Home > methodology, New vs. Old Paradigm > On abstraction and idealization in economics

On abstraction and idealization in economics

from Lars Syll

When applying deductivist thinking to economics, neoclassical economists usually set up “as if” models based on a set of tight axiomatic assumptions from which consistent and precise inferences are made. The beauty of this procedure is of course that if the axiomatic premises are true, the conclusions necessarily follow. The snag is that if the models are to be relevant, we also have to argue that their precision and rigour still holds when they are applied to real-world situations. They often don’t. When addressing real economies, the idealizations and abstractions necessary for the deductivist machinery to work simply don’t hold. 

If the real world is fuzzy, vague and indeterminate, then why should our models build upon a desire to describe it as precise and predictable? The logic of idealization is a marvellous tool in mathematics and axiomatic-deductivist systems, but a poor guide for action in real-world systems, in which concepts and entities are without clear boundaries and continually interact and overlap. 

Or as Hans Albert has it on the neoclassical style of thought: 

In everyday situations, if, in answer to an inquiry about the weather forecast, one is told that the weather will remain the same as long as it does not change, then one does not normally go away with the impression of having been particularly well informed, although it cannot be denied that the answer refers to an interesting aspect of reality, and, beyond that, it is undoubtedly true …

We are not normally interested merely in the truth of a statement, nor merely in its relation to reality; we are fundamentally interested in what it says, that is, in the information that it contains …

Information can only be obtained by limiting logical possibilities; and this in principle entails the risk that the respective statement may be exposed as false. It is even possible to say that the risk of failure increases with the informational content, so that precisely those statements that are in some respects most interesting, the nomological statements of the theoretical hard sciences, are most subject to this risk. The certainty of statements is best obtained at the cost of informational content, for only an absolutely empty and thus uninformative statement can achieve the maximal logical probability …

hans_albertThe neoclassical style of thought – with its emphasis on thought experiments, reflection on the basis of illustrative examples and logically possible extreme cases, its use of model construction as the basis of plausible assumptions, as well as its tendency to decrease the level of abstraction, and similar procedures – appears to have had such a strong influence on economic methodology that even theoreticians who strongly value experience can only free themselves from this methodology with difficulty …

Science progresses through the gradual elimination of errors from a large offering of rivalling ideas, the truth of which no one can know from the outset. The question of which of the many theoretical schemes will finally prove to be especially productive and will be maintained after empirical investigation cannot be decided a priori. Yet to be useful at all, it is necessary that they are initially formulated so as to be subject to the risk of being revealed as errors. Thus one cannot attempt to preserve them from failure at every price. A theory is scientifically relevant first of all because of its possible explanatory power, its performance, which is coupled with its informational content …

The connections sketched out above are part of the general logic of the sciences and can thus be applied to the social sciences. Above all, with their help, it appears to be possible to illuminate a methodological peculiarity of neoclassical thought in economics, which probably stands in a certain relation to the isolation from sociological and social-psychological knowledge that has been cultivated in this discipline for some time: the model Platonism of pure economics, which comes to expression in attempts to immunize economic statements and sets of statements (models) from experience through the application of conventionalist strategies …

Clearly, it is possible to interpret the ‘presuppositions’ of a theoretical system … not as hypotheses, but simply as limitations to the area of application of the system in question. Since a relationship to reality is usually ensured by the language used in economic statements, in this case the impression is generated that a content-laden statement about reality is being made, although the system is fully immunized and thus without content. In my view that is often a source of self-deception in pure economic thought …

A further possibility for immunizing theories consists in simply leaving open the area of application of the constructed model so that it is impossible to refute it with counter examples. This of course is usually done without a complete knowledge of the fatal consequences of such methodological strategies for the usefulness of the theoretical conception in question, but with the view that this is a characteristic of especially highly developed economic procedures: the thinking in models, which, however, among those theoreticians who cultivate neoclassical thought, in essence amounts to a new form of Platonism.

  1. paul davidson
    January 21, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    No Keynes’s solution was to throw out three classical axioms that were not relevant to the real world. He did not throw up his hands and say the world is so complex no one can understand it– and therefore anything can happen. He developed a general theory that specified what specifically would happen if the government stimulated an increase in aggregate market demandf or the products of industry.

    To throw up one’s hand say we can not know what will happen — is to surrender to fools!

