How people use economic terms mainly as a political stance comes in all levels of expertise and income levels. And how to combine advocacy and justice, whether from the Koch brothers or Walmart and McDonald’s workers, is often blurred and has only soft edges based on personal context and daily exposure to whatever one thinks is just.
Via Noah Opinion:
Bryan Caplan has a great description of how most people think of macroeconomic issues in starkly political terms:
If you had to classify everyone with a position on the subject, you’d end up with a Pyramid of Macroeconomic Insight and Virtue that looks something like this:
Tier 1…Partisans…who loudly support…”their side”…See all the Democrats who supported Clinton’s austerity, and all the Republicans who supported Bush II’s profligacy.
Tier 2…Ideologues who are sure that “active government policy” will work well/poorly, even though they can’t even explain …
Tier 3…People who can parrot some basic textbook macroeconomics to support “their side,” but who can’t answer basic objections – or even accurately parrot the parts of the textbook that conflict with their views.
Tier 4…People who understand a few Undeniable Macroeconomic Truths. For Keynesians, these include: “Nominal wages are sticky,” “A lot of unemployment is involuntary,” and “Aggregate Demand matters.” For anti-Keynesians, these include: “The safety net discourages job search and sustains unrealistic worker expectations,” “99 weeks of unemployment insurance makes nominal wages stickier,” and “Regular government spending is wasteful, and stimulus spending is worse.”…
Tier 5…People who freely acknowledge the whole list of Undeniable Macroeconomic Truths[.]
I really like the first three tiers of the pyramid. It’s an accurate description of how most people in the world think about macroeconomic issues. We’re used to thinking in terms of “sides”, of morals and tribes instead of technocratic efficiency. Even Caplan doesn’t really question that the divide is all about redistribution, government intervention, social safety nets, rather than about technocratic questions of how to smooth out the business cycle.