Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Personal Aside: Farwell Old “Economist,” Journal of Pretense, Snobbery and Sophistry.


For those who wish to travel First Class, be sure you are spotted with The Economist on your lap…not that there’s anything in it of depth—that characteristic vanished long ago with Walter Bageot [1826-77] who was its only distinguished editor-in-chief. Originally conceived as a journal of intellectuality and appreciation of commerce and economics, it has become in latter years a house organ for social liberalism…urging legalized prostitution, gay marriage, abortion on demand. Still I continued my subscription, believing that with its slow-growing decadence it could still continue to communicate stability on economics and appreciation for the free market vis-à-vis statism.

No such luck. When Barack Obama came in, it trumped that he might very well be the next FDR who, it reminded us, “saved capitalism” by bringing an end to the Depression. This flies so much in variance with the facts…particularly the latest findings by Amity Shlaes in “The Forgotten Man,” that I began to shuffle it to the bottom of my reading. Then I began to notice a thin veneer of cowardice in its assessments. In essence it is a patchwork quilt of clichés. “The next election marks the beginnings of a fundamental change in Japanese politics,” it said last week. Gee—can’t this be conjectured about any election? Of course. It’s a shoddy, all-too-safe an assessment.

It also conveys a kind of upper-class nihilism. All economic theory has gone wrong, it said the other day, as result of the meltdown here: wrong—the old religion was not tried by George W. Bush when the recession appeared not Obama with his $787 billion stimulus. And in Finance & Economics, get these barren headlines: “Goldman Sachs’s record profits are not a signal to relax”. Gee, I that’s safe to say, isn’t it? I mean, you wouldn’t write a headline that said Goldman’s profits ARE a signal to relax. See what I mean—the safe, cowardly avoidance of analysis? And throughout each issue is the steady drone of materialism: “Glad to be Godless” shouts the latest article by “Lexington”: reflections on a summer camp for the children of atheists. And we find out that children of atheists “are not pushy or preachy” and that “they are told how sensitive each species [of tadpole] is to pollution and asked to work out form this how polluted the pond is.” Then there are the truisms. “Deny the existence of God,” we are told, “and you may be challenging your neighbours’ most deeply held beliefs.” REALLY! How revelatory!

Showing disappointment with economics, the magazine (which perversely calls itself a newspaper despite its glossy appearance) says “Macroeconomists also had a blindspot: their standard models assumed that capital markets work perfectly.” REALLY! None I ever read assumed this. And throughout its pages run hoards of inaccuracies. We are told “As America’s best friend, with privileged access to intelligence [sic], it feels compelled to take part in America’s wars.” Great access to intelligence wasn’t it that led to the major league defection of Kim Philby to the USSR along with his buddies Burgess and McLean. Consider this for a moment. America joined World War I in 1917 three years after Britain and it can be argued brought the war to favorable resolution America joined World War II in 1941 after three years of importuning by Winston Churchill…and America saved the West. It saved the West again against Communism with little support from Britain Yet poor Britain is “compelled” to take part in America’s wars.

Page after page the dull mis-generalizations roll on. “The British pjblic is honouring its fallen troops as never before [sic]. But how lolng will it support the war in Afghanistan?” On the issue of investigations in Congress, we are told “Even for a president as avowedly forward-looking as Obama…” Obama has been singular in blaming George W. Bush for everything except swine flu. Continuing” …the clamour to revisit the darker chapters of George Bush’s war on terror…” That’s the war that according to Bernard Lewis…at 93 the foremost scholar of the Middle East… has done more than anything else to keep terror away from striking the U. S. again: you wouldn’t know it from the insufferably self-righteous Economist.

Farwell Old Economist. How deep, how impenetrable, how stuffily prosaic: “How stable is Malaysia’s would-be coalition government?” Gee, read it and you’ll find that it is quite possibly more stable than one would imagine but lurking underneath is the possibility of instability.

That’s it. When I want to read more vapidity I’ll go to the public library for it’s Economist…which should be filed “Often in Doubt, Never Sure but Eternally Wrongheaded and Pompous.”

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