Defending Paul A. Samuelson's Economics against charges that the textbook unscientifically accepts the "Keynesian revelation," the head of Economics 1 yesterday declared Keynes' analysis of national income is "essential to understanding modern economic thinking."
Otto Eckstein, associate professor of Economics, said that Keynes' economic theory does not imply any one political or social doctrine; it merely claims that the government can act to flatten out business cycles.
Pre-Keynesian economists believed that full employment would ultimately be achieved if the economic system were left alone. "Then around 1935," related Eckstein, "people began to have their doubts" about government non-interference. Keynes' idea that government spending and tax deduction are effective anti-cyclical measures is "an economic fact, not an opinion," Eckstein said.
What worries some people, he added, is that politicians will "do the easy thing"--that is, spend more without reducing taxes. Fear that such deficit spending will lead to inflation is legitimate, but in fact the last two Administrations have tried to balance the budget even when unemployment is high, according to Eckstein.
He called Samuelson's text "representative of modern economics. It clearly presents the core material of economic analysis and is better written than any other textbook we have come across."
The limitations of the textbook, he emphasized, lie in its superficial treatment of certain fields such as labor economics, public finance, and industrial economics. Several members of the Economics Department are "making deeper studies of these important fields."
"Anyway," Eckstein said, "the Ec 1 reading list provides students with many varied points of view; and Samuelson, which comprises only about one-half the reading, is really middle-of-the-road. The course's reading list may actually be overbalanced toward conservatism."