According to The Making of Global Capitalism, a book by Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, there are something like 200 economists working for the Federal Reserve. Most if not all of them have not really studied economics but simply financial management—meaning, theories about how to make the market make more money, how to beat the market with rent-seeking mathematics, the dark arts of arbitrage, and all the rest of it. They know nothing about actual scarcity—the primary concern of economics—because there is no actual scarcity in American society. There is only imposed scarcity. This is why the only document the student of economics in advanced capitalist societies, and not places like Malawi, should read is John Maynard Keynes' "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren." It was written in 1930, it's short, and it essentially states that when scarcity is resolved, the problem for society will be this: What will people do with the free time? Keynes:

For many ages to come the old Adam will be so strong in us that everybody will need to do some work if he is to be contented. We shall do more things for ourselves than is usual with the rich to-day, only too glad to have small duties and tasks and routines. But beyond this, we shall endeavour to spread the bread thin on the butter-to make what work there is still to be done to be as widely shared as possible. Three-hour shifts or a fifteen-hour week may put off the problem for a great while. For three hours a day is quite enough to satisfy the old Adam in most of us!
Now here is the interesting thing. In How Much Is Enough?, a book by Keynes' biographer, Robert Skidelsky, and has the short essay "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren" as its starting point, it is explained that working hours in advanced capitalists societies were in decline until around the early seventies (the end of the social democratic truce between capital and labor) and have remained unmoved ever since. This fact is telling us something. What it indicates is that around the time economics was replaced by finance management and we started giving Nobel prizes to men who did not solve scarcity problems but instead dreamt up formulas for derivatives, real work (work that checks scarcity) was replaced by another form of work (work that just buys stuff).






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If we had work that was real, the working hours would certainly continue their decline and the question at the heart of Keynes' paper would be confronting us directly: What do we do with freedom from economics?

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