Monday, December 10, 2007

A Theory in Crisis

Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute is trying to frighten the public by passing off the opinions of a small group of politically connected zealots as the consensus view of all economists:

Jerry Taylor, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute said "scientists are in no position to intelligently guide public policy on climate change." Scientists can lay out scenarios, but it is up to economists to weigh the costs and benefits and many of them say the costs of cutting emissions are higher than the benefits, he said.
In effect, these extremists have created a new Inquisition; any economist who dares to question the official dogma on the cost and appropriate methods of addressing climate change is promptly labeled a heretic (i.e., a "socialist"), and cast into the outer darkness. The message is clear: conform to the reigning economic ideology, or suffer the personal and financial consequences.

Thanks to the wide dissemination of this carefully constructed Consensus Myth, many Americans now confuse fashionable opinion with scientific fact, and accordingly accept the far-fetched claim that climate change mitigation efforts will somehow "destroy civilization."

This is no accident, I assure you. The goal of these economic alarmists - many of whom have the full attention of our most powerful politicians and business leaders, thanks to their fellow membership in the Global Elite - is to advance their longstanding "one-world" agenda of crippling representative government, eroding national sovereignty, and undermining democracy by demanding our submission to the "superior morality" of the market.

Since healthy debate over the "wisdom" of market forces, or the damaging effects of externalities and opportunity costs, could interfere with these plans, it must be discouraged at all costs. Thus, apostles like Taylor are careful to portray economics as a monolithic discipline within which there's no meaningful dissent, and about whose accuracy there can be no reasonable doubt. They simply can't afford to let the public know that theirs is a theory in crisis.

This is why it's so vitally important that we continue to demand debate and teach the controversy.

(Illustration from Puck, 56:1436, 1904.)


roger said...

one, okay i, wonder how the economists jump over the possibility that climate change itself may "destroy civilization." i guess these are the econs who trivialize the "externalities" of industrial enterprise like air and water pollution. maybe other econs would assess the benefit/ cost ratio of climate change mitigation a bit differently.

Phila said...

maybe other econs would assess the benefit/ cost ratio of climate change mitigation a bit differently.

Yeah, they definitely would. And the point, such as it is, of this heavy-handed post is that climate skeptics will treated much more respectfully by the media than economists who question certain basic assumptions about "market forces." Or economics itself, for that matter.