Friday, May 06, 2005

Government Lesson No. 7: Socialism's Religious Zealots

With my little light turned onto the subject here, in Lessons 2 through 6, perhaps you begin to decipher as I do how socialism's respectable theories are really inviable, even when they're disguised as some hybrid progressive capitalism like Blair's "Third Way" or Europe's quasi-statism. As I pointed out in my previous post, progressivism also has many of the attributes of a faith-based ideology or religion; and, like all religions, it has its priests and voodoo artists.

The occasional over-zealous ministers you find scurrying around the edges of the more classic religions are not the only people who attempt to hypnotize our emotions. There are more than a few such poisonous persuaders around us, in many fields of endeavor including the sciences and education. The most dangerous and sometimes hypocritical of these are the ideological agenda-pushing preachers of economics, jurisprudence and political science - dangerous because their stature lends credence to the wily politicians, who are not stupid and who know how to put them to good use.

Even though these misdirected albeit erudite academics wear the same robes of distinction as their more noble and impartial brethren, they are no less astute than the religious soothsayers at orchestrating the hopes, fears and guilt of the naive. Some are no less calculating; and a few even have the same evil personal ambition for enrichment, self-preservation and aggrandizement.

The accomplices in this crime are fourfold: the scientists themselves, the school boards, the politicians, and the media, each of them using the academics' status as a catalyst to validate their particular agenda. What's worse, in these scientists' haste to impose their "findings" (opinions) upon the young and the impressionable, they commit procedural errors that can reach catastrophic proportions before any subsequent corrections can be issued, too little too late, just like those errata we find at the bottom of the newspaper column. The damage is done, and the profit taken.

This type of crusader, already bereft of modesty, sometimes arms himself with ridicule and bombast. I could give a number of examples, but I don't intend to cast more than one stone today, which I've saved for someone in the field of economics: Paul Krugman.

Let me hasten to say that this is not a personal attack. Krugman is infinitely more learned than I, and if I may permit myself, he sounds like someone who might be a delight to be around at a dinner party (although I'm sure the feeling is not mutual.) His sense of humor is biting, and his metaphoric soliloquies are engaging; but as a responsible scientist, he has left openness and humility at the door of notoriety, very much like Greenspan and Friedman, only to a much greater degree. (See Economics Lesson No. 5 for more on those two.)

Preacher Krugman has a most deservedly illustrious academic background, based upon the contributions he made during his more humble years. Lately, however, and for obfuscated reasons, he has decided to renounce his respected scientific crown, only to replace it with the artificial halo worn by the Democratic establishment mountebanks. What Krugman promulgates today seems to have nothing to do with his past work. He spends all his time blasting the Bush administration and everything it stands for, without bothering to present the relevant facts and a reasoned argument.

Of course he has a right to his opinion; but I think the nobility of the sciences should cause him to reflect upon how he has allowed himself to be used as the hothead mouthpiece for the political goals of the NY Times editorial board. He's no longer an economist; he has become the Loony Left's Pope of Fiscal Policy.

To use one's scientific diploma to push a political party or a religion seems hypocritical. Scientists cannot be priests. They must choose between science and religion. If they cannot refrain from choosing sides in a political debate that at least half of the country believes centers on speculative theory, then they are no longer true scientists and should renounce their tenure. But Krugman is far from renouncing. On the contrary, between classes at Princeton and writing his political commentary, he is coming out with an economics textbook - the real test of his acceptance among his academic peers. (He should have no trouble. Statistics show that an overwhelming majority of academia is progressive, i.e. they claim to have the answers to the shortcomings of capitalism, among other things, do not tolerate dissent among their ranks, and do not admit they might be wrong - just like Pope Paul.)

Ever since PP the 1st began to contribute his invective-filled columns in that progressive bible, the New York Times, he has done nothing but vituperate the Republican Party's fiscal policies with a religious fervor that would be a delight to observe, if only it weren't for its aura of ulterior motive. We all know that neither Party can balance a budget without a Fed-created business boom (see my article Waiting for the Big Wave), so the whole charade is like watching one of those ridiculous wrestling matches between Hulk Hogan and Dusty Rhodes, with Krugman and his friends as the sweaty, favorite-playing, whistle-blowing referees.

Paul's brand of economics-cum-religion may be spicy and fun to read; but it is verbal legerdemain and promotion of experimental social architecture at best, and at worst it's simply ambitious grandstanding. The one thing it is NOT is science, in spite of what he and the editors would have you think.

Perhaps he's bored with the mundane, just like some of the big-government jurists who have begun legislating from the bench. I could understand that one might be tempted to venture away from the sober, socially unexciting scientific arena and jump into the fun of the Washington fray. It makes perfect sense. After all, if you're going to advocate a big party, you might as well get in on the action. The Big Government party-goers are simply returning the favor, "Thanks, guys, for lending us a hand. Come on up behind the scenes and join us for some caviar." I guess they've heard their calling.


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