Thank the Heavens We Have Such Devoted Servants

by Don Boudreaux on August 1, 2009

in Business as usual, Hubris and humility

Tom Elia recognizes hubris when he encounters it.

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{ 13 comments }

Anonymous August 1, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I suspect Christina Romer is having her most positive impact on the economy during the portion of that 24/7 effort when she is sleeping.

E. Barandiaran August 1, 2009 at 3:09 pm
Steven Horwitz August 1, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I had an op-ed in the Washington Examiner back in February that picked up on a similar theme: http://xrl.in/2tgh

Surfisto August 1, 2009 at 6:41 pm

(1) If she thinks “WE” are ignorant about economics is she not correct? I know I am ignorant about it and most if not all my family and friends are. Good for here is she has the gall to imply it.
(2) Although I understand the impossibility for a person or group to command and control the economy, is that not what the fed does for better or worse. Their actions are to try and make the economy better right? I have heard debates on both sides, but is it safe to say we don’t know? If the fed and others can think their actions make a difference why can’t Dr. Romer?

Anonymous August 1, 2009 at 11:03 pm

The irony is that she is broadcasting her own ignorance by asserting that it might even be possible for her to fix the economy.

No person has ever fixed an economy. The very idea is absurd to anyone with even a cursory understanding of economics. The most she could hope to do is to recommend to her boss that the government stop actively trying to wreck the economy. And even that (the act of her advising) is unlikely to make a bit of difference.

Surfisto August 2, 2009 at 2:26 am

I agree it to be absurd that anyone can “fix” the economy. But nobody really knows if what the fed does/did/doing is fixing or hurting the economy. This is a new experiment. If in a year from now the economy is booming the politicians will claim victory and say “see it worked.”
If Obama came on TV tomorrow and said, gov’t is out of banking, there is no more fed, etc, would he “fix” the economy, I know this is outside the realms of reality, but could we then say one person fixed the economy? I am asking if the free market system so complicated that we really can’t pin point what has “worked” or “failed.” I agree that Dr. Romer saying she can fix it is ignorant, but is it ignorant to suggest she can’t, only because we really don’t know?

Anonymous August 2, 2009 at 5:35 am

There is no understanding in economics devoid of fundamental principles. Without them, then no matter what is done now, and no matter what happens in the future you can persuasively claim or deny any causal relation you want. In other words, you render yourself incapable of learning and understanding.

I know what you are saying. You think it is an experiment, but any experimental scientist would laugh at the idea. There are countless confounding variables, and no way to control for them. You are therefore taking a futile approach.

Data are real, but logic and reason are real too. In controlled repeatable scientific experiments, you can reduce logic and reason to a readily grasped minimum. In economics, it must play a much bigger role.

So I have to disagree with you on your last question. We do know. And in this case ignorance applies to those who don’t see their contradictions.

vidyohs August 2, 2009 at 1:47 am

surfisto,

What kind of questions is this, really?
“If the fed and others can think their actions make a difference why can’t Dr. Romer?”

What kind of justification or excuse are you looking to establish for either the fed or Dr. Romer?

You must be new to the Cafe because if you had some history here you’d know that virtually all of the intelligent people here, especially the hosts, who understand markets, economy, trade, etc. were saying in answer to the idiots in government…..do nothing. Let it happen, it will heal itself much quicker and with less long term harm or hurt.

But the people in the FED, government, and people Like Obama and Dr. Romer were the ones running around like Chicken Littles crying, “The sky is falling, we have to do something and do it now, we can’t not do nothing!”

Here people were saying, yes we can do nothing.

Surfisto August 2, 2009 at 2:36 am

Vidyohs,
Yes I am new here and most or all of my questions are for me to find the answers, because I am freely admiting I am not as intelligent as the people here, but I am willing to learn and I am humble.
I listen to econ talk and one main concept I get from Russ Roberts is to challenge your own beliefs and idealogies. So the questions I ask are the battles in my head I am trying to answer. Also that we have to deal with reality and positive analysis. It is great people here are saying yes we can do nothing and complain that the gov’t is doing something, but the reality of that is nil.
I am on the side of economist and with each new issue I want to know why I should side with them, not just jump along because everyone else is jumping.
Should all economist move to one state to elect gov’t officials who are not “idiots.”
That is not very realistic so the best thing is places like this and econ talk and education. So please show me my errors and I will gladly except them.

Anonymous August 2, 2009 at 7:16 am

I am freely admiting I am not as intelligent as the people here, but I am willing to learn and I am humble. – Surfisto

Don’t be quite so humble! Lack of knowledge isn’t the same as lack of intelligence.

