Skip to comments.Quite Possibly The Dumbest Thing Iíve Heard An Economist Say
Posted on 07/17/2012 1:12:56 PM PDT by Zakeet
In the mid-1800s, a cousin of Charles Darwin by the name of Francis Galton wrote a series of works expanding on an old idea of selective breeding in human beings.
Galtons theory became known as eugenics. At its core, eugenics was underpinned by an assumption that talent and genius were hereditary traits, and that deliberate breeding could improve the human race.
Within decades, intellectuals were spending their entire careers studying these ideas, quickly spawning a number of different fields dedicated to racial sciences.
Scholars began closely examining racial differences and building volumes of statistics on everything ranging from intelligence to reproduction to genetic effectiveness in combating disease.
Scientists would scurry about taking cranial measurements, sizing up jaw lines, calculating forehead slopes, and estimating nose angles all of which became evidence of racial superiority.
It became clear that one race was superior to another because the science of the day said that it was true. And they had the statistics and equations to prove it.
This faux-science became the moral justification for racial segregation and imperialistic expansion.
After all, one could hardly feel bad about conquering and enslaving an entire nation if the science proves that theyre an inferior race.
Nazi officials took these ideas and perverted them even further, wrapping horrific crimes in a blanket of science.
Today, its nice to know that human beings are a lot more enlightened. We know that the dimensions of someones skull or nose dont matter much in the way of intelligence or integrity.
And we can wonder with absolute incredulity how anyone could have passed off such nonsense as science.
Heres the irony, though. In the future, theyll wonder the same thing about us. The difference is that our faux-science is economics.
In the future, theyll wonder with utter incredulity how these ridiculous assertions about conjuring money out of thin air and borrowing your way out of debt could possibly pass as science.
Theyll be mystified at how political leaders listen to these modern day soothsayers, directing national policy and robbing wealth from hundreds of millions of people based on this faux-science.
And theyll be completely floored when they see that we actually award our most esteemed prizes to these men who tell us that we can spend our way out of recession and tax our way into prosperity.
To give you an example, Ive just finished Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitzs new book The Price of Inequality in which he writes something that may be the dumbest thing Ive ever heard from an economist:
[T]he success of [Apple and Google], and indeed the viability of our entire economy, depends heavily on a well-performing public sector. There are creative entrepreneurs all over the world. What makes a difference. . . is the government.
Yes, in the eyes of our most decorated scientists, the brilliance and guile of Ingvar Kamprad, Sam Walton, Ray Kroc, Asa Candler, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and millions of others are far less important than an effective government bureaucracy.
His entire book, in fact, is an impassioned argument for even more government control and redistribution of wealth. Right because its been working so well.
These ideas are totally absurd. Yet this what passes as science today. And because its science, society simply believes it to be true.
No doubt, people in the future will look back, and theyll wonder
but they wont understand one bit.
In the future, people will wonder with utter incredulity how ridiculous assertions about conjuring money out of thin air and borrowing your way out of debt could possibly pass as science ... at how political leaders listen to modern day soothsayers, directing national policy and robbing wealth from hundreds of millions of people based on faux-science ... and how we can actually award our most esteemed prizes to men who tell us that we can spend our way out of recession and tax our way into prosperity.
“No doubt, people in the future will look back, and theyll wonder..”
In the present, some people with a couple of functioning brain cells are looking on, and we shudder....
I will actually allow that there is SOME truth to the statement, but only in a negative way. If the genius entrepreneur is born in North Korea, he likely won’t be able to use his ability. This doesn’t say anything marvelous about governement, except to the degree that it protects people from violence allowing them to make the most of their lives.
Such a government must be kept lean and narrow, or it will become the perpetrator of violence.
Stiglitz’s first bestseller after winning the Nobel Prize was a diatribe against Reagan.
His whole idea in “Globalism and its Discontents” was that everything was Reagans fault because he did not regulate enough. Interestingly enough he wrote this after 8 years of Clinton and after having served on Clinton’s cabinet.
