Break in reason vs. Rational narrative props

Here's a recent quote from the Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman:
Appeasing the Bond Gods
As I look at what passes for responsible economic policy these days, there’s an analogy that keeps passing through my mind. I know it’s over the top, but here it is anyway: the policy elite — central bankers, finance ministers, politicians who pose as defenders of fiscal virtue — are acting like the priests of some ancient cult, demanding that we engage in human sacrifices to appease the anger of invisible gods.
In this case, the invisible gods are bond merchants, those who move lots of pension/insurance money into lower yield and risk investment vehicles. Given our reliance on reason, at least at every official narrative level, is a moment like this a wake-up call? A call for a return to the whole man, as in the Vitruvian Man's mix of art and science?  In our quest to build a better society, by emphasizing the rational, have we come to a point where reason breaks, or reason-based narratives are proven to be just the clever backdrop against which the unabated drama of our human condition goes on?


fCh said...

A comment to Krugman's piece picks up the conversation:

Still waiting
August 20th, 2010
1:16 am
Sacrificing a virgin to fix economic and overall cultural malaise: it was done in Sweden not too long ago. I saw it in a documentary called "Songs from the Second Floor." I didn't seem to work. But sometimes, you just have to say: heck, we've tried almost everything. If there's any macro-trend around it seems to be the loss of faith in reason. Reason just hasn't made us happy. And it's hard. So why not try something else? Why not go back to the faith of our forefathers, really back? Faith in charismatic shamanic intuitions. And there's a nice intuitive balance there: give something, something very nice, to the mysterious greater powers, then get something back, hopefully something very nice.

Like ancient cult celebrants for Cybele, thousands and thousands of Tea Party and GOP voters are sacrificing their own good sense, amputating frontal lobes. Sacrifice has a very long tradition, is perhaps rooted in the very ancient observation that if there is a mysterious unrelenting predator stalking the group then someone must die for the rest to be saved.

fCh said...

And here's a procedural out:

August 20th, 2010
9:46 am
"What will it take to break the hold of this cruel cult on the minds of the policy elite? When, if ever, will we get back to the job of rebuilding the economy?"

Your own superstition, Paul, is to believe that these people are the "policy elite" -- they are that only as long as you and others say so. And that superstition carries with it an assumption and a demand that they are there to take care of the rest of us. As if their creed were to "protect their neighbors as themselves."

The reason they are the "policy elite" is that they got involved in policy to protect their interests. Just as the local plumber dabbles in village politics or the local factory owner finds a way to rub elbows with the mayor (or becomes the mayor).

When the policy elites believe it is in their own financial interests to rebuild the economy, policy will change. Until that time, they will continue doing what they have always done: protect their own and their cohort's best interests.

Nothing else matters to them. When you stop seeing them as "elites" you will perhaps begin to have a fighting chance at understanding them.

fCh said...

And, to paraphrase Wittgenstein, it's all within the language:

Kate Madison
Depoe Bay, Oregon
August 20th, 2010
11:53 am
..."So here’s the question I find myself asking: What will it take to break the hold of this cruel cult on the minds of the policy elite? When, if ever, will we get back to the job of rebuilding the economy?"

I am confused, Professor Krugman! Since when has the "cruel cult" of profiteers and money-makers ever loosened their hold on the minds of the money-making, sociopathic policy elite? A real conundrum one might say.
Although, not really. Rich is rich is rich. Big Money is a drug and changes the way people think--for instance, about hoi polloi--who are just lazy, unambitious laggards and welfare queens! Do you not understand that in the language of RICH, being poor--or even middle class--means you are not trying hard enough, working smart enough, and/or taking advantage of our wonderful Free(?) market philosophy?

All you have to do is WANT it, really want it! (Doesn't matter what the "it" is!) And have connections and be good at making deals! There are different rules for the "haves," which include being able to keep their money and not bothering to worry needlessly about those less fortunate, who are less fortunate because they are lazy and do not work hard enough! NOW DO YOU GET IT?

Morituri te salutamus!

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