Nate Silver to Progressives: STFU and Defer to the Serious Experts and Czars

by: David Sirota

Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 14:18


We go back and forth often here at OpenLeft about how to build a movement, why mass movements are necessary especially at crisis times like this, and how to best use the movement we're building for positive change. But it's important to note from time to time that there are many loud voices who explicitly insist that any mass movement - any real popular input into key government actions - is bad. Some of these folks are liberal, others are conservative - but all of them have a devout belief in an eliteocracy - an unquestioned rule by a Very Serious elite class of so-called "experts" that supposedly should be strengthened in times of crisis. In the eliteocracy, the citizens being ruled are impediments, not participants.

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com gives us just about the best example of what a proponent of eliteocracy really believes. Here is a snippet of his screed today, demanding progressives stop opposing trillion-dollar handouts to Wall Street, STFU, and listen to the same so-called "experts" who created this crisis in the first place:

This is neither the time nor the place for mass movements -- this is the time for expert opinion. Once the experts (and I'm not one of them) have reached some kind of a consensus about what the best course of action is (and they haven't yet), then figure out who is impeding that action for political or other disingenuous reasons and tackle them -- do whatever you can to remove them from the playing field. But we're not at that stage yet.

There are many flawed rationales and insults to democracy inherent in this advice.

David Sirota :: Nate Silver to Progressives: STFU and Defer to the Serious Experts and Czars
The big flaw in rationale, of course, is the entire concept of "expert opinion." What exactly is "expert opinion?" That term usually refers to the Very Serious People the Establishment and Media Say Are Experts - that is, people like the Wall Street CEOs in front of Congress and people like Larry Summers and Tim Geithner - all who had direct hands in destroying the economy. Silver - incredibly - would have us simply wait for this "expert opinion" to tell us what to do, without any regard for the fact that this "expert opinion" is exactly what got us into the situation we're in.

And worse, once these Masters of the Universe hand down their edicts to us, Silver wants us to simply go into battle for their priorities - again, without any questions about who they are serving, what they are doing, and their past record of screwing us over. By this logic, if "expert opinion" from Summers, Geithner and K Street says cut more no-strings-attached checks to Wall Street - and if progressive economists like Dean Baker or Paul Krugman sound the alarm - Silver would have us "do whatever we can to remove" Baker and Krugman from the playing field.

But what's even worse than the economic strategy is the assumption of how our government is supposed to work. Silver is effectively arguing that being a citizen in a democracy means taking orders from those in power, and not questioning those in power. We are all just supposed to follow blindly as the Very Serious People in Washington and on Wall Street tell us what to do.

Last I checked, had America declared that the Great Depression was "neither the time nor the place for mass movements" but instead "the time for expert opinion," we wouldn't have had most of the New Deal policies that Roosevelt was forced by mass movements to pass. Last I checked, America in the 1960s deferred to precisely the kind of "expert opinion" from the so-called "Best and Brightest" and we lost 50,000 lives to the Vietnam War - and we would have lost more if mass movements hadn't rejected eliteocratic thinking and challenged the government's actions. And last I checked, mass movements and expert input are not inherently mutually exclusive or at loggerheads: great mass movements of our history were pressuring government at the same time very smart experts were advising leaders in that government. There doesn't have to be conflict between the two - the only people who insist that there must be are those who ideologically oppose the concept of mass public involvement in government decisions (ie. eliteocrats).

Let's be clear: Silver isn't the only one who pushes an eliteocratic view of the world - not even close. I only cite his comments because they are a perfectly distilled version of the ideology. But the ideology is everywhere. Anytime you turn on a television or read a newspaper, you are effectively being told that you, the average citizen, is too stupid and too powerless to even have an opinion on anything, and that the only valid opinions are those that come from Establishment-approved sources (who, of course, tend to push policies that buttress the Establishment).

Let me also add that I'm not pushing anti-intellectualism here at all. I believe there are actual "experts" that should be listened to (Krugman, Reich, Roubini, Baker, Galbraith, Mishel, etc.) - but these tend to be the real experts who are specifically rejected from "expert opinion" as that term is typically defined. And I also believe that while yes, we should promote and listen to the real experts, we as a movement shouldn't simply defer to them. To paraphrase Saul Alinsky, truly progressive people fundamentally believe that the goal of a democracy should be to empower the population to make decisions for itself (or at least have input into those decisions) - and further, that when the population is empowered, it tends to make the right calls.

And so I'll close by flipping Silver's advice on its head. This is neither the time nor the place for those who say America should STFU and simply take orders, and this is not the time for "expert opinion" if "expert opinion" is (as the term always is) defined as "Establishment opinion." We've been there, done that, and gotten shitted on because we took this kind of advice for way too long. It's time that mass movements assert their will, and if there's any set of people who should STFU, it shouldn't be mass movements, as Silver suggests - it should be power-worshiping sycophants of the eliteocracy.


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movement smovement (1.78 / 9)
I don't want to be a part of your movement. It is ugly, mean, arrogant, self-centered, and intolerant. uch.

Then why are you participating at OpenLeft? (3.20 / 5)
Hmmm...

[ Parent ]
because of chris and mike (4.00 / 5)
because this used to be a place that respected others and didn't go looking for attention grabbing food fights.


[ Parent ]
Which, of course (4.00 / 4)
Is exactly what you are doing now. And in a mean spirited, intolerant, ugly way at that.

[ Parent ]
ok meta alert (4.00 / 4)
expressing your opinion that something, some argument, or even someone is "ugly, mean, arrogant, self-centered, and intolerant" is ITSELF being "mean spirited, intolerant" and "ugly"? Sorry, doesn't fly. Maybe aiko has shown those traits previously I don't know for sure. My sense is not. But aiko is not showing those traits in that comment. Otherwise, logically the words could never be used without fault.

[ Parent ]
Saying that (4.00 / 5)
saying something like aiko did is mean-spirited and intolerant, because it didn't respond to the substance of David's post. Instead, it just called David names.

[ Parent ]
all david does is call people names (2.00 / 10)
and i am calling him out on it.

these days i come here and its david screaming and yelling and swearing and calling names about some perceived outrage of the day.

he is always right and everyone else is wrong.

he puts words in other people's mouths that they did not say/write. its ugly.

nate deserves better. others who shall go nameless deserve better. the readers at OL deserve better.


