…one Philip Pilkington, via Naked Capitalism.
It’s nice to see a theme from around here being echoed elsewhere, especially when the theme is that we have a “rule of law” crisis more than an “economic crisis”, and that the solution may have more to do with lawyers doing their jobs than economists doing theirs – whatever that is, of course.
It is worth quoting from the very pithy article at length:
So the Conservative government launched the Radcliffe Commission in 1957 to investigate monetary policy and how it could be more effectively implemented.
The Radcliffe Commission was in no way radical. It was set up to defend monetary policy against its detractors and allow it to better function to counter the highly successful Keynesian spending and taxation policies of the war years. It was chaired by Lord Radcliffe, a man of conservative disposition who was no fan of Keynesian taxation policies. However, in its very greyness the Radcliffe Commission remained a great leap forward for truth and common sense. This was because the commission was chaired by mostly sensible public servants and lawyers. There were few economists involved that could sabotage the commission, engage in obscurantism and generally muddy the issues.
The writer goes on to note that economists ordinarily generate “intellectual sewage” amounting to little more than willful obscurantism designed to maintain their positions as “high priests” of the economy, fulsomely compensated in their academic and central bank sinecures.
And here I thought I was often overstating the case.
There is a problem with “scholars”, apparently. It’s fine to be insulated from reality to some extent in order to ponder the larger questions, but it really should be an insularity informed by actual experience, at least to some extent. But to use econo-speak for a minute, as the division of labor becomes more refined you wind up with too much separation between scholars and what they are supposedly scholarly about. Then you get economists who seem to know nothing about the economy, and lawyers who seem to know nothing about the law as practiced.
Nobody should be a “professor” unless they have some experience trying to do what they are supposedly teaching others to do. This applies in the law as well as economics. And because this combination is universally lacking we have impoverished “scholarship” and practice increasingly mired in unenlightened, rote and even thoughtless dogma.
Both for economists and for lawyers. But it’s more important, at this point, to address the problem in the law.
Because the law trumps economics.
N.B.: If you’ve got a lot of time, don’t pass up this article
: Oh, the angst! The moral ambiguity!
It’s so tough to have people seeking your oh-so-valuable opinion all the time. The idea that what they think doesn’t matter and has no impact seems never to occur to law professors. Why is that?