About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

#68 (take 1) - The Skeptical Economist

And then, for a late summer read of a different stripe, I started The Skeptical Economist: Revealing the Ethics Inside Economics, by Jonathan Aldred (Sterling, VA: Earthscan, 2009).

Summary: "Within the field of economics, observes Aldred (economics, U. of Cambridge, UK), there are many who peddle a narrow or simplistic view of economics to serve vested interests and political ends. In addition to this group, there is a more naive set of economists who seek to avoid ethical judgments in the practice of their discipline. Both groups practice a form of 'black box economics,' in which basic assumed principles (e.g., 'The value of life can be measured in monetary terms' and "Economic growth increases happiness') are obscured and rarely discussed. Insisting that ethics cannot be so neatly separated from economics and that these hidden principles should be matter of explicit debate, Aldred aims to uncover these hidden ethical assumptions and present them to the general reader in a manner free of mathematics and jargon. His discussion consists of stand-alone chapters examining issues of consumption, the nature of economic growth, the politics of pay, the economics of happiness, the valuation of life and nature, and issues of public services." (-Book News, Inc.)

Table of Contents:
  1. Introduction: Ethical Economics?
  2. The Sovereign Consumer
  3. Two Myths about Economic Growth
  4. The Politics of Pay
  5. Happiness
  6. Pricing Life and Nature
  7. New Worlds of Money: Public Services and Beyond
  8. Conclusion
My take: What I read was a mixed bag. Liked the first few chapters, but the "Politics of Pay" and "Happiness" ones got a bit too philosophical and dry for my tastes. Sadly, the fact that I'm trying to work 2.5 jobs at the moment meant the book had to go back before I got all the way through. Oh well.

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