[ Parent ]
What You Seem To Miss (4.00 / 8)
Is that David isn't just name-calling.  He's presenting a political argument.  He does so in a polemical manner, but that's a time-honored form of political rhetoric, perfectly in tune with David's intent, which is to rouse people towards greater involvement and action.  In the course of making that argument he attacks the morality of Nate's anti-democratic attitudes, which is only natural, given that they're at the center of this debate.  If you don't like democracy, either, you may well find this offensive.  But it's not just name-calling.

What you did, however, is.

If I just call someone a liar, that is name-calling.  But if I call them a liar, and present one or more documented examples of lies they've told, that's not name-calling.  That's accurate identification.  That's a valuable contribution to clarifying who's to be trusted and who's not.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Offensive (4.00 / 2)
Paul-- Your phrase "If you don't like democracy" is what is offensive. Everyone that disagrees with you, David or the substance of this article isn't someone who 'doesn't like democracy'.  

[ Parent ]
Sorry, No (4.00 / 2)
That's not what I wrote.  I can see how you might think that, but it's not the case.  I wrote:

If you don't like democracy, either, you may well find this offensive.

I did not write "everyone who finds this offensive doesn't like democracy", nor did I write "only those who don't like democracy will find this offensive."  I was singling out a prominent cause of distress, not asserting any sort of necessary relationship.

Of course someone can say, "No, that's not what's got me upset, it's X, Y and Z."  And then we could have a discussion about that.  But the comment that set this all off was not along these lines at all.  It was all accusation and no argumentation.  And that's what I have a particular problem with.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
understood. (0.00 / 0)
by the tradition of the site and of others generally, it's discouraged.

[ Parent ]
Or... (4.00 / 2)
Aiko responded to the tone of David's headline, which is mean-spirited.  You can't use STFU and have it not be mean spirited unless there is some very clear comedy behind it.  But David wasn't trying to be Tina Fey.

Somewhere back in late Sept or early Oct there was a front page post on Community Development at OL.  Before that there was some discussion in a FP GBCW post by David about whether he'd continue to blog, based on some of the negative reaction he was getting.

But the main principle for community building here is "Be excellent to each other." FPers need to set that example.  STFU doesn't cut it.

Nate Silver to Progressives: Just Defer to the Serious Experts and Czars  would have been just as polemical and effective as a headline, and less personally insulting.

I disagree with aiko below that "all david does is call people names" because he posts a lot of thoughtful stuff, once you get past the thoughtless cursing that undermines his message and credibility.

Oh well, I guess every progressive Dem institution has to have its Rahm Emmanual.  :)


[ Parent ]
My answer (4.00 / 7)
Based solely on this post I agree with aiko.  However, I believe that there is more to your thinking than what was expressed here.  If there isn't, I still want to participate at OpenLeft because I don't accept you as my God or "expert" who I am going to meekly defer to.

I think I am part of the progressive movement and I think that Nate Silver is too.  I have serious questions about the correctness of the post you refer to, but he was honestly expressing his opinion at a point in time, as were you above.  My problem with your post is that you leap to tell someone you disagree with to STFU, and spew anger and contempt at him.  Everything seems black or white to you, opponents are assumed to be evil and dehumanized.  Anger is an essential part of our movement, but so is self-control, and basic respect for other human beings.


[ Parent ]
Guess I'm not the "right kind" of progressive (4.00 / 8)
I have had this site on my RSS since, I dunno, a really long time.  I never felt the need to join the site because I read it for the information and not really for the community aspect.  With that in mind I had to create an account to respond to this.

Why are you guys so angry?  You have had this visceral 'with us or against us' attitude since like 12:31pm EST on Jan 20th.  I say this with all due respect but are you guys trying to turn into the Left's version of Rush.  Calling everyone that has a legitimate and reasoned difference of opinion with you a DINO.  I swear I could see you calling for primarying Wellstone back in the day if he had said something, ONE THING, you didn't agree with.

I wouldn't be surprised to see my post completely discounted and to be told personally to 'go somewhere else if you don't like it' but maybe we could not eat our own in the first month we have power?


[ Parent ]
Who are you talking to? (3.50 / 8)
Who are you talking to? What attacks are you referring to? At what point did anything refer to you?

[ Parent ]
Wow, I can see when I'm not wanted. (0.00 / 0)
Sorry to suck up your page views for all this time.  I see this got the exact response I was hoping it wouldn't.

I hope it isn't too lonely on your high horse.


[ Parent ]
Um, OK (4.00 / 6)
If asking you questions about who you were actually referring to, and what attacks you felt were sent were way is somehow an affront to you, puts me on a "high horse," then off I go for an afternoon ride.

[ Parent ]
I'm Confused (4.00 / 4)
Like Chris, I have no idea who or what you were referring to.  He was trying to find out, so he'd understand what you were saying.

This is a sign of interest in what you're saying, and you're misconstruing it as the exact opposite.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I have a hypothesis (0.00 / 0)
This blog is a spawn of MyDirectDemocracy, and like its siblings, it's committed to the notion that direct democracy and non-expert participation in the machinery of policy is some sort of a universal tonic. I'm trying to put that point in a way that Chris, David and others here can agree with.

I don't agree with it, and Nate Silver outed himself as another person who (in this instance) disagrees with it. There was no need for the ruffled feathers and the namecalling. This debate has gone on for centuries and both sides have legitemate reasons on their side. I think that the reasons against direct democracy are ultimately far superior. Among these many reasons, the most obvious is that uninformed, fickle mobs make worse decisions than deputized experts. California residents, who have more experience with direct democracy than most, will remember prop 187, prop 9, Grey Davis lynch mob, etc. One of those got fixed by the highly undemocratic courts, one hopefully will, and the Governator will hopefully just fade away.

My point is that mobs of non-experts are not collectively wiser than an actual expert. I mean, why don't we go on and vote on how many wheels the next Mars rover should have? I don't think Nate was saying that we shouldn't have opinions about subjects we don't understand. He was saying that we should realize that our opinions are not based on a fundamental understanding, and that we're wise to defer to people who have this understanding. Also, our representatives should be doing the right thing, which is very unlikely to be the thing that the mob wants. If it isn't, it's their duty to ignore the mob.


[ Parent ]
Left Out Of The Equation (4.00 / 7)
is how seriously out of whack our current system is.

Direct democracy is not just sensible, but utterly vital in the context of the great darkness of the Bush years.  Vital not just in and of itself, but vital for revitalizing representative democracy as well.  So it's not an either/or thing.  Which is also reflected in the fact that MyDD original stood for My Due Diligence.  So it's not about mob rule.  You can't even govern yourself if you're part of a mob.

