Simple Answers (Updated)

To every complex problem there is a simple answer: neat, plausible, and wrong.
-H.L. Mencken

A Nobel Prize-winning economist who is not Paul Krugman writes in today’s New York Times about how his nomination to the board of the Federal Reserved was torpedoed by Republicans on the Senate banking committee. Led by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), it appears that either these guys either have no grasp of how an economy works, or else they were just determined to stop an Obama nominee because the guy was an Obama nominee. Or both.

The economist, Peter Diamond, seems relieved to be giving up the position to remain in academia. He also notes that the people in charge of congressional monetary oversight obviously haven’t a clue about how monetary policy impacts every other part of the economy. He concludes,

Analytical expertise is needed to accomplish this, to make government more effective and efficient. Skilled analytical thinking should not be drowned out by mistaken, ideologically driven views that more is always better or less is always better. I had hoped to bring some of my own expertise and experience to the Fed. Now I hope someone else can.

The Republicans have their simple answers to all economic problems. In the words of Steve Benen,

The agenda is the agenda: tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, cut public investments. Good times and bad, deficit or surplus, war or peace, it just doesn’t matter.

It’s as if someone bought an iPod, uploaded one song, and hit “shuffle.”

Analytical expertise? A nefarious liberal trick, obviously.

Even when an Obama Administration policy succeeds, they can’t bring themselves to admit it — see John Boehner’s reaction to the success of the auto industry rescue: Maybe it succeeded, but it still failed. Because.

Update: Steve Benen again

Diamond is among the most accomplished economists of his generation, and last year, was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics. And yet, there was Richard Shelby & Co., insisting that Diamond lacked the qualifications to join the board of governors of the Federal Reserve.

Makes you want to pound your head against a wall and scream for a while, don’t it?

Shelby’s argument is that Professor Diamond’s background is in labor market theory, not monetary policy. But as Professor Diamond explained clearly and eloquently in his op ed, understanding the labor market is critical to designing effective monetary policy.

There are people sitting on the Federal Reserve Board now who had no prior experience with monetary policy. And Steve Benen points out, “One of Bush’s appointees has no advanced degree in economics at all and has never done any academic research in the field.” Yet Shelby had no problem at all approving that nominee.

Update: Creating their own reality — Our old buddy the Confederate Yankee writes,

The reason you were blocked Mr. Diamond, is that you are a Keynsian hack, with no understanding of real markets. The idiocy you espouse has led us into the largest recession on this side of the Second World War.

Keynesian economics caused the Great Recession? Isn’t that a bit like blaming bad weather on the Tooth Fairy? If the Bushies were Keynesian, I’m Brad Pitt. Just running up a government budget deficit by itself isn’t Keynesian, dude. There’s a lot more to it (here’s a primer).

But, y’know, this all goes along with the Dumbing Down of America. I assume the CY thinks that all it takes to make an economy Keynesian is spending a lot of money — otherwise, I’m utterly baffled as to what he’s talking about. And I assume he thinks the budget deficit is the cause of the Recession. Therefore, Keynesian Economics caused the recession. See above about simple answers being wrong, although that one isn’t even plausible.

Which is not to say that there is unanimous agreement among the experts about what caused the Recession, but from what I see no one educated enough to correctly spell “Keynesian” thinks Keynesian policies had anything to do with it.

Update: Don’t miss “None Dare Call It Treason” at Balloon Juice. Do read the whole thing, but here’s the part that righties will howl about —

We face real, enormous problems. Yet the Republican party has decided that its return to power by any means is more important than the interests of the United States. Why else block an obviously overqualified person to help set monetary policy, except for the fear that his policy ideas might work? How else to describe—other than the pursuit of party advantage over Country First—the increasingly vocal murmurings that the GOP should push the US into default in order to so damage the American (and world!) economy that even as weak a candidate as any in the current GOP pool could defeat President Obama in 2012? …

… I suppose there are some out there (a quotidian gossip, perhaps) who might find the use of words like “treason” to be, well, uncivil in this context.

But how else do you describe actions that harm Americans now and are likely to weaken the US relative to competitors and potential adversaries over the years and decades? And when those deeds are in the service not only of trying to defeat a sitting President, but to deny that President the levers of government within the term for which he was duly elected? I don’t know words strong enough to excoriate such Benedict Arnolds.

