What do you say about people who define “rationality” as a myopic focus on the self and its desires, and who regard the well being of others as an “externality”in the drama of life? What do you say of people who can’t tell the difference between price and value, and who think that when a kid sits on a couch and plays video games and feeds his face with junk food, and then needs medications for obesity and attention deficit, the result is a “virtuous circle” of consumption that betokens prosperity and “growth”?
If you are such a person — ie an economist of the conventional sort — then you call this Nobel-worthy brilliance. You heap accolades upon a Gary Becker, the economist at the University of Chicago who wrote a book analyzing interactions within a family in terms of this self-seeking model. (“Ten dollars tonight dear? Fifteen?”) If you are a member of the news media, then you quote such lights as oracles of great authority.