Now, I don't expect direct democracy to do everything, and I seriously doubt that anyone here--not just front-pagers, but any of the long-time commentators either--expects it too, either.  We just think that there's a very serious imbalance, and that setting the balance right means a whole lot more on the direct democracy side is needed to set things right and make the representative side work as it should.

Finally, as to the California initiative example.  I've written about this several times here.  There's an excellent book about the dysfunctions of the initiative process, Democratic Delusions.  Two of its main points are: (1) The initiative in American states that use it frequently (California most of all, but also Oregon and Washington as well as a few others) has never been an instrument of mass democracy, but has always been an instrument of the same sorts of actors (if not exactly the same actors) who dominate the "normal" political process.  (2) The initiative process works dramatically better in Switzerland, where it was intentionally designed as a check on the tendency toward insularity and stagnation on the part of representative democracy.  It is far superior, precisely because it allows for the legislature to step in and creatively respond to the demands for action that the initiative initiates.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Man overboard . . . (4.00 / 1)
full speed ahead!

[ Parent ]
ok, slow down and this connects with your 4 min. old prev entry.... (0.00 / 0)
I think we should start recognizing that if we want true democracy and freedom and equal opportunity, either we have to find a way to mass educate everyone in many subjects, or we have to make it simple to participate in these activities (or like Heinlein suggested, make a test to be a citizen- solving simple differentail equations anyone!heh)

Lets make banking and finance simple, simple interest vehicles and terms.  simple tax codes.  No CDO's which serve to make it easier to make money by scaring people trying to keep up with their peers into making bad decisions about things they didn't undestand.



Good point (4.00 / 6)
I agree with that - which is what we try (sometimes effectively, other times ineffectively) to do here at OpenLeft with our coverage of issues. But the idea that we should all simply defer to the folks in Washington and on Wall Street is just straight-up crazy.

[ Parent ]
ljn (3.00 / 4)
that's not what he's saying I don't think. His point here is that non-experts are not only saying that Obama's economic team is wrong, but that they are somehow tools for corporate America. These criticisms are based on a wacked out progressive fundamentalism which is just as bad as what we lived through for the last eight years.

[ Parent ]
that is one of his points (4.00 / 13)
another one is that we should defer to expert opinion, and then crush anyone who doesn't.

Which is shcokingly anti-democratic.


[ Parent ]
Let me fall into the meta vortex for a moment (4.00 / 10)
Silver is, of course, a blogger whose rise corresponded with that of Obama.

His rise was driven by his apparent skill was numbers (good for him!) but it was also a product of his pro-Obama advocacy. He's become nothing less than a hero to many hardcore Obama supporters. And here he is, writing a baldly elitist anti-Democratic post, demonstrating what many of us have been saying for a while: there's a reactionary, just trust-Daddy mentality among some--some--Obama supporters.


[ Parent ]
Plus It Really DOESN'T Serve Obama (4.00 / 6)
These folks demonstrate that it's possible to be a troll in support of someone or something, and not just in opposition.

Anything that intentionally and repeatedly disrupts and disables critical discourse is trollish, regardless of who's being attacked for what in the process.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
dfg (0.00 / 1)
wack. ad hominens does not lead to intelligent debate.

[ Parent ]
abc (4.00 / 1)
easy as 123 . . .

Seriously dude, what's up with the meaningless acronyms? Like they really lead to meaningful debate.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
skdfja;sldkjf (4.00 / 3)
he just runs his fingers across the keyboard instead of thinking of a subject line.

[ Parent ]
Hey, you're right. (0.00 / 0)
Why didn't I notice that? The letters are contiguous on the keyboard.

Biz-arre.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
wtf? (4.00 / 3)
an ad hominem attack on persons unknown?

ad hominem without the hominem?

That's not an ad hominem.  It's a sub hominem.

Are we not men? We are DEVO!  
Are we not men? D-E-V-O!


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 1)
And that is an attitude I really struggle to understand, since so much of Obama's rhetoric was centered on virtues of bottom-up grassroots action.

[ Parent ]
This is probably something you should have considered.... (4.00 / 2)
While for me an economic expert is an oxymoron, I think your overall take here is a little off base.  Democracy is not all happy, fuzzy progressivism.  Democracy brought us many of the ills we suffer from today as well as many of the darkest points of our history, when listening to an expert might have saved us from untold damage. Shit, if we had just listened to Jimmy Carter 30 years ago, 9/11 would have never happened and we wouldn't have dumped trillions of dollars into the oily cesspool of the Middle East.

Fuzed is right.  Democracy will function well only if the voters are educated in what they are voting on.  A stable functioning Democracy brought us 8 years of George Bush, that right there is a pretty good strike against stable, functioning Democracies!  I could probably find an expert who suggested a coup would be the best path for Americans in the post-9/11 world and it would be hard to argue he or she didn't have the right prescription!


[ Parent ]
No (4.00 / 12)
Democracy is not based on the idea that everyone should participate only if they are educated.

It is based on the idea that people have an inalienable right to self-determination.

And by inalienable, it does not mean "void if you are not properly educated."

Besides, there isn't a single field of social science where there is expert consesnus on anything. This should be obvious to anyone who spent time in college.


[ Parent ]
No, the Supreme Court (4.00 / 5)
brought us George Bush. It was a bloodless coup.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
You know what we could try? (4.00 / 9)
Public education.

In a country ruled by a king, it makes sense to spare no expense educating that king. He has to be able to make good decisions. In a country ruled by the people, we should likewise spare no expense educating the people.

Of course, in my opinion this is the REAL reason Conservatives declared war on public education. Well, that and racism.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Finance is under no obligation to be simple (4.00 / 2)
Sure, we can and should simplify the tax code, but let's not pretend that this would have anything to do with the decision at hand, about how to respond to the financial crisis. The people who have useful things to say about this are the ones who understand serious macroeconomics. Macroeconomics is painfully complicated, because the world is getting complicated. You can't legislate this away. You need to impose wise regulations, but what I these? Don't ask me, ask experts - people who understand macroeconomics.

We can (and I certainly do) read their contributions to the debate, but that does not make us experts, just like reading Hawking did not make anyone a physicist. I know that it's against the nature of blogs, but sometimes it's right to vent less and listen more. This is one of those times. I happen to have strong opinions about this crisis, and I've vented them on several occasions. However, I have the humility to admit that I'm not an expert and that I'm surely overlooking many relevant things, and I would certainly not want to be handed the wheel to steer this ship.

I'd go as far as to say: If you're not an expert and somehow you think you know better than the experts, you should reflect and maybe reconsider, rather than shout your view from the mountaintops. So I guess that makes my view close to Nate Silver's.


