Politics and Economics: The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of the Social Sciences

Or they should be. I’ve never understood the antipathy between the two disciplines. If you’re studying economic phenomena you better have an understanding of both their mechanics (economics) and their context (politics).

Anyway, I’m posting this mainly as a reminder to myself, because I plan to steal use this tasty quote next year when I’m introducing a new batch of students to the study of the Global Political Economy.  Cosma Shalizi on the main problem with “left neoliberalism” (via Henry Farrell; links removed):

“When you tell us that (1) the important thing is to maximize economic growth, and never mind the distributional consequences because (2) we can always redistribute through progressive taxation and welfare payments, you are assuming a miracle in step 2.”

For where is the political power to enact that taxation and redistribution, and keep it going, going to come from? A sense of noblesse oblige is too much to hope for (especially given how many of our rich people have taken lots of economics courses), and, for better or worse, voluntary concessions will no longer come from fear of revolution.

Right on!

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