Simon Jenkins of the British Guardian about modern economists:
“They’re happy to take the credit in the good times, but the disciples of this false science are hard to find as recession looms.
When I studied economics we were told we would be masters of the universe. Ours was not a dismal but a noble science. It had harnessed the verities of maths to those of human behaviour and would go on to conquer politics. Rampant recession would go the way of hyperinflation. Like leprosy and cholera, they were epidemics that modern medicine had rid from our shores.
It did not matter if the economists were welfare Keynesians such as Myrdal, Robinson and Galbraith or free-marketeers such as Marshall, Friedman and the Institute of Economic Affairs. All were “social scientists”. They claimed to have cracked the DNA of economic exchange, to have turned the base metal of money into political gold.
We believed them. We believed the Keynesians until we slumped into stagflation. We believed light-regulation capitalists such as Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown, that they could convert boom-bust into an upward sloping plane of glory. We believed the Bank of England when it said that, in its hands, inflation was dead and prosperity eternal. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive - and an economist.
If Britain were now in the grip of bubonic plague, there would be all hell to pay from some profession or other. An “influential” Commons committee would be summoning the chief medical officer and subjecting him to the third degree. Why no national rat strategy? Why no crash inoculation? Why so many planning delays on plague pits?
The espionage pundits were likewise castigated for wrongly leading the nation to war against Iraq, for giving dud professional assessments on fallacious intelligence. The architectural profession has taken the rap (very occasionally) for the grotesque failures of public housing in the 1970s. Climate scientists may yet be damned for the costly lunacy of new energy sources, such as wind turbines and biofuels.
Yet economics is a Teflon profession. A quarter of a century ago 364 practitioners wrote a letter denouncing the policies of the then Thatcher government as having “no basis in economic theory”. They were wrong in fact and wrong in judgment. Thatcher’s policies laid the groundwork for a strategic shift in the underpinning of British prosperity. There was no inquiry, no hearing, no peep of retraction or remorse …” -
Comment: Indeed, economics has made a bad turn in the 1950s under the guidance of Paul Samuelson and the mass of his medicroe follows. With the false claim that economics has become a true science the profession rose to prominence as the modern ancilla politicae. Its practicioners did very well in hiding their intellectual shortcomings behind a smokescrean of unclean mathematics and overblown econometrics. By selling out the soul of the discpline, economics has turned from true scholarship into a kind of black magic with the rituals of a cargo cult science. It is mainly only in Austrian economics where the old tradition of true scholarship in economics is kept on.