President Trump recently put forth a new executive order espousing “religious freedom” for the first time in the history of the United States. This executive order allows religions to have a louder voice in policy discussions and gives zero-doubt to their tax-exempt status. This is so exciting! In light of this revolutionary action taken on by our enlightened president, I would like to welcome you to the new Church of Economicism.
Not to be confused with “economism,” which is a term used in a new book describing how “bad economics justifies wealth and income inequality,” Economicism is more appropriate as it describes the omniscience of economics. More and more, people are using economic terms and metaphors to describe non-market behavior. Terms like social capital, vertical integration, human resources, and cost-benefit analysis are infiltrating the English language more than ever before. Some folks think this is dangerous and not appropriate. They say we shouldn’t apply this to everything. We need to keep them separate. I disagree.
That very sentiment makes Economicism ripe for the birth of a religion. Its controversial nature is almost a necessary feature of any religion. Its application to life is comparable, and often superior to most religions in the world. Like a religion, economics can be used as a guide to human action and can help us make better life decisions. Also, there are different sects or denominations within the religion as a whole that can give rise to the diversity found in other major religions, allowing for all folks to feel at home.
The official text will be up for debate and discussed at our regular gatherings, but I would probably suggest Thomas Sowell’s tome, “Basic Economics” as the guiding text for Economicism. Instead of parables, Sowell uses real world examples that can help us relate and strengthen our faith in Economicism.
Similar to other major religions, we are guided by an unseeable force, yet not necessarily omniscient or omnipotent. The beauty of this religion is that there is no need for omniscience or omnipotence. Human action is limited by resource and institutional constraints. Additionally, it is not omnibenevolent, because there is an optimal level of bad, or evil, needed in the world to justify and distinguish what is good. As you may have guessed, this force is the Invisible Hand, which guides human production toward the most efficient outcomes. It is in everything.
Adam Smith, the father of economics, is the equivalent Abraham of the Abrahamic religions of Economicism. His personal relationship with the Invisible Hand allowed him to see the world differently and did not stop him from analyzing intrinsic motivations characterized by human moral sentiments. Though, there is no economics “Christ” that has come to the world yet, there are and have been many prophets of Economicism. John Stuart Mill, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Joseph Schumpeter, Thomas Sowell, Deirdre McCloskey, Douglass North, Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty, among others are listed as prophets of our faith. However, discerning between these prophets will need further discussion within the Church of their work and impact on Economicism.
Our weekly gatherings will consist of discussions led by a rotating member of the congregation discussing current events and the economics behind it all. What would Adam Smith say? (WWASS) What would Milton Friedman say? (WWMFS) We will also discuss passages and selected excerpts from the teachings of the prophets and from Basic Economics, or the agreed upon text. Though, there will be some structure to these meetings, we find that the order of discussion will arise spontaneously and then turn into our religious norms.
To conclude this public service announcement, I want to mention that this religion does not compel exclusivity. One can have more than one religious affiliations as it does not contradict economic reasoning or Economicism. Members of Economicism, do not have to worship any of these prophets or the father of economics, Adam Smith. In fact, we ask that you do not worship these prophets, because they may turn out to be false. What we do is use the rich array of teachings to discern and seek out truth of human action.
That being said, I warmly welcome you to the new Church of Economicism, where your demand for understanding is supplied by economic thinking.
As you can probably tell, this has not gone through any edits. It’s raw. Please forgive the random grammar and weird phrasing.