A Conservative expert on everything, Jonah Goldberg ( he does write about everything – economics, women, education, history, culture, science,) claims says enough with what experts think. That should be irony enough. Imagine a physicist writing that people should stop listening to physicists about space exploration, alternative energy or bridge design. In an attempt to be thought of as an expert on the history of political theory and associated movements, Goldberg’s wrote a bombastic tome called “Liberal Fascism”. Once a reader got past the contradiction in terms ( and that liberals defeated fascism in WW II), the book was filled with errors of historical fact and played musical chairs with some basic tenets of political science. Seduced by the cult of experts
The cult of experts has acolytes in all ideological camps, but its most institutionalized following is on the left. The left needs to believe in the authority of experts because without that authority, almost no economic intervention can be justified. If you concede that you have no idea whether your remedy will work, it’s going to be hard to sell it to the patient. Market-based ideologies don’t have that problem because markets expect events in ways experts never can.
As long as Goldberg sticks to economics – which he does to some extent in the original column – if not completely hypocritically he has at least bite down on to the end of the bone. He is a supply-sider. While many economists did indeed miss the housing bubble, some did not. What many economists were correct about, and correct for three decades, was the economic calamity supply-side economics was wrecking on the economy. It did not happen overnight that 10% of the population owns 77% of the nation’s wealth. That also leads back to Goldberg’s manufactured outrage over the general direction of the economy. He and his wealthy friends are doing just fine. Goldberg cannot write, is incapable of critical thinking, yet he still has a well paying job. If someone at the LA Times should suddenly realize that Goldberg is a morally void hack, no problem, he has his family fortune to far back on. So who is he pretending to be aggrieved for; the out of work mechanics, the unemployed waitresses, carpenters, welders, middle-managers. Those are the very people who would benefit from the Keynesian spending that Goldberg’s fellow conservatives recently held hostage. Goldberg and the media say the economy sucks. That is only half true. For half the population the economy sucks, for the other half it is business and privileged lifestyle as usual. Corporate America is sitting on trillions in cash. Goldberg might have some real genuine contempt for all experts – just judging from the excerpt above. What is really has contempt for is Keynesians. Keynesians in Goldberg’s world where communists are fascists, some European liberals are democratic socialists so all American liberals are fascists ( his logic, not mine), are all anti-free market communists. The truth is something Goldberg and his ilk do not and will not argue – America liberals are generally pro-capiltaism. They like the economic and cultural freedom that goes with free market economies. And other than some prudent regulation to protect investors and consumers they would prefer as little interference as possible in ordinary times. These are not ordinary times. Now when things are pretty bad for half the population is the time to intervene. Keynesians can and do argue all day about the kinds and degree of things that should be done to help the bottom fifty percent, but they all agree that without stimulus from government, Paul Krugman and Brad Delong among others will be correct again, this time about a lost generation of workers.
If Goldberg’s faux outrage on behalf of America’s bottom 50% were not enough warmed over bull, he pulls out the liberal media card. This is where America is divided into the dumb as dirt people who cannot see the real truth that only conservatives know. Kind of a strange argument to make in a column against ‘experts”. If conservatives are the holy font of knowledge, how come they did not take measures to prevent the economic meltdown which they and their all knowing brains should have seen coming. Thus used their perfect arsenal of economic acumen to stop. Goldberg’s train of logic is why Goldberg is less like economist Adam Smith and more like Jim Jones of poison kool-aid fame. Goldberg just believes. Facts do not matter. Nothing has to add up or make sense. No wonder he hates experts. And himself apparently.