[ Parent ]
Who is a qualified expert? How do you know? (4.00 / 3)
Experts got us into this mess. Other experts criticize them.

I am not a peasant, hoping for my 'betters' to set things right.  I am a citizen.


[ Parent ]
I agree with both of you (4.00 / 8)
Here is my spin on Nate's comments: I think he is mostly reacting to the tone of criticism from people who have little financial background. And I'm sympathetic to that attitude.  For it's a little hard to take seriously those with no relevant background who declare, with absolute certainty, that Geithner's ideas are stupid, idiotic or insane.

In other words, if the critics talked with a little more humility, they would have a lot more credibility.

At the same time, I wholeheartedly agree that "experts" should be vigorously questioned, without giving them the benefit of the doubt.  (One of my father's favorite lessons is "never trust an expert.")  


riiiiiiight (4.00 / 2)
The world gives most of its respect and attention to humble people.

Tell me again who you are to decide which people need to act with more humility?


[ Parent ]
Thanks for clearing that up (4.00 / 3)
I forgot that arrogant, unfounded declarations are the most convincing.

And I don't know who YOU ARE, but I'm just a guy making the modest observation that people get more respect when they appear reasonable and respectful.


[ Parent ]
credibility comes from being right (4.00 / 2)
Where did unfounded declarations come into this?

Everyone who writes a column, appears on TV, puts their words out for all to see, has the "arrogance" to think that what they're saying is worth hearing.



[ Parent ]
Wait, you're talking about courtesy (4.00 / 1)
Courtesy does turn fewer people off.  It gives people less of an excuse to latch onto "tone" issues and derail the conversation.

I agree with that.  But that is not about humility.


[ Parent ]
sfd (3.20 / 5)
I think he's right. The absolute certainty in some of the thinking here is not helpful: not capping CEO pay is evidence of a "kleptocracy", bailing out banks is bad, we must nationalize the banks, etc.

It's like a religion; it's... Bushian but with a progressive twist


Don't you mean (0.00 / 0)
sdf?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
I didn't find Silver very convincing either (4.00 / 7)
Even though my sympathies are with his kind of thinking (after all, I said would have voted for the bailouts), it seems obvious to me that the experts are weighing different criteria.  And that means that if you want an outcome that is better for the wider citizen base rather than the bank stockholders there needs to be pressure.  So even those of us who are trusting, believe in the goodness of Obama and his people, etc. etc.  need to speak up and certainly not to tell others to STFU.

And the second point is that numerous historical examples -- Vietnam is a key one that includes Democrats -- we know that our leaders have followed courses that in private they believed bad because they felt they had to do it for various political reasons.  Indeed, liberals seem to be especially vulnerable to that pressure.  So unfortunately we KNOW that Nate's thinking here does not always work.


New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.


Obama and Geithner have even publicly admitted they are against nationalization, at least in part, for political and ideological reasons (4.00 / 9)
Geithner said he was against nationalization because he wanted to preserve "the system" and Obama said it would be against the "traditions in this country."

http://www.commondreams.org/vi...
http://yglesias.thinkprogress....

The fact that they are using such facile arguments completely undercuts Silver's demand that we trust their expertise to make sound, objective judgments. They are not making reasoned arguments based solely on the data available; they are making emotional appeals. Geithner and Summers are clearly compromised by their desire to uphold the neoliberal economic system they've been enforcing for decades, while Obama is clearly clouded by a desire to adhere to the political traditions of bailouts for the rich, aka socializing risk and privatizing profit.

I do agree with Silver that we should not presume they are acting in bad faith - but we should also not presume the opposite, as he does. It's also really beside the point. Good intentions are meaningless from a practical standpoint. The important question is whether or not Silver's "experts" are being empirical. We know by their own words that they are not. They are not even pretending to care about moral hazard. They are focused on preserving the system and tradition they believe in.  


[ Parent ]
The Democratic Party had been hostile to mass movements all along (4.00 / 4)
They've never more than tolerated then. Silver sounds like a standard average administrative liberal.

For many Democrats, the time will never be right for mass movements.  


NINTs (4.00 / 2)
Now Is Not the Time Democrats

[ Parent ]
Expertise (4.00 / 7)
The difference between Nate and David appears to be that Nathan thinks there really is such a thing as expertise, while David thinks that there isn't, that "expertise" (in quotes) is just a way the Establishment pulls rank.  

Obviously, there are some areas where there is genuine expertise (I don't go to just anybody when I'm sick), and others where one opinion is given the same weight as another (voting for office).  The mere fact of disagreement doesn't mean the expertise isn't real - doctors often disagree on the right treatment, but we still rightly trust their medical judgment over nonphysicians'.

Is there true expertise on bailout-related issues?  Here I have to come down with Nate.  This stuff is pretty arcane.  It's noteworthy that David himself appeals to Krugman and Baker - EXPERTS - to justify his own views.

Of course, the President and the Congress will be the ones making the decisions, so at least in theory, choices among the views of experts will be made by those answerable to the public.  


precisely (0.00 / 0)
If only I had waited a few minutes before posting my own response, I could have saved myself the effort-- you've said exactly what I meant to.

[ Parent ]
Not exactly (4.00 / 7)
I do think there is genuine expertise. But there's two points that come with that:

1. Genuine expertise - and especially genuine expertise with a progressive bent - tends to get shunned from "expert opinion" as that term is usually defined (ie. it is usually defined as Establishment opinion only).

2. Even genuine expertise - progressive or otherwise - should be questioned by mass movements. Additionally, I don't think mass movement pressure is mutually exclusive form expert input. The great mass movements of our history were pressuring government at the same time very smart experts were advising leaders in that government. There's no conflict between the two.


[ Parent ]
Just don't trouble my little mind (0.00 / 0)
The STFU attitude is one that I disagree with.

How it is suppose to work in a civil debate involving public policy is the experts give their views and we accept or reject their views based on the part in the policy.

I don't accept the experts who got us in the mess for their ideas on how to get out of it since I wouldn't want an engineer who messed up a design to suggest ways to fix it.

Experts who are objective - that is have little no stake in the outcome - are better than someone who does - at least in a debate.

I just have a problem when the forum or media treat the experts as all being equal with equal arguments.


[ Parent ]
Makes me think of Robert Fuller's dignitarian writing (4.00 / 2)
I agree with Jay.

It seemed to me that Nate was criticizing (mostly) people with no real knowledge about the economy having ideas and being absolutely sure that they knew the way to fix them.