This was sort of like the manager at the supermarket who had the job for 8 years blaming a spill in aisle 3 on the guy who ran the place 8 years ago. As a member of the Clinton cabinet, he had ample time to regulate us to prosperity.
Stiglitz is an ass.
The President and his advisors are devout Keynesians.
Check the list of Directors
John Maynard Keynes, Director 1937-1944 V.P. 1937
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, British prime minister between 1937 and 1940
Note the years. While Hitler was exterminating the genetically defective in the camps, Keynes was loudly banging the drum for him in England.
Check the Science used to justify Galton’s garbage:
70 years later and Galton/Keynes genetically inferior races Still can’t be identified as genetically pre disposed to behave or think in any inferior way, shape, or form.
Also see, Keynes at Harvard
There has never been any science whatsoever to justify Galton and Keynes, none.
I always thought that Paul Krugman would hold that record forever, but I am inclined to agree with you.
A government has the power to allow excellence, but lives for every opportunity it has to destroy it.
Eugenics has been practiced by match making great aunts for centuries. It works as well as any tool, as long as it is used by one of skill.
I thought this was an article about Krugman before I clicked in....
There ARE industrious people all over - but it was The USA and the FREEDOMS we have that made us go from a collection of colonies to the worlds biggest superpower in 150 years.
There were entrepreneurs all over the world- did they succeed in Communist Russia? China? North Korea?
The places with THE MOST FREEDOM and LEAST government did the best
So YES the type of government is what made the difference- the places with the LEAST government control.
Economics is more a quantitative discipline than a science. Any such discipline worthy of the attention and participation of people such as Milton and Rose Friedman is not without value. That it can be perverted for political purposes is one of the great distinctions between economics and sciences
Remember that agronomy is a real science but a man named Lysenko did much harm by politicizing it with the aid of a fellow named Stalin.
As Al Gore Junior, rainmaker and former Vice-Prezzydent, would say, "the scientists had consensus".
The first clue should have been the Nobel prize. What makes you think a bunch of Norwegians using unknown criteria can pick any winner? Look at their past track records.
The Inequality is the new rage. Anybody worth anything has to have sprouted it a dozen times a day. It is pure bunk.
Find something in nature, in real life, that is truly 'equal'.
Here's where the author and I violently diverge.
Society doesn't believe any of it. In fact it doesn't have to believe anything.
So long as the person holding the political and military reins believes it, whether it's Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Hugo Chavez, or... or...
Dag nab it, I can't think of a single leader of a beneficent stable country/culture led by a benign depot.
Anyway, my point is, that society doesn't decide. Small totalitarian bent groups do.
Funny, I heard DumBO say the same thing over the weekend, only, not as eloquent.
Yes, I remember in the PBS Video series, “Free To Choose”, Milton Friedman compared Japan with India.
Both were backwards in the 19th century.
At the turn of the 20th century, Japan decided to modernize, so they sent their best and brightest to the leading industrialized nation at the time - England. They were to study at the best economic universities of the day and learn how to modernize their economy.
In vogue at that time was Adam Smith, Free Markets, the ‘invisible hand’ and laissez faire economics.
The rest is history.
Upon gaining their independence in 1947/8 from the British, they too sent their best and brightest to the best British universities to learn how to build a world-beating economy.
In vogue at that time was Keynsianism, Central Planning...
The rest is history.
Well, now I know where Obama got his Big Idea.
Yes and some sing the praises of Slick Willy and tell me how great the economy was under the Slickest of all Willies. I generally respond that the only good thing about Willy is that he actually didn’t do much. As I have heard before the best thing about government is that you DON’T get all that you pay for. We now have an occupant who wants to give us all that we pay for and then some and the more he tries to do the closer we are to oblivion. When we get ALL the government we pay for we will no longer be able to pay attention, let alone anything else.