In a deep, but secluded glen within The Forest of a 100 and One Names, Oso El Economista mumbles and grumbles to himself as he reads yet another column in The Gray and Tired Old Lady by his favorite economist – Paul ‘The Seer’ Krugman. He lets go another one of his famous bear sighs, and thinks: ‘What another load of typical Krugshit.’
Oso then scratches his ass and wonders – has the Krug ever said or written anything that has proven to be true? But then, maybe the problem is not with economists, but with the concept of Economics. Is it a Science? Noble indeed is a ‘science’ that has no testable hypotheses.
He – Oso El Economista – decides to climb up to his favorite thinking place: A high, flat-topped hill, overlooking the forest, which he calls ‘Ponderation Point’. He settles down against a warm rock. Hmm, Economics – what do we ‘know’ about economics? How does it relate to other topics?
· The State – for those who would command and control, economics is but a Means to an End: Top-down, Social Engineering.
· Authority, Obedience & Submission – after all, Father Knows Best…so just pay them taxes and STFU.
· Parasites – the faith of Economics engenders any number of professional parasites known as Experts. Achieving status as an expert is a sinecure that allows one to live off the public tit unchallenged, and receive lots and lots of $$$.
· Terrorism – formulating public policy and resulting legislation requires intervention in Civil Society and leads to disastrous results of impoverishment, and subjugation for the affected populations.
· Faux Reality – economic models serve for exactly three things: Nada, nada, y nada.
· Numbers, Statistics & Liars – as they say, ‘numbers don’t lie, but liars do statistics’…
· Magic – no doubt potions and incantations can create wealth and health, but wisdom?
· Open-Ended Objectives – how much debt is required in order to save the village?
· Unintended Consequences – who would have guessed that a house in every pot could and would lead to financial disaster?
‘What was that I seem to remember?’ mulls Oso El Economista. ‘Oh, yes – the “line of demarcation” – that Popper fellow, yes? Are propositions from economic theories falsifiable? Can they be tested against observable facts or events?’
‘How do you test human beings? Are they things? Are they fungible? Are they mere collections, like so many bugs or molecules of CO2? Can they be tested in such a way that irrefutable results obtain? Can grand theories be erected based on those results? Or are these grand theories erected and propounded in the absence of any verifiable experimental evidence?’
‘Well, that’s a Krugshit-load of questions,’ concludes the insightful bear. ‘Maybe the economists could mount some gigantic Petri dish experiment, and control society variable by variable until we all understand what makes us tick – hmmmm, control, means to whose ends?’
‘Let’s see – oh yes – here it is, their methodology: Pull this switch, open that valve and push the green button, and wait for something to happen. If predicted results fail to resultate, then repeat the above, only more so.’
‘Hmmm, no wonder Kruggy won a Nobel Prize…’
Oso El Economista meanders on down to the Stream of Consciousness to partake of the waters. Having slake his thirst after such heavy thinking he decides that it is an appropriate moment take a siesta. Quickly slinging the hammock he is soon in peaceful sleep.
A bit later, as they say, Oso arises with a big bear yawn. Opening the thermo, he takes a swig of hot, black coffee. ‘There, that’s better,’ he thinks. ‘Things are much clearer now.’
As he makes his way along the winding path that leads to the Peak of Profound Wisdom, and considers the following:
‘Let’s consider that brouhaha a few months ago over the national debt, and all of these arguments about stimulae and “quantitative easings”. Are these reasoned scientific arguments, supported by proven results from years of testing? – if so, I must have been hibernating when the evidence was presented.
‘More likely it seems to me, based upon many long years as a skeptic and cynic, is that this is all mere political circus.
‘If Economics is a science, then Economists must be scientists. Why is it then that it is all so politicized?’ (Quantitative Easing: Why does that sound like a Bowel Movement?)’
‘Is the Krug a scientist?’
Oso El Economista pauses to scratch his ass.
‘If, in fact, economics is not a science, then what is it? Is it alchemy, magic and sorcery – turning dross into gold? Is it a pseudo-science; is it just plain old smoke and mirrors, a con game? All of the above?’
As the path twists and turns as it makes its way upwards it occurs to him:
‘It is always nice to have confirmation of one’s pet theories and prejudices. Receiving international recognition and Nobel Prizes, accompanied by fame and money is rewarding. So, too, is creating your own personal computer models, thereby changing the dross of theory into the gold of hard and fast results. After all, numbers don’t lie, as they say.’
