Yowser! Michael Lind sure took a lousy Econ 101 class.
Lind has a piece in Salon called Econ 101 is killing America (not making this up). Well, I just got done teaching Econ 101 this summer. Let's see how I did.
Here are some of Lind's claims of the country-killing myths that are taught in Econ 101:
1. All profitable activities are good for the economy.
We spent a lot of time on externalities and how private and social incentives do not always coincide. We also talked about rent-seeking, lobbying, and the mess our financial sector had become by the 2007 crisis.
2. Monopolies & Oligopolies are always bad because they distort prices.
We discussed how economies of scale can make monopolies more efficient than a bunch of smaller firms. We had a chapter about Network goods and how the competition is for the market rather than in the market. We talked about how monopolies are often transient and about contestable markets.
3. Low wages are good for the economy.
We discussed cross-country wage differentials pointing out how productivity differences (from differing amounts of physical and human capital) cause wage differentials on similar-seeming jobs. I pointed out how Mexico should be humiliated instead of bragging about how their wages were becoming lower than China's.
4. Trade is always win-win.
We talked about the shortcomings of simple models which assume workers are homogeneous, have no preference over job type or location, and don't suffer unemployment or relocation costs when production patterns change.
5. Economics is a science.
Not guilty. Never discussed it one way or the other. Don't see any reason to in principles class.
There are 5 others, but I'ma call it quits for now.
All I can say is Mr. Lind should ask for his money back. Any econ 101 class which argued for the points discussed above is a misleading class that does not well-serve the students.
The Cowen and Tabarrok micro text I used is really good overall and excellent at dispelling myths 1-3 above, but I must confess a tinge of disappointment on its coverage of trade.