Dr Khalil's Intellectual Space

Pak Political Economy +

Dr Khalil's Intellectual Space

Pak Political Economy +

The Value Economists Create

The idea struck me as a surprise: Poets create aesthetic value. What value do the economists create?

In simple words, what’s the purpose that the economists serve?

I shared the idea with a number of friends including a few proper economists.

They did not like it. They rather took it as something questioning the rationale of their profession. Sort of an existential affront.

To me, it is a serious question. The intuitive proposition needs to be elaborated. And that happens so often: we elaborate things afterwards.

Poets, artists, etc, do create value, that is, aesthetic value. They create values such as art, form, structure, excellence, and above all, aesthetic value. And the literary critics explain and bring to fore these values and judge them. Thus, these critics create meta-values to judge and evaluate the values created by poets, artists, etc.

Likewise, philosophers create philosophic value. That is, they try to present a solution to the problem of the universe (and related problems) in the form of an explanation of the phenomena unravelling before us and beyond, and that’s a dire mental condition for every thinking being. And the critics of philosophers explain, judge and critique them, no doubt, with the help of meta-values formed and evolved by them.

Better to explain meta-value here and now.

There is a literary critic, a critic of fiction especially, and himself a novelist, John Gardner (1933-1982). Years back, I happened to read two of his books on the fiction, The Art of Fiction, and On Moral Fiction. His attempt to form a meta-value to judge the fiction stands out well. Not his words, but the gist of his attempt is like: In its ultimacy, the fiction is moral. That must not be construed to mean fiction ought to be moral or any such thing or any didactive issued by him to the fiction-writers. (Like it was with Deputy Nazir Ahmed, an outstanding Urdu writer and novelist.) That’s a meta-value.

In the same vein, Karl Marx tried to develop a meta-value to judge the production of economic value and, as he pleaded, its appropriation by the capitalists. His theory of surplus value vainly poses like a meta-value. It’s simply an “unjust sharing” of the economic value created, according to Marx. It’s the same Marxian scheme of things that the economists have embraced by replacing the capitalist with a government. They present their government as Marx’s capitalist. Should we call these economists Government Marxists!

I dubbed them as the State Economists.

The entrepreneurs create economic value. The economists may be likened to literary critics or the critics of philosophers, since they too judge the economic value created by entrepreneurs. That is, they create meta-values in order to evaluate the economic value. They are John Gardners of Economics!

Is it so? Do the economists judge and evaluate the economic value? No. That economic value is judged and evaluated by the consumers, i.e., the buyers of the value that is contained in various goods.

Isn’t that the case with the literary and philosophic creators also?!

Yes, that’s the case. Let that statement be improved then. The economists judge and evaluate the conditions (the environment on the whole) that help or do not help the entrepreneurs to create economic value.

That may include social, political and other conditions, and the conditions created by the government and its agencies, or any such agencies, or politics, and a lawless or semi-lawless state or society. The economists do try to build models that demonstrate under what conditions more and more, or less, or maximum or no more economic value may generate.

By doing that, the economists create paradigmatic value (a meta-value) that helps especially politicians and governments to see, devise or emulate such regulatory behavior that is conducive to the creation of optimum economic value. Or not.

It is herein where lies the devil. Do the economists really do that? No, they do not. At least in Pakistan (or maybe in countries like Pakistan).

My focus, and my concern, is Pakistan (or countries like Pakistan that may appear attractive to this theorization) where almost all the economists do not do that. Whatever economics they do aims at killing the economic value instead.

They do create “a paradigmatic value,” one that is not meant for the entrepreneurs but is exclusively intended for the government. Thus, their paradigmatic value helps and serves the government to apportion and appropriate a large part of the economic value created by the entrepreneurs. That they do in the name of taxes and in other forms, such as monetary policy, regulatory regimes, etc.

That is like dividing the money stolen by a thief into an “unequal” proportion between the thief getting the “bigger share” and the owner of the money a “smaller share” of his own money, instead of dispensing justice or acting morally.

And, following in the footsteps of John Gardner, it may be propositioned: In its ultimacy, any meta-value claiming to judge the economic value be moral.

That is how the economists take side with the government (and the classes or various sections of society or a loose alliance/network of them that happens to capture the reins of a government in absolute disregard to the enforced constitution, as in the case of Pakistan!) and help justify their parasitic nature. However, and whereas, the main and in a sense the only purpose of a government is its protective function, and in principle, it is for the performance of this function that the governments have been instituted, the economists altogether forget this fact and the enforced constitution (the case of Pakistan).

That’s not economics. Or it’s State Economics.

The economics is a discipline that studies those human activities that they pursue in order to meet various needs of their own as well as their fellow beings. That is how the economic value is created. (That’s Civil Economics.) And they need protection of their life, dignity, property, liberties, the wealth they produce, the income they generate, the exchanges they contract, in sum, the economic value they create, and the activities they pursue in order to live peacefully.

And that economics, that is, the Civil Economics, has been made to stand on its head by the same economists, that is, the state economics. They appropriate in favor of the government a substantial part of the economic value the entrepreneurs create. The Government Marxists.

Hence, whatever value the economists create, they create it exclusively for the government. And not for the entrepreneurs. Even if they feign to stand on the side of the entrepreneurs, they put the government first in their scheme of things by not advocating lower taxes and minimum regulation and especially lower government spending and sound money and no doubt a reasonable size of the government basically matchable to its protective function.

In short, the paradigmatic value (a meta-value) the economists create works best for the government. And that paradigmatic value does not protect the economic value entrepreneurs create. That amounts to saying that the economists (or the state economists) instead of a protective government stand for a parasitic government. They knowingly or unknowingly end up advocating political parasitism disguised as economic parasitism practiced by a predatory government. Or by the Riyasati Ashrafiya (State Aristocracy).

Note: This piece of theorization derives basically from an Urdu booklet of mine, Riyasati Maeeshat Aur Shehri Maeeshat (State Economics and Civil Economics: a short description of how the state appropriated the science of economics – 2021), and it improves upon the theories elaborated in that book, and from another earlier Urdu book, Pakistan Mein Riyasati Ashrafiya Ka Urooj (The Rise of State Aristocracy in Pakistan – 2012).

* ریاستی معیشت اور شہری معیشت: علمِ معاشیات پر ریاستی تسلط کی مختصر روداد

* پاکستان میں ریاستی اشرافیہ کا عروج

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