The science is settled in yet another field — economics — but no one’s listening. Citizens of the galaxy, be afraid.
New York Times pundit and economist Paul Krugman says the “overwhelming” consensus among his colleagues proclaims the Obama stimulus reduced unemployment and was “worth it.” But most Americans have no idea that these academics speak with virtually one voice on Obamanomics.
More important, over the past several years policy makers across the Western world have pretty much ignored the professional consensus on government spending and everything else, placing their faith instead in doctrines most economists firmly reject.
One rejected doctrine, “government austerity measures,” is pure foolishness during down cycles according to Krugman’s cabalmates. After all, nearly every economist knows that the only sure way to keep recession from plunging into depression is massive new government spending of money borrowed from our grandchildren.
Krugman wrings his soft science hands over the consequences of ignoring the voice from the ivory tower.
All of which raises a troubling question: Are we as societies even capable of taking good policy advice?
The op-ed column is headlined: “Knowledge Isn’t Power.” Like most progressives, Krugman believes that all it takes to do the right thing is to know the right thing, and so he’s crestfallen at the realization that the treasury of economics knowledge remains untapped by policy makers.
This must be tremendously frustrating, because Krugman started his career with the ambition to be a kind of guardian of the galaxy.
For those stories, Asimov invented a fictional science called psychohistory — a mix of social science, history and math, whose practitioners, in Krugman’s words, “understand the true dynamics” and thus “save the galaxy.”
In fairness to Krugman, he has, at least, entered a parallel field of fictional science. Among the most common news headlines related to the economy are those proclaiming how far astray economist predictions were from actual performance.