Monday, January 24, 2011

Some shit I learned from NPR…

A bitch adores National Public Radio (NPR)!  

I listen while driving and almost always learn something new or hear a unique angle on an already known thing.

It came as no surprise…no surprise at all…that NPR dropped some knowledge on economists and ethics the other day!

Pause...sip coffee...continue.

Longtime readers know that economists make my Afro hurt. 
They disagree with each other more than a group of sports writers debating which teams will make the NHL Playoffs.  

If economists aren’t arguing with each other, they are at such odds over a happening that a bitch is left thinking they all have no fucking idea what they are talking about.  Beyond that, economists are secretive…they have secret ties and undercover relationships that are only revealed after investor scandals or financial meltdowns.

But...through all the predictions, estimates, and recommendations...a bitch has always assumed that economists were governed by some sort of code of ethics.

You know, so economists won’t just sit around spouting bullshit or keeping secrets for personal gain.

Well, imagine my no exactly shocked surprise when NPR aired a feature that revealed the American Economic Association lacks a code of ethics.

Yes, way!

When 9 out of 10 economists predict blah, blah, blah there is no code of ethics they must adhere to.

And if you think that’s no biggie and are wondering why the fuck that matters…well, I direct you to the economic clusterfuck of recent years and all the economic advice/predictions/analysis that lacked insight into the housing drama we’re still struggling to recover from.

Economists are not required to reveal links to think tanks or politicians...links that may explain their silence on certain issues or their loud as hell urgent voice on others.

NPR reports that, in response to the public's growing distrust of economists, some 300 economists have signed a petition calling for the development of a formal code of ethics.

But few prominent economists are resisting that call.

Makes me wonder what the hell they have to lose.


***logs off eager to hear what's what on NPR today***


Anonymous said...

Feel free to delete this comment: When reading, I stumbled over the word "incite", and then it dawned on me you probably meant to write "insight". Could be wrong, though, not being a native English speaker.

escalante blogger said...

And that's what I also think of...

Shark-fu said...

Good Gawd! Thanks for the assistance, Anonymous - I clearly need to finish my first cup of coffee before I log on!!

Espiritu Arete said...

I am not surprised either, it actually explains it all. I never invested any creedence in 'economists' because so many would sound like empty shirts on 'money' shows. They mostly seemed like people who run sales seminars. A few now and then strike me as people who want a merit based, ethical system and they are trying to use 'economics' to do so, like Ravi Batra. Great post.

Anonymous said...

I knew it! They are all slim shady and your instincts are right they don't know what they are doing or talking about and yes, they do make stuff up and then use math to prove it. I remember taking econ. in college and thinking this is all just theory being spouted as fact. This is the way so much of this stuff goes. They know who butters their bread. Believe it!

vyzion360 said...

I, too am an NPR addict who views economists and most other elusive (unaccounted for) peeps in the upper-aristocratousphere whom seem to delight in keeping the pockets of the rich nice 'n fat but the pockets of the poor nearly empty ...

ElizaN said...

"But some prominent economists like David Colander of Middlebury College bristle at this notion of a formal code...
'Economists do all kinds of different things, and to have a code that's going to capture what they do is quite hard,' he says."

This guy doesn't even seem to understand what a code of ethics is. It's not what you do, it's how you do it. My profession has a huge variety in the types of work we can do, but we have a clear code of ethics all the same.

Rayfield A. Waller said...


You all have it dead wrong...Economics is a SCIENCE, not a hobby. Economists are not sports announcers. Remember that it is popularly said of economics that it is 'the dismal science'.

They disagree for the same reason that physicists stridently disagree over the origin of the three dimensional universe and over whether this universe is entropic (expanding forever, independent of human life or perception) or 'cosmologically constant' (closed, in a 'steady state' that will not expand forever). Scientists disagree because the physical world and the laws that govern physical reality are subject, thank the gods, to a constant need to interpret phenomena.

Having said all that, it is instructive to remember that the very popular saying that, "economics is the dismal science" was coined by Thomas Carlyle in his 1849 essay, "Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question." Carlyle objected to the 'dismal' nature of the 'dismal' supply and demand principle of macro economics as expressed earlier (in 1839) by Thomas Malthus in his own famous essay, "Chartism'. Malthus of course, argued that world population would soon outstrip the capacity of global food sources to feed the population (you will probably recognize this bit of pish-posh from your high school econ classes--the so called 'Malthusian principle' of overpopulation).

Carlyle was appalled by this prediction (Oh, the humanity!), though on close inspection more appalled by the prospect of Africans and Asians making up the bulk of the population 'explosion' than by the prospect of whether or not and how that population would manage to eat. Consequently, Carlyle advocated a return to chattel slavery for the sake of regulating labor markets in areas of high raw materials production such as the West Indies. The further implication in his thought, was that an adequately GOVERNED world population (Africans, Asians, Indians, Native Americans, ) would prevent runaway population growth at the same time that runaway labor costs would be avoided for the 'producer' (the capitalist--nee European owner class).

Carlyle argued, therefore, that slavery is a morally superior form of social organization, superior to the blind, ungoverned economic principles of dirty, stinky 'market forces' (you know--the forces that lead inevitably to class conflict, to collective bargaining, union solidarity).

In short, youse is all barkin' up duh wrong trees. A 'code of ethics' does not necessarily accrue to a science, at least not in the objective practice of scientific analysis, which, if it is actually being done objectively, according to the natural principles of a science, will even out necessary error over time (physics, biology, cosmology, anatomy, geology, histology, plate tectonics, etc.).

Now, because economics entails some of the social sciences (history and psychology, for e.g.) it is a more practicably problematic science than say, surgical tech, but in that case the question of 'ethics' adheres not so much to the practitioner of the science, as to the society within which the scientists is practicing. In fact, it is easy to see that it makes very little sense to even be talking about a 'code of ethics' for the mere practice of fundamental analysis within a scientific tradition. Such a thing sounds dumb on the face of it. Cotton Mather, doofuss Puritanism, and American Transcendentalism as practiced by Emerson as opposed to Thoreau come to mind. Puritanism is the mark of seeking to get a scientist to adhere to a 'code of ethics' while allowing our public school administrations to go on stealing our children blind and defending the system because we think 'private incentive creates efficiency'.

The issue of white supremacy was hotly contested as a value AGAINST economics, since reactionary, fascist, and racist/sexist forces ALWAYS practice anti-intellectualism and are ALWAYS anti science.