather one part of it, my job. Continue reading “Overworked and Constantly Shouted At – My J1 Working Experience”
One of the most glaring omissions from modern economics is the complete absence of any mention of power. Textbooks describe a world where everyone is equal and no one has power to influence others to benefit themselves. Norbert Haring and Niall Douglas make a huge contribution to correcting this omission by discussing the importance of power relations in economics and during the financial crash in their brilliant book, Economists And The Powerful. They show how power got removed from the economics discourse for ideological reasons, the power and influence of the financial industry, the corporate elite, how the economy is best described as monopolistic competition, how the money supply is controlled by banks, how the labour force is shaped by market power and how the government is manipulated by corporate interests for their own gain. It is a superb book that I highly recommend.
On this blog I have been very critical of mainstream economics, to the point that I feel most of it should be thrown out. I believe the orthodox theory of demand, supply, labour theory, wages, recessions, competition and information are fundamentally flawed. The obvious question is, if we are to ditch these unrealistic and useless theories, what do we replace them with? I cannot only criticise and knock down, I also have to create. I believe we should replace the current theory based on graphs of supply and demand with one based on power. The economy is not governed by unseen and unchangeable impersonal forces but by the competition of different sources for power. I believe neo-classical economics has outlived its usefulness and instead should be replaced with “The Theory of Power”. Continue reading “A New Economic Theory”
Whenever I tell people that I’m studying economics they usually ask me how to solve the recession or what to do about the banks. Each time I’m embarrassed over the fact that we have never even mentioned these issues in lectures. In my course I have basically been taught that the free market is the most efficient and best system in the world and trouble always results when it is interfered with. In my textbooks recessions are not mentioned, they do not happen. There is no explanation of unemployment, the biggest issue of our times. There is no mention of profit, the heart of capitalism. Nor do they talk about banks or money or advertising or how systems are guided by power relations. No mention is made of poverty, in effect ignoring three-quarters of the world.
Continue reading “What Economics Doesn’t Talk About”
Orthodox economics treats labour as a good like any other subject to the laws of supply and demand. However this misses a crucial point that we are not dealing with commodities but rather people. With goods, demand is decided by consumers and supply by producers, whereas with labour, demand is decided by producers and supply by consumers. The entire system is turned on its head yet neo-classical economics claims the results will be the same.
Continue reading “Labour Market In The Real World”