This blog is the product of an impending sense of economic disaster. At the time of writing, the UK's coalition government seems to be hell-bent on an economic policy based around a strategy of public expenditure cuts and deficit reduction that seems to me to be a wholly disastrous reaction to the financial crash of 2008. It's an approach that, in my view, fails to address the causes of that crash, and resorts instead to a set of ideologically-driven policies that have been demonstrably disastrous elsewhere (most notably in Ireland).
I am not a professional or academic economist; I do have part of a degree in economics, acquired nearly thirty years ago, and have spent most of the time since then working as a senior policy-maker in the Civil Service, dealing on a day-to-day basis with economic concepts, before taking early retirement at the end of last year. And in my view the guts of economics are not difficult to grasp; it's an endlessly fascinating subject that is capable of endless refinement, but I would argue that not only are the essentials easily grasped, but that knowledge of them is essential in a functioning modern democracy.
I should make it clear that I am writing firmly from a left perspective - my take on economics derives from a belief that economic activity is a means, not an end, and the ends are a political matter. In my case those ends are equality, a fair division of wealth, and environmental protection. I believe that much that is most damaging about economic debate arises from confusing means and ends.
I'm particulary sceptical about the doctrines of market economics. At its heart economics is reducible to a number of propositions about the way people will behave in certain situations - it's therefore important that it is empirical. There is a sort of reductionism about the operation of markets, claiming that they operate according to unbending laws, that seems to me to be the hallmarks of bad economics.
I've been blogging for some time on a wide range of subjects at Notes from a Broken Society. But I have become so incensed by the abuse of economics by both government and some political commentators that I felt that a separate blog was called for. This, then, is my attempt to get past some of the ideology and expose some of the dodgy thinking.
The title of this blog is of course a homage to Ben Goldacre's Bad Science columns in the Guardian. I believe that economic debate requires to be cleared of misunderstanding, charlatanism and shamanism in just the way that Goldacre seems to achieve with science week after week in his column.