What Trait Affects Income the Most?

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. If the history of science has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t trust our preconceptions about how the world works. All human societies have developed stories about their place in the cosmos. Almost without exception, these stories were wrong. True, we’ve killed many of the old […]

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The Challenges of Doing Revolutionary Science (Part 1)

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Science is miraculously improbable. To work, it must fight against a deep human instinct — our desire to conform. As social animals, humans are built to do as others do. Why? Presumably because it’s advantageous. In our evolutionary past, conformist groups beat out non-conformist groups. And so […]

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What if the Government is Just Another Firm? (Part 2)

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Governments are different than firms, right? Perhaps not. In Part 1 of this series, I argued that when it comes to size, governments behave like they’re ‘just another firm’. In this post, I’m going to extend the evidence. I’ll first show you that as economies develop, governments […]

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How Do You Spot a Crank?

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. I confess that I have a recurring nightmare. In it, I realize that everything I’ve ever written about economics is wrong. Neoclassical economics is not, as I’ve repeatedly claimed, a pile of bullshit. In this nightmare, neoclassical economics is correct. And as a strident critic of neoclassical […]

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Death Anxiety and the Political Economy of Power

THINKING ABOUT DEATH I’ve been thinking a lot about death recently. No, it’s not something that came about because of the global pandemic and my new daily ritual of checking graphs on COVID-19 death tolls around the world. It started a few years back when I became interested in the philosophy of consciousness and thinking about consciousness served […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Has Wealth Gone Digital?

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. A revolution is underway around us and it’s called the digital. And it’s changing everything. More than 80% of wealth is now non-material. — Charles Foran in Just don’t say his name: the modern left on Karl Marx’s place in politics (41:30) Has wealth gone digital? Both […]

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