Celebrity Experts

A few years ago Greg Cochran pointed out that western economists had been very wrong about the economic condition of the Soviet block countries. Paul Krugman had claimed that the East German economy was 80% of the West German economy. When the wall fell, what was revealed was a backward economy with environmental devastation and low quality consumer goods. All of this was obvious from the outside. All you had to do was take a look at the cars, which were a joke compared to the cheapest western cars.

The reason western economists were so laughably wrong about the Soviet economy is that it was worth their while to be wrong. The Left side of the ruling class wanted to believe the commies were doing well. They owned the media and the academy, so it is not hard to figure out the rest. That, of course, calls into the question the integrity of the field, but in reality they just believed what was convenient. Even PhD’s can delude themselves if it has social value. You see that in this post by celebrity economist Tyler Cowen.

Will Ethiopia become “the China of Africa”? The question often comes up in an economic context: Ethiopia’s growth rate is expected to be 8.5 percent this year, topping China’s projected 6.5 percent. Over the past decade, Ethiopia has averaged about 10 percent growth. Behind those flashy numbers, however, is an undervalued common feature: Both countries feel secure about their pasts and have a definite vision for their futures. Both countries believe that they are destined to be great.

Consider China first. The nation-state, as we know it today, has existed for several thousand years with some form of basic continuity. Most Chinese identify with the historical kingdoms and dynasties they study in school, and the tomb of Confucius in Qufu is a leading tourist attraction. Visitors go there to pay homage to a founder of the China they know.

This early history meant China was well-positioned to quickly build a modern and effective nation-state, once the introduction of post-Mao reforms boosted gross domestic product. That led to rapid gains in infrastructure and education, and paved the way for China to become one of the world’s two biggest economies. Along the way, the Chinese held to a strong vision that it deserved to be a great nation once again.

My visit to Ethiopia keeps reminding me of this basic picture. Ethiopia also had a relatively mature nation-state quite early, with the Aksumite Kingdom dating from the first century A.D. Subsequent regimes, through medieval times and beyond, exercised a fair amount of power. Most important, today’s Ethiopians see their country as a direct extension of these earlier political units. Some influential Ethiopians will claim to trace their lineage all the way to King Solomon of biblical times.

Cowen is either trying hard to please the Ethiopian economic and cultural ministers or he has spent too much time in the sun. The reason Ethiopia has seen growth rates tick up is the Chinese, and to a lesser degree India, have been investing. The reason they are investing is both are competing for control of the the Indian Ocean. In fact, the Chinese have invested in other East African countries, including a naval base in Djibouti. That’s why China and Indian are investing in East Africa. It’s a modern form of colonialism.

Further, comparing China and Ethiopia, at the civilization level, is a bit ridiculous. China is basically one people, the Han, with minority populations around the fringes. This has been true for a very long time. Ethiopia is a combination of pastoral and settled people, who see one another as rivals. The country is experiencing civil unrest, bordering on civil war, in response to the ruling Oromo minority. China has never had this issue. China also has an average IQ over 100, while Ethiopia is one of the lowest on earth, estimated below 70.

Now, economists are easy targets, because the profession has evolved into something similar to the celebrity chef racket. There’s not a lot of money in making good food and running a quality restaurant. There’s big money in being an entertaining chef with a TV show on cable television. Something similar has happened to economics. You don’t actually have to be very good at economics to get a spot in the commentariat. You just have to sing the praises of the managerial class and play the professorial role well.

Even so, it takes special talent to be this wrong about observable reality. Cowen’s trick, like most celebrity experts, is to couch his obsequiousness and nutty ideas in the form of a question. “Is Ethiopia the next China?” This way, when called on it, he can pretend it was just an intellectual exercise, a thought experiment. Meanwhile, he appears to be lending his authority to the rather ridiculous notion that Ethiopia is poised to be the next boom town. It is no wonder that so many in the managerial class are so vapid and silly.

It is tempting to dismiss this, but the proliferation of celebrity experts says something about the nature of managerialism. It has evolved a class of people that are luxury goods. They have no utility, other than to make the people inside feel special. The TED Talk is a great example. Cloud People pay to be told by a celebrity expert that their lives have purpose and they are on the side of angels. It’s not explicit, but the point of the expert is always to confirm the beliefs of the audience, rather than broaden their understanding.

