Weird, just weird

Observer leader:

What conclusions can be drawn from such a confusing picture? One might be that, as Nassim Nicholas Taleb argues on these pages, we should be wary of experts. Alternatively, we might be in awe of how tough a job it is making sense of the global economy.

OK, Hayek\’s old game: the economy is too complex to be accurately modelled or predicted. We can only go by general rules rather than detailed regulations.

If we stopped comparing the \”competitiveness\” of national economic models, we could devote more attention to what kind of society we want, and what economic policies will get us there.

Eh? Planning is impossible because it\’s all too complex so let\’s start planning?

9 thoughts on “Weird, just weird”

  1. Basically, then, an argument against caring about production, which is the standard leftie belief since they swallowed the bitter pill that free markets are more productive than any ideologically planned economy. In other words, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature, reasoning.

    Nobody cares to remember that originally communist et al economic planning was promoted with the promise of greater productive efficency to correct the “waste” of capitalism.

    It’s also worth remembering that the nasty belief that capitalism is bad because it produces fripperies (“frivolous” goods in Keynes’ words) goes back a long way. The idea that a modern, efficient, planned economy would be better because it wouldn’t waste production on TVs and cosmetics and what have you, and thus produce more “needs” like tractors. Most of the left/green ideology is based on this arrogance to this day. They hate the capitalist west’s production of frivolous goods, and hate Teh Masses for choosing to buy them.

  2. Of course, they hate tractors as well these days, since tractors help farmers to produce too much food, but presumably the brave new economy will produce many digging sticks for the peasantry.

  3. Digging sticks? Don’t assume they can even manage that. Anyone remember the Sad Story of the Volgograd Dildo Factory?

  4. “we could devote more attention to what kind of society we want, and what economic policies will get us there.”

    Well intentioned ones, obviously!

    PS. I find the “we” in “what kind of society we want” chilling. Of course by “we” they don’t mean majoritarianism (obviously bad in its own way) because otherwise the answer to the kind of society “we” wanted would be “a society containing hardly any immigrants”.

  5. “…otherwise the answer to the kind of society “we” wanted would be “a society containing hardly any immigrants”

    Of course, the United States and Australia are largely composed of immigrants, and they’ve never been successful, have they?

  6. “It’s also worth remembering that the nasty belief that capitalism is bad because it produces fripperies”

    Ah yes, the Puritan roots of socialism: we must eliminate alcohol, smoking, TV, movies, coloured clothing (blue boiler suits excepted), games, dancing, imported and out-of-season food, overseas holidays, and the countless other things we shall deem are unnecessary or bad (ham in packed lunches, apparently).

  7. “Of course, the United States and Australia are largely composed of immigrants, and they’ve never been successful, have they?”

    You’re half right: Australia’s never been successful.

  8. As an unabashed lefty I will happily agree with you here Tim: that leader piece and a substantial number of the comment pieces in last Sunday’s Observer were fucking terrible. And completely incoherent at points.

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