The Well-Reasoned Basis Of Populism

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Jeffrey Snider via Alhambra Investment Partners,

At the start of this new year, a new law took effect in Illinois which required hairdressers to obtain training in domestic abuse prevention. Hairdressers. The seeds of the idea were where any stylist in the state would take advantage of what is presumed a very close relationship between a woman and the person, presumed also to be a woman, using a hairdryer on her to spot possible abuse or even violence and know how to direct the victim toward help. Though protected, for now, from reporting requirements and shielded in untested fashion from liability, this is now part of the credentialing process for anyone seeking to enter the profession or stay within its ranks, at least in Illinois (and whichever states ultimately follow, as you probably have a good idea already those that will).

Thus, without one hour of training every two years a formerly credentialed hairstylist will transition simply to being a former hairstylist. Her (presumably) ability to wield objects of beautification being fully undisturbed, the loss of ability to perform with them as an economic service is clearly, in this case, not about those abilities.

You see occasionally statistics bandied about the internet where in the 1950’s fewer than one in twenty jobs required some government body’s expressed, explicit approval, but sixty years later the imposition of government credentials is somewhere between one and three or four. The world has become enthralled by them to the point of these kinds of extremes. Some of it is surely the desire for reduced liability, to retain or hire the credentialed expert so that if something goes wrong you are less likely to be sued for it. But what happens when in the real world “credentialed expert” makes that disastrous outcome more likely? Would that be the case where credentials themselves aren’t what they are supposed to be?

In August 2013, Paul Krugman was writing favorably about Milton Friedman. The context of that discourse was the period immediately following the “fiscal cliff” which was supposed to bring about immediate disaster, as Krugman himself predicted on several occasions. The favorable light under which Friedman was being remembered in this one specific instance boiled down to what Krugman called him being a “realist.”

One way to think about Friedman is that he was the man who tried to save free-market ideology from itself, by offering an answer to the obvious question: “If free markets are so great, how come we have depressions?”

In Krugman’s view, Friedman was acceptable in the narrowest sense because he opened the door for government intervention among the so-called right. I doubt Krugman was unaware that it was this same door that caused Friedman to apologize for it in the 1990’s given what it became. Ironically, it was in Friedman’s Nobel lecture in 1976 which describes Krugman’s brief positivity about him:

I well recall a dinner at a Cambridge University college when I was sitting between a fellow economist and R. A. Fisher, the great mathematical statistician and geneticist. My fellow economist told me about a student he had been tutoring on labor economics, who, in connection with an analysis of the effect of trade unions, remarked, “Well surely, Mr. X (another economist of a different political persuasion) would not agree with that.” My colleague regarded this experience as a terrible indictment of economics because it illustrated the impossibility of a value-free positive economic science. I turned to Sir Ronald and asked whether such an experience was indeed unique to social science. His answer was an impassioned “no”, and he proceeded to tell one story after another about how accurately he could infer views in genetics from political views.

At one time, there was a difference between Friedman and Krugman, meaning Keynes. In 1980, for example, Keynes was so thoroughly debunked that there was enormous bipartisan support against it. Yet it didn’t go away, it simply found itself wriggling through Friedman’s open door and into the central bank monetarism that replaced it. Not long after 1980, Keynes and Friedman became fused, the activist central bank, rather than Treasury Department or Finance Ministry, the result. On the inside, economists think themselves arguing a world of difference among themselves; from the outside, they are all the same as none of them can actually produce scientific results and predictions.

The reason is that they are all working from the same general theories. The concept of “free trade” was as close to untouchable in “acceptable” economic discourse as anything. The politics of it was no longer “right” or “left”, but rather within or without. If you argue for “free trade”, you are welcomed by economists (really Economists); if you argue against it, you are a krank, a kook, or any other epithet that may be applied to show the world you have none of the right “credentials.” It is about conformity, not fact let alone truth.

The sudden rush in the mainstream of Economics to defend globalism isn’t specifically about globalism and its version of “free trade.” It is about Economics and the bigger questions that are being asked more often now outside of it. The voters in 2016 are following the questions, for even if there isn’t yet widespread awareness of the answers there is at the very least robust and open discussion taking place where over the past decade the application of argumentum ad verecundiam has been used ruthlessly to shut it down. If Janet Yellen or more so Ben Bernanke declared that there was recovery, nobody possessed the credentials to say otherwise.

The Wall Street Journal published an article this past Sunday that in just its headline perfectly sums up the current wedge, writing up the recent conference in Chicago where Top Economists Grapple With Public Disdain for Initiatives They Championed.

