Economics really is the "dismal science". While this term was originally referring to the idea that some people would always be on the brink of starvation because people would keep reproducing until they exhaust the food supply, I think now it refers to the fact that it's a "science" that behaves a lot more like two competing football teams with diametrically opposed solutions to every problem. A "science" shouldn't behave like that.
I've been thinking about whether one could create a simulation of an economy that would seek to answer these fundamental questions. I'm thinking that you could simulate people's behavior using "agents" that use some kind of reinforcement learning, combined with a tendency to imitate people around them.
I think part of the challenge will be engineering just the right amount of stupidity into the artificially intelligent agents to accurately mirror human behavior.