Murray, like most conservatives, is studying, and conveying observations about our change in NORMATIVE capital, not income or consumption.
Deviation from northern european traditional norms is a luxury good ( the absolute nuclear family, delayed marriage, delayed reproduction, high investment parenting, the manorial/protestant work ethic, hight trust from homogeneity, truth-telling/testimony ).
RELATING YOUR POST TO ROMER’S ‘MATHINESS’
(a)While you haven’t read the book, the fact that you, who are one of our very best (IMHO), immediately assume the mainstream bias that income (an easily visible measure) is somehow meaningful rather than merely a justification of priors – and it provides a more valuable insight into the ‘mathiness’ of mainstream economics, than murray’s book does about the destruction of the family as the central unit of inter-temporal reproduction and temporal production that was in no small part, caused by that mainstream bias and ‘mathiness’.
(b) No economic hypothesis can be ‘true’ in the sense that it is descriptively complete, and therefore free of error, bias, and deception, if we fail to account for the full spectrum of costs in the full spectrum of time frames. That is after all, the only measure of costs: opportunity costs. So solving for income or consumption demonstrates a selection bias, under the assumption that all negative externalities are less ‘bad’ than the ‘good’ produced by observable increases in income and consumption.
In other words, if we stack all possible forms of capital by the length of the production cycle and it’s corresponding consumption or decay, then what is the net change?
The conservative mind is biased to the long term, to saving, to risk, and to disgust. It is a reproductive strategy – a very masculine one perhaps – and the absolute nuclear family is central to it. And it was a very expensive reproductive strategy to develop – which is why was unique.
He does not make the leap (not being an economist) to the extremely damaging suggestion that we move people to capital (a heavy industrial era bias) and it’s destruction of the family and its impact upon norms, instead of moving capital to people (a post-heaving-industrial economy) in order to preserve and expand normative capital.
America’s dirty secret is that pervasive consumption is an insufficient reward for loneliness and isolation. Americans are heavily drug dependent for the sole reason that they are the most lonely and isolated peoples on earth, for whom the media is a poor substitute for friends and family. The absolute nuclear family is necessary, perhaps, but it can only persist within a civic society. The civic society is a product of the absolute nuclear family. It cannot exist otherwise.
So what is the cost of the destruction of the family in pursuit of income and consumption?
What will be the cost of 40% of american women on anti-depressants?
Mathiness is most visible in the selection bias demonstrated by measuring temporally differential income rather than inter-temporarily differential consumption. But that is not the most important effect of quantitative pseudoscience: it is the destruction of long term capital in favor of short term consumption and the placement of faith in technology to rescue us from the consequences of it.
So, it is not so trivial a question as you suppose.
It’s an illustration of everything that is wrong with modern macro’s mathniess.
It’s not the use of math. It’s measuring in favor of bias.
The Propertarian Institute