Like psychology in James’s time, economics in our time has been founded on what you might call a negative paradigm.
Hence, economics has been, like the negative psychology of the past, preoccupied with minimizing dysfunction, with removing barriers to commerce and trade. At the same time, an ever more complex framework of legislation and regulation prevents commerce from going wrong. “Business” as we know it, live it, and do it is the expression of this economics of antipathology.
given the parlous state of global prosperity, merely ridding the economy of dysfunction might not be enough to power another century or more of wealth creation. Maybe merely erasing industrial-age dysfunction yields not a “healthy” economy, just a stagnant one.
While we’ve perfected a negative paradigm and learned to zap dysfunctions with the economic equivalent of superweapons, here’s what we haven’t done: build a positive paradigm.