  2. January 21, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    My view is physicists and mathematicians have been dealing with the relations between determinstic and probabilistic systems for years, but very little of it seems to have trickled down into economic papers (or even biological, which has many parallells with economics). One problem is often these are fairly abstract papers (in math) or use very simple ‘toy’ models (in physics)—but in physics some of these very simple toy models have had big consequences and applications (eg condensed matter physics, used to make computers, etc.). (More recently computer science has been undergoing the same ‘revolution’). (One can remember the ‘random walk’ or ‘diffusion’ model was developed around 1900 by both an ‘economist (gambler’s ruin problem—bathchelor or something) and Einstein (brownian motion), with related ideas owing to max planck and blackbody radiation. The main point is that one can make very ‘axiomatic’ formalisms for both probabilistic (or stochastic) systems and deterministic ones and they are very similar though they are interpreted different ways. One can predict ‘deterministically’ that flipping a perfect (fair) coin an infinite number of times will lead to a binomial/gauss distribution.

  3. January 21, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Beauty or horseshit?
    Comment on ‘On abstraction and idealization in economics’

    Lars Syll writes: “When applying deductivist thinking to economics, neoclassical economists usually set up “as if” models based on a set of tight axiomatic assumptions from which consistent and precise inferences are made. The beauty of this procedure is of course that if the axiomatic premises are true, the conclusions necessarily follow.” (see intro)

    We all can agree on this. What is a bit irritating is the fact that on this blog not long ago a discussion was initiated under the title ‘Axiomatic economics — total horseshit’. See here:


    This thread in turn was the reaction to two preceding discussions on the RWER blog. The first thread bore the title ‘Proper use of math in economics’ and repeated Marshall’s famous phrase ‘Burn the mathematics’. See here:


    The second thread bore the title “The failure of economics is due to the use of axiomatic method”. See here:


    An even earlier discussions of this important methodological issue has taken place on this blog under the title ‘Debreu and the Bourbaki delusion of deductive-axiomatic economics’. See here:


    While the tone in this contributions varies from the emotional to the rational the message consists invariably in the same logical shortcut: neoclassical economics is crap, the neoclassical approach is built upon axioms, therefore, the axiomatic-deductive method is inapplicable in economics.

    Where do we agree? Yes, the neoclassical approach is unacceptable for compelling methodological reasons. What Hans Albert has said in 1963 about ‘attempts to immunize economic statements and sets of statements (models) from experience through the application of conventionalist strategies’ was right then and is right now.

    Since its very beginning, neoclassical theory violates the scientific criteria of material and formal consistency. However, this is not easy to see, because the fault is not to be found in the superstructure. Keynes knew this.

    “For if orthodox economics is at fault, the error is to be found not in the superstructure, which has been erected with great care for logical consistency, but in a lack of clearness and of generality in the premises.” (1973, p. xxi)

    And Hutchison knew this.
    “For it can fairly be insisted that no advance in the elegance and comprehensiveness of the theoretical superstructure can make up for the vague and uncritical formulation of the basic concepts and postulates, and sooner or later … attention will have to return to the foundations.” (1960, p. 5)

    And Hutchison drew the correct conclusion: “attention will have to return to the foundations.” That means, the neoclassical axioms have to be replaced. This is, in methodological terms, what a paradigm shift is all about.

    Lars Syll’s proposal to ignore or even to abolish the axiomatic-deductive method is counter-productive. Unfortunately, the methodological essentials of theory construction were never well understood by Heterodoxy (2012). It is a fact, that not only Orthodoxy is in a state of manifest confusion but Heterodoxy too.

    This, indeed, is the correct way to proceed:

    “We should also like to underline Debreu’s effective reference to Bacon when he says that “citius emergit veritas ex errore quam ex confusione.” It would be a mistake to lower the level of analysis and clarification. The only way possible is a thorough reexamination of the theory’s basic hypotheses, i.e., a true paradigmatic revolution.” (Ingrao and Israel, 1990, p. 362)

    With regard to neoclassical axiomatization the great heterodox economist Georgescu-Roegen has said all:
    “Here, just in the art of painting, we should not blame colors for the horrible works some “painters” may produce with them.” (1979, p. 323)

    Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

    Georgescu-Roegen, N. (1979). Methods in Economic Science. Journal of Economic
    Issues, 13(2): 317–328. URL http://www.jstor.org/stable/4224809.
    Hutchison, T.W. (1960). The Significance and Basic Postulates of Economic Theory.
    New York, NY: Kelley.
    Ingrao, B., and Israel, G. (1990). The Invisible Hand. Economic Equilibrium in the
    History of Science. Cambridge, MA, London: MIT Press.
    Kakarot-Handtke, E. (2012). Crisis and Methodology: Some Heterodox Misunderstandings.
    SSRN Working Paper Series, 2083519: 1–22. URL http://ssrn.com/abstract=2083519.
    Keynes, J. M. (1973). The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes Vol. VII. London, Basingstoke: Macmillan.

