What’s next?

From Drudge and I assume everywhere else. The one thing no one will do is ask Hillary or Obama what they would do. And this is not an American problem, it is a problem for us all.

 

“The left knows no bounds for its hatred of others”

A comment at Instapundit in response to this article: The obscene effort to shame ‘Trump’s Jews’.

The left knows no bounds for its hatred of others. None.

What we are seeing is the historical and slow-motion collapse of an American political party – the Democrat Party.

In the past decade they have lost 1,000 elective seats in federal and state governments. They have lost much of the working middle class, and the labor union members. They have called a vast swath of voters “deplorable and irredeemable”. They have happily told formerly reliable Democrat voters that thy are going to end their jobs and raise prices.

They have lied about health insurance, and those lies have cost millions of voters a LOT of money, and the Democrats are utterly dismissive about helping fix the problem they created. They support anarchists who riot in the streets. The support and enforce social justice warriors. They demand that grown perverts use the same bathrooms as voters’ children. They protect criminals and despise the police. The cities they govern have become horrible and expensive places to live. The schools they run are failing.

The newly-elected party leaders hate American history, love Islam, hate democracy.

And now they are attacking their own, and for no good reason, but simply to further the hatred of a properly elected President.

They have no economic policy, no foreign policy, no great dream for America. All they have is hatred, hatred, and more hatred.

They pretend to be nice people but there is no evidence other than what they say about themselves.

Economic theory has been hollow for a long long time

The secret is getting out. Modern economic theory is a pseudo-science. So let me give you some recent discussions of what ought to be obvious to anyone living in an economy in which economists are advising governments. First this: The new astrology: By fetishising mathematical models, economists turned economics into a highly paid pseudoscience. From which:

The economist Paul Romer at New York University has recently begun calling attention to an issue he dubs ‘mathiness’ – first in the paper ‘Mathiness in the Theory of Economic Growth’ (2015) and then in a series of blog posts. Romer believes that macroeconomics, plagued by mathiness, is failing to progress as a true science should, and compares debates among economists to those between 16th-century advocates of heliocentrism and geocentrism. Mathematics, he acknowledges, can help economists to clarify their thinking and reasoning. But the ubiquity of mathematical theory in economics also has serious downsides: it creates a high barrier to entry for those who want to participate in the professional dialogue, and makes checking someone’s work excessively laborious. Worst of all, it imbues economic theory with unearned empirical authority. . . .

Romer is not the first to elaborate the mathiness critique. In 1886, an article in Science accused economics of misusing the language of the physical sciences to conceal ‘emptiness behind a breastwork of mathematical formulas’. More recently, Deirdre N McCloskey’s The Rhetoric of Economics (1998) and Robert H Nelson’s Economics as Religion (2001) both argued that mathematics in economic theory serves, in McCloskey’s words, primarily to deliver the message ‘Look at how very scientific I am.’ . . .

Romer believes that fellow economists know the truth about their discipline, but don’t want to admit it. ‘If you get people to lower their shield, they’ll tell you it’s a big game they’re playing,’ he told me. ‘They’ll say: “Paul, you may be right, but this makes us look really bad, and it’s going to make it hard for us to recruit young people.”’

There was then this in The Wall Street Journal a couple of days ago: The Great Economics Debate. Here is the bit before the paywall.

Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes worked at a time when the study of economics was concerned with society and its values. Richard Vedder reviews ‘Hayek vs Keynes’ by Thomas Hoerber. By Richard Vedder

Today economics is a fundamentally quantitative pursuit, dominated by abstract mathematics and complex modeling, largely removed from the realities of human interaction. But it was not always thus. Economic theory . . .

You can undoubtedly guess the rest. Meanwhile, here at RMIT, Imad Moosa, one of my professorial colleagues, has just had a book published with the quite direct title: Econometrics as a Con Art. Here is a summary of the book:

Imad Moosa challenges convention with this comprehensive and compelling critique of econometrics, condemning the common practices of misapplied statistical methods in both economics and finance.

