The Productivity of Bullshit Jobs

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. I recently read David Graeber’s book Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. If you’re not familiar, David Graeber is the anthropologist who wrote Debt: The First 5000 Years, a seminal book on the history of money and credit. In Bullshit Jobs, Graeber takes aim at pointless work. Graeber describes Continue Reading

The Power Ethos in the US Military

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In How Hierarchy Can Mediate the Returns to Education I examined the pay structure of the US military. I found that hierarchical rank is (by far) the strongest determinant of military pay. Here I want to show you that there is a regularity to military pay. In Continue Reading

The Social Environment as a Cause in Economics

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Have you noticed that economists are missing a word in their vocabulary? In microeconomics you’ll see words like ‘individual’, ‘utility’ and ‘maximize’. But you won’t see the word ‘environment’ anywhere. It seems that in microeconomics, individuals maximize their utility in a void. [1] This lobotomy of the Continue Reading

2020/04: McMahon, ‘Reconsidering Systemic Fear and the Stock Market: A Reply to Baines and Hager’

ABSTRACT A recent New Political Economy article by Baines and Hager (2020) critiqued Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan’s capital-as-power (CasP) model of the stock market (Bichler & Nitzan, 2016). Bichler and Nitzan’s model of the stock market seeks to explain how financial crises are tied to the (upper) limits of redistributing income through power. Bichler Continue Reading

Ten Tips For Doing Open Science

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Science is the quintessential public good. It’s an iterative process in which new knowledge builds on previous knowledge. For this process to work, science needs to be ‘open’. Both the results and methods of scientific research need to be freely available for all. The open science movement Continue Reading

Productivity Does Not Explain Wages

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Does productivity explain income? I asked this question in a previous post. My answer was a bombastic no. In this post, I’ll dig deeper into the reasons that productivity doesn’t explain income. I’ll focus on wages. The evidence Let’s start with the evidence trumpeted as proof that Continue Reading

The Tyranny of Meritocracy

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Like many Canadians, I grew up with a faith in meritocracy. Do your best, I believed, and the world would reward you. In school, this idea seemed self-evidently true. I worked hard, and was rewarded with good grades and praise from teachers. And those students who didn’t Continue Reading

2020/03: Bichler and Nitzan, ‘Manuscripts Don’t Burn’

ABSTRACT The French Revolution changed the world. In the new order, the masters no longer need Monsieur Fouche and the thought police. They don’t need guillotines to clip brains and scissors to censor pamphlets. They don’t need strategic-studies institutes to manage oppression and navigate conflict. Instead, they prefer to subsidize ‘cultural pluralism’ and ‘critical studies’, Continue Reading