    • January 22, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      1. The invisible hand by ingrao-israel i think is a classic, semi-technical unlike some other classics (which tend towards a rigor mortis style—axiom-proof-theorem…)

      2. I agree with some recent quotes by Piketty.

      He said he used standard ‘neoclassical’ formalism (and I think like capitalism or communism, as well as various religions, it has so many definitions and interpretations its almost meaningless) because he said it was more or less the standard vocabulary. You use it to show that what most economists believe it explains and shows (or proves) doesn’t really follow.

      He also said the math used by economists would not impress mathematicians (though within mathematics community there are also divisions over who should be impressed by who). (I used to look at or read Econometrica; its highly technical but its like reading Principia Mathematica (1000 pages, Russel and Whithead) to learn basic arithmatic Alot of those papers, like many in economic journals, could be expressed in 3 instead of 50 pages.

      There are quite a few people who say that, as is said about neoclassical economics, the english language, current mathematics, and current physics (and i personally might add current music), make no sense. People like Artaud (famous french actor, fairly crazy) and David Bohm (physicist) tried to create new languages; I have a catalogue of about 50-100 of them. There are many competing axiomatizations of math. A recent article in Nature by GFR Ellis and J Silk suggested current physics theories are also gibberish. Lee Smolin and R Unger weigh in on the topic (though I have a feeling Smolin has switched his opinion in the last 10 years).

      (Godel also did this in a way for a problem posed by Hilbert; it was later discussed also by Kleene, Post’s problem, Julia Robinson, Davi, Matijevisch (sic) and others, etc.) Its hard to know if math is complete and/or consistant.

      Of course neoclassical economics has almost nothing to say about ‘inequality’. You can use the fundamental theorems of welfare economics (as described by John Roemer—was at UC Davis, and then Yale—he had his own ‘coupon capitalism’ model, not too different from some very old theories going back to Proudhon (interest free banking) and ones from the 1950’s) to get any income distribution you want within the neoclassical format. (Money of course doesn’t enter in the Arrow-Debreu-Hahn GET model, but you can introduce it as another commodity, as well as banks, governments etc.)

      3. It may be there is no ‘theory of everything’ whether in economics, physics, or math, etc. (See ‘more is different’ by pwa Anderson). To me neo – (or)classical economics works for some things—i ‘maximize my utility’ under a budget constraint when i go to the store for example. Of course, what i’m maximizing itself is subject to dispute (and also partly endogenous)—i even bought potato chips recently.

      Everything is right and wrong in different contexts, but there is no accepted way to show how one model in one context ’emerges’ from a different one in a different context. (Try to start with a model of genetic organization, and then derive a model for how people aquire their political beliefs). Often one can derive models from each other (eg quantum theory to classical mechanics, statistical mechanics to thermodynamics) but usually these are not unique.

      There are many models of different things in economics. Connecting the dots may or may not be possible.

      4. One sees this on this blog. There are points of agreement, and the reverse. To me this is like music—I see some musical performance and dislike a whole lot of it, but then like sun shining through the rain, you suddenly get something beautiful. Math also seems like this—wade through alot of formalism, calculations, and then you get a nice result (eg the Ramanujan identities in number theory—and he mostly just guessed or intuited them; others did the proofs). .

      It would be interesting to see if one could develop a set of axioms everyone can agree on. Maybe not—look at ecology—do the lambs lay down with the lions? No. Look at the US, European, or every other inhabited continent’s political systems—-you can’t get any semi-consistant aggregation of preferences (Borda, Condorcet, T Kool, Saari, Arrow, etc.) in those systems. People have finite time and many interests and values.

