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Back in the third century AD, ordinary people believed the words ‘“ibra k’dibra” – ‘I have created through my speech’ – inscribed on an amulet, had healing powers. Desperate souls carved the familiar phrase on doorways to ward off sickness during The Great Plague, but little good came from it.

Similarly, some of hitch the tag Abracadabra, to the school of ‘supply-side economics’, which was so popular before the 2008 crash. Politicians like the dictum, ‘Money grows on trees, because I say so’, but like the earlier incantation, it’s based on faith not evidence. This doesn’t stop civil servants chanting  ‘Build houses, and the jobs will come to pay for them.’ 

Economists give academic credibility to supply-side notions by referring to ibn Khaldun, a fourteenth century Muslim philosopher and sociologist. He was one of the first to elevate the idea of economics, but his concern was to determine the level of taxation that works best all of society … not just the producers of financial wealth. Yet in the 21st century, we have government advisers recommending quantitative easing to increase production, ‘because it will yield demand’. 


As any schoolchild will tell you, a higher production of sweets means greater choice on the shelves, but it doesn’t increase the pocket money to buy them. 

A former generation could spot hokum better, and called it the horse-and-sparrow theory, ‘If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.’ 

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©Copyright 2024 Orlando Kimber. All rights reserved. Updated Oct 2022