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An Ad Agency for Central Planning

kevin williamson

Kevin Williamson writes The Unmanageable Man in The National Review.

Excerpt:

This is a particularly acute problem for the Left, because central planning, variously mutated, is at the center of the Left’s political program. With the collapse of Marxism as a bedrock intellectual model, the Anglo-American Left, and to a lesser extent its European and Asian branches, has been reduced to very little more than performing public-relations work on behalf of a collection of parochial economic interests and sundry tribal enthusiasms. The Democratic party is in effect an advertising agency for central planning, tasked with selling its worst failures as its most notable successes (public schools, Medicaid, financial regulation), and, being fortunate in the nature of its main antagonist, its salesmen have done a better job than one might have expected convincing the American public that it really does like New Coke after all.

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The True War on Science is Not Coming from the Right

Sheldon uses his friendship algorithm

Sheldon uses his friendship algorithm

One of my favorite blog postings this year is The Left is Too Smart to Fail by Daniel Greenfield at Sultan Knish.  Science is for Stupid People is equally worthy and an excellent companion piece to the first article.

Excerpts:

Tysonism is why ObamaCare suffered a disastrous launch, why the VA reorganization didn’t work and why we’re back in Iraq. Technocrats don’t make mistakes. They can’t. They’re only at the top because they’re smart. If they ever admitted to being stupid, they would lose their right to rule.

Like Lysenkoism, Tysonism uses ideology to determine the outcomes of science. That’s how we keep ending up with Global Warming as settled science no matter how often the actual science contradicts it.

Tysonism appropriates science without understanding it. Its science consists of factoids, some right and some wrong, which simplify and clarify everything. Its manufactured intelligence makes people feel smart without actually giving them the critical tools to question the false assumptions of a Tyson.

What the left calls science is really a hypothesis accepted as a fact without the skepticism. Its intelligence is a conclusion without bothering to determine whether it’s true. Science and intelligence are perpetual processes that are never truly settled. But in law and government, as in all other fields, the left discards the process and asserts an inevitable outcome by virtue of its superiority. 

Intelligence as ideology is at the heart of the left. Its Orwellian twist discards the need for using intelligence to question its ideology by asserting that the issue is settled. To be smart is to be left and to be left is to be smart. And only stupid people would question that.

There is no need to think about anything because the smart people have already done all the thinking. You can show you are smart by accepting their conclusions or show your stupidity by questioning them.

Science and skepticism are the tools of stupid people. As Socrates put it, I know that I know nothing. We have the most to fear from the smart people who don’t know and will never admit how little they know.

 

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Trickle Down Monetary Policy

From John Mauldin in his blog, Mauldin EconomicsWhere is the Growth?

Government is necessary to the extent that we need to maintain a level playing field and proper conduct, but with the recognition that wherever government is involved there are costs for that service that must be paid by the private market and producers. For example, almost everyone thinks that the government’s being involved in student loans is a public good. We should help young people with education, right? Except that John Burns released a report this week that shows that student loans will cost the real estate industry 414,000 home sales. Young people are so indebted they can’t afford to buy new homes. Collateral damage?

The unintended consequences of government policies and manipulation of the markets are legendary. But often unseen.

Monetary policy as it is currently constructed is only marginally helping private markets and producers. Monetary policy as it is currently practiced is an outright war on savers, which sees them as collateral damage in the Keynesian pursuit of increased consumer demand.

It is trickle-down monetary policy. It has inflated the prices of stocks and other income-producing securities and assets, enriching those who already have assets, but it has done practically nothing for Main Street. It has enabled politicians to avoid making the correct decisions to create sustainable growth and a prosperous future for our children, let alone an environment in which the Boomer generation can retire comfortably.

It is a pernicious doctrine that refuses to recognize its own multiple failures because it starts with the presupposition that its theory cannot fail. It starts with the presuppositions that final consumer demand is the end-all and be-all, that increased indebtedness and leverage enabled by lower rates are good things, and that a small room full of wise individuals can successfully direct the movement of an entire economy of 300 million-plus people.

The current economic thought leaders are not unlike the bishops of the Catholic Church of 16th-century Europe. Their world was constructed according to a theory that they held to be patently true. You did not rise to a position of authority unless you accepted the truth of that theory. Therefore Galileo was wrong. They refused to look at the clear evidence that contradicted their theory, because to do so would have undermined their power.

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In Spite of the Government

From John Mauldin in his blog, Mauldin EconomicsWhere is the Growth?

There are many economists, with Paul Krugman at their fore, who believe that Keynesian monetary policy is responsible for the United States doing better than Europe. I beg to differ. The United States is outshining Europe due to the combined fortuitous circumstances of massive new discoveries of unconventional oil and gas, new technologies, and an abundance of risk-taking entrepreneurs. Indeed, take away the oil boom and the technology boom centered in Silicon Valley, and the US would be as sclerotic as Europe is.

None of the above has anything to do with monetary policy. In fact, I would argue that current monetary, fiscal, and regulatory policy is getting in the way of that growth.

There is a divide in the United States, and indeed in the world, between those who believe (and the emphasis is on believe) that government in all its various shapes and sizes is the font of all growth and progress and those who believe that it is individual effort and free markets that “move the ball down the field” of human progress. Count me in the latter group.

 

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Unwarranted Climate Predictions

polar-bears-mate-at-berlin-zoo

From The Weekly Standard, The Party of Reason, by Jeff Bergner

Excerpt:

Unrepeatable events like the evolution of the world’s species and the evolution of the world’s climate are inherently difficult to explain, and their future course is even harder to predict. Discernment of patterns over time does not constitute knowledge of future developments. The cyclical warming and cooling of the Earth over millennia is precisely not what is at stake; what is claimed is that man-made global warming is a new planetary phenomenon. In the absence of a hypothesis to account for the rate and direction of change, predictions of its future course are simple extrapolations from the past—that is, mere guesswork.

Even when there is such a hypothesis, predictions may be unwarranted. For example, evolutionary biology—which is held up by some climate change acolytes as the gold standard of settled science—teaches that species have adapted over time. With this theory in hand, evolutionary biology can infer the existence of certain intermediate life forms even in the absence of fossil evidence. If such fossils are found, their discovery supports the underlying theory.

But evolutionary biology does not predict the future course of evolution. Past experience suggests we should expect adaptation and natural selection to continue to operate. But evolutionary biology tells us nothing about the types, numbers, or characteristics of the species yet to come. If and when species evolve a certain way, all that can be said—after the fact—is that this must have come about through adaptation and natural selection. The ability to predict replicable events is one thing, the possibility of predicting the onetime evolution of the Earth, its species, and its climate quite another. In short, climate activists are asking far more of global warming models than is asked of evolutionary biology.

Today’s knowledge of global warming consists of longer and better records of temperatures observed around the world than ever before. This is historical knowledge. The careful recording of global temperatures over time is no different in principle from the recording of the U.S. unemployment rate or the rise and fall of kingdoms. From this kind of knowledge alone, nothing can be predicted about the future.

We also have models which purport to account for the rise of global temperatures, most of which focus heavily on carbon dioxide emissions as a “forcing” factor for global temperatures. The best, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, begins correlating temperatures and carbon dioxide levels in the mid-18th century, when global temperatures were beginning to rise. A persuasive model, however, would be able to map accurately earlier periods of rising and falling temperatures. More, it would contain within it an implicit hypothesis (about the climate sensitivity of the planet) that could generate a correct and potentially falsifiable prediction about the future. No model has done either. None predicted the relatively flat global temperatures of the past 17 years.