      • davetaylor1
        January 25, 2015 at 9:03 am

        I love your quip about learning basic arithmetic by reading ‘Principia Mathematica’. The trick that missed is that its algebra and “x plus next” number derivations don’t account for the closed sets and algorithmic re-use of numerals which make arithmetic possible, and their incommensurability with π. So, as a student of Algol68 I’m one of those people who say that mainstream mathematics and physics as well as neo-classical economics don’t make sense. Multiplying two linear numbers (as against repeated addition) generates not a much extended line but something completely different: an area.

        Lambs do not lay down with lions but nor are they always eaten by them. Linear (deductive) theories exist, but reality is not exhausted by them.

        If you can slow your fertile brain sufficiently to think this through, ishi, you will find the point of theory is ultimately to tell you where to look; so the Big Bang, the speed of light, recognition that a real line occupies space (so has an interior, c.f. arteries and neurons) and the curved-space version of Cartesian coordinates (latitude and longitude) suffice to produce a theory of everything. The theory is empty: more like the grammar of a language than the language itself. Maps based on it cannot tell you what goes on in Wall Street, New York; but they can show you where you need to look.

    • Min
      January 24, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      “And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers.”
      — Leonard Cohen

  4. Paul Schächterle
    January 22, 2015 at 11:44 am

    I largely concur with Egmont’s statement.

    Let me first clarify that I think that there should be a lot of room for non-axiomatic reasoning in economics.

    But I would argue that the assumptions used in neoclassical theory are so absurd and clearly false that one cannot base a methodological discussion on those models.

    One would not use snake oil as the basis of a discussion about the faults or merits of western style medicine, either.

    Egmont has captured the “logical shortcut” very well:

    “neoclassical economics is crap, the neoclassical approach is built upon axioms, therefore, the axiomatic-deductive method is inapplicable in economics.”

    Let us not mince words here. That is no “shortcut” but an A1 logical fallacy.

    I am not saying that you the axiomatic approach is particularly good or bad. I am saying you can’t use neoclassical models to judge the axiomatic approach per se.

  5. Jeff Z
    January 23, 2015 at 4:33 am

    I will not abandon the axiomatic and deductive method just because particular axioms used by many economists are false. If I examine the properties of a dynamic model there HAS to be a starting point. There is a structure, and Egmont is actually correct to remind us of this. Paul captures the logical fallacy very well.

    I could use the axiom of perfect information in either a dynamic or a comparative statics model, but I find that to be inappropriate. No human being has perfect information. We implicitly use axioms all the time to try to show that other axioms are inappropriate.

    I think it is ridiculous to use the idea of perfect information. While this seems an easy call, there are several different statements that lead me to use this as a bedrock axiom. First is evidence from introspection. I realize that I don’t and can’t know everything. The second is whether the logical implication of using this statement are true when compared to the outside world. They are not. Perfect information implies that I would KNOW when I would get a job, when I would be fired, when and where I would meet and marry my wife, know that I will be laid off in 6 months, and tells me exactly how much to save to tide me over until I get hired by someone else 4 months after that. Or it tells me that I know under what conditions I can borrow to tide me over, and that I know that I will qualify for that loan. We can sometimes have a good idea about when we will be laid off or fired, but to know when we will be hired is quite different. A quick peek at econjobrumors.com tells me that the axiom of perfect information doesn’t hold in the job market for economists. In short I replace perfect information with fundamental uncertainty.

    The question is which axioms and why? I would seek to define an economy, and begin to regard that as the object of study for the discipline of economics. I believe that the axioms should be based on careful observation. I am interested in how humans behave in that economy, but I am also interested in how they interact with one another and the system, and how this might actually change the system. I need a way to classify types of economies, so that I can consistently define one type of economy and differentiate it from other types of economies.

    I end up with a blend of axioms that are a mixed bag. On one had I have an axiom about human beings – they don’t know everything. On the other, I have axioms regarding the structure of the capitalist economy such as the legal idea of private ownership.

    I also agree with Paul that there needs to be room for non-axiomatic thinking. I see two types, induction and contingency. First, induction and observation can be the source of axioms. Second ,the idea of the evolution of systems itself is axiomatic but the results of that idea are contingent on circumstances of time and place.

    • blocke
      January 23, 2015 at 10:48 am

      “end up with a blend of axioms that are a mixed bag. On one had I have an axiom about human beings – they don’t know everything. On the other, I have axioms regarding the structure of the capitalist economy such as the legal idea of private ownership.

      I also agree with Paul that there needs to be room for non-axiomatic thinking. I see two types, induction and contingency”

      Where does clarity in economics emerge from this Jeff Z? Three cheers for lack of clarity that is closer to reality.

