Saturday, January 26, 2008

Science? What science?

Miss Prothero's Books does not have a huge section devoted to economics. We do not have Adam Smith's Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations. We had Das Kapital once. We have a book about John Maynard Keynes and the Soviets.

You wouldn't think I'd be interested in the subject, but it's been one of those days. I've had two visitors to the shop (and one of the them was the postman). I unlocked the cash register this morning, but that's the last time I touched the durn contraption. Of course, I'm going to think on economics, that blasted social science.

"Science?" you say. "I thought it was smoke and mirrors, faith and fantasy."

Maybe it's not a science, but there are a few people who have studied it.

The word comes from the Greek and means "rules of the house". As far as I understand it, it is not the study of market forces, profit motive, supply and demand, and consumption. It is the study of choice, of how we decide to live.

If you look at this store versus the store across the street (7-Eleven), it's obvious how Americans are making their choices. They're choosing to buy gas, a quick cup of coffee, a filling and tasty snack. Maybe their choices seem like necessity. They have to get from the community they live in to their places of work. They have to stay awake so they can stay behind the wheel. They have to stay behind the wheel so they can win the race, so they can get ahead, so they'll have money to buy the gas and the coffee and the tasty and fulfilling snack which keeps them behind the wheel.

It's absurd. It's almost as absurd as the government's current "stimulus" package. Why does Washington think consumer spending is the solution when consumer spending has been the problem?

I don't know. I want consumers to spend. I want to see them open their wallets. But I'd rather they opened their wallets for a square of knowledge (a book) than a circle of quick fix.

Oh, well. I have to close the store, so I can get gas in the car, so I can go out to dinner, so I can...

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