If the celebrity expert was just the current version of the court jester, it would probably be harmless, but that’s not the case. The people making public policy have risen through the system, never having been told a discouraging word. They end up having opinions about the world that border on lunacy. The people running the Bush foreign policy really believed they could democratize the Middle East. They still believe this and they probably think East Africa is the next economic boom town. That’s what the experts tell them.

There is an argument that the proliferation of lawyers is responsible for the proliferation of laws. The extra lawyers, looking for a way to make a living, inevitably started to pervert the law to create opportunities for themselves. This results in more cases in court, that means more courts, more judges and then more laws to address the crazy outcomes. It is a bit of chicken and egg theory, but there is no question that having a lawyer for ever conceivable case has changed the nature of the law, as well as the volume of laws.

Something similar seems to be happening in the other parts of the managerial class. The excess of middling strivers, means an excess of mediocre men pitching themselves as experts. Since being an expert is hard, the more fruitful course is to tell the audience what they want to hear. As a result, in the public policy arena, the people charged with actually knowing stuff are surrounded by an amen chorus that cheers their every move. Instead of rule by expert, as some imagine, we have rule by people who never faced adversity.

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Glen Filthie
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Glen Filthie

LOL. I learned long ago, Z, that seeing the world as it is – is a sin. And it is an act of war to notice certain people’s places in it.

Member

A favorite quote of mine:
“We have now sunk to a depth at which re-statement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”
—-George Orwell

Simple, observed reality is terribly out of fashion and the cloud people look at you as if you tracking in dog crap from the outside if you are so gauche as to repeat empirical observation.

Fat Boy/Cat Boy
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Fat Boy/Cat Boy

Almost every talented young white maIe I know is going to law school. I suspect the reason might be that whites are being crowded out of STEM fields by competition from mathematical Asians. Seems that we are about to see an even more terrific glut of smart lawyers.

GU1
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GU1

For any young guys reading this, don’t go to law school unless it’s free (or close to free) at a high-ranking school or you’re very connected through friends and family in law and/or politics. And even then, probably not a good idea.

Just being smart and hard-working is not enough to succeed in the legal profession. And if you really are smart and hard-working, there are many easier, more pleasant ways to make a good living.

Fat Boy/Cat Boy
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Fat Boy/Cat Boy

This was an excellent post imho

Member

Did some work years ago for Ethiopian brothers who had restaurants with their native cuisine. Tasty and different. That and they were the only black types except for a few that actually put their own money into a business.

So what I’m saying that, yes, I can see a new super power coming from this 🙂
Oh, and Krugman was, and always will be the supreme idiot serving his masters.

calsdad
Guest
calsdad

Yes, Krugman is a complete moron – at least at being an “economist”. Back in the 2005 -2008 era it seemed that Krugman was always popping up proclaiming some new piece of wisdom : ” The housing market will rise forever!!” ” The Federal Reserve should bail out everything !!! “. I know you slam libertarians ZMan – but I have to say: back in that era – when it was clear to myself and many people I knew that the ride simply could not last ….. it was the Lew Rockwell libertarian types and Austrian economist types who got… Read more »

Member

I’d say the cloud people are not only dumb, but hopeful. Very, very hopeful.

calsdad
Guest
calsdad

Being hopeful is a variation of being dumb. One of the things that has always stuck with me from taking psych classes back in college was hearing about studies where they looked at the views of depressed people vs. “happy” people – and how they perceived reality. Depressed people had a better grip on reality than the “happy” people did. I think this finding dovetails nicely with the whole leftist experiment and it’s insistence on living in fantasy land. THEY want to live in nice little happy world – and when somebody starts talking reality – the hammers of the… Read more »

Alex
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Alex

There has to be a correlation between the number of “International Development” white papers and the number of wars/conflicts in third world areas. There must be.

Severian
Guest

Probably. I do know there’s a direct correlation between “amount of NGO ‘help'” and “being a hellhole.” William Easterly’s White Man’s Burden should be required reading for anyone wishing to say, let alone do, anything about Africa.

Ursula
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Ursula

It should be a crime to give aid of any kind to Africa given the looming population boom of these destructive people. China is working with many African countries right now building infrastructure and trying to develop them. I wonder if they’ll keep the Africans at arm’s length rather than taking them in to their own society and trying to domesticate them. They must see the albatross the black demographic is to America — no gain, just pain and cost.

