So the new economics is just like the old, just worse

The Guardian treats us to a story about how just regular everyday people are learning economics. Excellent, we approve. Knowing more means that they - whoever you like to think of as they - are less able to pull the wool over your eyes.

We thought we'd investigate what is in this new economics though. Following links through the site near at random until we came to something of interest.

Time banking. Why not trade time with each other rather than money? Sure, OK, why not? Obviously this is something that the old, boring and standard economics has looked at. A reasonable summation might be that time banking, by the nature of it being near always with people you know, or share a small community with, is a Polanyi style market. As opposed to a money based on, something we might call more Smithian. 

There are indeed advantages and costs to each. Polanyi was quite insistent, as are many who currently recommend such, that this web of local obligations produces that community feeling which is of such value. The Smithian alternative emphasises the manner in which cash is anonymous and works over long distances, allowing that division and specialisation of labour among the billions of us. That latter makes us richer even if not on that community sense.

Our preference is that people get to do whichever they want whenever - you know, we're liberals.

So, the new economics on time banking:

Time banks are growing and remain an interesting alternative to the market.

Ahh, the people doing this educating are ignorant of economics, aren't they? Time banking isn't an alternative to the market, it is a market. We're just using a different method of registering who has a claim on the time or assets of another. We're using that central register, rather than the distributed one of who has the pieces of cash.

Whether people are trading favours, services, time or labour, it's a market, isn't it? The intervention, or not, of cash and money can make that market work better - worse if you're seriously communitarian perhaps - but it's still a market.

So, the New Economics, just like the old but with added ignorance. This might not be a major advance in our civilisation.