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The hive mind…..from Standard Charted Bank and the BBC to George Stiglitz and the Financial Times newspaper.

It is sometimes said to me that I think the influence of academia (i.e. collectivist academics) via the media (and directly), is greater than it actually is. Perhaps I do – however events tend to feed my “paranoia” (if that is what it is).

This morning (Thursday) I listened to BBC Radio Four’s “Today Programme” (“your version of whipping yourself Paul” – well our political and cultural leaders listen to this show, so should we not sometimes check what is said on it?).

A “economist” (modern definition – someone who studies economics at university) from Standard Chartered bank was on.

The Bank of England had done a good job (said this “economist”) by keeping interest rates low (i.e. by trying to prop up the demented credit bubble – but that is not how he put it) and the government had done its part by “reducing the deficit” (I was not aware that all the higher taxes, 50% top rate income tax… 20% national sales tax…., and the TALK of spending cuts had vastly reduced the defict). But now was the time to do more – the government should “invest in infrastucture” (he meant spend more money, thus contradicting his point about reducing the deficit, as long as the money was spent on corrupt and/or absurd government building projects).

The government was to finance its building projects by “borrowing at low interest rates to finance this investment”. Govermment spending is, of course, not “investment” – but it was the line about “borrowing at low interest rates to finance [government] investment” that caught my attention.

Comrade Stickinsect (sorry I mean “Nobel Prize winning” “economist” George Stiglitz) and his article in the “Financial Times”  only yesterday. His stuff was just the same!

The Financial Times is an “interesting” publication (in the same sense of “interesting” as the old Chinese curse). Targeted at business executives and political policy makers it combines business news with collectivist politics – one expects it to be read (or rather written) by a James Bond film baddy “businesman” stroking his white cat in the hollowed out volcano base, while talking (via the wonders of modern technology) with his totalitarian allies about the final destruction of the West.

In reality, of couse, the “F.T.” is read (and written) by ordinary corporate executives and government officials (as well as by “journalists” of the same type) – but in their dreams they are….

Given this background, Stickinsect’s article was what one would expect.

Keynesian economists had always said the economy was an unsustainable bubble (liar – traditionally Keynesians have denied that credit money expansion causes a boom/bust, according to Keynesianism the problem is “animal sprits”  not credit money expansion), the article begins.

And the article ends by saying the West has not learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s or from the experience of Japan over the last two decades.

In this Stickinsect is actually telling the truth – but he quickly turns truth into a lie, by saying that the lesson that should have been learned is that “stimulus” in America (i.e. the government spending orgy – under both Bush and Obama) was too little and has not gone on long enough (after all endless “stimulus” worked so well in Japan, and under Hoover and Roosevelt in the United States, oh yes it started under Herbert “The Forgotten Progressive” Hoover).

More “fiscal and monetary stimulus” is (of course) exactly what the Standard Chartered Bank corporate “economist” was pushing this morning, and (most likely) what the “Economist” magazine will be pushing tomorrow (Friday).

And in the middle of Stickinsect’s article?

Higher taxes for “the rich” of course (the 50% income tax rate in Britain has been a total mess – so the United States should do something similar), and companies should be threatened (although Stickinsect does no use the word “threatened”) with higher taxes unless they “invest” more – i.e. spend money on stuff the government wants them to spend money on (private ownership remaining in theory – but government direction in pactice, in much the same way as German “War Socialism” or “National Socialism”), if they obey the commands of government they should be rewarded with lower taxes (crony capitalism at its most obvious – everything political, with companes turned into the partners-of-governments like the disgusting General Electric organization).

And, of course, the banks should be made to “start lending again” (what was that about Keynesians being against credit bubbles?).

And….. governments should borrow at low interest rates (i.e. the ones created by Central Bank credit/money expansion – i.e. bubbles) in order to “invest” – i.e. spend even more money on demented projects (“high speed rail” anyone? Methinks this was on their minds – or those little ratholes that pass for minds in these people).

