Tyler Cowen gave me an idea. He described his personal moonshot. He wrote,
My goal is to be the economist who has most successfully used the internet as a platform to foment broad enlightenment.
He elaborates on this, creating a concise statement of his mission as a public intellectual.
So I did something similar. Please read Overthrow Neoclassical Economics: my personal moonshot. It begins,
My personal moonshot is that I wish to be a leader in overthrowing neoclassical economics.
…As I see it, neoclassical economics is characterized by two essential propositions.
1. Production is a process that employs two primary factors — labor and capital.
2. The distribution of returns to labor and capital reflects their respective contributions to the production process.
There are many economists, particularly on the left, who reject (2) in favor of theories of distribution that stress the role of political power. This criticism may have merit. But my criticism is more fundamental than that. I reject (1) as a useful description of the contemporary economy.
In neoclassical economics, individual productivity is inherent in the technology and the amount of capital per worker. In reality, it is way more complicated than that. Indeed, there are power relationships, but it is way more complicated than that. Technology and relative power are not sufficient to determine individual productivity and compensation. Everything depends on who you are teamed up with, how you are organized, the overall culture in which you are embedded, and other factors, including ongoing dynamics and expected future changes.