In general, economists study the ways a society uses scarce resources to produce goods and services. They analyze the costs and benefits of production and consumption, conduct researches, develop forecasts and monitor economic trends. Most economists are concerned with practical applications of economic policies. They use their understanding of economic relationships to advise business firms, insurance companies, banks, securities firms, industry and trade associations, labor unions, government agencies, and others.
But who does the economist serve: powerful interests or society?
An ordinary individual might say that economists today primarily serve the needs of powerful interests at the expense of society in general. Not that all economists are this type of individuals, but those whose visions aligned with powerful financial interests are not dubious of what the flaws in their assumptions might be. I remember my professor, during my first year in UP, saying, “’Yung mga nasa Econ, malapit sa impyerno.” (Pointing out that Economics is politics in disguise.) Upon remembering this, I start to wonder again: what do people think of economists?
To address the question I have in mind, I asked a friend about her thoughts on economists. She describes economists as experts who do not shoulder much of the risk of being wrong, and that economists let the society pay the full price of their deception – economists are deceptive individuals. She also added that economists do not see the real problem – graphs and mathematical analysis do not hold up to the many contingencies of the real world. Hearing these words I asked myself, is this how people perceive economists? Economists – what and who are they good for?
-Katreena Mae T. Villanueva, 2012-30409