Peter Diamond, making us regret Republicans. Again.

Peter Diamond, for those of you who are not economists, is an brilliant economist by any measure. His nomination to the Fed was an excellent choice. But to my surprise, he was controversial.

Why? I don’t understand. At some point, somebody said to some Republican senators that Diamond has studied poverty and income constraints. Or somebody remarked that Diamond isn’t a jackbooted free market Chicago School guy, and so he must be unqualified. Yeah, because MIT gives out full professor positions to just any crank.

Whatever it was, Diamond says his goodbye in the New York Times and explains very well how the idiots running this country (elected by other people who see no value in education and, thus, have no idea what the Fed does or what qualifications would be helpful at the Fed) feel free to mouth the words “monetary policy” without actually understanding what “monetary policy” is.

Did Peter get a minor or a certificate in monetary policy? No? Well that must mean he KNOWS NOTHING.

I wonder if the Dems would strike at a Gary Becker nomination. I doubt it.

It brings to mind Jonathon Chait’s essay this week over at the New Republic, about how a loud, bullying, unreasonable subsection of the American right has taken over largely because their attitude is “screw negotiation, screw facts, screw reasonableness; what I want is the way God intended it and I will stop at nothing get my way”:

Remember when Democrats swept the 2006 elections, then stormed into Washington demanding national health care reform and the repeal of President Bush’s upper-bracket tax cuts as a condition for keeping the government open? Right, me neither. Yet somehow the Republicans, controlling just one house of Congress—unlike the two held by Democrats in 2007—have completely seized control of the political agenda.

As somebody who falls much farther to the free market side than most in my profession, the dogmatic right certainly doesn’t reflect my values in any real way. These are people who are willing to shoot down the nomination of an imminently qualified, brilliant man because he fails to fit their ideology, and I’m tired of it.

I honestly was thinking yesterday during my walk that it might actually better to get rid of the Fed entirely rather than let it become even more politicized. I don’t actually recommend that, but it was a worthy thought experiment for several blocks.

Consider, as well, the embarrassing state of our Supreme Court. Oh, we wouldn’t want those activist judges, now, would we? Giving out civil rights and what all.

I saw a tweet that made me laugh yesterday, from Rick Flora: “The Kardashians’ have now been on the air twice as long as ‘Arrested Development.’ THIS IS WHY YOU CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS, AMERICA.”


One thought on “Peter Diamond, making us regret Republicans. Again.

  1. Its not just Peter Diamond. Look at what happened to Goodwin Liu’s appointment to the 9th Circuit of Appeals. Goodwin Liu is a Professor at Berkeley, a former Rhodes Scholar who attended Stanford and Yale.

    We are seeing incredibly competent individuals being denied positions of power in the technocracy.

    Goodwin Liu and Peter Diamond weren’t the first highly distinguished individuals who were denied an appointment because activists who disagreed with them shot down there nomination. The left did it to Robert Bork who was also very well credentialed. In fact that defeat is what inspired activists on both sides to go after the highly qualified technocrats that threatened there own agendas.

    I think the big problem is that we have delegated too much decision making to the the technocracy. We aren’t just getting the technocratic knowledge of a Nobel Laureate or a Rhodes Scholar, but the political baggage bundled with those achievements and activists are organizing to keep the technocrats with whom they disagree out of power.

    A lot of issues are no longer decided in the public square. We didn’t have a national referendum or really even a national debate to decide whether or not to legalize abortion. We let the unelected elite on the Supreme Court make that decision and we have politicized the appointments to the Supreme Court ever since then.

    Similarly we haven’t been able to have a national debate on the size and scope of government. But there is a real fear on the right, that the Rahm Emanuel sentiment of never letting a crisis go to waste, means that the left is trying to hijack the financial crisis as an opportunity to massively and permanently expand the size and scope of government. So they are fighting back as fiercely as the left did, when it kept Bork out of power, to defeat anyone who they think will make Keynesian arguments to expand the government to get us out of the financial crisis.

    In theory it would be ideal if technocrats could provide informed alternatives for the electorate to decide impartially. But lots of issues may just be too complicated to provide informed alternatives for the electorate to decide. Can even a Nobel Laureate or a Rhodes Scholar explain the merits and demerits of regulating financial derivatives well enough for the electorate to make an informed decision on the matter?

    But as society has become so technologically complicated, activists have figured out that technocrats are key pressure points for implementing there own agenda. When you replace your Earl Warren’s with Antonin Scalia, you have significantly moved the agenda. If you can replace a Gary Becker with a Paul Krugman you have also moved the agenda in a different direction. This is where the game is being played.

Comments are closed.