Atendendo a algumas respostas apreciativas e inúmeras ignorativas, aqui está......

27 janeiro 2012

Stone, steel, and fire

Heard NPR during lunch. Good news first, according to the analysts: more car & truck sales, housing starts. The bad news: rising cost of education & health. Question for the occasional economist visiting this blog: why is it that transactions in the "male" sectors of the economy - steel, fire, and stone - are considered as growth, a positive thing, while transactions in the "female" sectors - health and education - are considered as a drag to growth, a cost to be lowered?

As far as I know this is an invariant of the press coverage of economic news: North and South, right and left, deep or shallow. If you find a counter example in the African or Asian press, or perhaps in distant Northern Europe, please let me know.

I thought the science of economics was supposed to be without a judgement of value on specific products and services - if there is a consumer, a producer, and a market to clear the transaction, then you add to the national accounts without judging the value of the good. Personally I might think that a Cadillac, or a Canon photo camera, or an HP printer, just to give examples, is a pile of junk, worth less than the plastic used to manufacture it; but presumably it satisfies a need of the buyer, so the economist doesn't and shouldn't care.

The exception is the classification of the economy into 2 main sectors: "male" goods, and the "female" service sector which is not so good. (The one exception is the price of gasoline, which counts as a minus even though it is in the "fire" sector, presumably because it gets on the way of car sales. But when more gas is burnt, that's ok, so perhaps it's not a real exception.) Isn't this distinction anti-scientific?
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