Though I’m in a gloomy mood, I hereby declare I love mankind. But, lets be honest about it, the world would probably have been a better place without the human species.
I love believers. They are my fellow men and women after all. But donâ€™t you think the lot of them wouldnâ€™t be so fucked up, if they never ever had been in touch with their ideology?
Surrounded by friends and family members who are economists of a kind, I canâ€™t but love economists. I do so also because they are part of mankind. And because, as professionals, they are believers. They usually believe economy is a science. The only science with an absolute unshakable truth: the free market. As you know in this ideology the invisible hand is God and Milton Friedman is his prophet. To them there is no economy, but free market economy. There is no alternative.
The point is that , over thirty years economists have been boasting their successes. Gross National Products have set record after record – the EU, Singapore. Economies are flourishing â€“ China, Malaysia. Wealth has been accumulating â€“ Gates, Soros, Saudi royal family. They claim the accomplishment of turn arounds in economically desperately disastrous situations â€“ Chile, Portugal, Ireland.
But it all is a set of fuzzy truths. The gospel is false. The free market ideology has not produced what it should have produced in the first place:
- The prevention of the now exploding food prices world wide ( from which billions as suffering)
- The prevention of stagflation ( where we are heading for now)
- The prevention of the actual and previous financial crises (which make the outrageous income and bonuses of Financial CEOâ€™s look incredibly obscene)
- The prevention of recession, at least serious economical depressions or collapses
- The prevention of the industrial destruction of the environment
- The liberation of over 2 billion people from poverty
- The more fair and even distribution of wealth in the world
- The diminishing of the gap between rich and poor and the more equal distribution of income, influence and education
- The safeguarding of relatively deprived from being the victims of financial crisismanagement.
It didn’t work out. But their philosophy did bring about the abolishment of the welfare state ( modernization), the replacement of public services by private enterprises and the sell out of national treasures and commodities to the market. The promised land of milk and honey did not materialize for the overwhelming majority however. Not twenty years ago when the stock market crashed and caused a crisis, not a decade ago when the Asian crisis brought mayhem and misery to countries like Indonesia, not at this moment now globalization implies a global crisis.
â€œWhen the going gets tough, economists go very quiteâ€ . That is what Simon Jenkins (photo top, left), an insider, referring to the situation in the UK, said about it the other day in the Guardian.
I can go with these quotes about economists by an economist. Especially when they are disciples of the free market. Because almost all of them are members of this church of the free marketeers, it probably applies to nearly all of them:
â€œThey’re happy to take the credit in the good times, but the disciples of this false science are hard to find as recession looms.
So the Footsie has tumbled again. Forgive me for asking, but where are the economists? As the nation approaches recession, an entire profession seems to have vanished over the horizon, like conmen stuffed with cash, and thousands left destitute behind. They said recessions were over. They told politicians to leave things to them and all would be fine. Yet they failed to spot the sub-prime housing crash, and now look at the mess.â€
â€œWhen muck hits fan, economists always blame politicians. They would have some justice if they did not take credit when things go right. I was always uncomfortable at the overselling of economics as a science, when it is rather a branch of psychology, a study of the peculiarities of human nature. Its spurious objectivity, manifest in its ridiculous love affair with maths, induced a “Jupiter complex”, a conviction that scientific certainty, applied with enough rigour to any problem, triumphs over all.â€
â€œEconomics has long traded on being a science when it is not. In this it is like war. For a third of a century since the 1976 IMF crisis it has enjoyed great influence over British policy. Now it has met its Waterloo and a little humility would be in order. Once again economics must be rescued by that true master of all things, politics.â€
Well, politics? The politicians? Let me humbly disagree with Sir Jenkins at this point.
The great leaders of this world, the likes of warrior George W. Bush, fraudulous Berlusconi and charismatic lover Nicolas Sarkozy, held a G8 meeting in Japan last week. They did produce thin air only. Words, no meat. No sound analysis. No concrete plan. No commitments. It was the 34th meeting. Anybody remember the 33rd, the 32nd? And which improvements they brought about?
Politicians are they, no statesmen. Not any better than free market economists, I guess. Last year was better than this one for the world. This year will be better than next year. Yes, I’m in a gloomy mood. Fortunately my name is not Cassandra.
â€¢ Wikipedia says about Simon Jenkins:
Sir Simon Jenkins (born 10 June 1943) is a British newspaper columnist currently associated with The Guardian after fifteen years with News International titles. He was educated at Mill Hill School and St John’s College, Oxford.
A former editor of The Times newspaper, he received a knighthood for services to journalism in the 2004 New Year honours. Among his many other awards, he was named What the Papers Say Journalist of the Year in 1988. He also holds honorary degrees from the University of London, the City University, Exeter, Central England, the London Institute of Education and an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Wales, Lampeter.
Update: The anger about failing economists is growing. Sargasso, the best of all Dutch journalistic blogs, had this post last friday, the 18th of july 08. The author,Â aliasÂ ippekrites, is writing a series on the seven modern plagues. The sixth plague he mentions is the overkill of economists. He ridicules the free market philosophy ( free market, free enterprise will not cause the cheapest and most efficient products, because of all kinds of agreements to maximize profits at the cost of high prices and lousy quality) and the dogma of the ”invisible hand” which is supposed to lead to outcomes which never have been established.