After reviewing the Keynesian, Austrian and mainstream criticisms of econometrics, it is demonstrated that econometric models can be manipulated to produce any desired result. These hazardous analyses may then be relied upon to support flawed policy recommendations, ideological beliefs and private interests. Moosa proposes that the way forward should instead be to rely on clear thinking, intuition and common sense rather than to continue with the reliance upon econometrics. The mathematization of economics has limited the accessibility of and participation in economic discussion by converting the area into a complex ‘science’ when it should not be.

Economic theory has been hollow for a long long time, but good economics exists. Unfortunately you would have to go back near a hundred years to find a time when economic theory was consistently sound. Nor is it just the maths that has ruined theory but the diagrams as well. That, however, is for another day.

In the meantime, I have just sent out a final draft of an article I have written to a number of colleagues and friends with this note attached.

I have written that it is almost impossible for an economist raised on Keynesian models and presuppositions to understand how classical economists approached economic issues. I also say, which is a bit more provocative, that they understood the processes of an economy better than we do, which of course implies that I think I understand how an economy works better than most economists today. Which, to tell the truth, I do. This is the article in which I try to explain why I think that in less than 2000 words. It is therefore not long, and I also think not very hard to understand, but then I think that about everything I write on classical theory which turns out to be immensely difficult.

I will just bring this joke out of the paper since I think it’s clear what I’m saying, but perhaps it is a bit too enigmatic. In any case, I think this is also true if you see my meaning:

Grieve mentions that I must think of myself as the only one in step. The joke I actually see myself in the midst of is about the impossibility that there could be a twenty dollar bill on the ground because if there were someone would already have picked it up. But there are others [who understand Say’s Law and classical theory], with Bylund (2017) a particularly fine example.

And if you would like to look at Bylund’s article, you will find it here: Rick Perry — and His Critics — Still Don’t Understand Say’s Law.”

The only one in step

Trump stands alone as 19 of the G20 leaders stick with Paris agreement on climate change and German Chancellor Merkel brands US decision to quit ‘regrettable’

US President Donald Trump found himself alone at the G20 summit over climate change, as the other 19 members described the Paris climate accord as ‘irreversible’.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel today described the US position as ‘regrettable’.

She told reporters at the end of the two-day meeting: ‘I think it’s very clear that we could not reach consensus, but the differences were not papered over, they were clearly stated.’

But here there was consensus and a good thing too:

Leaders of the 20 largest economies in the world, including Trump, did reach a common statement about the other contentious issue at the summit – trade.

The statement retains the G-20’s longstanding rejection of protectionism.

But it also acknowledged that trade must be mutually beneficial and that countries can use ‘legitimate’ trade defenses to protect workers and industries against being taken advantage of by trade partners.

It may all depend on what you mean by “legitimate” but it is good to see. But if everyone else wants to ruin their means of generating power, the US won’t have to do another thing to improve its international trade relations.

The administrative state and the academic world

During the just concluded meeting of the North American society of historians of economic thought I made a major effort to find at least one other attendee who would be willing to make a single positive statement about the election of Donald Trump as president. They may all have been academics and therefore hopelessly lost, but even so, some were from the reddest of red states, some were from universities with a reputation for being on the right, some were from counties directly threatened by mortal enemies who Trump has promised to defend them against, but not a single one was willing even to murmur, even with just the two of us huddled together, speaking quietly and with no one else within earshot, that a case for Trump as president could be made. As an example of how far from the centre these students of history are, who are no doubt representative of the academic world in general, I offer you this citation that came with the awarding of the prize for the best book published in HET during the previous year. The rot is very deep. There is no evident clue in this that there is the slightest inkling of what is wrong with what they believe.

At the just concluded History of Economics Society meetings in Toronto, the 2017 Joseph J. Spengler Prize for the best book in the history of economics was awarded to Thomas “Tim” Leonard for his book Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics and American Economics in the Progressive Era. The following testimonial was read at the Society Banquet.

***

Leonard tells the story of how a band of academics and their reform allies, many inspired by the social gospel and on a mission to redeem America, went on to remake both American social science and its relation to the state. They transformed economics from a species of public discourse into an expert scientific field housed in recently formed research universities, where they could use their newly won positions and authority not only to advocate for new policies, but to refashion the role of the state itself. Their target, a laissez faire capitalism that they viewed as both wasteful and unjust, was to be undone by a new entity, the administrative state, which when guided by objective social scientists like themselves, would exercise the social control that was necessary to produce a better society. The myriad social problems wrought by urbanization, industrialization, and in the American case, massive immigration, gave impetus to their reforming zeal.

