Justin's note: Two Americans just won this year's Nobel Prize in Economics.
William Nordhaus, one of the recipients, was awarded the prize for his work on climate change. Paul Romer, the other recipient, won for research on how regulations and policies can encourage new ideas and long-term prosperity.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which selects the recipients, called these the "basic and pressing" economic issues of our time. And I believe many people would agree with that statement.
But Doug Casey isn't one of them. I know because I recently spoke with Doug about this topic. And, as usual, he had some interesting things to say. See for yourself in today's Conversations With Casey.
Justin: Doug, what do you think of the latest Nobel Prize in Economics winners? Do they deserve the award?
Doug: The Nobel Prize in Economics should be abolished, along with those for Literature and Peace. All three are passed out arbitrarily, to whomever is currently in fashion, or has the best political connections.
It's all about Cultural Marxist and socialist intellectuals patting each other on the back. The prestige associated with everything from favorable book reviews to the Nobel Prize legitimizes these people in the eyes of the public. There have been exceptions—but very few, and only enough to keep the Nobels from being total laughing stocks. Left-wing intellectuals talking to left-wing intellectuals about topics of interest to nobody but left-wing intellectuals. All reported on glowingly by their minions in the lickspittle media.
These prizes have about zero relationship to those for Chemistry, Physics, or Medicine—where the achievement is quantifiable, and of objective benefit to humanity.
This year's winners of the Economics Prize, Romer and Nordhaus, are typical. Neither is a real economist. An economist is someone who describes the way the world works, how men go about producing and consuming in a voluntary marketplace.
These guys aren't economists. They're political apologists, who prescribe the way they think the world ought to work, and try to enforce their notions on society. The whole study of economics is quite degraded. It's now viewed as a subdivision of mathematics, with all kinds of arcane and irrelevant formulae. In fact, economics is a division of philosophy.
Romer, the son of a former Colorado governor, basically puts forward the notion that governments should encourage, or direct, spending to speed up progress. It's a ridiculous notion, assuming bureaucrats are wiser and smarter than the people who actually created the wealth. It's an idiotic and destructive view that underlies all socialist and fascist systems. The USSR was an archetype of this thinking. I'm genuinely surprised people don't laugh and roll their eyes when they encounter these nostrums.
Justin: How about Nordhaus?
Doug: Well, his hobbyhorse is anthropogenic global warming [AGW], and what governments should do about it. This opens up several cans of worms. Number one, does AGW exist? And if it does, should the government do something about it?
Despite everything said in the popular press and in some scientific papers, my belief is that AGW is completely trivial. And what is there is going to drop as improvements in technology make all industrial and consumer processes vastly more efficient. The current hysteria has very little to do with physics, and almost all to do with aberrant psychology.
Can humans change the environment? Of course they can. We do it all the time. Humans have wiped out various species over time—everything from the dodo bird to the passenger pigeon to almost all of the North American buffalo. Humans can have a huge effect on the environment. But does that mean humans are causing AGW?