Economic man is a paradigmatic construct who single-mindedly pursues riches and the rewards of affluence. While no such...


THE END OF ECONOMIC MAN: Principles of Any Future Economics

Economic man is a paradigmatic construct who single-mindedly pursues riches and the rewards of affluence. While no such creatures exist in the real world, humanists like Brockaway are genuinely troubled by their ongoing status as an organizing principle of classical economics. Nor is the author at all gratified by economists' tendency to focus on goods, services, GNP, resources, and allied matters with bottom-line implications. Building on his 1985 work, Economics: What Went Wrong and Why, and Some Things to Do About It, and columns for The New Leader, the retired publisher (Norton) offers a series of stylish essays designed to make economics a moral philosophy that's at least user-friendly, Implicitly accepting the dictum that ""man is the measure of all things,"" he asserts that economics is mainly a question of human relations rather than a value-free discipline susceptible of mathematical precision. In this arguable context, Brockaway is able to make any number of pet progressive peeves the villains of his piece. Cases in point include speculation, interest rates distended by so-called inflation premiums, low wages for third-estate workers, exorbitant salaries for corporate executives, FRB mismanagement of the money supply, and unwarranted faith in either markets or supply/demand forces. Although Brockaway stops short of classifying property as theft, he holds the owners of unproductive assets in obvious contempt. Along similar lines, he makes a spirited, if not altogether persuasive, case for labor's right to participate fully in the profits of enterprise. By his earnestly compassionate account, moreover, the beguiling notion of justice (rather than efficacy, efficiency, or other of capitalism's yardsticks) is the principal issue if US society is to remain a going concern whose prime economic goal is free, full, and gainful employment, Provocative against-the-grain tracts from deep left field, which provide talking points for a kinder, gentler approach to socioeconomic affairs.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1990


Page Count: -

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1990