The nation’s leading economists are suffering an identity crisis as many of the institutions they helped build and causes they advanced have come in for public scorn and rejection at the ballot box.


The angst was on display this weekend at the annual conference of the American Economic Association, the profession’s largest gathering. The conference is a showcase for agenda-setting research, a giant job fair for the nation’s most promising young economists and, this year, the site of endless discussion about how to rebuild trust in the discipline.

What is never really asked is why are these particular people the “nation’s leading economists?” They are surely some of the brightest minds, possessing great intellectual capacity, displaying impressive educational attainments and industry-given awards, but by and large because of all that they are all the same. And none of it displays comprehension of economics, but instead Economics. They have all been required to say the same things, speak in a common language (statistics), and to not deviate too far lest it trigger implicit excommunication from among the wider group. It’s how Paul Krugman can spend eight years screaming for fiscal “stimulus” of any type, including the stimulus effects of preparing for an alien invasion that won’t happen, but the moment just the bland talk of fiscal spending being introduced by President-Elect Trump he declares it all wrong and absolutely certain to deliver the worst of the worst long run consequences. People tend to notice, from the outside, these non-trivial inconsistencies and at the very least start to wonder just how robust a “discipline” it all might be.

The chart included with the WSJ article is the most damning, by survey history showing that in early 2014 faith in “free trade” took a decided turn, at least for many. Among R’s, those who said free-trade agreements were good was about 55%; 60% for D’s. Those suggesting it is bad were only 35% or so for R’s, and just 30% for D’s. It swung to only 25% of R’s now feeling positive about “free trade”, with an astonishing 68% now against. The shift among D’s was sharper to the middle of 2015, but has mostly reverted to the 2014 levels.

One quoted economist explains quite well the dilemma, though more subconsciously than he seems aware.

“The economic elite did many things to undermine their credibility while people’s economic fortunes were taking a turn for the worse,” said Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago. But a road map for regaining trust is elusive. “I used to think facts and analysis will ultimately carry the day but now I’m not quite sure.”

The incongruence (in arrogance) of that statement is striking, and for Economics it should be alarming. For a narrow segment of the “discipline”, it clearly is and has been. Economist Edmund Phelps, who along with Milton Friedman did great work in debunking the (exploitable) Phillips Curve infatuation in the 1960’s, was also there in Chicago presenting on “How the Right And Left Are Failing The West.” Joseph Stiglitz, for once, was more succinct (though still far short of an explanation about why).

“The promise was that globalization, together with liberalization, lowering tax rates, and advances in technology, would make everyone better off,” said Mr. Stiglitz. It was economists, not the economics, that over-promised, he said.

The end of the recovery in 2016 was not as one that had happened but as an actual, realistic idea that has had dire effects including among the credentialed “experts.” It is unsurprising to find those survey results about “free trade” breaking sharply where they do; the introduction of the “rising dollar” in the middle of 2014 and the broad, global consequences it unleashed was the evidence that the “science” of Economics refuses to consider, let alone comprehend. Despite the backlash from the inside, The People have been more than patient the past ten years, giving Economists chance after chance after chance (after chance, in the fashion of QE’s) to produce. The “rising dollar” was the last straw. Rejection of Economics is not irrational nor is it free of “facts and analysis” as (presumably Dr.) Davis is suggesting.

The past two years require no regressions. Economists said in late 2014 that the economy would take off; it did the opposite. They kept relying on mostly the unemployment rate to deny what was happening though in the US, like Europe and elsewhere, regular people had and have an intuitive, basic sense of why that was and still is just stupid. Very quietly, without too much disturbance, central bankers at least now agree, if still for now on their own terms. Is it really “too far” that people are now branching out, wondering what else Economists might be so wrong about? In terms of “free trade”, it’s not as if it is unrelated to the past decade.  

The rise of populism isn’t the politics of rejecting experts, it is the rejection of these “experts” – who quite frankly deserve more than voter disdain. Credentials have come to be seen by a very large and growing proportion of the global population to declare incompetence, having nothing at all to do with intellectual capacity apart from objectivity. It isn’t the denial of reasoned argument but rather the logical end of it.

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Elco the Constitutionalist's picture
Elco the Constitutionalist (not verified) Jan 11, 2017 5:06 AM

Populism is:

We outnumber the Jews so lets cast off their yoke and send them packing to Israel. The chosen people have no place in western cultures.

beemasters's picture

"We outnumber the Jews so lets cast off their yoke and send them packing to Israel."