In their minds it isn’t treason; they are right because they are right. Their ideas are the only legitimate ideas, whether they work in the real world or not. Their candidates are the only legitimate candidates, and if someone else actually gets more votes, it can only be because of voter fraud. You know they think that way. Thus, nothing they could possibly do could be wrong, because they are the ones doing it.

Sorta kinda related — righties are still twisting themselves into pretzels trying to argue that Sarah Palin was correct when she said Paul Revere’s mission on his midnight ride was to warn the enemy of what our side planned, as if that made sense. No, dears, the mission was for Revere to ride from Boston to Lexington to warn Sam Adams and John Hancock about British troops movements. The fact that Revere was inadvertently captured by the British after he had fulfilled the mission and was riding away from Lexington does not prove otherwise, so give it up, dimwits. See also Ta-Nehisi Coates.

28 thoughts on “Simple Answers (Updated)

  1. Republicans have come to hate intellectuals, and people with expertise – usually because they point out how wrong-headed Conservatism has become.
    They do this in order to appeal to their low-brow and uni-brow followers.

    It’s the “Jersey Shoring” of America.
    If they could, they’d put Snooki in as the Fed Chair.

    And they know only three songs:
    1. We’re AGAINST anything the Liberals and Democrats are for!
    2. We’re FOR anything the Liberals and Democrats are against!
    3. NO tax increases!!!

    In their seemingly neverending race for the bottom in this country, there are no winners.
    Only faster and slower losers.

    Party over Country!


  2. Whatever the senators’ knowledge or understanding of economics is, the main reason that Professor Diamond’s appointment was not and would not be approved is that he was nominated by President Obama. They want President Obama to fail. (Yes, it makes you want to pound your head against a blunt object.)

  3. Republicans don’t want a government that works. They view government as an obstruction at worst, a profit center at best for their rich friends. Because Diamond doesn’t share in this view, he is unacceptable. Because an underqualified Bush appointee presumably does subscribe to this view, he gets the job.

  4. Analytical expertise? A nefarious liberal trick, obviously.

    They’ll say so openly, too. I wasted some time the other day trying to explain basic climate science to some of these idiots in a comments section. When they weren’t doing the website-comments-section equivalent of sticking their hands in their armpits and making farting noises, they were pretty much explicitly stating their view that of course all the scientists are lying. Because they’re scientists!

  5. moonbat,
    I think you got it right.
    If you’re competent, but can’t be bought, you’re not the right person for the job.
    But if you’re incompetent, but CAN be bought, the job’s all yours.

  6. One of the initial acts of a would-be tyrant contemplating a take-over of a government is to burn books, send innovative thinkers to some remote Siberia, and imprison (or kill) those who refuse to buy their bull shit.

    Still vivid in my memory is a statement made by Karl Rove early-on in his ‘career’, I paraphrase – “All my work will be directed at eliminating the Democratic Party, forever.” Purple Girl’s comment is right on the money.

  7. It is impossible to have any level of respect for today’s ignorant republicans.

    Although I am thrilled to have the falsehood that white conservatives, especially the men, are some how superior because they exist shattered, the damage they do in their arrogance is sickening.

  8. Is it Keynesian economics, or Kenyanian economics…If it’s the latter, that might be what CY is talking about..Sometimes referred to as Usurpian economics.

    • Swami — Awhile back I did find a blog post from someone who read Keynesian as Kenyan, and was all excited because President Obama had been identified as a Keynesian (I wish). Proof he was born in Africa! And they weren’t joking.

  9. The reason you were blocked Mr. Diamond, is that you are a Keynsian hack, with no understanding of real markets. The idiocy you espouse has led us into the largest recession on this side of the Second World War.

    Keynesian economics caused the Great Recession? Isn’t that a bit like blaming bad weather on the Tooth Fairy?

    It’s worse than that, it’s blaming the cure for the disease. Injecting tons of money into the economic system after capitalism went off the rails – which it will inevitably do if it’s not regulated – did not cause the problem, the problem already existed due to lax government regulation. And that’s not only my opinion, it’s the conclusion of the government commission that studied it.

