Tuesday 29 August 2006

The Useless Snails: Irritating Economists

‘Asking an economist how we can gain economic growth is totally like asking a butcher how to raise pigs on meat, (because) both of them will not have the answer.’

(Honestly speaking, I believe economists have the answer for every question of yours, but it will take you a long time before you can catch what they mean, it will take them a long time explaining things to you and finally driving you mad).

I should like to quote  one more piece from “Repentant Motherland”. Forgive me quoting a good deal from this book as if it were my bible; actually I share with the writer a lot of points.

‘A major part of economists work on limited issues, say the upheavals in the consumption of a product line, the upheavals in its prices and production quantity, changes in a specific sector and reasons behind these changes, changes in consumers’ spendings, etc. All of these researches require an inside-out understanding on the subject, intricate observations, and sometimes complex mathematical tools, especially statistics. However, we just can consider economists as people with large knowledge, or those who act to have large knowledge, about national economic performances, including domestic gross products, the current money, inflation rate, unemployment rate, etc. In other words, knowledge about political economics is required, but it is both scarce and easy.’

‘The little experience I have gained in economics allows me to assert that IT IS EASY.  An ordinary person, high-school graduate and over, with little self-confidence and determination, can grasp all basic knowledge of economics within one year. For sure, a good book or good teacher is also in need.’

Unlike the writer of Repentant Motherland, I can’t stress that economics is easy in capital letter. But I believe that in the progess (and even the decay) of a nation, economists do not make any contribution. To support this conclusion, I should like to raise just one question in brief: Assume that the US is wealthier than France, with a higher proportion of high-income people. Is it because US economists do their job better than their French workmates?

And a lot more questions: Where did the economists stay centuries before when different civilizations flourished and decayed?  Where were they when different economies underwent climaxes and crises?

And where do all the economists go today after they graduate from colleges and universities? Most of my classmates at FTU become office workers, some (very few) run their own small-scale business, and it is fortunate enough for us that none of us work as government economic adviser. On a larger scale, I think an office building is often the place where economists get. The rests, among them are some well-known faces of Le Dang Doanh, Pham Chi Lan, etc., become advisers for high-rank officials in the government, which probably is the reason why Vietnam is still among the world’s least developed countries.

Coming back to the first and foremost question I’ve raised above: Assume that the US is wealthier than France, with a higher proportion of high-income people. Is it because US economists are better at their work than their French workmates? I think the answer is clear that economists, and more broadly speaking, economic policies, do not contribute to a nation’s wealthy. As for me, development and progess is the Child of Father National Characteristics (or National Psychology), Mother National Politics, and Step-Mother Culture.

National Characteristics (or National Psychology)


National Politics


National Culture (including National Religion[s]) 


Development, growth, and progress

In other words, development is the matter of national psychology, politics, and culture, in which economics plays no role.