      • Jeff Z
        January 23, 2015 at 5:13 pm

        Blocke: “Where does clarity in economics emerge from this Jeff Z? Three cheers for lack of clarity that is closer to reality.”

        Clarity may not emerge in the results, but in admitting to myself and others which axioms I am using and why. That means being as clear as possible about what questions I am asking, so that I can make some kind of unavoidable judgment about which types of information are important. This includes decision about which observations and which logical structure I am using.

        The idea that humans don’t know everything, and the legal foundations of capitalism seem to me to produce results that are true enough to permit their continued use and refinement. It seems they play key roles in the emergence of business cycles and growth in capitalist societies (see Herman Daly’s post on this blog: Three Limits to Growth: https://rwer.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/three-limits-to-growth/#more-17615)

        What I need is a clear picture of an often messy reality. If I do not spell out my axioms to myself, I can not be sure that the resulting picture is truly fuzzy, or the product of a faulty instrument. I might have the clearest brightest possible picture on my plasma TV, but if the broadcast image is fuzzy, a clear picture (spelled out axioms) will still present a messy reality (the world).

      • davetaylor1
        January 23, 2015 at 6:23 pm

        The advantage of lack of clarity, Blocke, is that it encourages one to look at the reality rather than just the words.

        You should try that if you really do not yet see the difference between reasoning forward deductively, from known axioms to unambiguous conclusions; reasoning backward inductively, taking things/ideas to bits to see what one has not seen before – how the bits work together as a system to produce results which may or may not match your deductive conclusions; trying out other ways of arranging the bits to produce novel results or find ways in which contingent circumstances may explain failure to work as expected.

        By the way, like Paul I largely agree with Egmont, but as Boole developed his truth table logic in the 1820’s I am disappointed to see him still using either/or logic (either my [nominal] Dad is my parent or my Mum is) when the logical possibilities clearly exist of both or neither.

        Likewise a structure is meaningless until one knows what goes on inside it. An article on Hayek’s interest in the emergence of new types of behaviour dependent on the ordering of the parts of systems just led me to Henri Bergson’s “Creative Evolution” (1911) who in Wikipedia is rubbished by his enemies but introduces his subect thus:

        “We shall see that the human intellect feels more at home aamong inanimate objects, more especially among solids, where our action finds its fulcrum and our industry its tools; and that our concepts have been formed on the model of solids. … [Evolutionist philosophy] proceeds, with the powers of conceptual thought alone, to the ideal reconstruction of all things, even life. … ‘It is no longer reality itself’ it says, ‘that it will reconstruct, but only an imitation of the real’. … But … Actions cannot move in the unreal”. A N Whitehead, at least, saw the point and in 1929 published a philosophy of process.

    • blocke
      January 23, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      Almost all the discussion here is by academic-intellectual economists who think, for some reason, that studying themselves will provide answers to understanding economic processes. Economics has turned into a study of economists. So I suggest that economics should not be about studying the thoughts of economists. What would it then be?

      • davetaylor1
        January 24, 2015 at 8:56 am

        As a practical-intellectual communications-science student rather than professor of economics, I appreciate your argument.

        To answer your question, economics should be studying economics rather than the game of Monopoly which now masquerades as it, the differences being marked by the names Aristotle gave them and Soddy reminded us of: economics being about household management and chrematistics being about money-making.

        I agree with Egmont: teaching it needs to start with axioms much like deciphering encrypted messages involves knowing or working out its key. We differ in that I don’t believe the possibilities of household management or even money-making can be captured in symbolic equations. The conditions of the possibility of household management are that the household can communicate, understand the difference between right and wrong and recognise and control what is going wrong. My axioms are therefore the minimum possible communications circuit (wiki ‘Wheatstone’s Bridge’) involving both distribution of power (parallel circuits) and feedback of information about what has been, is or will be going wrong (wiki ‘PID servo’). Taking this understanding as axiomatic (i.e. given), students then have a way of exporing the functioning of our world and our money in the “economy” we actually have. It will be found to minimally involve feeding people (power distribution) and multiple (PID) communications paths completed and acted on in the brains of household members: minimally Dad and Mum feeding the Kids, with Grandparents reflectively providing know-how. If that sounds too simple, have the students analyse the ecoomy using the SSADM method of systems analysis.