If you prove to be like Muirgeo and ask the same stupid question over-and-over; or make the same stupid assertion after your question has been answered – over-and-over – then we’ll start to question your intelligence. Right now, I’m happy to applaud your eagerness to learn.

Welcome to the Cafe.

vidyohs August 3, 2009 at 1:00 am

The point, surfisto, is that yes the people at the FED and Dr. Romer can think what ever they please about their actions making a difference, one’s belief can augment or parallel the other; but, it is my money and your money that they are using in their actions to make a difference.

That is why your question struck me as being so empty.

From what I have learned over the last forty plus years, all their actions have made no positive difference to the wealth creators that is consistent, reliable, or actually even discernible beyond minor blips that are questionably contributed to their actions.

Welcome to the Cafe.

Anonymous August 2, 2009 at 3:29 am

Michelle Obama and Barry appear to have been cut from the same whole cloth:
“First Lady Requires More Than Twenty Attendants

Dr. Paul L. Williams
July 7, 2009

?In my own life, in my own small way, I have tried to give back to this country that has given me so much,? she said. ?See, that?s why I left a job at a big law firm for a career in public service, ? Michelle Obama

No, Michele Obama does not get paid to serve as the First Lady and she doesn?t perform any official duties. But this hasn?t deterred her from hiring an unprecedented number of staffers to cater to her every whim and to satisfy her every request in the midst of the Great Recession. Just think Mary Lincoln was taken to task for purchasing china for the White House during the Civil War. And Mamie Eisenhower had to shell out the salary for her personal secretary.

How things have changed! If you?re one of the tens of mill ions of Americans facing certain destitution, earning less than subsistence wages stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart or serving up McDonald cheeseburgers, prepare to scream and then come to realize that the benefit package for these servants of Miz Michele are the same as members of the national security and defense departments and the bill for these assorted lackeys is paid by John Q. Public:

$172,200 – Sher, Susan (CHIEF OF STAFF)
$140,000 – Frye, Jocelyn C. (DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND PROJECTS FOR THE FIRST LADY)
$113,000 – Rogers, Desiree G. (SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND WHITE HOUSE SOCIAL SECRETARY )
$102,000 – Johnston, Camille Y. (SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND D IRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR THE FIRST LADY)
Winter, Melissa E. (SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE FIRST LADY)
$90,000 – Medina , David S. (DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE FIRST LADY)
$84,000 – Lelyveld, Catherine M. (DIRECTOR AND PRESS SECRETARY TO THE FIRST LADY)
$75,000 – Starkey, Frances M. (DIRECTOR OF SCHEDULING AND ADVANCE FOR THE FIRST LADY)
$70,000 – Sanders, Trooper (DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND PROJECTS FOR THE FIRST LADY)
$65,000 – Burnough, Erinn J. (DEPUTY DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY SOCIAL SECRETARY)
Reinstein, Joseph B. (DEPUTY DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY SOCIAL SECRETARY)
$62,000 – Goodman, Jennifer R. (DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF SCHEDULING AND EVENTS COORDINATOR FOR THE FIRST LADY)
$60,000 – Fitts, Alan O. (DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF ADVANCE AND TRIP DIRECTOR FOR THE FIRST LADY)
Lewis, Dana M. (SPECIAL ASSISTANT AND PERSONAL AIDE TO THE FIRST LADY)
$52,500 – Mustaphi, Semonti M. (ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY TO THE FIRST LADY)
$50,000 – Jarvis, Kristen E. (SPECIAL ASSISTANT FOR SCHEDULING AND TRAVELING AIDE TO THE FIRST LADY)
$45,000 – Lechtenberg, Tyler A. (ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF CORRESPONDENCE FOR THE FIRST LADY)
Tubman, Samantha (DEPUTY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR,SOCIAL OFFICE)
$40,000 – Boswell, Joseph J. (EXECUTIVE AS SISTANT TO THE CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE FIRST LADY)
$36,000 – Armbruster, Sally M. (STAFF ASSISTANT TO THE SOCIAL SECR ETARY)
Bookey, Natalie (STAFF ASSISTANT)
Jackson, Deilia A. (DEPUTY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF CORRESPONDENCE FOR THE FIRST LADY)

canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/12652 ”

Anonymous August 2, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Indianajim’s list of Michelle Obama’s courtiers and their salaries reminds me of the trappings of past authoritarian regimes.

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