To be sure, the stories of the rise of the administrative state and the attendant professionalization of economics have been told before, sometimes by those who praised the new sorts of policies that the progressive reformers and their allies put into place, and sometimes by others who criticized what they saw as their scientistic hubris and overreach. Leonard’s unique contribution is to document in grim, indeed harrowing, detail the “scientific” arguments that were used by many progressives to bolster certain of their policy recommendations. For if the desire was to raise up the poor, to assist the downtrodden to be better able to help themselves, the definition of those who were deemed worthy of such assistance was limited. It did not include members of many immigrants groups, African Americans, women, and the disabled. Indeed, for members of these groups, the American dream of hard work leading to material success was grotesquely inverted by policies that helped guarantee that they could not compete successfully against the preferred group, namely, White Anglo Saxon Protestant males.

As a result parts of this book are, to put it mildly, unpleasant to read. Given the controversial nature of his material, Leonard wisely often simply lets his protagonists speak for themselves. And given the resurgence of nativist, nationalist, and xenophobic elements in the political discourse and policies of many countries today, it is, sad to say, a timely read.

We started out with over 20 books, but soon narrowed it down to a more manageable set to consider seriously. It turned out to be an incredibly easy process. It took just one e-mail to come to a decision, for Leonard’s book was rated first by all three of us.

Krav Maga [Make America Great Again] self defence

Andrew Bolt is unique in many ways including his willingness and ability to mix it up with psychopaths on the streets of Melbourne. And I do find it an interesting coincidence that the self defence of first choice nowadays is Krav MAGA:

A military self-defense system developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli security forces (Shin Bet and Mossad) that consists of a combination of techniques sourced from Boxing, Wrestling, Muay Thai, Jujutsu, Aikido, Judo, along with realistic fight training. Krav Maga is known for its focus on real-world situations and its extreme efficiency and brutal counter-attacks. It was derived from the street-fighting experience of Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld, who made use of his training as a boxer and wrestler as a means of defending the Jewish quarter against fascist groups in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia in the mid-to-late 1930s. In the late 1940s, following his migration to Israel, he began to provide lessons on combat training to what was to become the IDF.

Is this really where we are heading? It is the legal system that must protect us. But now that we are dealing with suicide attacks, it is not good enough to make an example of these people by putting them in jail after they have been caught, tried and convicted. I might add that in the end personal self-defence did not work out for the Jewish citizens of Bratislava.

Surely this is a form of insanity

Trump talks terrorism while Europe shouts ‘Climate!’:

While terrorism may top President Donald Trump’s agenda, European leaders keep pressing him on climate change and the environment.

French President Emmanuel Macron worked on Trump during lunch Thursday, urging the U.S. president not to ditch the 196-nation Paris Agreement on climate change before getting on a plane to Sicily, Italy.

“My wish is that the United States takes no hurried decision,” Macron said Thursday after meeting with Trump in Brussels. . . .

The Trump campaign pledged to pull out of the deal, which Trump has criticized as being bad for American workers. And he called climate change a “hoax” created by China.

The administration delayed its decision until after its five-country, nine-day foreign trip through the Middle East and Europe. Allies have taken the opportunity to try to take the administration’s temperature on the issue and press him during their time in this beautiful ancient city on the importance of protecting the earth.

Senate Democrats joined the push. In anticipation of the conference, 40 Senate Democrats signed a letter to the president urging him not back out of the international agreement.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on Air Force One on Wednesday that a decision on the agreement had yet to be made.

He called it a “difficult balancing act” to address climate change while keeping the economy thriving.

“We’re still thinking about that,” Tillerson said. “He hasn’t made a final decision.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will also be at the G7, told supporters Tuesday at a meeting on the environment that she would press the administration.

“I am still trying to convince the doubters,” Merkel said.

Wanting to protect the environment is not in any way the same as being taken in by the global warming swindle.