Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Where Are the Liberal Hack Economists?

You know what the Democratic Party is missing?  Hack economists (or pseudo-economists) that go around talking about how terrific the president's program has been, and how Gadzooks the economy sure is growing now.  I seem to remember plenty of Republican hack economists who spent at least the first half of 2008 denying that a recession had started...where are the Democratic hack economists cherry-picking numbers to point out how terrific things are now?  The most prominent Democratic pundits on the economy -- people such as Paul Krugman and Robert Reich -- certainly don't hesitate to remind people about how terrible they think Bush was, but they also are clearly pessimists about the economy right now.  I'm not saying that I agree or disagree, but just that I find it odd.  I don't think it's true across all issue areas.  On foreign policy, for example, I think there are plenty of people eager to talk about how much safer the world is now that Bush/Cheney have been replaced by Obama/Sanity.  But on the economy, I'd guess there was a fairly large difference between liberals and conservatives over 2001-2008 in descriptions of current conditions, but that now liberal and conservative public economists basically agree on current conditions (although they disagree as much as ever about who is to blame, and what policies would help).

I'm definitely not saying it makes a big difference -- if I recall correctly, polling revealed that lots of people believed the economy was in recession in 2002 and 2003, during a period in which the economy grew and added jobs, but at a relatively slow pace, and during which Republican hack economists emphasized good news, not bad.  I'm more curious about the dynamic -- why hasn't any liberal-leading economist seen a market gap here and moved to fill it? 


  1. You know what? I think they actually believe it.

    Tax cuts = good is an article of faith for conservative economists. Thus, they tend to treat any tax cut like elephant repellent. If the economy is bad, "can you imagine how much worse it would be without the tax cuts?" If the economy is good, "it is because of the tax cuts."

    Of course, this reflect my own bias, but I tend to think that liberals are simply more based in reality.

  2. Matt Jarvis has it right, liberals are simply more based in reality.

    But then, there's no bumper sticker liberal position equivalent to "taxes evil".


  3. Yes, one of the problems of being in the “reality-based community” is having to acknowledge, well, reality. The right, having coined that phrase and defined themselves in opposition to it, have no such burden. Just the opposite in fact. For all there talk of moral absolutes and the like, the right has always, however belatedly and simplistically, been prone to be the strongest embrace of new ways of thinking. From Nietzsche and Romanticism, Neocons and Marxism, and now the Republicans and Postmodernism. It’s the Permanent Revolution meets Stockholm Syndrome.

    Note: I'm cross-commenting from Yglessia's post on this.

  4. ' of the problems of being in the “reality-based community” is having to acknowledge, well, reality. The right, having coined that phrase and defined themselves in opposition to it, have no such burden.'

    Well said!

  5. How the heck is Nietzsche, a man who argued that society takes its shape from the interests of those in power and those who have been in power; a man who thought of theater as the most revealing aspect of any society; a man who invented deconstructionism; a man who believed the most wonderful thing about humanity and life was that they were both constantly changing, growing, and evolving (why people read "eternal return" as a theory of reincarnation when the man despises Buddhism as anti-life I'll never understand); how can such a man possibly be considered conservative?

    I get that Nietzsche is one of the philosophical bugaboos of 20th century popular philosophy, but maybe you should try actually reading some of his works before you decide on his relative conservatism.


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