The point of all the above is not really to show that George Stiglitz is a lying sack of shit, who contradicts himself with every other line he writes (that would hardly be news). But it is to show how mainstream he is – how the big banks and media organizations (and so on – including the political elite) are not uninfluenced by collectivist academics, on the contrary they act as (toned down) echo chambers for them.

11 Comments

  1. David Roberts says:

    Paul, your discussion of the economic certainties of the hive mind raises a puzzles for me. Why does the hive mind hold the opinions it does about such things as economics, climate change, population growth and natural resources? When, in my reality, the evidence seems to support more obvious explanations. Perhaps this is an example of the academics trap. Maybe there is some enlightenment in that, their approach to economic does seem to be different from their approach to the other three areas? In economics more of the same is promoted, whereas in the other three, less is deemed necessary.

  2. Lynne says:

    Isn’t it about time the government stopped borrowing from banks and started printing its own money?

    Oh, wait. Making radical decisions like that needs someone with a spine who doesn’t have an interest in keeping us all enslaved with debt.

  3. Andrew Duffin says:

    Every time some tosser starts on about taxing “the rich” more, I am reminded of this:

    http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/03/feed-your-family-on-10-billion-a-day.html

    Long but worth the effort. Unanswerable, really.

  4. The forgotten US depression of 1920 is instructive. They cut (sic) government spending as follows

    1920 $6.3B
    1921 $5.0 Recovery begins
    1922 $3.2 Further growth

    The Fed did not engage in open market ops until 1922. As taxes were cut, the national debt was reduced. So no more stimulus advice please Mr academic economist. Get out of the way and let the capitalists amongst us, feed you.

  5. NickM says:

    Andrew,
    Iowahawk is brilliant as always. Thanks.

  6. Paul Marks says:

    Even when the elite have the possibility of a good argument they ignore it – and prefer absurdity.

    For example, one can make a good argument that the half of Americans who do not pay Federal income tax (so they had some “skin in the game”, were “taking their fair share of the burden” and so on). I would oppose this – but then I am a libertarian (so I oppose all tax increases on principle), but one would have thought that the establishment (with their desire for endless more revenue) would be all in favour of getting these people back in the income tax net (many were taken out only a few years ago).

    But, no, when the establishment talk of people paying their “fare share” – they mean “the rich” (who already provide most income tax revenue) facing higher income tax rates.

    Of course lower income tax rates at the top end (under Harding, under Coolidge, and by the Kennedy and Reagan and, yes, Bush tax rate cuts) produced MORE revenue (not less revenue) – indeed even the proportion of income tax the better off paid went up.

    But all this is ignored – and the demand for higher income tax rates is heard again and again.

    “But why Paul – why do the establishment come out with stuff like this”.

    You are really asking me why the establishment want to destroy what is left of civil society and create some sort of collectivist system.

    In short what I am really being asked is “why are they evil”.

    That is a question that is too big for me.

    All I can do is point at their lies – their abuse of language.

    “Balanced approach” turning out to be not a mixture of spending cuts and tax increases (as the media claim), but in fact no spending cuts at all (just promises of cuts in the increase, and even this is a lie), and very real tax increases.

    “Fair shareing of the burden” turning out to mean a more heavy burden on people who are already under the burden of taxation (to “tax” means to burden) and naught demanded from the people who do not only not pay Federal income tax – but often actually get cheques from the Feds (their “earned income tax credit” and so on – often sent to people who do not pay Federal income tax).

    “Oppose the bubble” – turning out to mean not opposing the credit money bubble at all (indeed a demand that it be made bigger).

    “Learning the lessons of the 1930s and Japan” turning out to mean copying the wild (and failed) “stimulus” of the 1930s United States and of Japan in recent decades.

    And on and on.

    Mad or bad (or both) – take your pick.

    But, either way, the establishment are bad news.

    P.S. ……..

    There are indications that the establishment have a certain pig like cunning (not just pure work for the cause of collectivism).

    Take the one quick move that really would increase the taxes of most rich people.

    Getting rid of the deduction of State and local income taxes from income taxable by the Federal income tax.

    This really would hit the super rich in places like California and New York.

    So the left establishment support the move?

    Errr, rather the contrary.

