The Sad State of Athens… Er, Washington

Saddening thoughts on democracy, economics, and the future, all via a webpage that usually cheers me up, Arts & Letters Daily.

First, if you’re looking for rhyme and reason in the way people vote, don’t. Studies show not only that many, many voters don’t understand the main issues, and have no real opinions, but that the weather actually affects how this type of person votes. The weather. I’m not joking, but you can read the article by Louis Menand to see for yourself.

Second, Cornel West says that we face three major problems: plutocratic, imperial forces are imposing free-market fundamentalism, aggressive militarism, and escalating authoritarianism on America, and they’re gonna pretty much consume democracy and crap out something considerably worse for us to live under. The picture he paints in “Democracy Matters Are Frightening in Our Time” is grim, but worth looking at.

And third, what do economists do in the meanwhile? They show us that economics isn’t really much of a science… “the dismal science” sure doesn’t seem to have much to offer in the way of verifiable, repeatable tests for the modern global economy. Maybe it’s complex, sure, but these two guys exemplify the fact that instead of trying to build new models that work well on the global market scale, all too many economists are just policy wonks working for this or that political party. Reading this just reinforces my feeling that economists live in a different world from the rest of us.

Ah well, at least there’s a nice piece on Einstein to cheer me up. Whew.

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