That's exactly what Israel wants. Not a good idea. Israel will have more Jews to occupy and claim Arab lands as theirs, then send all the homeless Arabs to the west via Soros Expedition Inc. again.

Elco the Constitutionalist's picture
Elco the Constitutionalist (not verified) beemasters Jan 11, 2017 5:41 AM

I really don't care what happens to Israel or Arab lands. They are not of concern to me or my country.

nevertheless's picture

maybe, but its a moot point anyway, the Zionists are not going anywhere, and are certainly not going to give up their control of Washington. 


If we were to try and rise up, they would crush us and use their media to paint those who rose up as terrorists. 


You can't have a rich and powerful nation without a diligent and highly skeptical populous, we have/had neither. They easily killed JFK, it was only a matter for time from then. 



Croesus's picture

That's what Hitler tried to do..
And decades later, they still cry about it.
Of course, there's no business like Shoah business...

Azannoth's picture

To paraphrase Agent Smith(from Matrix) "..the end of the 20th century, the height of *your* White civilization, when in fact sice (((we))) do all the banking, media and politics it is in reality our civilization - you dumb goys"

White Knight's picture

I think its time someone clear up the whole Jew hate thing. The Bible tells us what is going on here. Originally, there were twelve tribes of Israel. In the book of Judges, we see the tribe of Dan removed from that number (later replaced by Manasseh). The reason? Idolatry. Want to take a wild guess who they began to worship in place of God??

You guessed it, later on it is mentioned "those who ay they are Jews, but are not, and are the synagogue of satan." Soros and the others maintain "Jewish" names and a "Jewish" lineage but are not Jews in any sense of the word. They hide behind the persecution of the rest of Judaism even as they destroy other peoples, including their "own."

The next point I'll make is likely an unpopular one. Even if you believe that Israel (the country) is the center of all evil, you don't want to touch it. God said that all who bless it will be blessed, and all who curse it will be cursed. Notice there is no conditional statement attached here. God will always keep His word. Always. This means that despite whatever moral disposition that Israel may have, God is going to seriously jack you up if you harm Israel. Not because it is deserving of protection in its current form... no. He will do this "for my name's sake." God has a perfect reputation to uphold and He will do so. Satan is the one who sends countries against Israel, and he wants you to join in on the action.

You've been warned. Ignore at your own peril. Just look up what happened to the missiles that Hezbollah was launching at Tel Aviv. God is real, and until an appointed time at the end, His hand is over Israel whether we like it or not.   

TeaClipper's picture

You lost me at "The bible tells us" Please fuck off and die, quietly and quickly

nevertheless's picture

Oh shut up, "Satan is the one who sends countries against Israel", are you out of your fucking mind?! 

Funny how Zionist filth like you can ignore an entire book/bible, and focus on JUST the passage that serves your narrow evil desires, pathetic. 

So, by your "reasoning" Israel, the place or the people, can do anything it wants, and you should just sit back and watch, your a coward and a tool. 

If Israel IS chosen by God, then it is truly Satan that is God, because Israel's supporters are truly the root of much evil on this earth.

When slavery was still acceptable in America, 30% of white families owned slaves, 70% of JEWISH families, most of the slave ships were owned by Jews...the point is, Jews have done a masterful job distorting history to control the image, how many times have we seen Hollywood make money off movies that drive home how whites are so evil because they owned slaves, yet I NEVER see Jews portrayed as slave owners, oh no, even though they were fundamental to the industry. History repeats itself again and again, and if the Bible were to justify such actions, the Bible would itself then be subject to criticism. We all know right and wrong, and Zionist Jews in Israel, and in Washington, Hollywood, Wall Street, are not doing God's work, unless God's work includes Usury, theft, lying, murder, false witness...basically every sin imaginable. 

Israel IS a cancer, it is growing, IT USES America to destroy its neighbors. I have watched stomach turning videos of the attack on Iraq, PUSHED BY YOUR FILTHY ISRAEL, watching young Americans killing innocent civilians as the DROVE TO MASS, and you think that is the will of God. If it were, then you need to find a new deity to worship. 





iLLivaniLLi's picture

Jews are a race unto themselves and their ethnocentrism is undeniable. But is it not apparent that the creation of Israel has forced upon them a mandate to return home? That we now have a precedent for righteous ethno-nationalism? That they will be forced to spend their energies in Israel rather than subverting Western societies? The split between Obama's internationalists and Israel is beautiful. This is precisely why Trump is making an alliance with Zionists; the Leftist strategic-entente with Zionism is becoming untenable. I think America should be isolationist yet some would probably characterize what I just said as supporting Zionism. Curious that, since I care much less about what happens in that part of the world than they.