We absolutely need to question authority and "expert opinion" at all times to make sure it is legitimate and earned and there is no time to STFU in that sense. Get a second opinion from a different doctor (Krugman, Baker, etc.) just to see if your original diagnosis was correct but don't write your original doctor off as a quack. He may have had legitimate reasons for believing what he believed. That's why we question in the first place.

Yelling and acting outraged and writing someone's "expert opinion" off entirely because you don't like what's happening because a lot of this package is just as much political as it is economic.

That being said, I do think of Krugman and Stiglitz as better expertise than Geithner and I don't like a lot of the things that are being compromised but I think the truth is somewhere between Sirota and Silver. I think both of your heads and hearts are in the right places and you both have great insights a lot of the time.


[ Parent ]
Oversimplification (4.00 / 10)
David, you are oversimplifying what Nate Silver said. You are picking fights with individuals and throwing around words like 'eliteocracy' which do nothing to help a progressive movement. I know that's how you get pageviews-- pick a fight!-- but OpenLeft is not about page views.

Nate's point is that a lot of people screaming from rooftops have no idea what they're talking about. He does not say that David Sirota has no idea what he's talking about. Similarly, he says that there are experts out there who know what they're talking about. He does not name Geitner or Summers specifically.

You consider Krugman an expert and trust him. Does that make you an eliteocrat? What an abomination of a word.


How exactly then, does he think the New Deal agenda got passed? (4.00 / 3)


Vigorous debate (4.00 / 10)
Silver's wrong. If the "experts" can't explain something well enough to satisfy reasonably well educated people, then it's fair to ask whether the "experts" actually really understand what's going on.

Democracy requires vigorous debate. You can't have a barrier to entry: everyone's opinion counts.

Democracy also requires that any policy decision is ... political. In a democracy, there's no such thing as the "right" answer. Every decision is some sort of compromise between what the "experts" say, what the other "experts" say, what the politicians say, and how loudly the public at large is screaming.

In the present case, if we define the "experts" as professional economists, it's hard to just do what they say because they don't agree. There's a sizable group of economists clinging to belief that the markets are the most efficient at solving any problem and the government should butt out. The rest all pretty much agree, but not a one of them agrees with what the Obama administration is doing: the basic message from non-Obama-administration economists is that the stimulus needs to be a lot bigger, and the banks should be nationalized on the sweden model.

If what Geithner is doing is contrary to the advice of most of the "experts" outside the administration, why on earth should we trust him? Either the Obama administration is keeping their real plans quiet, or they haven't yet decided on a plan. Either way, to say that we plebs should simply be patient because Geithner is smart and probably has it under control is to argue against democracy.

The stimulus package is a case in point: not enough progressive screaming made it to Obama's ears to prevent him from preemptively compromising away the "experts" advice on the stimulus.


forgot to add (4.00 / 2)
Democracy also has to make room for all sorts of characters - including those who are shrill and those who aren't. I personally wouldn't try to make my points through labeling a whole group "the kleptocracy", and I try to avoid making assumptions about bad motives for actions that I disagree with. But that's me - just because other's aren't like that doesn't mean I should get to throw their opinions away.

[ Parent ]
and to go totally meta (4.00 / 1)
Silver's opinion that others should keep quiet and trust Obama is also valid, and he shouldn't be told to shut up and keep quiet about it. But that doesn't mean we should take his advice, and it doesn't mean we shouldn't tell him we think he's wrong and his advice is counter productive.

Oh yeah - didn't Chris just write that post yesterday?


[ Parent ]
and to go totally meta (0.00 / 0)
Silver's opinion that others should keep quiet and trust Obama is also valid, and he shouldn't be told to shut up and keep quiet about it. But that doesn't mean we should take his advice, and it doesn't mean we shouldn't tell him we think he's wrong and his advice is counter productive.

Oh yeah - didn't Chris just write that post yesterday?


[ Parent ]
I would (4.00 / 4)
give you double 4s if I could.

I am always appalled at how much anti-democratic sentiment resides on "our" side. Appalled but not surprised. Anyway you do a very good job of laying out the opposing, democratic way of looking at the problem.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Not all vigorous debate generates light (0.00 / 0)
If the "experts" can't explain something well enough to satisfy reasonably well educated people, then it's fair to ask whether the "experts" actually really understand what's going on.

I think you're not sufficiently aware of how much there is for experts to know. Do you feel like you understand string theory? I still have trouble explaining baby physics like quantum entanglement to non-experts. But that you don't understand is no sign at all that experts don't know what they're talking about. It's more likely that their subject is hard and their expertise deep. It might be this way in macroeconomics as well.


[ Parent ]
That's why there's this little thing (4.00 / 3)
called "the public record." All these experts and pundits have one, their words have been recorded for posterity and are easily accessible by anyone with a modem.

Now maybe you aren't bright enough to distinguish between a Larry Summers and a Paul Krugman, but regular people are. You know, those same regular people you already said you don't believe in.

If democracy is not a universal tonic, well it sure beats the alternative.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
What a mind-blowingly offensive and stupid post (4.00 / 12)
Silver's, not yours David.

Even if we were to turn off our brains, give up on democracy, and listen to the experts--which experts does he want us to listen to? Naomi Klein or Lawrence Kudlow? Silver admits that maybe Geithner's and Obama's ideas are wrong, yet we're supposed to trust them?

Oh, but it's consensus he wants:

Once the experts (and I'm not one of them) have reached some kind of a consensus about what the best course of action is (and they haven't yet), then figure out who is impeding that action for political or other disingenuous reasons and tackle them -- do whatever you can to remove them from the playing field

Well, obviously the "experts" won't come to a consensus cause there are, you know, Marxist experts and libertarian experts. In fact, however, among the economists who've shown a knack for getting things right--those who predicted the crisis, for example--there's is already something like a consensus.

Stiglitz, Roubini, Taleb, Baker, Krugman (to a lesser degree) all support some form of nationalization. Which makes this comment by Silver amusing:

My anecdotal experience for the past several months has been that the more someone knows about the economy, the more they know (or at least are willing to admit to) what they don't know. Anyone who is professing with certainty that this or that will work -- nationalizing the banks, for instance -- is an idiot.

Well, Dean Baker says nationalization is "the obvious answer" and Joe Stigliz says it's "the only answer." Which I guess makes them idiots.

Alas, none of those advocating nationalization (surprise, surprise) found their way into the Obama administration. We could perhaps afford to trust (well not really, but) the experts if the Obama administration if they all hadn't in the past shown themselves to be in thrall to free-market fantasies.