      • Jeff Z
        January 24, 2015 at 7:07 pm

        To make economics a study only of other economists is sheer folly. So also is ignoring what others have said on the subjects you happen to be interested in.

        The study of economics should be about economies as a whole and the relationships of their parts, including the human beings that live in them, and who react to and change those economies. For the contemporary United States, that would include both household provisioning and the flow of money that davetaylor1 refers to above.

        But it is also about the flow of information and how the flow of money affects it. This has many sides. Does the structure of the media in the United States, organized largely as for profit businesses, affect the way they present information? Do the people who make decisions about what is newsworthy systematically ignore or downplay the most important issues facing us today? Answer – IMHO, is yes. These issues are, in no particular order, the structure of the media itself, poverty and inequality, and climate change.

        If the media is a technologically oriented business (in the U.S), then I can understand that they might tilt toward technological fixes, instead of examining the structure of the economy as whole. This focus does not upset the existing structure of power and privilege. Growth is unsustainable, but most of the media is fixated on growth as a solution to both poverty and climate change.

        But there are other parts – how did the system come to be what it is (history) and how do we know the system (assuming its existence – some deny this) is working the way we think it is? (philosophy, particularly epistemology.) Prior to Piketty, you could not get most economists to discuss the idea of inequality and poverty. At least it is now on the radar. In this climate, I am not optimistic about how long it will stay.

        That said, your charge has a lot of validity to it

      • January 24, 2015 at 7:38 pm

        I agree with blocke. The emphasis on the study of economics is ill placed. The real question that needs answering here is — “how long will it take to get economics on the right track, when those who are in a position to influence change decide what that change should entail? Dave previously referenced “gradualism” as a legitimate approach to deciphering direction. And its study has undoubtedly proved beneficial in the past. But the world has now changed. Instead of having “sufficient time,” IMMEDIACY has now surpassed ‘gradualism’ as the new necessity. A move by the atomic scientist’s coalition (an austere body of intellectuals including 12 Nobel Laureates) determined that the “Doom’s Day Clock” it has been keeping since 1947 needed to be advanced 2 whole minutes. (See: http://www.aol.com/article/2015/01/22/doomsday-clock-moved-forward-two-minutes-sits-only-three-from-midnight/21133688/ ). That leaves us only 3 minutes from midnight in their opinion — or, to the onset of circumstances from which we can’t recover. I understand that it is difficult to break away from what one has devoted a significant portion of their life to doing, but time is running out on this equation. We need a solution to the clash of ideologies that technology continues to drive together with greater and greater efficiency. For, those that comprise the differences being affected are not ready emotionally to be confronted with the need for change.

  6. January 23, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    It’s good to know that there are important people who are concerned about the economic plight of the less fortunate — at least in words — and, are determined to do something about it. Billionaire Jeff Greene thinks himself to be one. He said in an interview today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that…

    “We need to reinvent our whole system of life. In America, lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted accordingly, so that we have less things and a smaller better existence. The US economy is in deep trouble. We need to be honest with ourselves. We’ve had a realistic level of job destruction, and those jobs aren’t coming back to the US.”

    He followed this by saying that he’s planning a conference in Palm Beach, Florida, at the Tideline Hotel called “Closing the Gap.” This is reminiscent of the recent get together in London, where 250 people from around the world who control in access of $30 trillion according to Lynn Forester de Rothschild (and make up the majority of the .0001%) congregated to discuss ways to try and figure out how to better persuade the world to see plutocracy as democracy in the guise of capitalism. The last time I checked, it didn’t seem as if this objective was going to help anyone in need.

    Greene, who recently listed his California estate for $195 million, flew his wife, children and two nannies on a private jet plane to Davos for the week. You can’t fault him for doing that, because its something that any of us might do. And, according to him, he is planning to have dinner with former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, along with attending several private meals and parties for the ultra rich that are scheduled throughout the week.

    The point I am trying to make here is that these people live in another world entirely separate from the rest of us. So, forgive me if I feel a little skeptical about whatever solutions they think can remedy the world in which I live. In Greene’s case, I find it hard to believe that any of his solutions will include raising the top tax rate to 95 percent in the US and treating ALL income equally — like that made by the rest of us peons. You can try as you will to understand the dynamics in play that are destabilizing global economics, but as long as this crew calls the shots it’s pretty evident that all bets are off.

  7. January 29, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Reblogged this on Employment Relations and commented:
    Thanks, Lars.

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