roddy6667's picture

There is no Magic Sky Daddy. Your Book is a joke. Take your meds and STFU.

hooligan2009's picture

people are not stupid - they can ee that you cant' print work - work has to be done to have the chance of being valuable - fiat money printing via q/e says that work can be printed

fiscal deficits borrow taxes from future generations - if thse are not paid bacvk via fiscal surpluses, this is stealing future taxes for sonsumption today

paying benefits to people to get money for othing ecounrages people - to do nothing andf get money

the country must run trade surpluses in order to run fiscal surpluses

just because the majority of people have common sense, does not make their views a sort of "populism" - libtard socialist politics has been "populist" for 40 years amongst libtard politicians who have no expertise in delivering fiscal surpluses

so - using the term "populism" to describe the overthrow of libtard "populist" policies is a tautological argument.


simples (and please please please - KISS!!)

ItsSnowingInColorado's picture

I hope Illinois hairdressers start "accidentally" taking eyebrows and making racing stripes on the politicians who passed this crap. 


Sorry sir, it slipped... 


Unfortunately our society gone beyond the standards of ridiculous in most all matters.

CRM114's picture

Hairdresser regulations are not the problem.

Building regulations (and zoning) are the root of modern slavery.

The inability of the ordinary person to provide themselves with reasonably priced shelter for their circumstances enforces wage or benefit slavery.

effendi's picture

Building regulations and zoning are good concepts that have been misapplied by the Statists. The regulations should be fair, reasonable, flexible and modest. With zero building/zoning regulations however you can end up with lead smelters or body farms next to homes and massage parlours and strip joints next to schools and churches. Hairdressers should need zero licences or permits to work anywhere (including from home) as they are not performing a medical procedure, they are not polluting, they are not noisy and they are not antisocial or of dubious benefit. They cut my hair and are not my bloody social worker.

CRM114's picture

But the regulations and zoning are none of those - not even close.

And you know as well as I do that any attempt to trim regulations gets nowhere.

Pragmatically, one can't manage with zero regs, but I'd scrap the lot and go back to about 3% of what there is now.

The main object of my post was housing, not lead smelters.

Minimum house sizes are completely unjustifiable, for example, and are doubly ridiculous when statists claim to want green development.

ItsSnowingInColorado's picture

Building regulations serve a purpose in mandating safety in design. Safety should be a concern and be overseen. That is logical. 

Colorado does have counties that do not have building codes, the main problem this creates is shoddy work. However affordability, and development costs are very attractive. I built a cabin in one such area, but would be very reluctant to buy a prebuilt house without serious inspection. The nearest town does not even have a building department. 

Economics would play a huge role over development if zoning laws were serverly cut.

In most industrial developments the benefit of lower land prices, and property tax are huge incentives. Most industrial complexes just need good access to infastructure for transportation. Urban environments are usually a logistical nightware. Urban areas on the edges of cities serve a great dual purpose, allowing employee access, and simplifying transportation logistics.  

A smelting factory has actual safety concerns it should be regulated. 

Being that there are currently a grand total of 6 body farms in the USA, that is a very stupid and irrelevent point.

A strip joint next to a school is a proximity issue? Let's be logical.

Almost every child in the United States can get a personal show and a heck of a lot more from the device in their pocket. What is of greater likelyhood, a child getting into a strip joint or a rub in tug, or rubbing one out to a video on their phone or computer?


CRM114's picture

"I used to think facts and analysis will ultimately carry the day"

They have. Economic experts are wrong. They failed to provide a recovery for Joe Schmo, and what's far worse is they say they have.

TeraByte's picture

Yes those idiot experts did all in their might and left for us happy amateurs to fix the mess their experiments against all traditional wisdom produced.

TeraByte's picture

Funny with our "market economy based democracy", we maximize our effort to ignore, what markets want and call those who oppose this for deplorable populists.

atlasRocked's picture

It was Keynes who said that printing money destroys a society in ways that not one man in 1 million can discern.

The perfect fraud scheme.

atlasRocked's picture

It was Keynes who said that printing money destroys a society in ways that not one man in 1 million can discern.

The perfect fraud scheme.

rickv404's picture

Populism is a yearning for a dictator. Fortunately, Trump isn't popular enough to become one.

nevertheless's picture

Populism is the desire to have our voices heard. 