About "experts"... (0.00 / 0)
Isn't there something to be said for "Expert opinion"?  Otherwise, why should we believe all the "experts" telling us that global warming exists, or that gravity exists, or that E=mc^2?

Or are you just referring to economic "experts"?  In which case, maybe we shouldn't listen to Krugman or Stiglitz or whoever.

Clearly, "experts" play a large role in how we formulate our opinions and beliefs... to say that they don't matter gives rise to the anti-science, anti-factual argumentation that we've hated for the past 8 years.


Yes but (4.00 / 7)
are experts mortal humans, subject to the same expectations as the rest of us, or are they gods?

In other words, are we allowed to judge them by their track records (by which standard some, like Krugman, deserve more respect than they currently get) or do they get a do-over every time, like Larry Summers?

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Of course we judge them.... (4.00 / 1)
And certainly, "experts" that get things more "right" should be trusted more... That's how "science" basically works.

But Sirota seems to be attacking "expert opinion" overall, saying that it's undemocratic or something like that.  This is sort of similar to some of the problems seen on Wikipedia, which is pretty good, but sometimes gets some things wrong because people who aren't "experts" are allowed to edit entries.


[ Parent ]
Ahem (4.00 / 4)
Please read the post:

Let me also add that I'm not pushing anti-intellectualism here at all. I believe there are actual "experts" that should be listened to (Krugman, Reich, Roubini, Baker, Galbraith, Mishel, etc.) - but these tend to be the real experts who are specifically rejected from "expert opinion" as that term is typically defined. And I also believe that while yes, we should promote and listen to the real experts, we as a movement shouldn't simply defer to them. To paraphrase Saul Alinsky, truly progressive people fundamentally believe that the goal of a democracy should be to empower the population to make decisions for itself (or at least have input into those decisions) - and further, that when the population is empowered, it tends to make the right calls.


[ Parent ]
I guess I see a contradiction... (0.00 / 0)
That you say you're not promoting anti-intellectualism doesn't necessarily mean that you're not. =)

I'm not sure the term "experts" is excluding Krugman and the like... The problem that I think you have is that you don't trust the same "experts" that other people do... Perhaps that's unfortunate and wrong, but I think your post paints a broader stroke than you intend.


[ Parent ]
Not anti-intellectual, (4.00 / 3)
democratic.

They aren't necessarily the same thing.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
What David means is what I don't like... (4.00 / 1)
...and when he says what I like, he doesn't mean it.

[ Parent ]
Economics is, or should be in crisis (4.00 / 3)
I read Brad DeLong regularly, and while he doesn't quite say it, economists really don't know WTF is going on. They're as afraid as the rest of us. And there are a lot of economists pointing out that the people managing the bailout are from Wall Street, and that they're being far, far too kind to Wall Street at the cost of making the bailout less effective.

I didn't know this about Silver before, but I do now.

Aiko should go somewhere where he or she is happier. And stop starting foodfights.  


180 degrees off (4.00 / 2)
My interpretation is that the experts Silver is talking ABOUT ARE Krugman, Baker, and others, who are still formulating their reactions to Geithner's "plan." He's definitely not talking about Geithner, Summers or the "Masters of the Universe" or Czars you're talking about. He's criticizing those of us with little economic expertise, who are nonetheless proclaiming that the plan has already utterly failed. That instant judgment, which has gone on in a lot of places but I don't think here, is ridiculous on its face. That's all Silver is saying. Cool out, let's round up the critical assessments of those we really trust--NOT the Very Serious People in Washington or Wall Street--and then clear out a path to push those critical assessments more clearly into the public eye, to pressure the Administration and the Very Serious People to pay attention.

The piece was quick and sloppy, but nowhere does Silver define "expert opinion" as "establishment opinion." You use the "if" construction to posit that he is saying as much, and you do that all too often. Please take at least another 30 minutes before you post your "screeds". Your word, not mine. And if your piece isn't a screed, Silver's certainly isn't.


Dean Baker (4.00 / 7)
has already said the "obvious answer" is to nationalize the way we did with the S and Ls.

Sadly, the only expert opinion is the expert opinion that works for Obama, which is one the big reasons we can't wait for the experts to save us.


[ Parent ]
And Krugman (4.00 / 8)
called Geithner's plan a Rorschach plan - implying that you can read whatever you want into it.

Obama has to make a political decision. And the political decision he makes is going to reflect how much he values various constituencies: academic  economists, wall street economists, executives, and shareholders, congress-critters, senators, governors, shrill progressives, mellow progressives, Limbaugh listeners, centrists, and everyone else.

The academic question has been settled for a while now. Obama's only struggling with the political question. And since that's the case, all of our opinions are valid.


[ Parent ]
Nate Silver's criticism, as is too typical, is simply mindless (4.00 / 8)
Look, the guy fails to make the most obvious, relevant distinctions.

How about the point that not all experts agree on what the correct features might be for a bank bailout? What if, as one suspects, experts like Geithner and Summers come out with a different solution from that of, say, Krugman and Baker? Why are we obliged, as Silver clearly suggests, to defer to the opinions of Geithner and Summers, because they, supposedly, can't possibly have, at base, anyone's interests at heart but those of the larger mass of voters?

What if it is clear that the direction that some of these experts takes is, demonstrably, assuming values and ideologies with which the larger mass of voters might disagree -- such as Geithner's and Obama's assertion that nationalization can't be considered as a solution because it conflicts with some supposed cultural norms we have in the US? Why can't the larger mass of voters express their disapproval of such value laden assumptions?

And how about the point that the voters can themselves look at the results from the recommendations of a set of experts, see that it has done them serious harm, and express their anger over those results, demanding a different direction? Voting against, and agitating against, policies that have done oneself harm is almost the very essence of democracy. One doesn't need to have a Ph.D in Econ from MIT to know something is wrong with what's happening to workers in your industry or location, and to demand a solution for it. Nate Silver is essentially arguing that the Obama administration has a right to ask us voters, who do you believe, me or your own eyes, and demand that we believe them.

What's most disturbing about all of Nate Silver's commentary is that it is the true essence of Dear Leaderism. On every point here, it is the nearly perfect expression of authoritarianism. Only the Obama administration knows what is good for you; you cannot know yourself; you will only hurt yourself if you presume to criticize what the Obama and his chosen experts have deemed is right for you.

It's rather frightening to reflect that someone who claims to be a Democrat would feel so very comfortable with such and authoritarian outlook and philosophy.


