Abstractions, Things, Wealth, And Deindustrialization
AbstractEconomic theory is dominated by abstract structures. Underneath, there is no firm foundation. Above, there is a lack of rigorous confrontation with established fact. Basic theoretical concepts have no acknowledged definition. The apparatus of graphs, algebra and technical vocabulary are often vehicles for rhetoric rather than descriptions of truth. In this abstract world, it seems to be accepted without embarrassment that all opinions are possible, while adopting the style of science in delivering each conclusion as if it was a fact. The closest parallel is perhaps with theology, where also each practitioner presents his story as fact, but there are differing stories. This paper illustrates this theme, with particular reference to "deindustrialization". It points out that it is tangible things which are the primary measure, literally the sine qua non, of all material, cultural and intellectual progress. Official statistics necessarily aggregate market transactions involving tangibles and intangibles at monetary exchange values. However it is an error, in the sense of being a misperception leading to wrong action, to mistake this equivalencing of things and non-things as more than a necessary procedural fiction. In this system, one opera performance equals, say, 100 lorryloads of gravel, but the logical reality is that gravel is part of the primary inventory, opera and all other intangibles are secondary or consequential. This inversion of the important and the estimable lies behind the paradox of the deindustrialization which is in process and the deagriculturalization which has already run its course in some parts of the world - namely that our entire civilisation rests (and logically and factually must always rest) on the output of this (in employment terms) disappearing sector. Eventually, the sector which ultimately produces all value will appear in the statistics as one which adds zero value in current terms. Fortunately, the real word of affairs shows no sign of acting on this erroneous perception. For those accustomed to see the world in abstractions, misperceptions still seem to obscure the reality.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 9804003.
Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 30 Apr 1998
Date of revision:
Note: Type of Document - Word document; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP540; pages: 18; figures: none
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://18.104.22.168
abstractions wealth things deindustrialization;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-1998-10-02 (All new papers)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Robert J. Barro, 2012.
"Inflation and Economic Growth,"
CEMA Working Papers
568, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.