Today, I am officially an MSc in Economics. But, no fanfare, no ceremony, just moving on to finishing my dissertation prospectus so I can defect to Communist Paradise (China) for my field research.
Yesterday I polished off my last required final exam, which was a thorough explication of this dude, Leon Walras (pronounced Valras). Basically he dreamed up the most absurd vision of a sunshine and lolipops economy where everything comes out neat and perfect in the end--so long as pesky, villainous government doesn't get in the way.
Walras was a victim of Physics lust. But unfortunately, for Walras, at the time he had not taken an incredibly boring and useless graduate course in general equilibrium Walrasian microeconomics. So he had yet to figure out the laundry list of technical mathematical proofs that would "validate" his quixotic vision. It took this math nerd,
Kenneth Arrow, to dream up the techincal "proof" of a "competitive equilibrium" where there would be no unemployment, total efficiency, and everyone would get a pony. Of course, Arrow hoped to show the absurd restrictions on the real world that one has to assume/impose in order to achieve the pony-economy result, as such showing how indeed absurd it is to think that free markets on their own could deliver a socially optimal result.
Unfortunately, Economics largely didn't take it that way, but rather embraced the result wholeheartedly as validating their collective normative beliefs about the workings of free markets--a set of beliefs held dear by all economists who read (and misappropriate) but one or two paragraphs out of Adam Smith's unscientific (1776) 1000+ page tome.