red light district Nino Hilal | getty images

De economische bijzit

LONDEN – De afgelopen tientallen jaren heeft de economie de studie van menselijke activiteiten die hiervoor buiten het bereik van de formele metingen werden beschouwd gekoloniseerd. Wat critici ‘economisch imperialisme’ noemen heeft een economie van de liefde, kunst, muziek, taal, literatuur, en nog veel andere zaken tot stand gebracht.

Het unificerende idee achter deze uitbreiding van de economie is dat wat mensen ook doen, of ze nou de liefde bedrijven of widgets bedenken, ze altijd de beste resultaten willen bereiken tegen de laagste kosten. Deze winsten en kosten kunnen teruggebracht worden tot geld. Dus mensen proberen altijd het beste financiële redendement op hun transacties te bereiken.

Dit staat in tegenstelling tot de populaire afbakening van activiteiten waarin het goed is (en rationeel) om de kosten bij te houden, en activiteiten waarin mensen de kosten niet bijhouden (en dit ook niet zouden moeten doen). Om te zeggen dat zielskwesties iets zijn van kille op- en aftelsommen mist volgens critici geheel de pointe. Maar kille berekeningen zijn juist exact waar het wel om draait is wat de economen repliceren.

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