A funny piece of graffiti on a university building: ECONOMICS - THE SCIENCE OF GREED! It wasn't clear whether this was a criticism of the faculty or an advertisement for it. However, negative sentiments about economics are frequently expressed in university and other left-wing circles.
There seems to be a belief that we should not study economics because it is the science of greed. By the same token, should we not study Medicine because this is the study of disease? Should we close down the Asian Studies faculties because of the poverty in many Asian countries?
Others label economics the feeble science, because of its apparent weak predictive powers.
In fact economics is not a science at all. It borrows many tools from science, and, like science, relies heavily on mathematics, but has not set itself up as a scientific discipline - it is simply the study of the allocation of scarce resources.
This is not to say that is has no predictive power. In fact many people use their economics skills all over the world to make predictions - 'will this strategy make me rich?'. And many succeed. In fact economics has made one of the the most powerful predictions of all - the global failure of all communist economies, along with the slower discrediting of left-wing economic policies.
Importantly economics is not the study of money. Money is a sought after commodity by much of the world and provides a quantitative, if limited, way of measuring value and desire. It would be foolish not to study it as part of economics, but it is only a small part of the discipline.
Greed also is part of human nature, and affects the way that resources get allocated. It would be foolish not to study it.
Free Market Economics is a branch of economics which builds a model based on certain axioms about the behavior of people. It simply asks the question - if we assume this set of things, what conclusions can we draw? And then does this give us any insight into what happens in the real world? Anyone who doesn't like the prospect of this model being imposed on the world is welcome to provide their own set of axioms, and take the same course. Instead many choose to dismiss it as an evil discipline which advocates immoral exploitation.
Economics is a powerful, if limited, tool-set for understanding the world we live in. It is foolish for any discipline to dismiss or vilify it.