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Berkeley economist Brad DeLong stoops to new lows, and my response



May 08, 2010 – Comments (9)

If you can stomach constant drivel from an anti-capitalist hack, then DeLong's blog is for you. I check in from time to time just to see what venom he is hurling at Liberty today.  Yesterday, he (or his disgruntled Grad assistant) posted this gem:

Listening to the graduating students...

Those majoring in peace and conflict studies, development studies, and rhetoric...

It seems, reading through the lines of what they say, that the modal teacher in those programs approaches their educational mission as though they have a dire and urgent need to deprogram young minds that have been enslaved to the harsh market-ueber-alles doctrines of neoliberal capitalism and classical economics.

The problem is that these nineteen year olds are from the upper-middle class of twenty-first century California and are at base do-gooder meritocrats deeply suspicious of large greedy corporations that repeatedly and recurrently try to sell them junk that they don't really need. They have not only not been programmed by the ideologies of neoliberal market capitalism and classical economics, they barely know that they exist at an ideological level.

So their teachers come off, much of the time, as people who look like they are engaged in a desperate hand-to-hand struggle with a vicious antagonist--but one who is not only invisible but who isn't really there--and so they come off as unbalanced themselves...

If you are going to turn every class into a wrestle with the ghosts of Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Robert Nozick, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher, you will look silly unless you first make sure your students know who you are wrestling with, and why your struggle is such a desperate one--why their arguments have force and power...

DeLong deletes comments from opposing viewpoints so here is what I wrote in response:

David said...

Brad is this really one of your entries, or did one of your dissatisfied grad students write this?

Are you really saying that:
1. Here at Berkely we are ideologically committed to anti-market, anti-individualist ideology. Ours is the one and only path.


2. We shoud recognize that our students already hold a similar philosophy, yet somehow, at the same time we have to reinforce (perhaps brainwash) that belief without coming off as desperate.

It's so sad. This explains why you stoop to the intellectualy insulting practice of deleting comments. It explains a lot.

At least the individualist, pro-market side of the debate openly welcoms debate, studies the Progressive ideology and provides its justification for rejecting these ideas.

If you don't believe it, download the entire Mises U 2009 seminar (about 60 lectures - all free at ITunesU.) Roughly half of them deal with understanding other economic and political viewpoints. The other half explain their (the Austrian) position.

Contrast that with your attitude and the insecurity at Berkeley is stunning.

David in Qatar

(p.s. I've actually been working on a post that examines the anti-market mentality of University professors and Novick is one of the most interesting examples of an academic that fought that mentality.  How fitting that I ran across DeLong's Marxist screed today.)

9 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On May 08, 2010 at 10:50 AM, kdakota630 (29.41) wrote:

Excellent blog (as always), David, and I'm looking forward to the next one regarding the anti-market mentality of University professors.

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#2) On May 08, 2010 at 12:15 PM, binve (< 20) wrote:

Great post man! I agree, I can't even read DeLongs stuff without Dramamine.

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#3) On May 08, 2010 at 5:59 PM, MikeMark (28.73) wrote:

Beautiful. DeLong probably wouldn't last a month in a competitive environment. :)


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#4) On May 08, 2010 at 9:51 PM, AltData (31.94) wrote:

As usual,

you have given me plenty to think about.


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#5) On May 10, 2010 at 12:31 PM, nzsvz9 (< 20) wrote:

The Berkeley wing of the bankrupt People's Deocratic Republic of California ... Socialism propped up by the capital from the great innovators of the last few generations. It boggles the mind that in the midst of such greatness we could have such a vapid and negative view on how great is the mind of man - they must be on another planet.

"Planet Keynes is quite lush this time of year. The gardeners (all working at minimum wage) are clearing leaves and cuttings off the paths (made by filthy laborers) for the elite in the paradise of social justice." (10May2010 Weather update)

I do not know, but I doubt that Brad DeLong would accept workers wages, accomodations, and working conditions of the anti-capitalist world he endorses and sees his young comrades in training already coming to him as such.

I wonder what his salary is?

I wonder what his working conditions are?

Takes full advantage of the fruits of capitalism and advocates Socialism. Hypocrite.

Known as disbeliever nzsvz9

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#6) On May 10, 2010 at 3:18 PM, DrAmateur (68.73) wrote:

I am going to change the topic slightly to get your opinion on something David.  You usually have well thought out positions and I am looking for a libertarian interpretation.

Although it isn't perfect it sounds better than what is currently being proposed.  I like that someone finally admitted that politically bailouts are inevitable.

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#7) On May 10, 2010 at 8:43 PM, 1315623493 wrote:

I would love to attend UC Berkley! My kind of crowd.

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#8) On May 11, 2010 at 2:26 AM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


I just finished reading it. It's kind of like a witch doctor finally realizing that the potions don't work.  But since Narayana has never studied any economics other than witch doctor economics, she has no idea where to start.

We have known that in a fractional reserve banking system bailout are inevitable to save the system since at least the Middle Ages!!!!  I kid you not.   Take a read of Chapter 2 of De Soto's Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles which details the history of fractional reserve and the systemic responses.  Rothbard's History of Economic Thought also covers many of the Scholastics criticisms of frb's.

So we know already that frb's will always fail.  Is the question is how to deal with that failure?  Should we attempt to limit it through Narayana's proposal?  Ok, that's one idea.  "Collectivizing risks and privatizing gains" will be replaced with Collectivizing risks and privatizing losses (excess taxes.)  Yeah, good luck with that.  Again, see De Soto's work.  That's been tried over and over again. 

But why stop there?  Why not do away with collectivized risk?

Why not allow those of us who understand the nature of frb's protect our money in other ways.  For example, if you remove Legal Tender Laws, 100% reserve banks can issue their own exchange medium that is not subject to inevitable systemic collapse.

Why should we, those who want 100% reserve banks, PAY for the collectivized risks of the suckers that put their money in frb's through FDIC, bailouts, and taxes?

Another important point to consider: These plans that get concocted, whether it's the FDIC or this idea, do not change the monetary consequences of systemic collapse.  The same amount of money is lost no matter what.  They only change the political consequences by changing who gets left with the bill and what their share is.

I hope you found this helpful.  Hit me up if you have any thoughts.

David in Qatar

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#9) On May 13, 2010 at 9:30 AM, DrAmateur (68.73) wrote:

In general, with my rudimentary understanding of economics I agree with you.  The difficult line to tow in libertarian land is "what is pragmatic?"  Like the start of this thread.  Given the educational environment, the public sector environment, and large business/financial Keynesian slant, elimination of the FRB seems all but impossible.

 I see then two possibilites.  One, total system collapse like Atlas Shrugged where the system can be remade.  Two, promote proposals that may delay collapse until politically someone can have the wherewithal to make you ideas more pragmatic.

 My training is not in business.  So I use the fool forum to test my understanding of various things I read.  In the zero-hedge article.  The proposal sounds fine and dandy.  However, much like setting a "carbon price" (I agree with you on this topic), calculating a risk bond is fraught with potential errors and unintended consequences.  I just wonder if it is better than the alternative (Dodd bill)?

 Thanks for the education.

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