[ Parent ]
I Appreciate Your Intent Here (4.00 / 5)
but I just don't see how this makes sense, and even if it did there are other troubling aspects.

Assuming that Silver meant to include Baker, Krugman, Galbraith, DeLong, etc. in his list of experts raises other problems of interpretation, it seems.  For one thing, it implicitly assumes that the experts themselves (a) can agree at some point, putting all past doubts behind them, and (b) actually be right in doing so, and (c) that they would also agree that non-experts should butt out.  However, it's dubious in the extreme that any of these guys would say such a thing, as they all know enough of New Deal history to know that without a vigorous labor movement, it's likely FDR would have been even more cautious and thereby a good deal less successful.

Thus, it's a lot more coherent and consistent for him to be ignoring such critics, which is why I think David's correct.

But even if he isn't, his authoritarian logic is still abhorrent from a populist perspective.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I don't think Silver (0.00 / 0)
believes the experts will all agree at some point, but the process by which consensus arises isn't always total agreement, right? Positions and arguments are weighed and compared, and if there are enough common threads, some things fall away and a consensus emerges. And don't we progressives already have a basic consensus about the endgame, which is "some form of nationalization is imperative"? In that sense, Nate's post was behind the curve. But it seems to me that he was only calling for a brief time out. Let's focus on what the expert economists we all know and trust have to say about the shape and details, such as they were, of this newly presented "plan", take a few minutes to digest it, and then by all means take up your positions, revisions, arguments,and cudgels. It's not authoritarian, It's just a simple plea for at least one or two days of All Signal, No Noise.  

[ Parent ]
Expert Opinion (0.00 / 0)
I fair to see why deferring to experts is a bad thing. I can't verify that global warming is occuring on my own, so I turn to people that know something about science. I have no clue if vaccines cause autism, so I turn to people who know something about medicine. I don't know if enough people can be evacuated out of a city in time, so I turn to someone who knows something about transporting large swaths of people.

If I encounter a problem with international banking, I am likely to turn to someone who knows something about international banking.

That seems to me to be part of the essence of being a 'reality based community.'


Because not all experts are created equal. (4.00 / 4)
Those who have been right in the past should be listened to, those who have not, should not.

That's not what's happening right now.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
That Strikes Me As a Different Argument (0.00 / 0)
Scientists have been wrong about many things (say, as Republicans love to point out, the 'Ice Age' thing). Doctors have been wrong about a lot of things, including medicine. Certainly planners have been wrong before too. Ditto engineers, architects, automakers, etc.

But it strikes me that there is still a benefit to looking to the professionals in a field to evaluate the needs of the field. If I want to know how to fix education, the first place I'd go would be teachers.

That doesn't mean that they should be listened to absolutely, but it does mean that we shouldn't go pulling a Stephen Colbert and trusting our gut instead of our brain. Overturning professionals should be hard.

Now it is personally reasonable to say "you're listening to the wrong professionals", but the problem with this post is that it seems to mirror the worst anti-intellectual parts of Republican populism and argues against "elites" because they are elites - as if it is anti-democratic to put a value on consulting experts.

That is a very different argument then the argument that Obama is listening to the wrong experts.


[ Parent ]
I disagree. (4.00 / 5)
To my mind, this is exactly what Sirota is saying. The experts who have been wrong are rewarded, the ones who have been right have been shut out.

The only argument for falling in line behind the failed experts is the one Nate Silver gives us, and that is simply that they are experts. We are supposed to be intimidated by that somehow and respectful of our betters.

This is both anti-intellectual (in the sense that geniune intellectuals welcome reality-testing) and anti-democratic.  

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Even More Confused (0.00 / 0)
If that is what he meant, why did he include the following:

"Some of these folks are liberal, others are conservative - but all of them have a devout belief in an eliteocracy - an unquestioned rule by a Very Serious elite class of so-called 'experts' that supposedly should be strengthened in times of crisis. In the eliteocracy, the citizens being ruled are impediments, not participants."

"But what's even worse than the economic strategy is the assumption of how our government is supposed to work. Silver is effectively arguing that being a citizen in a democracy means taking orders from those in power, and not questioning those in power. We are all just supposed to follow blindly as the Very Serious People in Washington and on Wall Street tell us what to do."

Now I'll grant, re-reading the entry I see more appropriate caveats then I remembered the first time such as the idea that experts and popular movements can work together, the idea that there are times to listen to experts.

Yet if Sirota really believed those caveats, what's his problem with Silver's pretty reasonable argument that most of us don't have the expertise to really know what these policies will mean in practice?

Or does Sirota expect me to get mad and agitate about something I don't know much about because the experts Obama choose to consult have been fallible in the past? (As if Krugman et al have never gotten anything wrong). Is he arguing that having been wrong in the past means that they will be wrong in the future? (I may also have missed the memo about how wrong they were in the past - I wasn't thrilled with the Clinton years, but the economy wasn't what bothered me about it).


[ Parent ]
I thought I was just paraphrasing what he said: (4.00 / 1)
"The big flaw in rationale, of course, is the entire concept of "expert opinion." What exactly is "expert opinion?" That term usually refers to the Very Serious People the Establishment and Media Say Are Experts - that is, people like the Wall Street CEOs in front of Congress and people like Larry Summers and Tim Geithner - all who had direct hands in destroying the economy."

How do you know you know when you're dealing with the elite, or as he calls it, the eliteocracy?

It's a simple test. When the elite screw up, like Summers, Geithner, or hell the entire Bush team, they get promoted. They get raises and increased responsibility.

When regular people, like us, screw up, we get fired. It seems to me Silver is arguing that we just need to be patient about all this, and trust that the elite will do the right thing. Because they are the elite.

Remember it's Silver who said "this is neither the time nor the place for mass movements."

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Okay, regular people screw up and get fired, while professionals do not... (0.00 / 0)
So we can't rely on professionals?

I mean Krugman advised, and took money from, Enron, but didn't get fired.

CAN'T LISTEN TO HIM!


[ Parent ]
Consulting versus deferring (4.00 / 7)
Getting an expert opinion is fine. Shutting up and doing what experts tell you without any thought on your own part is a brilliant way to set yourself up for a fall come the next paradigm shift.

And since we're in the middle of a paradigm shift, I think it might be worth kicking up a fuss, questioning experts and generally interacting with the discourse.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


[ Parent ]
Nate's "expert opinion" =/= David's "expert opinion" (4.00 / 1)
It seems to me that David read a little more into Nate's post than was warranted and wound up producing an attack that really shouldn't be tossed out without a degree of certainty that doesn't exist.

