This blog is silly-Dave, psuedo-academic and will take a paragraph or two to get to the point. Sorry.
They say that Psychology is the study of human behaviour by looking from the inside of the subject and Economics is the same study by looking from the outside. Frankly, I think they have it all wrong (is that a surprise?).
Firstly, neither Psychology nor Economics is a science. They are, to quote someone-whose-name-I-forgot, just big conversations that use jargon and construct words to make it complicated. Reason: there are no real metrics, it is mostly guesswork and those involved in the guessing want to get paid.
Economists seem to think that money is a metric but it ain’t. It is a partial metric at best. Money, as a way to measure, is like trying to do geography armed only with inches as your measuring device. It can only go so far. And when you corrupt money (or inches) by inflating it (see quantitative easing) then even the metrics change relationship to the things they are measuring. A dollar is no longer a dollar and a dime, nickel and penny have ceased to mean anything much these days. Money is really the NON metric. Maybe more fairly: it is the ever-changing metric that others keep changing behind your back.
Bluntly speaking: the rules of the game (economics) keep changing. Economists know this but what are they going to do? Admit that they know nothing and thus terminate their employment?
Basically human behaviour changes anyway. It is natural. It is what we do. When a geneticist looks at it, he/she calls it evolution. When an archaeologist comments they call it adaptation. Spiritualists call it growth. Sociologists call it trends and popularists call it fashion. The only real commonality they all share is observation and most of that is in hindsight. The so-called science of human behaviour is always derived from looking at the past. Only futurists seem to orient to the future and they have always been perceived as the fringe weirdos and not worthy of the title of scientist.
Economists? They are focused on only a few concepts that they can’t even define. Not even at the simplest of levels like supply and demand and inflation. By the time the crooks invented credit default swaps even the economists admitted they didn’t understand them. And, seriously? Economists are blinded by their own metrics. They measure gross domestic product, of all things. They do not even measure what environmentalists call the ‘externalities’ – what the rest of us call the ‘planet’.
Bhutan, at least, measures gross domestic happiness.
Orwell might have been the lone exception. But only in a general sense. And let us be clear: Orwell was a journalist, not an economist. He was a watcher. He was one of us. And he wrote in simple metaphors not ‘industry’ jargon. One of the most useful commentators of the human condition had little to no formal education forcing him to first learn restrictive and obfuscating language. He was plain spoken. Orwell had the potential to write the truth and, it seems lately, he came damn close.
And here comes the point: the experts are usually wrong. Basic rule of thumb: the more complicated the language they use the more wrong they are. Even when they are right, they are right after the fact. To evolve and grow and advance and survive as a human being, almost by definition, you can’t rely on what the experts have to say. If they are not confused, they are lying. If they are not lying, they are simply reporting on what has already happened.
You have to do it yourself. You have to see the world as it is and you have to try to see where it is heading. Even though history is a good predictor of the future, it is not the metrics of history that is of any use, it is the general human and cultural behaviours that may give you a few hints. And you can see those as well as anyone.
I dunno. I am no Orwell. And I am no longer hip. But, if I had to guess, I would guess that the monetary system is verging on radical change. So is politics. And I am quasi predicting that simply because they are systems that don’t seem to be working very well. They are broken. We have lost faith in them. And, again, make no mistake: all our systems are simply large social agreements that require our faith, our confidence, our full participation and our acceptance to work at all. When people ‘check out’ of those agreements, the systems fail and radical change fills the void.
And – here’s the second point – I think I observe people checking out of systems. Many no longer vote. Education is increasingly exclusive and worse, increasingly irrelevant. The economy is even more divided into the rich and poor. We don’t trust the police or the justice system to do the right thing. And the justice system is priced out of reach for most people. Health care is also too expensive for many and alternative medicine is gaining popularity. The list just goes on and on.
Throw in climate change, the radical jihadists, the rogue states, the third world, the marginalized, the alienated, the unemployed and the hugely unhappy and you have all the ingredients for a massive cauldron of change.
“So, why hasn’t it happened already?”
I don’t know. Three answers come to mind: 1. It is happening and, except for climate change, I can’t see it. 2. It is not happening now but will soon. 3. What we consider the status quo is, in fact, a constant state of change. Most people will opt for #3. But that may be denial. I think it is #1 and so I am watching closely.