Rube Goldberg
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Rube Goldberg

I have friends in Burundi, Kenya and Mozambique. According to them, Chinese will have no truck with the locals. They pay off the corrupt local and “federal” leaders to farm, mine, develop whatever. They bring in their own Chinese workers and all the products, profits, wages etc go back to China.
China has never been a non “racist” people

Rod1963
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Rod1963

If you watch the “Empire of Dust” on youtube you’ll know they use the approach they do.

james wilson
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james wilson

Even though that is all true, the Chinese would use local labor but experience demonstrates it is very unreliable. The absence of future time orientation among the Bantu is what keeps Africa Africa. .

Anonymous White Male
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Anonymous White Male

“The reason Ethiopia has seen growth rates tick up is the Chinese, and to a lesser degree India, have been investing.”

Yeah, but the real reason Ethiopia’s economy is “booming” is because if you earn 10 cents one year and 20 cents the next, your income has increased 100%! Why, that’s the largest in the world! All hail diversity! Of course, when you compare it to a country like China that had a GDP of $11 trillion in 2016 and only increased by $500 billion, that’s less than a 5% increase. Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.

Saml Adams
Guest
Saml Adams

Dirt soup production is up 25%.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Good news, citizen!
They increased the dirt soup ration to 25%!

TBoone
Guest
TBoone

I often begin a discussion/negotiation by stating “The less I know about a given subject/situation, the more of an Expert I am.”

It can be a good icebreaker and it is important to remind myself to approach unknowns with humility. After all I am first and foremost an unabashed Fan! of my own ideas.

Common sense and humility are increasingly rare in everyday social interactions. Let alone in ‘media’.
.

Dirtnapninja
Guest
Dirtnapninja

Ethiopia does have potential..but so much of that potential is undone by tribal politics and the presence of very low IQ muslims, somalis and bantus. As always, Diversity sucks.

james wilson
Guest
james wilson

I am an expert on Ethiopia, my last two cab drivers from the airport being Ethiopians. They were obviously from different tribes, one an elderly ex-college professor and the other a young fellow attending nursing school. I asked them the same question–is there any hope for Ethiopia? I got identical one word answers and no further comment.

Saml Adams
Guest
Saml Adams

Had one of those on long Uber ride in CA. 30s, finishing a graduate degree in mechanical engineering. Christian. Told me back in Ethiopia, all his family, including him had to join militias, simply for self-defense against Muslim encroachment. Basically a shit show, even for reasonably well educated families like his. No future. At all.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Chatted with another in Atlanta, this one a Christian. You could tell he had a good soul, it just leaked out of him.

Nonetheless, I’ve never met someone so haunted. This guy had lived through true hell.

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

The degree to which they can’t accept, or choose the ignore, the differences between China and Ethiopia, may correlate very closely to the degree to which they can’t accept, or choose to ignore, the IQ question. I suspect that correlation is real.

Karl Horst (Germany)
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Karl Horst (Germany)

These so called “experts” typically view the world from the comfort of their office as they want to believe it exists. They know that going out into the field and seeing how things really are first hand is extremely risky. Because there’s nothing more terrifying or more dangerous than coming face to face with the truth.

Abelard Lindsey
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Abelard Lindsey

This posting is a good description of the so-called “experts”. Let me tell you, this problem is especially rampant in medicine as well.

Primi Pilus
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Primi Pilus

Nice tie in with your post from the 28th — The Dull Man’s Burden. And the same question arose in my mind as I read these two: What do we do about it? No sarcasm and criticism intended. These are great analyses. These and many others like them are a critical step. From these, and many other clear explications of the otherwise nearly incomprehensible threat we face, we are getting a good picture of what we must know if we have the slightest chance of regaining / maintaining our culture, our nation, history, traditions and freedoms — our very history.… Read more »

Lineman
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Lineman

Most people won’t do anything until it’s forced upon them and at that time their choices will be limited on how they respond…Only when it gets too painful that they can’t hide from it anymore only then will they change their situation, beliefs, or life… Hardly anyone wants to be proactive so we don’t end up repeating past mistakes or rhyming with past genocides and catastrophe’s…Most are still to comfortable and the ones that are not are at the reacting point and don’t have a lot of options to be of a help to themselves let alone a cause…It saddens… Read more »

