Economics tries to explain how and in what manner the economy works. But economists are just as concerned with trying to do better. This requires economists to make judgments about which type of economy is more desirable. Unfortunately, most economists are not honest about those value judgments, preferring to pretend their profession is scientific and value-free.

Deciding which economic goals to pursue will reflect the priorities, interests of different individuals, communities and classes. This is an inherently subjective choice.

A prosperous economy must produce enough goods and services to support its citizens and enable them to enjoy life to the fullest. Prosperity doesn't just mean having more stuff, it means striking a good balance between private consumption, public services and leisure time.

Members of a security economy must be confident that their financial situation is reasonably stable. They should not worry about being able to support themselves, maintain their homes and provide better financial opportunities to their children. The economic insecurity and turmoil that millions of people experience today imposes a real cost on them. A lot of time and energy is spent caring for people who may never lose their jobs or homes. That fear is costly. By the same token, financial security, which means being able to sleep at night without worrying about your livelihood, is valuable in itself.

Innovative financial progress requires us to constantly think about how we can make our operations more productive. This innovation involves imagining new goods, services and better ways of producing them. An economy must be organized in such a way as to encourage and facilitate innovative behavior, otherwise it will eventually run out of creative energy and forward momentum.

Although selected individuals have different preferences, hopes, and dreams, those preferences are strongly shaped by social pressures. They must have reasonable ability to make financial decisions consistent with those preferences. What kind of work they do, where they live and what they consume should be looked at. There is a huge ideological myth that only free market economies truly respect individual choice, which is patently false. The choices of billions of human beings that are natural consequences of global capitalism are brutally suppressed by economic hardship and social divisions. In addition, the services offered by the public sector such as schools, health care, culture, parks greatly expand the options available, especially for low-income people.

Equality and inequality are harmful, meaning that large numbers of people are deprived of the ability to work and enjoy their lives. In this sense the goal of equality is linked to the goal of prosperity. I also believe that inequality is inherently negative in its own right, even if those at the bottom of the economic spectrum still enjoy some decent minimum standard of living. Concentration of wealth at the top will undermine social cohesion, welfare and democracy. For example, economists have identified a phenomenon called situational consumption, whereby people's emotional well-being is negatively affected by unfavorable self-comparisons with the lifestyles of the rich and famous. When this happens, inequality has distinct negative effects in addition to the effects of poverty. For this, narrowing the economic gap between the rich and the poor is an important economic goal. Equality also requires decent provisions to support members of society who cannot work.

Sustainability Humans depend on their natural environment, which directly enhances our quality of life. It provides essential inputs that are essential for the work we do in every industry. All production involves human work to add value to what we receive from nature. Preserving the environment is important in itself, even more so if we accept that humans have some responsibility for the other species living on our planet. It's also important in a more narrow economic sense, because our ability to continue producing goods and services in the future will depend on finding sustainable ways to harvest the natural inputs we need.

Democracy and Accountability We have seen that the economy is an inherently social enterprise. Different people perform different tasks. Some individuals and organizations have great decision-making power, while others have very little decision-making power. Modern capitalism has a well-developed but narrow notion of corporate responsibility, whereby corporations are forced to maximize the wealth of their shareholders. Competitive markets also impose another narrow form of liability, enforced by the risk of lost sales and eventual bankruptcy for firms that produce low or excessively expensive products. Although the ability of elected governments to manage capitalist economies is fundamentally limited by the unelected power of businesses and investors, democratic elections allow citizens to exercise some influence over economic trends. None of these limited forms of accountability provide thorough or consistent means of subjecting the economy to democratic control. Yet given the overall importance of the economy to our general social condition, we deserve a more genuine and far-reaching form of economic democracy and accountability. In some ways, modern capitalism has done a better job of advancing each of these goals than any previous system. In other ways it fails miserably the test of good economy.