On Racism and Economics from FB

I do understand, for many, this is like debate team, with the goal being to defend your own position no matter what, and sure, that’s a valid perspective. I appreciate that it pushes me to learn more about my own positions. But at some point, these ideas that some people feel define them as some sort of iconoclast have to stand up to actual intellectual scrutiny.

It’s not that “Hayek’s views are not widely held”, it’s that 75 years of economic theory has largely dismantled Classical Economics. Thanks to these Austrian adherents, I have an entire bookshelf full of econ books, from basic textbooks to detailed analysis of the financial meltdown, even Alan Greenspan’s memoirs. And if they supported the Neoliberal position, I’d be more than happy to agree with them. Buuuuuut they don’t. Not a one of them.

Greenspan himself accepts basic tenets of Keynesian economics, and admits the failure of his policies to prevent the boom and bust cycle – he doesn’t take responsibility for it, mind you, but he admits that there are big gaping holes in this Hayek/Friedman notion of Free Markets and the Invisible Hand that simply cannot be accounted for, that are dealt with far more definitively in modern economic theory. If it worked, man, we’d see it. But the contrary is true. Oh, sure, total State control doesn’t work, either, be it Soviet Russia or Communist China. But when every mainstream GOP candidate is doubling down on an austerity agenda that is directly in conflict with the most easily historically proven application of Keynesian theory, a policy that has been decried by economists for decades (as applied to the IMF/World Bank strictures that demand austerity for emerging markets), this notion of GOP appeal to authority is laughable.

I’m sure they hate Stiglitz as well, but in his classic “Globalization and It’s Discontents”, he lays out very clearly how these policies have gutted the emerging markets the Bank was supposed to help. Even now, Ireland, who has faced the most severe austerity measures in Europe, has had it’s bonds downgraded to “junk” status. Why in the name of Bernanke would we want to follow that course? It’s not like a bunch of Liberals were at the helm when the first round of bailouts and stimulus were enacted. It was the same former Goldman Sachs and Lehman Bros execs that have been in charge on our economic policy since the 80’s. Oh, they preach “free markets” when it suits their interests, but when the shit hit the fan, what did these people do? They got on the first plane to Keynesville. So the message is clear. Even the people who push the hardest for the deregulation of the markets understand that they are full of shit.

These ideological economic suicide bombers pushing austerity and government spending cuts that share these views, however, are not harmless Facebook Debate Team wonks, they are charged with fixing problems. How they can ignore the expert consensus – and expert consensus is not the popularity contest that people seem to think it is, it’s based on peer review and preponderance of the evidence analyzed by people who know stuff, not armchair dilettantes like us – clearly shows that their aim is NOT to solve problems, but to serve their own personal interests… not just serve their own interests ahead of ours, but to serve interests in DIRECT CONTRADICTION to ours. Ironically enough, policies that will crush the market to the extent that those who push this failed ideology will lose far more in actual wealth than they would had they followed a more sensible strategy based on ACTUAL SCIENCE. That they’ve roped in a section of the population that defines America on such narrow, xenophobic terms – while ignoring the clear subtext of the Tea Party’s language against Muslims, Gays, immigrants, and Liberals (not to mention Obama-as-monkey-or-witch-d​ octor signs, Fox’s “Hip Hop BBQ” headlines, constant race baiting from O’Reilly and Beck… a simple Google search pops up with one of the original Tea Party “founders”, Dale Robertson, holding this sign: http://chattahbox.com/imag​es/2010/01/teaparty_robert​son_spelling_racist_proble​m.jpg To claim anything BUT a clear and obvious agenda against “anyone who doesn’t hold our values and ideas” is not only intellectually disingenuous, but downright delusional.If people demanded as much evidence of God’s existence as they do this semantic and sophistic “proof of racism”, we’d all be Atheists (that’s why the Fort Hood shooter is evidence that all Muslims are terrorists, but the Norway shooter was a lone kook).

So at some point, faced with this overwhelming, monolithic block of stuff that at the very least pokes some pretty serious holes in these Neoliberal tenets – it not dismantling them entirely – one would expect an intellectual of your stature to adjust their ideas accordingly. But instead, as is the norm nowadays, their Economic Evangelicals just double down on them. I’ve literally spent the last year reading nothing but econ, with as open a mind as can be, a tabula rasa ready to learn, engaging and interacting with economists, and I came to the conclusions I have after reading a fairly exhaustive range of ideas. If the wealth of evidence supported this Hayekian position, I’d have no problem supporting it. But again, economic theory as accepted by actual economists puts Hayek in the same boat as neuroscientists put phrenology.

At the end of the day, the “fiscal Conservative” is shown to be as obsolete and misguided as the “social Conservative”, both clinging to ideas and policies on both the wrong side of history, and the wrong side of evidence. Now, I’ll certainly grant that this doesn’t give a free pass to the other side of the aisle, it just means that THESE IDEAS are dead, and that we will either adapt, or die. The same goes for other similar ideas as well – can one step outside your echo chamber (not a disparagement, we all have them, that reinforce our ideas) to look at the larger picture?We must ask, are you someone for whom contradictory evidence makes you adjust your ideas? Or just makes you double down, clinging even harder? Don’t be that guy… http://www.npr.org/templat​es/story/story.php?storyId​=128490874

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