Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Joe Earle and the econocracy

Joe Earle is an economist known for co-writing the book The Econocracy and is a founding member of the Post Crash Economics Society at Manchester University. Earle is a proponent of pluralism, reforming the economics curriculum and improving the public discussion about economic issues. Back in December 2016, Earle did an interview with Robert Johnson and this post is a collection of quotes from the interview.

Reforming econ education

"The two main areas are reforming economics education in universities and trying to make the case to the general public about why this matters to them. This is something we call democratizing economics, which is about trying to make economics as a subject as a public conversation and a policymaking process more accessible, more participatory, more inclusive because we believe without that you can't really have democracy."

"The thing we've all arrived at independently is the need to be constructive with your department and recognize that academics have been working on this their whole lives. We're not saying your work is wrong and we don't want to learn it. We're saying we want to learn other things too."

"History of economic thought is a subject that is declining in UK universities and for most people is very optional."

"Students should maybe follow the economic fortunes of a country over a year and present back to the group... These are ways that we can (within the resource constraints of universities) do critical pluralist liberal education."

"We need to go back to these older definitions of what an education is of being able to survey different explanations of observed reality and come to independent judgments and to be able to use a range of different methodologies."

"The first and second years [of economics education] should be much more about these thinking skills."

What is the econocracy?

"In the book we talk about how econocracy is a system in which the economy has become the central goal of politics... [Today] it's become an increasingly narrow conversation. The people who feel like they have the language to be able to participate in that or to be able to make informed political choices is increasingly shrinking."

"Democracy is about a culture, it's about skills, it's learned. Of course we can't click our fingers and tomorrow we'll all be expertly engaging in democratic discussion.  For us it's about time, education and building these kinds of political and economic institutions that will take us where we want to be over a longer period. Whether that's more participatory policymaking or citizens scrutiny panel in he Bank of England or whatever."

"Yes, our end goal is utopian and without utopian ideas where would humans be?"

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