Directdem's picture

Take it one step further then and replace our representatives, who rely upon such dubious experts. Trust the People instead to determine their own fates, express their own values, and face their own ignorance via a constitutionally limited direct democracy, the ultimate populism -- a system in which we would exercise the maximum power over our own lives yet remain barred from imposing this same power upon one another. 

Rich Monk's picture

Start by purging the Jews from any government, educational, banking, legal positions. Jews are mostly marxist, communist, atheist, pro-gay by Nature. This is the opposite of a Christian Nation such as the USA!

nevertheless's picture

Yes and no, I don't think atheists and gay people need to be singled out for the crimes of the Zionists. 


To be sure Zionism rules Washington, and most Zionists seem to be Jews, putting Israel's welfare above America's (if America's is considered at all). This would not be a problem but for the fact that more and more Zionists occupy positions of authority in America. "Our" elections were a Zionist freak show, not one people who saw Israel as anything other than our most important ally. Israel is not our ally, they are our enemy, because what is good for them, is destroying America. 


It is likely too late to purge the governemnt of traitors, too easily are people manipulated into reacting exactly as the Zionists wish. The right hates the left, the left hates the right, blacks hate whites, whites hate blacks, women hate men, urban hates rural...Their work is complete, they have successfully divided the American people, into little groups easily controlled. 


I try not to hate any group, but hate individuals for THEIR actions, sadly most of those individuals I hate are Zionist Jews (though sometimes I think they just use the moniker of Jew to blanket themselves from criticism). 

nevertheless's picture

I believe 9/11 was more than a turning point in American foreign affairs, I believe it was the culmination of a coup of the US governemnt. Washington is now 100% Zionist/neocon. 


Washington no longer follows the will of the people, at all. The media does its best to herd the sheeple into thinking what the powers at be desires, but the fact remains, Washington is now in its own world. 

nevertheless's picture

Michael Ledeen is a center figure in the Zionist cobal in Washington, he was close to Karl Rove and is a behind the scenes power broker for Zionism in Washington, his thoughts:

 "Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our society and abroad.


 We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and law.


 Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep  peace.


 Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone.


 They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission".

This is the reality in Washington, and why there is such a disconnecty between what the people want and what Washington does...




unklemunky's picture

The currency of the left is the collection of degrees. It is the constant pursuit of eluding real work that might include dirt under thei manicured fingernails. They groom their own kind to advance within their special clique. Very few have real experience that would ever produce the very widget they use in countless examples. But they have their MS, MBA's and Phd's so they can travel from universityt to university collecting their nearly $200k per year without ever teaching a soul about reality. They know full well that people are at worst rational and at best way smarter than they are. It's why the university educational model is collapsing as fewer and fewer people are seeing the value of a university education. It's seems as though plumbers never get laid off and almost always have nice homes and cars. Hmmmm .

brushhog's picture

I never understood why populism is so often characterized as a bad thing. Arent they always telling us that our country is a government of, for, and by the people? Yet whenever we see evidence of it, they slap a silly sounding label on it "populism", like its some weird phenomenon . What's the opposite? Elitism? Shouldnt THAT be considered the odd thing?

iLLivaniLLi's picture

It probably has something to do with the fact our biggest ally is Saudi Arabia and we routinely don't like the outcomes of Democratic elections. Elections in Rhodesia, Iran, Crimea, and Syria spring to mind. I'm beginning to suspect our policies have nothing to do with "Democracy".

roddy6667's picture

You wouldn't let the average guy do your taxes.

You wouldn't let him fix your car.

You wouldn't trust him to drive your daughter home from school.

But you think he should have a hand in running the country.

There's a giant leap of faith somewhere in there.

spqrusa's picture

You would trust a Harvard graduate to do you taxes.

You would trust a Harvard graduate to fix your car.

You would trust a Harvard graduate to drive your daughter home from school.

Given the last 40 years of pure Ivy League "rule" - let's just say no...


spqrusa's picture

This is all pablum and drivel.

Banksters took over America in 1913 and the acceleration of their take-over launched in 1971 with the elimation of the Gold Window. Now the Banksters could print at will. Buy politicians at will. Buy the "media" at will. Buy anything at will since Americans like others around the World, will do ANYTHING for Federal Reserve Notes. ANYTHING.

A is A's picture

I never thought I'd see the day that I'd be reading articles critical of "free trade" on this site. It's sad to see the site slowly crawling more and more towards populist rhetoric. This site strays more and more away from the likes of Mises and Rothbard and more towards the policies of Teddy Roosevelt every day. Oh, how I long for the good old days...