For hire: 21st century economic actors

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As a teenager, I tried to deposit a wide knowledge and understanding of the world by watching news and reading books. From the most noteworthy economists- Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes, I realized today’s obvious: the early economists’ long-established theoretical approaches we continue to inhabit through time could be the reason for this century’s passive economy. On the contrary, what if starting Economics with humanity’s long-term objectives and not with basic theories ignite new economic thinking to breed progressive business leaders, government, and community?

As humanity continues to face formidable economic challenges in the 21st century, it is logical that these may have happened because of our outdated economic thinking as teachers enlighten their students the Economics rooted from the ideals of 80’s textbooks which are then inherited from the flawed economic assumptions of early theories. Thus, the failure of economics in the 21st century to predict, let alone prevent financial crises that continue to undermine our country outstripping today the peoples’ basic necessities which is a fundamental human right.

My grade 9 Araling Panlipunan teacher, an Economics graduate, once shared his own narrative that being an economist means being concerned about the future of the country. Back then he used Maths to prove his assumptions where his professor assured him that everything would be tackled in his Master’s. However, enrolling in a more advanced academic degree, he told, was just a second cycle from what he had learned in college.

“I was really hoping for a new insight, but I remain dissatisfied. Theories just intensified and equations were only multiplied.”

At some point, learning this from him justified the fact that some students only learn from mastering every material rather than questioning everything. If our education system remains this way, this puts society in crisis as the teachings of economics are in crisis too.

In today’s century, it is vital that students learn to disregard the dogmatic teaching of mainstream theories, but to learn to address financial crises by comprehending the problem where we could formulate new economic reasoning. This vision would be constructive as the youths are the future economists, business leaders, lawyers, and policymakers of the country. So how do we focus our lens to find new economic actors bringing change in the 21st century?

A Thriving Society

A thriving society is more likely to build strong social movements and political engagements, so we must nurture its connections. As society is shaped by the structure of the economy, we must generate effective community meetings, join or support advocacies, and elect wise leaders– these relations enable everyone to cooperate and depend with one another which help us meet Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: self-actualization, esteem, belongingness and love, safety, and physiological needs.

A Life-giving Environment

There is an embedded economic value to our biosphere. From the flow of energy to matter, there’s no doubt that the economy depends on the environment as a source– extracting resources to oil, fuel, clay, and the likes to bring a circular flow of employment to people. To successfully establish the economic narrative of the country in the 21st century, it is integral to manage, propagate, and conserve these environmental resources.

A Collaborative State

For the 21st century’s economic narrative, the role of the state must be rethought. With the country’s contemporary state, the hazard of a tyrannical regime puts the fundamentals of the market in eradication as this gives them the leverage to exploit and rule over others. Hence, the justification for why a country runs incompetent in times of uncertainty. Corollary to this, it is vital to constantly transmit public goods to the education and healthcare system and repress the capability of the market by entrenching it in institutions and regulations that enable the common good – from outlawing toxic pollutants and insider trading to protecting biodiversity and workers’ rights.

As this perspective poses the economy in context, it is now lenient to discern concerns that the 21st century economic actors should tackle. However, if we now find humanity’s long-term objectives to generate a progressive economy, there’s just one missing actor to help economists play its roles: [PxxxT] humanity.

*Artwork by Micah Shane Calivo

Micah Shane D. Calivo graduated as Valedictorian in Senior High School and now a freshman student at San Beda University, taking BS Economics and Public Policy as her pre-law. She was also a former President in Bedan Model United Nations Society at San Beda University-Rizal where her interests in global economy made her pursue Economics.

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