Date: Feb 5, 2013 8:18 AM
Author: GS Chandy
Subject: Re: Is Kern Alexander an Economist?(was An Economist Explains the Problem with Choic")

Richard Hake's post dt.  Feb 5, 2013 9:27 AM had previously appeared in Mathedcc @ Drexel.  I had there made a quite satisfactory and reasonably complete response, as copied below:
Richard Hake posted Feb 5, 2013 9:27 AM:
> In response to my post "Economist Kern Alexander
> Explains the Problem
> with School Choice" [Hake (2013)]
> "Haim," in his MathEdCC post, wrote (slightly
> edited):
> "Kern Alexander, according to his Univ. of Illinois
> faculty profile
> at <> has an Ed.D. in Educational
> Administration
> from Indiana University in 1965; a diploma in
> Educational Studies
> (with distinction) with two dissertations from Oxford
> University,
> Pembroke College <>, 1977. KERN
> AN ECONOMIST. . . . [[my CAPS]] . . . . ."
> To which GS Chandy, after listing some of Alexander's
> interests and
> qualifications reported at <>,
> replied: "I
> believe [his interests and qualifications] indicate
> that Professor
> Alexander probably has considerably more right to
> describe himself as
> an 'economist' than has Haim to pronounce on his
> economics or lack
> thereof."
> Well said, GS Chandy, except that, as far as I know:
> (a) Kern
> Alexander has never publicly described himself as an
> economist (nor
> does Wikipedia <>, nor does the
> Univ. of
> Illinois <>); (b) it was Diane
> Ravitch (2013) who
> applied the adjective "economist" to Kern Alexander
> in her blog entry
> "An Economist Explains the Problem with Choice."
> I think Ravitch was right in her designation, despite
> the protestations of "Haim."
> My online dictionary tells me that an economist is
> "an expert in
> economics," and that economics is "the branch of
> knowledge concerned
> with the production, consumption, and transfer of
> wealth."

Thanks, Professor Hake.

My objective in that response to Haim ( ) was two-fold:

a) To show up Haim for being a pompous 'know-little' who is given far too much importance at most fora with his pronunciamentos on a veritable host of matters of which he has actually understood little or nothing. Witness, for instance, his major contribution to discussions on math education: "PUT THE EDUCATION MAFIA IN JAIL!".

To judge by his response ( ), I have succeeded, in at least some minor way, in accomplishing the above-noted objective.

The other objective was much more important:

b) To convince, if possible, people that 'economics' is potentially a science - but is far from being that today (in its current state of development). Which, I had hoped - in the light of the seminal importance that a *real economics* could hold for us as societies - might stimulate some 'economists' into working towards development of such a *real economics* and that they would thereby become real economists.

There have doubtless been very brilliant and knowledgeable people working in 'economics' - but I believe they have not yet created what I'd accept as a *real economics* - which will happen only when they learn how to work out, in adequate detail, specifically how "the organization's or the nation's daily activities may impact on the economic well-being of individuals in the said organization or nation".

I fully accept that there have been many brilliant studies in 'economics'. There have even been a few that did 'connect' to the economic interests and needs of the people who live in our societies - but such have been all too rare, alas.

As a subject, 'economics' is still the dismal 'nonscience' that it ever was: in no study or document on 'economics' will you find any practical suggestions that could help resolve any of the real issues confronting nations or societies.

Doubtless many organizations have been practically aided by the work of 'economists' - but most such assistance has been 'fundamentally spurious' because of the lack of real connections to the interests of the people of the societies that those organizations inhabit. To provide an instance from the not-too-distant past, I recall that the geniuses of the 'US banking system' seem to have gotten away with loots of millions on millions of dollars for having driven their industries almost into receivership!

How did that happen?

How come the rewards of those 'bankers' were not linked in any way to the real (economic and other) interests of the industry in which they were 'working', to the real interests of the society that nurtured the banking system?

I've seen few if any signs of significant change occurring.



Message was edited by: GS Chandy