You will recognise yourself from my description. (Or you will recognise others who fit this description).
You are probably very smart. You are probably very well-educated -- either formally, or self-educated, and probably both. You spend a lot of time on the internet reading economics blogs and commenting on those blogs. You maybe even have a blog of your own, where you write about economics topics. You are probably politically engaged. You are probably a lefty, but may be a righty, or someone who is not easily categorised on that political spectrum. You probably think of yourself as a critic of economics, or a critic of what you see as orthodox economics. You are probably sympathetic to what you see as heterodox economics.
But you have never once read a first year economics textbook.
You have probably many times told me, or people like me, that I really really should read something you want me to read.
Well now it's my turn.
I think you really really should read a first year economics textbook.
You have invested so much time in thinking about, reading about, and writing about, economics. Don't you think it would make sense to spend a tiny fraction of that time just reading a standard first year textbook, cover to cover? You could do it in one day. Maybe two, if you go really slowly and carefully. They were designed to be read by an average reader who is probably less smart and less motivated and less knowledgeable than you are. It's gonna be a breeze!
Even if you think you won't agree with it. Even if you think it's going to be all horribly wrong.
Because, at the very least, you will better understand how the people you are criticising view the world.
Because, at the very least, you will better understand the language that is used by the people you are criticising.
Because, at the very least, you will better understand what is and is not an idea that is seen as "heterodox" by the people you are criticising.
Because, at the very least, you would make this blog and other blogs better.
(The final straw that lead me to write this post was reading a comment on another blog which said that "loans create deposits" is a heterodox idea. Every first year textbook I can remember reading contains a description of how loans create deposits.)
This is said with the greatest of respect (and I do mean that, because I really do respect the amount of intelligence and effort some of you are putting in). But also with frustration.
Now, a second plea: does anyone know a free online source for any reasonably good and reasonably standard first year textbook? One that covers much the same topics and in much the same way as any of the best-selling first year university textbooks? Because I know you can pick up old editions of paper copies of the best-sellers for next to nothing, but I also know that people are much less likely to do this.
(P.S. Non-economists may be surprised that I haven't said which textbook I would recommend. That's because it doesn't really matter much. They are all fairly similar in coverage and treatment. And they are almost all good, in my opinion.)