Ignore the Smiling Photo – Arnold Kling is Bitter

Michael Giberson

In the photo accompanying Arnold Kling’s EconLog post, he is smiling, but in his recent post “Market Failure” he does not sound like he is smiling:

I want to propose a new definition of market failure. … This post ties together a couple of recent bitter themes. It is not intended in any way to persuade people who disagree with me (if you disagree with me, you may just want to skip the post). It is simply a grand unified theory of my bitterness.

… Suppose that we have a group that wants enormous political power. The group rewards people who justify its power by calling them “experts.” It punishes those who question its power by dismissing them as “hacks.” If you want money and status, you want to be labeled as an expert. In order to be labeled as an expert, you produce analysis that justifies concentrated political power for the elite group.

This process is self-reinforcing. It is like the Harvard-Goldman filter. That filter says that only “reliable” people are allowed to be bank CEO’s or policymakers. A requirement for being “reliable” is sharing the views of other “reliable” people as to what constitutes reliability.

It is like the tenure system in academia. Who gets tenure? Above all, it is people who support the existing tenure system.

There is more – he ends by agreeing that “our moral rot is not as bad as it was in the Soviet Union” and” and he grants that he doesn’t “foresee gulags and mass murders,” but he also doesn’t come across as very optimistic about the direction of public policy.

All in all, Kling offers one of the most analytical and insightful rants that I’ve come across lately.


3 thoughts on “Ignore the Smiling Photo – Arnold Kling is Bitter

  1. He seems real comfortable with that system when he’s getting paid by the Exxon funded http://techcentralstation.com/, but I’ve been reading Colonel Kling for years, and he’s just not a reflective individual, as the psychologists would say.

    I think a better definition of market failure is ‘white collar crime’.

    I have an issue with ‘innovation’, too. I’ve noticed it’s become a code-word for ‘circumventing the law’. You may recall back in September 2008 we had some real problems with ‘innovations’ in financial instruments.

  2. Lynne, Micheal: ACCCE just called me and if you two don’t start paying more attention to your blog they are going to cut your stipends.

    Nyuck Nyuck 😉

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