    I love how right wing idiots think they know more than people who have studied economics their whole lives, or more than climate scientists who’ve spent their lives studying the data. Anything they perceive as threatening to their little comfort zone of ignorance must, by definition, be wrong.

    CY might be your old buddy (I’m being a little facetious here), but I have no time for such drooling willful ignorance.

    One of Obama’s great failings is that he did not use the bully pulpit to once-and-for-all explain to the public how Reaganism (“government is the problem”) caused the crash. He had a golden moment to completely shift the direction of this country, and he shrugged, and got in bed with the banksters. And so we’re left with populations of idiots like CY, who keep voting for people who are screwing them, politicians who will forever block nominations of sensible people into government. Thanks, Barack!

  10. It WAS Weiner’s weiner after all!
    I love him, because he’s one of the few Democrats with balls, but – what a dick!
    As Steve M. said – there’s ‘stupid,’ and then there’s ‘sex stupid!’

    You need to remember that if you’re a Democrat, there’s no room to fool around. Wiener’s weiner in a pair of tightie whities drew more attention in the past week than the entire Ensign fiasco.
    If you are a Democrat, you are f*cked – and NOT in the way you want.

  11. Hell yeah, I’ll call it treason. Let’s start relentlessly attacking their patriotism. We really don’t even have to lie. Right-wingers run around acting like they’re the only ones who really love America, and yet they hate about three quarters of the American people, they hate our judicial system, they hate the party that Thomas Jefferson founded, they constantly lie about our history, they have no respect for the land, they either don’t understand or don’t believe in the Constitution, they refused to give our President credit for killing one of America’s greatest enemies, and they’re content to let the whole country go to hell as long as they can be in charge.

  12. It WAS Weiner’s weiner after all!

    OK, Weiner’s an idiot, but I am SO not apologizing to Breitbart. He’s still the bigger creep.

  13. A favorite bumpersticker from the Clinton era (some things never change)

    Republicans Screw the Country, Democrats Just Screw

  14. Sadly, Moonbat, they just whack off.
    I’m thinking it takes a meglomaniac duchebag asshole to run for office, and we have way more than our share.
    If I’d done what weiner did, I’d be subject to “fillet and release” policy.

  15. Bernie “Made-Off”, and now Rep “Weiner”. Sometimes you really have to pay attention to names.

  16. Simple answers? yes, my head hurts. I think I’ll take a pill now and turn in for the night. A brain can only take so much b.s., and the Diamond debacle was one giant cow pie too much for the day. *sigh* Our only hope now is if the old cliche is correct about being darkest before the dawn.

  17. It’s time for Weiner to publicly invite Jesus into his life..Maybe Newt can lead him in the sinners prayer, and to help cleanse him of all unrighteousness..After all, Newt’s got the restoration/escape clause process down.

    • It’s time for Weiner to publicly invite Jesus into his life.

      That doesn’t work in New York City, especially since Weiner is Jewish.

  18. The thing that bothers me the most in all of this, is that that putrid, lying, POS Breitbart will take this as his redemption tour (and already took the spotlight at Weiners apology) – and all of the usual suspects in the MSM will run behind him like the Keystone Kops acclaiming his journalistic bona fides.

  19. Also, too, at Steve M’s site, since no one in government is paying any attention to us, a commenter said that all of us unemployed people ought to send crotch shots to our representatives and the MSM.

    Hey, it got Weiner a ton of attention!

    I’ll need to do 3 thing:
    1. Figure out if my cellphone can even take pictures, then figure out how to download and e-mail them.
    2. Get some new clean underwear.
    3. Remind the people that I’m sending them to that good things come in small packages.

  20. “I might even go so far as to put forth the idea that owning a Nobel Prize for Economics should be a dis-qualifier for any position involving setting national economic policy.” — comment @ Confederate Yankee

    When I’m looking for a surgeon I make damn sure none of them have been to med school.

    This ‘know nothing’ vein of the American right can only be pushed back with overwhelming turnout in 2012. We should all work to that end.

  21. Keynesian economics caused the Great Recession? Isn’t that a bit like blaming bad weather on the Tooth Fairy?

    No, it isn’t. It’s like blaming a simultaneous tooth surplus and quarter deficit amongst American children on the tooth fairy.

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