‘But if each of these models yield different results, how is a poor bear to know which is correct? Just maybe they are, all of them, wrong. Well, we are certain that the politicians don’t give a damn, as long as they have an expert or two to blame when things go south. (…and no one ever got docked a day’s salary for being wrong, anyway…after all, taxpayers pick up the tab in any case…)’
Up ahead, Oso sees a flock of buzzards ripping away at the dead flesh of some unfortunate animal. ‘Could that be the body of John Q. Public,’ wonders the bear?
Oso El Economista has climbed well above the tree line and can now see clearly how things are (…and with some help from his faithful companion, the Blackbearry):
‘All cults and covens have leaders, and amongst the leadingest leaders of the Cult of the Economist are the following notorious characters:
Paul Krugman– the Nobel Prize-winning Krug has contributed to human knowledge with such gems as why consumers prefer a variety of goods and services – that is, rather having a choice than: Being able to buy a car in any color, as long as it is black – and explaining the arcane intricacies of the economies of scale in the production of goods, and demonstrating to us illiterates why certain patterns of trade develop.
Nowadays, Paulie spends his time telling us why governments should bankrupt themselves (Us) in order to save the village.
Robert Reich– here’s another fellow who has never held an honest job in his life. It’s not clear what he has done to be mentioned here. He probably should be coaching basketball at Podunk High.
Alan Blinder– An ivory tower type, between stints as a political lackey. What we need to know about young Alan: He advised both Gore and Kerry during their respective presidential campaigns (they both lost) – and was ‘an early advocate of cash for clunkers’.
Joseph Stiglitz – another layabout. He apparently has made numerous contributions to something or other, is listed as a ‘lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’ – no doubt wielding a mean hockey stick and elucidating us as to the feedback effects of CO2 on clouds. Money quote (from Wiki): ‘He is a member of Collegium International, an organization of leaders with political, scientific, and ethical expertise whose goal is to provide new approaches in overcoming the obstacles in the way of a peaceful, socially just and an economically sustainable world.’ BTW – how does one gain ‘ethical expertise’?
Jeffrey Sachs– here is another really intelligent guy who has learned how to game the system. He has been on just about every board for any cause you care to mention and is globally recognized as a Really Important Person. No doubt he is a good talker, too, but if he has actually ever done anything substantive, only El Supremo knows.
Robert Kuttner– an exception to the rule, he appears to have actually labored in private industry. He wants Obama to transform American politics, and apparently his wish is coming true. Bobby, too, has had his stints working for the State. In terms of contributions to economics he seems to believe that Marx got it right.
‘Where did I read some opinion about economists? Oh, yeah, in the Manifesto.
(He, Oso, does a quick search).
‘Yes, right there it alleges that economists are:
Quacks; charlatans; fakes; fakers; fakirs; frauds; hoaxers; humbuggers; mountebanks; phonies; pretenders; shamsters; deceivers; dissemblers; dupers; feigners; tricksters; poseurs; cozeners; scammers; scamsters; sharpies; swindlers; confidence men. (and women, too, I suppose)
And that they are experts in the following activities:
Fraud; deceit; double-dealing; trickery; chicanery; legerdemain; skullduggery; subterfuge; artfulness, caginess; craftiness; cunningness; deviousness; foxiness; oiliness; shadiness; shiftiness; shrewdness; slickness; slipperiness; slyness sneakiness; treachery; underhandedness; wiliness; crookedness; deceitfulness; deception; deceptiveness, dishonesty; dissimulation, dupery; duplicity; guilefulness; hypocrisy; insincerity; fakery; humbuggery; imposturing; quackery; dirty tricks; designing, plotting and planning; scheming; secrecy; stealthiness.
‘Well, at least that is what the Manifestosays.
‘Humbuggery seems like a pretty serious charge, but I am certain that none of those appellations apply to those honored and esteemed gentlemen mentioned above.’
A mist arises in the south, from the Swamp of Lost Illusions. It slowly envelopes The Forest of a 100 and One Names.
