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May 15, 2016

what about your wall?

others may not see it but we do…





LIBERAL, LISTEN by Thomas Frank

The Pathologies of Professionalism


They are the only occupational group, as the sociologist Eliot Friedson put it many years ago, with “the recognized right to declare … ‘outside’ evaluation illegitimate and intolerable.”

Exhibit A of these interlocking pathologies is economics, a discipline that often acts like an ideological cartel set up to silence the heterodox. James K. Galbraith has written a classic description of how it works:

Leading active members of today’s economic’s profession … have joined together into a kind of politburo for correct economic thinking. As a general rule—as one might expect from a gentleman’s club—this has placed them on the wrong side of every important policy issue, and not just recently but for decades. They predict disaster where none occurs. They deny the possibility of events that then happen … No one loses face, in this club, for having been wrong. No one is disinvited from presenting papers at later annual meetings. And still less is anyone from the outside invited in.

Professional economics screw up again and again, and no one cares. The only real accountability they face is from their endlessly forgiving peers in economics departments cross the country … Granted, economics is an extreme case, but its thoroughgoing application of the right to disregard criticism has made it a kind of fascinating anti-profession, a brotherhood of folly rather than of expertise.

The peril of orthodoxy is the second great pitfall of professionalism, and it’s not limited to economics. Every academic discipline with which I have some experience is similar: international relations, political science, cultural studies, even American history. None of them are as outrageous as economics, it is true, but each of them is dominated by some convention or ideology. Those who succeed in a professional discipline are those who best absorb and apply its master narrative.

Our modern technocracy can never see the glaring flaw in such a system. For them, merit is always synonymous with orthodoxy: the best and brightest are, in their minds, always those who went to Harvard, who got the big foundation grant, whose books are featured on NPR. When the merit-minded President Obama wanted economic expertise, to choose one sad example, he sought out the best economics discipline had to offer …

Look back to the days when government-by-expert actually worked and you will notice an astonishing thing. Unlike the Obama administration’s roster of well-graduated mugwumps, the talented people surrounding Franklin Roosevelt stood very definitely outside the era’s main academic currents


A third consequence of modern-day liberals’ unquestioning, reflexive respect for expertise is their blindness to predatory  behavior if it comes cloaked in the signifiers of professionalism. Take the sort of complexity we saw in the financial instruments that drove the last finical crisis. For old-school regulators, I am told, undue financial complexity was an indicator of likely fraud. But for the liberal class, it is the opposite: an indication of sophistication. Complexity is admirable in its own right. The difference in interpretation carries enormous consequences: Did Wall Street commit epic fraud, or are they highly advanced professionals who fell victim to epic misfortune?




mr. president, what did you do for Wall Street mugwumps? at the expense of the citizens of the US? on the backs of the middle class …


and now you want them poor, that you might APPEAR brighter and smarter and more sophisticated? will you pluck out your chosen few  to continue the panacea of obama professionalism?




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  1. opheliart permalink

    I think this is a MA couple that started this … I saw it on local news this week.

    this isn’t the first time people in MA started something 😉

  2. opheliart permalink

    even before the incident with the sanders’ staffer (which, btw, I sensed a poser) got into trouble … I have been shown dishonesty with the DNC (party affiliates) … have been seeing this could turn into something huge … might even take down hillary and the entire democratic party, should it be what I sense it might be.

    • opheliart permalink

      whatever the case, there will be a major shake up

      which will shed light on the obama administration

      • opheliart permalink

        when you PLAY with … fire … you eventually get burned.

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