I’m not normally one to hate competent public servants for no reason, but I’ve always hated Peter Orszag. He always seemed liked that sort of faux nice guy geek who would ultimately turn out to be the kind of sociopathic douche who would take millions in dollars of pay-off money from an investment bank, pen establishment-pleasing contrarian op-ed pieces that stabbed his old boss in the back, and advocate turning our entire society over to paid-for think tank hacks. (In short, he reminds me of almost everyone I knew in college.) Kthug:
Catherine Rampell comments skeptically on Peter Orszag’s call for delegating more policy to panels of nonpolitical experts. I’d add that this is an odd time to make such a proposal. Yes, the political world is deeply dysfunctional — but what’s equally remarkable is just how terrible the judgment of the supposed experts has been.
Kthug also, in a different piece, gives a good example of why this is such a bad idea:
I’ve written a lot about the Dark Age of macroeconomics, of the way economists are recapitulating 80-year-old fallacies in the belief that they’re profound insights, because they’re ignorant of the hard-won insights of the past.
What I’d add to that is that at this point it seems to me that many economists aren’t even trying to get at the truth. When I look at a lot of what prominent economists have been writing in response to the ongoing economic crisis, I see no sign of intellectual discomfort, no sense that a disaster their models made no allowance for is troubling them; I see only blithe invention of stories to rationalize the disaster in a way that supports their side of the partisan divide.
I used to believe that reasonable, educated people could all blah blah blah but now I think that nothing could be further from the truth. It’s easy to buy experts off, easier still to confuse sophistry with knowledge, and inevitable that powerful elites will mostly identify with other powerful elites.
The only possible serious check on all of this is democracy. That may suck but it’s how it is. Alan Greenspan and U of Chicago economics largely caused this recession. I don’t have to remind you about the awesome intellectual pedigree of the people who dreamed up the Iraq War. Also too, Bush v. Gore and Citizens United.