Oso turns his attention an ant colony in a nearby bank, exposed to the elements:
‘What if I were a globally recognized expert in ants – a formicidologist, so to speak? I would spend years and years studying the little critters and finally become Dr. Oso the Formicidologist, PhD. I would have to find a bigger cave with more walls, on which to place all of the awards, honors and certificates I have received, and open a new bank account at a big, big bank – big enough to hold all of the money I would now get for being an expert on ants.
‘But, you know, it is a bit boring just to observe the objects of one’s interest. Being the expert I would be, I would detect the many and various ways that ants could improve their short, brutish and meaningless lives.
‘First of all, I would force them to relocate. This point of the mountain is too cold, and the pickings must be slim, except for the queen and her greedy circle of sycophants and parasites, deep within the nest – living the Life of Riley, while the poor and hungry workers attend to them.
‘We would equalize all of the duties and responsibilities. We would teach them how make a better nest. We would teach them how to forage, working together for the greater good…
‘Well, we would do a lot of things if we were interventionists…’
Oso El Economista stands up. There are no trees about on which to scratch his back. He shrugs his bearish shoulders and moves on.
The afternoon sun is warm on the peak, and Oso curls up against his favorite rock and continues to consider the objects of his contemplations:
‘Now it is not so much that economics and economists have reached such honored status and elevated positions both in government and in academia based upon the hard-earned merits of their intellectuality and the benefits to mankind in general with which they have endowed us. No, it is because they are such useful idiots – witting or unwitting Agents of the State. They are but tools for those who would command and control. It is ironic that they then become the means to the ends of those in power, those who are the State. (Blessed indeed is the tyrant who brooks no economist in his palace).
‘But the word ‘idiot’ is used here only in a metaphorical manner of speaking. Krug and his ilk are by no means stupid. They, too, have their Hidden Agendas.
‘And – to change the pace a bit – where the Diablo did this plague of economists come from? And why?? And what for???
‘Ahhh, from the swamps and miasmas of academia, no doubt. Why, because they were too good to be automobile mechanics, but not smart enough to be mechanical engineers? ‘Yes, why not find a sweet job in government or in that very same swamp of academia from which we arose?’ And what for: La dolce vita far niente.
‘Ahhhhhhh, Academia – where, in countless file cabinets in countless basements are found countless doctorate theses, yellowed and forgotten. Who amongst you can recite but one – just one tiny little one – phrase from one these papers with as much consequence to human kind as F=ma? (Indeed, we are reminded of the apocryphal story of the cleaning of the Augean Stables of Marxist academia of all of those treatises, articles, thesis and books about the triumph of the Proletariat, after the fall of the USSR).
‘Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, society – where it is indeed a wonder that for centuries and centuries economies survived without the advice and counsel of not even one tiny little economist, not even one as tiny as Robert Reich. Trade, commerce and industry flourished without even one pearl of wisdom from the Council of the Wise. How was it possible that economies could even function, let alone prosper?
As the sun starts to make its way down towards the western horizon, Oso, too, thinks about making his way back down the Peak of Profound Wisdom. It is starting to get chilly.
Oso El Economista gives a shudder and is reminded of the Warmistas:
‘It is no small coincidence that the issues in economic policy making parallel those of Los Warmistas, and Cult of AWG.
‘Both deal with complex, unknown systems. Both love models – but not of the Playboy kind. Both are useful to the State. Both breed a plethora of angry bees ready at any moment to sting any lurking doubters, deniers and skeptics. We have mentioned the Krug, but from the warmista side we have James Hansen, and they both have their numerous Igors, such as Ezra Klein and ‘Chicken Little’ McKibben.
‘Both economistas and warmistas have replaced science with politics and social engineering.’
Oso is reminded of the novel, At Play in the Fields of the Lord. ‘Are economists the new priests and missionaries of our age? Do they even understand or care about the unintended consequences of their roles as wise counselors to kings and presidents?’
Back at the Cueva del Oso, he begins to grill a dozen steaks or so. It has been a long day, and so much deep thinking causes one bear of an appitite. He takes a swig of home-brewed beer and concludes thusly:
‘Each and every individual is an economist in his or her own way. Each has to decide how best to use the resources available, including the most valuable and scarce resource of all: Time.
In so far as the State intervenes and prevents people from maximizing the use of their own individual resources – the personal means of self-defense and a moral obligation – the State and it’s minions, it’s lackeys, it’s parasites, experts and useful idiots are nothing less than terrorists.’
Oso turns his attention back to the steaks and other matters of great import.