The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Keynesianism and David Brooks

Posted on | November 16, 2010 | Comments Off on Keynesianism and David Brooks

Now that the election is over, we can return to our regular blogging schedule, and Tuesday is David Brooks Fisking Day hereabouts. Interestingly, Brooks isn’t half-bad today, as he mocks the presumptions of the neo-Keynesian consensus:

The economic approach embraced by the most prominent liberals over the past few years is mostly mechanical. The economy is treated like a big machine; the people in it like rational, utility maximizing cogs. The performance of the economic machine can be predicted with quantitative macroeconomic models.
These models can be used to make highly specific projections. If the government borrows $1 and then spends it, it will produce $1.50 worth of economic activity. If the government spends $800 billion on a stimulus package, that will produce 3.5 million in new jobs.
Everything is rigorous. Everything is science.

What Brooks is actually saying is that these projections appear to be rigorous and scientific, at least to liberals. He then continues by pointing out that this apparent “scientific” certainty is baseless — there are a lot of unpredictable factors in economic activity, and many consequences of government policy are not knowable until after the fact.

However, given several decades of experience with Keynesian interventionism to study, certain results of the stimulus-and-bailout agenda were actually quite predictable, and I did predict them: “It Won’t Work” (December 2008), “It Still Won’t Work” (February 2009), and “The Fundamentals Still Suck” (May 2009).

One would think that Brooks might take notice of the fact that, while he was busy admiring the crease in the president’s pants leg, others were warning that Obamanomics would not lead to recovery. (In February 2009, hundreds of economists signed an open letter from the Cato Institute to that effect.)

Or perhaps Brook supposes we have forgotten how in November 2008 he praised the incoming administration’s “overeducated Achievatrons” with multiple Ivy League degrees (“the personnel decisions have been superb”), and also does not expect us state-school-educated peons to remember that he was on the wrong side of every issue for the past two years. (February 2009: “Geithner’s plan is huge but also disciplined. It’s designed by someone aware of government’s limitations.”)

David Brooks never admits error. Still less can he ever admit that those he ridiculed were right, right, right when he was wrong, wrong wrong.

He “represents a fatal cancer to the Republican Party.”


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