The Economy Is Not a Person (Stop Talking About It That Way)

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The economy is not “unhealthy” right now. It’s neither “ailing” nor “suffering.” The economy is not an autonomous entity like the human body; it’s made up of people taking actions that have an effect on other people. Anat Shenker-Osorio writes for New Deal 2.0 that talking about the economy like a living, breathing thing deemphasizes the actions of people–including irresponsible bankers–and makes efforts at regulation more difficult.

Most people don’t need external interference until something goes wrong. The same is not true of an economy. But when people say, “the economy shed jobs,” they’re reinforcing the idea of the economy as an autonomous thing. It’s better to say, “more people are unemployed,” or “companies laid people off.” Shenker-Osorio writes:

We personify the economy to our peril. Even as our overt messages insist the economy requires consistent external oversight, our language conveys the economy is an autonomous, self-regulating thing. The more we imply that the economy is something that exists and functions on its own, the less credible are our arguments that there’s no such thing as an unregulated free-market.

Source: New Deal 2.0

Image by Photos8, licensed under Creative Commons.

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