Once upon a time, back before we were as advanced and civilized as we are now, the kings had, in addition to court historians, astrologers to advise them on how they should rule the country. We still have the court historians arguing that The Real Lincoln is wrong because it contains unapproved facts. But because we are so advanced and civilized, the astrologers have been dispensed with. Now we have court economists filling the same function. By playing games with numbers (I refuse to call it math, I actually studied Math), and using arcane formulas, they are able to predict for us our future.
Just like the court astrologers, the court economists are beholden to their kings, trying to find the prophecy that will satisfy the ruling elite. Since we have two different parties competing for rule, we have two different schools of economists arguing the different ways that the government should spend our money. Some of them are Keynesians who say we should support industry in a Mercantilist fashion, while others are Keynesians who say we should practice wealth redistribution to help the poor. The differences are obvious; they are Keynesians and Keynesians, one cannot say they are the same.
In those old days, there were heretics who dared to say that the court astrologers were wrong. They would offer proof, which would be ignored by the court astrologers. In modern times, those who deal with proof in the prophecy department are called Miseans, who are also treated as heretics by the court economists. I know, I said I don't like economists, but there are exceptions.
I like listening to the court astrologers. The Democrat astrologers keep pushing forward the date the most recent recession started, to clear their King of wrongdoing, while the Republican astrologers keep pushing back the date the recession ended, to clear their King of wrongdoing. If you believe both of them, the Recession started three days before the 9/11 attacks, and ended six days after the 9/11 attacks. The recovery took twice as long because of the complications created by the attacks. Meanwhile, unemployment remains high and Congress is debating an extension of unemployment benefits. The best part of having no rational basis for one’s prognostications is that one can play with the dates.
Meanwhile, in the midst of a recession that doesn't exist (what sign is Jupiter in now?), I have not been able to find employment equivalent to what I had before I got laid off. I am what one camp of Keynesian astrologers calls underemployed, although I forget which one would say that.
Also, according to the court astrologers, we must have faith in their ability to cast the economic charts accurately, because we are unable to know the occult secrets of the economy. It is much too advanced for us. How dare we pronounce the economy sluggish? The fact that there are many of us who are feeling the pinch of a weak economy is not proof that the economy is weak; because the word from on high is that it is not. If you dare disagree, you are one of the heretics.
Both sides, however, show utmost respect for the High Priest Alan Greenspan. His words are indeed from on high, and never to be doubted or questioned. The fact that he was once a heretic a long time ago before he fell to superstition, only increases his prestige. He has seen the light, and has become the High Priest of the religion of economics and ruler of the church of the Federal Reserve.
The good thing about our advanced and civilized status is that we no longer burn the heretics. Those that will not convert are ridiculed in all the official pronouncements and by followers of the court religion. Books like Bias, The Real Lincoln, and the Skeptical Environmentalist are considered to be inaccurate due to the unauthorized facts contained within, and so those who dare to write them are considered to be liars for the facts they dare utter.
This may be an extreme suggestion, but I feel it is time to dispense with court economists and bring back court astrologers. Make Greenspan consult the stars before deciding whether or not to change the interest rate, and cast a chart every time he advises Congress on economic policy. It is unlikely that his pronouncements would be any more accurate (although going on random chance would probably give him a higher guess rate of success).
The benefit of staffing the Federal Reserve with astrologers is that people, being so advanced and civilized, would no longer revere these pronouncements as unquestionably accurate. We are too advanced and civilized to think that astrology has the answer to our country's problems. Since astrology is so mathematically precise (it IS a pseudo-science, so follows strict formulas), those who actually work in the economy could anticipate the next Federal Reserve blunders. While there still wouldn't be a rational basis for what the Federal Reserve and the Federal Government does, there would be a rational basis for defending oneself from their antics.
While we are at it, we can replace social workers with card readers, staff the Department of Education with tea leaf readers, and the Environmental Protection Agency with crystal ball gazers. No, strike that last one; they are already full of crystal gazers. Even so, there are so many forms of divination that we can fill every government agency with people who might actually be more qualified than the ones who are currently there, with other forms of divination held in reserve for the next department or agency that the politicians care to create. We can replace most of the Social Sciences with something just as accurate.
The other option is to dispense with court astrologers entirely, dispense with pseudo-mathematic formulas, and for government officials, elected and appointed, to admit they don't know what they are doing and to give us back our freedoms and our money. Somehow I don't see that policy being adopted, since all elected officials are currently followers of the court religion. It is nice to think about, though.
Jason Gonella [send him mail] is an unemployed computer programmer in the Los Angeles area, trying to fill his time with acting jobs. He is the Secretary of the Region 68 Antelope Valley Libertarian Party.