Don't Be a "Jibbering Idiot"

Economic Principles and the Properly Trained Economist

Originally published in Journal of Private Enterprise

Economics, properly understood, makes sense of the complex web of historical relations that constitutes reality by utilizing economic theory. Economics without price theory is not economic theory, and measurement without theory isn't empirically meaningful. However, graduate students are being increasingly trained in sophisticated procedures of optimization and statistical testing while remaining largely ignorant of economic theory as a tool for understanding economic history. This address is a renewed call for my fellow economists to instill in their teaching and training the beauty of economic theory, the empirical importance of economic theory, and an understanding of economic forces at work to provide a golden key that unlocks the deepest mysteries of the human experience. Without learning the governing dynamics of human action and the mechanisms that produce social cooperation under the division of labor, modern civilization will be left undefended against the fallacious claims that market processes are exploitative, monopolistic, and unfair.

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