  7. Ian B says:

    David Roberts,

    My answer would be the simple one; establishments (as in “the Establishment”) are naturally reactionary, because change challenges the status quo upon which they depend. Socialism, romanticism, puritanism, etc- the suite of beliefs that power our Establishment- are fundamentally reactions against the modernity that developed after the Reformation- population growth, social change and population movements, city dwelling, industrialisation, rationalism, etc etc.

  8. David Roberts says:

    Paul, my faith is in the efficacy of reason and the beneficence of humanity. Where you see evil, I see incompetence, those who find themselves in power in our era, are there mostly as a consequence of chance and rhetoric. A large centralized state has only two options either to prevent change; my understanding of Ian B’s point, or to fire off magic bullets, in a vain attempt to please the majority of the electorate. Therefore to prevent all this incompetence the scope of the state must be drastically reduced. Thanks in no small part due to internet communication, this view is gaining momentum. Did I answer my own question?

  9. Paul Marks says:

    David Roberts.

    I do not believe that all the establisment are evil, or even that most of them are evil.

    But I believe that key players are evil – and that, directly or indirectly, they influence the cultural and political climate.

    And, yes, I specifically include George Stiglitz (and Paul Krugman and….) in this.

    Look what Stiglitz did in his orgininal Financial Times article (something he has done many time before).

    He took key examples indeed key WORDS and twisted their meaning 180 degrees.

    For example, the “bubble” and the examples of “stimulus” in Japan as well as the United States.

    So George Stiglitz is not incompetant (he is twisting things very well indeed) and he is not ignorant – he knows all this stuff.

    Nor is he “mistaken” – he does not really think that (for example) “stimulus” in Japan coudl have worked if only it had been bigger or had carried on for more DECADES. But he implies this is what he thinks.

    No, he is being evil.

    Bone cold evil.

    And that has to be faced.

    We can not defeat these people – unless we face up to what they really are.

  10. John B says:

    This article at Mises (http://mises.org/daily/5517/) more or less suggests that Roosevelt started WW2 to cover up the whole charade of financial musical chairs. The destruction of freedom by establishing economic systems based on theft such as fiat currency fractional reserve banking.

    That idea is backed up by this view of the US entry into WW2 by Harry Elmer Barnes, written in the mid 1960s: http://mises.org/journals/lar/pdfs/4_1/4_1_3.pdf

    Whether this is politicians prepared to cover their backsides by setting fire to the world, or whether it is part of a plan to steadily concentrate power into the hands of an elite, is something one might disagree on.

    But it is clear that power is being effectively concentrated and that liberty is globally in retreat.

    Most of those who spout the collectivist, totalitarian-enhancing, deceits are no doubt simple fools and fellow travellers, useful idiots perhaps, but such a consistently developing pattern seems to me to indicate an architect.

    If not in this world, then at least in the eternal.

  11. Paul Marks says:

    I am no friend of Franklin Roosevelt (the best that can be said of him is that he was not as bad as his former boss – Woodrow Wilson).

    However, it was Adolf Hitler (not F.D.R.) who was the man who started World War II – by invading country after country. Which Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan (the other two Axis powers) also did.

    This is the sort of thing that leads me to hold the the Von Mises institute site (created years after the death of Ludwig Von Mises – a man who lived through World War II, and would not have tolerated this sort of thing carrying his name) to be bad source for history, although a very good source for economics.

    The Von Mises Institute site always starts from the assumption that America (and Britain) are in the wrong – Murry Rothbardism.

    They do it with the Civil War (taking claims that it was not “really” about slavery at face value).

    They do it with both World Wars – blaming the British and the Americans for everything.

    And they do it for the Cold War – taking a basically a Soviet (and Noam Chomsky) view of post war history.

    I find it irritating – very irrtiating.

    Still the bit of the comment that is from you yourself John – is undeniable.

    Power is being centralized,. and liberty is in retreat – both of these things are clearly true.

    And, just as you do, I believe that even if the guilty men and women escape justice in this world – they will have to face it before God.

    Most British libertarians are athiests – but I am a believer, and do not hide the fact that I am.

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