Primi Pilus
Guest
Primi Pilus

Yes, for sure. Moving from the state that’s been my home for four decades. Looking to find a place that’s not popular, still hews a bit more closely to an earlier ethic, and that will not soon be positioned behind enemy lines. Now this state’s northern urban center is being over-run by Calilfornians. It’s astounding, the numbers who keep pouring over the Sierras, like some dam has burst and finally loosed them on poor Nevada. Previously tame streets are now choked with cars; homes and apartments are sprouting from the arid ground, and non-Nevada license plates abound. Of course, Las… Read more »

Lineman
Guest
Lineman

Yea agree it’s a lot of retirees looking to stretch their retirement by having no state income tax and lower cost of living… Problem is they bring their poison with them and they have time to kill…If you ever do meatspace we could meet for coffee sometime…

Primi Pilus
Guest
Primi Pilus

Don’t know what that is …. but yes, lots of retirees, but certainly many of them are soft, urban LEFTies too. Bear in mind … many of todays grandfatherly looking retirees were 1968’s commune dwellers, Woodstock attendees, SDS supporters and returning Vet abusers. And downtown — the new Midtown experience — is all gracile males with pink hair and piercings riding shotgun with their Alpha female friends and eating ethnic food or sipping boutique lattes with the other hipsters. Not the Reno I came to back in the 70s, and not where I’m going to stay. And yes, some conservatives… Read more »

Al from da Nort
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Al from da Nort

P.P.

Meatspace = Millennial for ‘Real Life’ as opposed to Cyberspace (not real life).

Wilson McWilliams
Guest
Wilson McWilliams

Used to really enjoy visiting Reno and Vegas back in the 70’s and 80’s. Alas!

Primi Pilus
Guest
Primi Pilus

Yes, it’s tragic. No longer even recognize the place. Would move in-state farther east, but the legislature has been taken (like the Boy Scouts National Council) and like them, NV will soon be hollowed out and sacrificed to the new religion.

Member

We have to find a way to get money into our politics. A think tank, lobbyist, non profit, etc. the popular sites can raise money. Whoever runs it have to have credibility like Z.

Turning the talk into action requires money, get politicians, make them pressure google and youtube about censorship. Money is the key. Without it we go nowhere. Eventually you get to the point the left is where you’re requiring anti-white training in classes by threatening colleges with DOJ lawsuits.

Copy what (((they))) do. A little at a time.

Lineman
Guest
Lineman

I think we do that and all we are doing is playing in the game they created do you really think you can win when they make all the rules…The key is to build your own casino so they have to play your game…

Member

What is building your own casino a metaphor for?

Lineman
Guest
Lineman

See my above comment…

Al from da Nort
Guest
Al from da Nort

P.P. Have to differ about your comparison to Imperial Japan in WestPac. The handwringing you accurately describe was doing political work that had to be done, at least in my part of the world. Because: Most people hereabouts (accurately) felt in the late 1930s that the US had been suckered into WWI by the Yankee Elite and Wall Streeters who stood to lose big if all the Allied war bonds they floated over here went Tango Uniform. That is, if the noble Allies lost and couldn’t vampire out Central Europe and take over exploiting the Central Powers’ colonies, etc., they… Read more »

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

I swear to gosh we need to lift this guy up on a shield and declare him proconsul.

President Trump, are you hiring?
This one sees beyond the battlefield.

Rube Goldberg
Guest
Rube Goldberg

On the lawyer analogy, I was truly amazed to hear (somewhere, sorry) that America has more lawyers than all the rest of the worlds lawyers combined. Maybe you mentioned that. Is that true? That seems unreal.

Member

Nice to know we have such a ready reserve of compost.

Member

Western Economists have been wrong about just about everything. When I was getting my MBA, I got into an argument with one of the professors about TARP, the “stimulus”, etc. as they pertained to GDP and employment. By his math – the math in the textbook, the math all the Economists rely on – we should have been growing at 5% GDP and down to 5% unemployment within a year. It never happened. The argument I made was that I was trained as a physicist…to be THAT wrong over THAT long would utterly disprove my theory. But in Economics, falsification… Read more »

Severian
Guest

We’ve done ourselves a grave disservice by outsourcing our empire. The 19th century British had some barmy ideas, no doubt, but it wasn’t for lack of people who knew the situation on the ground. When questions of national honour weren’t involved, they were steely-eyed realists, because everyone had an Eton classmate who’d been out there for twenty years and had the malaria shakes to prove it. We let Exxon do it, so the only folks in America who have spent time in strategic places have no way of telling our rulers what they need to hear. If I were running… Read more »

