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Economist magazine madness

People who know me are most likely sick of my ranting against the Economist magazine, but an article in the present edition deserves to be noted – as example of establishment statist folly.

Under the title of “Poor By Definition” we are told that the Chinese government has adopted an international measure of poverty (support for international government, European-world-whatever, is one of the defining features of the establishment to which Economist magazine writers belong) which will mean that one hundred million extra people will get various forms of government benefit. This is “good news” – “for them” and “for the economy”.

Let us leave the World Government (world definition of poverty, claim of entitlement…) stuff aside – like its support for the European Union, the international statism of the Economist is too demented (and too unpopular – outside a narrow international elite) to be worth further comment. I will just comment upon the social and economic claim being made in the article.

One hundred million MORE (not less) people getting various forms of government benefit is a “good thing”. Someone can only suppose it is “good for them” if they have ignored all the careful examination of what welfare dependence does, to individuals, families and whole communities. Works such as “Losing Ground” have been out for some time – but if the Economist magazine writers have not yet got up to speed with Aristotle and Cicero (who made similar points about the Greek and Roman worlds) it is perhaps too much to hope they would have read and understood more recent studies on how just handing out benefits undermines people – destroys families, undermines communities by destroying self help and mutual aid. And on and on – the growth of the “underclass” and the destruction of such institutions as the family among large segments of the population (the poor) all over the Western world, has been a central element of the history over the last 40 to 50 years – but the Economist magazine writers have totally missed it.

As for “good for the economy” this is the spend-our-way-to-prosperity fallacy that the Classical Economists (such as J.B. Say and Bastiat) thought they had killed off – but got a zombie rebirth with the influence of the late Lord Keynes. As Hunter Lewis points out in his “Where Keynes Went Wrong“, what we call “Keynesianism” (all the central fallacies) had been refuted long before Keynes was even born – even Karl Marx (not known as a hard core “right winger”) laughed at the absurdities of what is now called “fiscal and monetary stimulus”. However, neither the works of the Classical Economists or more recent works (such as those by W.H. Hutt.., Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig Von Mises and many others) have had any effects on the minds of the international elite – because they have never read such writers. Their education is confined to nonsense and, being intelligent (but not wise) and hard working people, they absorb the nonsense and it remains with them for the rest of their lives. They base all their policy opinions and proposals on a foundation of nonsense – which they learned (with great attention) in their early years. They are (falsely) taught that rejecting common sense is the mark of the “intellectual” (putting them above the common herd of humanity) – and so they reject common sense (basic human reason) with a passion, embracing the absurdities they are taught, perhaps, because what they are taught is absurd.

Lastly the Economist magazine article declares that the money is better spent on expanding welfare schemes than on Chinese banks. An odd statement considering that the Economist magazine has been the leading defender, in the English speaking world, of credit bubble banking and government bailouts. From the rather limited interventionism (corporate welfare) suggested by Walter Bagehot (third editor of the Economist and enemy of then Governor of the Bank of England who, quite rightly, thought that Bagehot’s suggestions would encourage all that was bad in banking) to the “unlimited” (their word – used repeatedly in articles) money creation (money creation from NOTHING) that the Economist magazine has supported in relation to bank bailouts in the United States and for bank, and national government, bailouts in the European Union. Again for the Economist magazine to attack money being thrown at the banks (anywhere) is very odd. The last demented spit of a demented article – the product of an intellectually bankrupt elite who are pushing the world towards bankruptcy. Not just economic bankruptcy – but social, cultural and moral bankruptcy also.

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7 comments to Economist magazine madness

  • Runcie Balspune

    Isn’t the welfare fallacy explained by “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” ?

    That’s Confucius era knowledge, isn’t it ?

  • John B

    I find it hard to believe that people are so stupid. In fact I think it is impossible.

    Keynesian economics is embraced not because those who embrace it are stupid but because it serves their agenda.
    And the logical way it does so is that it enables them to take other people’s wealth through money printing and inflation. The same way counterfeiters make their living.

    There are no doubt those who are stupid, willing lackeys of the counterfeiters, such as the Economist writers you refer to, but at origin I am convinced the system is driven by those who are served by the system.

    There is nothing so clever (and possibly deluded) as perceived self interest?

  • “Their education is confined to nonsense and, being intelligent (but not wise) and hard working people, they absorb the nonsense and it remains with them for the rest of their lives.”


  • Jay Thomas

    I really don’t understand the point of anonymous opinion pieces such as appear in the economist. All the numerous writers for this publication hide behind the ‘Newspaper’s’ masthead. None of them write in their own voice but adopt the tiresome glib and pompous house style that the magazine developed before many of its current writers were out of the nursery. Whose opinions am I actually reading? Does it matter, does the content of these opinions matter, either to their readers or the people formulating them? The purpose of the magazine is to give the right sort of people the right sort of opinions to trot out at dinner parties, that will allow them to sound vaguely sophisticated and informed, cement their status as smart and educated and not ruffle too many of the wrong sorts of feathers. Its a shallow magazine for shallow people.

  • Paul Marks

    The comments are correct – all of them.

    As for the attitude of the Economist magazine writers – and the people they serve….

    Their rejection of common sense and their smug sense of superiority are joined at the hip. As I mention – they are taught that rejecting common sense (the opinions of the common herd) is the mark of the “intellectual”, of the elite that they worked so hard to become part of (via university and so on) and are desperate to remain a part of.

    Sadly this error (and it is an error) is one found in many philosophers – going all the way back to Plato.

    Of course much of German philosophy, such as Shopenhauer and Nietzsche, takes this attitude to an extreme.

    Although, I hasten to add. neither Shopenhauer or Nietzsche applied this attitude to economics.

    Karl Marx (and other, although not all, left Hegalians – and some right Hegalians also) did that.

    Rejecting such things as support for private property as simply the tricks (planned – or even automatic without real choice) of the “capitalists” creating a false consciousness among the people. Rather than support for private property being the normal rational opinion of human beings (including people who do not own stuff).

    What Rousseau (long before) called the “will of all” (what people “thought” they believed) rather than the true “general will” (which is to be found by the Law Giver and imposed as “true freedom”). Is also to be found in Karl Marx and co.

    And, of course, Karl Marx and co defined the collectivist tyranny they craved, as the realm of true (and unlimited) freedom.

    Black is white, hot is cold, dry is wet.

  • RRS

    Going to the 5th paragraph of the original post:

    What we encounter is a persistently recurring body of self-certifed social “Architects” who have no knowledge of (but are sure they have all necessary information about) the materials with which they propose their constructions.

  • John K

    On the contrary Paul, I find your anti-Economist pieces rather interesting and informative. Carry on ranting by all means.