I’m working my way through Prof. McCloskey’s The Rhetoric of Economics, second edition. There is no more elegant, erudite a writer on The Dismal Science.( Economists, like Lawyers, are by nature self-celebrants.) Yet the reader comes to her last paragraph, in this essay, and is brought up short by this apologetic for the dismal economic/political present.
The outcome is the neo-socialism of Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK’s opposition Labour party, panic over inequality and anger against high capitalism. That way lies further regulation of the most regulated sectors of the economy, slow growth, social upheaval and a revival of old-style socialism. Let’s not.
Not forgetting her demonization of both Tony Judt and David Garber, ‘Occupy Wall Street guru’- in the eighth year of the economic doldrums, precipitated by the collapse of 2008, the myopia of this celebrant of The Bourgeois Virtue is glaring. And don’t forget Mr. Milton Friedman as virtuous abider of “embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom”. The Chicago Boys were the political/economic/ethical instrumentality of Pinochet? The dismissal of Jeremy Corbyn, the political nostalgia for a failed Socialism, and by inference Thomas Piketty, is unsurprising. Yet the codified Neo-Liberal dispensation in the past/present more that qualifies as an even more catastrophic failure- where might one seek a solution? more ‘High Capitalism’ as enunciated by Lloyd Blankfein’s ex cathedra pronouncement of ‘were doing God’s work’ ? This earlier turgid paragraph provides a psychological sketch as to the irrationalism of Capitalist Dissidents:
Such anecdotes have a legitimate scientific use. They remind us of the existence of certain categories: that it is possible to overpay executives or that children might be stolen. And anecdotes about public opinion tell us what people think. As 19th century jurist Henry Maine sensibly argued, public distaste for fraud implies the existence of general trust: “If colossal examples of dishonesty occur, there is no surer conclusion than that scrupulous honesty is displayed in the average of the transactions.” Muckrakers tend to draw the opposite, and erroneous, conclusion — that fraud is typical of the whole barrel.