Nate hails from a little corner of baseballtopia that is very well acquainted with many wrong and willfully stupid "experts" who routinely spurn his analytical work.  Despite the slightly confrontational nature of his post, I don't think it's too generous to assume that his definition of "expert" is one who is well-informed in th realm of economics- ala Krugman, Baker, etc.

Now, I may be wrong, or he may be misguided- he might really believe that Jim DeMint is well-qualified.  But I think it is rather unfair to assume he does, especially since David has himself acknowledged that topical knowledge is extremely helpful.

What is the fundamental difference between saying "most economists believe that assisting state budget shortfalls will create massive amounts of stimulus, so we shouldn't cut that portion of the bill" and saying "Now is the time for expert opinion?"  Clearly the former statement is far more specific and thus less likely to be interpreted, but the aim of both is the same- listen to people who know what they are talking about.  The former statement has been (justifiably) repeated on practically every major liberal-leaning blog in existence, with nary a word of protest.

I think David's main point is pertinent, but he could have been less confrontational about it- not because it is wrong to be confrontational, but because it is wrong to be confrontational when the target of your attack may not hold the views that you claim he holds.  Nate's post may have promoted elitocracy, but do you really have the grounding or the knowledge to definitively state "Silver would have us 'do whatever we can to remove' Baker and Krugman from the playing field"?

That was a bit too brazen, in my mind.


Not Useful (0.00 / 0)
Maybe it's just me, but I don't find this debate useful.  Most posts on Open Left and FiveThirtyEight resonate with me.  I don't see either as the problem - I don't see a need to attack or undermine one or the other.  What I do want and have since 1/20 is a coherent, effective strategy to support the new administration when it's right, move it toward a progressive agenda when it strays, and hold it accountable to its campaign promises.  How much different would the stimulus be if there was a unified progressive voice for aid to the states, broadband, green energy, health IT, etc. and a strategy to apply political pressure in the necessary places?  How different would the bailout be if we could get solidly behind certain principles of transparency, accountability, feasibility, etc?  How can we shape the upcoming decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan? The right arguments are effectively made, the right information is provided, but we seem lacking in strategy.  Most of the frantic rhetoric and flailing that I've seen on progressive blogs (not referring to this post) is around different views of strategy, not differing positions on issues.  We need leadership.  

Pretty standard for Nate (4.00 / 7)
Silver's a decent enough analyst (although not the god he's sometimes portrayed as) but on a  lot of issues he's just a very moderate Serious Liberal who doesn't really understand how mass movements work. That's much of the reason why he has Sean Quinn as a co-blogger, and that shines through now too.

His argument is offensively anti-democratic and seriously flawed - since nobody should be shut out of the discourse and consensus is often not possible between those who start from utterly different locations. It also relies on a couple of other false assumptions that are typical Nate:

1) That everybody is acting in good faith and has broadly the same aims. Sure, Geithner wants to stop a depression, but his idea of a good society (and his idea of a healthcare plan) is significantly different from David's idea of how things should be.

2) That because we're all in this together it doesn't really matter who's in charge. Sure, the rich and the poor both stand to lose or have lost a lot, but there's a fundamental difference - the rich have enough of a cushion that they should be able to eventually get back to more or less where they were in 2006 eventually, whereas the poor may find themselves so badly hit that they can't get back their previous status within their working lives.

Add to that the different speeds at which we could emerge from recession if we worry more about capital or labour and the sorts of society we could emerge into, and there's a lot to fight over. It's not only the next 6-18 months that matter - we're also fighting for the next two decades.

Nate Silver is a numbers wizard. But he believes in some very silly things. Like non-ideological expertise and the possibility that we can all get along.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


david, I think you're assuming too much (4.00 / 1)
I read this site a lot but this is my second comment and I felt like I had to post.  

You have been very worked up about some things lately that I am surprised.  I read nate's article, and I wonder why you would assume the experts he was referring to were geitner and summers.  He never mentioned them.  He's pretty progressive that I would rather guess that he meant people like krugman.  So why would you assume he didn't?

I agree about being left and not center right, but just because someone isn't 100% with you doesn't mean their corporatist center right blue dogs.  Just like that 2nd bailout issue.  I think you were way off base on that one and got hateful against many democrats just because they weren't 100% against the bailout.


Give Geithner a Break (0.00 / 0)
was the title of Nate's post, wasn't it?

[ Parent ]
I am surprised by Nate, and his authoritarian tone (4.00 / 1)
and if by experts, we must exclude the two nobel prize winning economists this country has, I think he is way off base.

David is right to take this on, and I agree that we need to listen to the best minds we have in this country on economics, and certainly listen to the voices that were completely shut out during the Bush years, even though they were right most of the time in the last 20 years. Roubini, Stiglitz, Krugman, Baker all right, time after time.

And even Obama stated that the this decision was between two models, Japan 1990's easy does it Geithner approach or Sweden's nationalize the banks, feel the pain fast, and start rebuilding approach. This is the same way Roubini, Stiglitz, Krugman, Baker seem to see it, as Japan's decision led to the "lost decade", and Sweden seems to have moved on a rebuilt economy in a rather timely manner.

But Summers and Geithner were both at the center of what got us here, sooo, just sayin!

Seems kind of simple to me, but hey, I'm just one of the DFH.

And aiko, WTF are you even on about?? You just don't like David. Get a life.


tell it like it is (0.00 / 0)
summers and geithner bring to the table a mind-numbing, silver-tongued wonkishness that disguises how evil and incompetent they are. someone could write a great parody of the bullshit they spew.

it's sad to see people fall for it, over and over again - they also belong in the parody - but good to see it fought with passion.  


From Huffington Post (0.00 / 0)
I just went through the tedium of reading some of this bullshit. Here's my take. Sirota, as usual, is right on the issue. Silver was advocating a type of politics that was thoroughly discredited by the Galileo vs. church episode. I don't think Silver gave a lot of thought to his post. It was just another of those "Tut-tut! Calm down fellows!" posts.

But Sirota, again as all-too-usual, doesn't know where to draw the line. He's not maintaining his calm. He's letting his emotions draw him into being unnecessarily and repellently vituperative. It's enough to reprimand somebody. You don't have to try to brand him as an idiot.

So Sirota wins the argument, but causes some of the people who are auditing it to dislike him in the process. The next time he makes an argument, those people will carry their distaste for his excessive righteousness over to it. It's hard to win an argument if nobody wants to read you anymore.

Sirota sees contemporary politics relatively clearly most of the time. But I think he could benefit from anger-management counseling.


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