Professor Kendall Cochran was a leader in the American institutionalist school of heterodox economics. This volume includes twenty published articles and book reviews, as well as several talks given by Cochran. In these, he examines some of the fundamental prerequisites for government involvement in the economy. Early institutional economists did have a concern for economic planning and reform. Kendall Cochran has advanced heterodox economics by adding to the examination and scientific explanations of the status quo, the underpinnings of the institutional, historical, technological, and social forces that shape the economy. In essence, he took the dismal science and made it into a moral science.
Thus, the economist has a moral responsibility to help society see where it might go. Today, the moral dilemma facing society, and thus economists, is not to defend the status quo with models, equations, etc., but to argue for social change as well as for the explicit implementation of moral or value judgments in this change. Essential to our reasoning is that moral assumptions challenge the traditional ownership of the means of production, the setting of prices, and the distribution of income.
Recent revelations of the truth about austerity provide a wake-up call to everyone who was willing to go along with the nonsensical notion that the best way to create jobs is to lay off teachers, police officers, and other government employees. Government has a very important role to play, especially when the economy is sluggish and failing to generate sufficient jobs, and economists must ensure that the role of government is understood by all. Cochran’s moral science creates an expectation that economists think about the consequences of their policy recommendations.
These articles provide the basic understanding required to analyze the market, not as a self-adjusting one, but rather one based upon rational and moral assumptions to achieve a desired end for society as a whole. If it takes government intervention, rather than a haphazard pattern of different assumptions and results that later may be found to be invalid--so be it. This volume will be of most interest and value to policymakers, professional economists, and graduate students, all of whom are looking to expand the scope of economics and raise it to a level that will increase the well-being of society as a whole. That is the true role and goal of the institutional economists.