Member

It should be noted that the prevailing economic and political theories about China in the 1990’s and 2000’s have all be proven wrong. Greater economic expansion has not liberalized China, and it has not made them our friends. It has made them more nationalistic and more fascist. Also, it’s important to note that China is “the world’s second-largest economy” based almost entirely on its population. The average Chinese citizen earns about $8K/yr and lives in a police state. But there are over 1.3B+ of them (4-5 USA’s), so they have a $11T economy. In the U.S., also a fairly large… Read more »

Joseph Suber
Guest
Joseph Suber

China has now grown to $10k/ per cap and $14T nominal GDP

Member

I believe my response to the Chinese people would be, “You’re welcome.”

TomA
Guest
TomA

Long term affluence enables carrying a lot of deadweight in society. Stupidity used to get you dead in our ancient ancestral environment. Now it gets you promoted to expert.

Joseph Suber
Guest
Joseph Suber

Ted Talks as the replacement for church. Krugman as the pope of a new geocentric orthodoxy. A choir of “experts” to exalt the virtues of the obedient. Lawyerly inquisitors to codify and persecute every deviation. Are we suicidal Catholics?

Member

Ethiopia’s GDP was non-existent until about 2005. Doesn’t take much to show fast growth.

What will be interesting is how the Chinese react to the inevitable attempts at expropriation of Chinese assets in Ethiopia, and how SJWs react to the Chinese reaction…

Dorf
Guest
Dorf

It reminds one of GM’s proud announcement that they are fastest growing car company. That must mean that they are still suffering from government downsizing….

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

That’s easy! The SJW reaction to the Chinese reaction to expropriation would be that it must be Trump’s fault, because of all his badness…

Chiron
Guest
Chiron

“Since being an expert is hard, the more fruitful course is to tell the audience what they want to hear. As a result, in the public policy arena, the people charged with actually knowing stuff are surrounded by an amen chorus that cheers their every move. ”

All the think tanks in Washington and NY are pretty much this, saying what the ruling class wants to hear.

Jimmy
Guest
Jimmy

Now, economists are easy targets, because the profession has evolved into something similar to the celebrity chef racket. There’s not a lot of money in making good food and running a quality restaurant. There’s big money in being an entertaining chef with a TV show on cable television. Something similar has happened to economics. You don’t actually have to be very good at economics to get a spot in the commentariat. You just have to sing the praises of the managerial class and play the professorial role well. *** This is such a great analogy. There is a highly popular… Read more »

Member

And we have this from The Atlantic :

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/05/an-unusual-idea-for-fixing-school-segregation/560930/

For the deluded few who may believe that idiot Liberals have learned one damn thing in the past fifty years.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

“But millions more would benefit from the increased K–12 integration, which decades of research show improves public schooling.”

They hate you. They really, really hate you and want you dead. See Europe.

sirlancelot
Guest
sirlancelot

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/05/an-unusual-idea-for-fixing-school-segregation/560930/

Unreal. !

Hey Whitey ! We found another way to foist the black , criminal element on you. It’ll be different this time. We promise . Oh and by the way if you don’t like too bad. It’s a court mandated !!!

Thorsted
Guest
Thorsted

I know a danish ph.d in international politics. 25.years ago he was employed in a independent think-tank put up by the english government after the 1.ww. They wanted independent research and advice on state-relations in international politics. So, the institution should be free from government interference. The danish government was inspired by this and put up a institution 20.years ago after the english model. He was hired to a job as researcher there. This was prior to the Euro currency and the danish government wanted Denmark to join the Euro. He wrote that the Euro in that design and the… Read more »

XMan
Guest
XMan

Thanks for the post, Z Man, but do you know where I can get a plate of Injera or Wat for less than $10?

Member

Taleb captures this dynamic well with the concepts of no skin ion three game and IYI (intellectual yet idiot).

Member

Cowen is always promoting the idea of the noble savage

Saml Adams
Guest
Saml Adams

P. J. O’Rourke pretty much predicted the fate of communism in “Holidays in Hell”. Still use the term “commie concrete” on a regular basis.

Member

I suspect the newly colonized will find Chinese colonialism far less benign than say British colonialism.