In this essay I defend supply-and-demand-based ECON 101 courses against law-professor James Kwak’s poorly informed criticisms of such courses. (I thank George Leef for his skillful assistance in turning my first draft of this essay into a readable final product.) A slice:
When taught well and wisely, supply-and-demand analysis is the central part of the economic way of thinking. This way of thinking both deepens and broadens students’ understanding of economic reality. Contrary to Kwak’s assertion, such analysis teaches neither that prices automatically and without friction move to equilibrium levels nor that nothing matters except consumers’ and producers’ narrow material concerns.
Instead, the economic way of thinking incites students to ask probing questions about reality that they would otherwise never ask. It encourages them to search for and discover aspects of reality that would otherwise remain hidden. It prompts students to ponder the reality far more profoundly and fully than they would otherwise do. Junking or radically changing Econ 101 would leave students ill-prepared to understand the world around them.
I then go on in this essay to explain how Kwak’s dismissal of ECON 101’s criticisms of minimum wages reveal only that Kwak doesn’t think carefully and critically in the way that good ECON 101 students do.