Sunday, March 13, 2011

You Can't Fix Stupid

There's a famous story about Winston Churchill, drunk at a party, telling a woman she was ugly.  Incensed, she said, "Sir!  You are drunk!", to which Churchill replied, "Indeed I am, madam, but in the morning I shall be sober and you will still be ugly!"

In this case, in the morning, I'll be at work, but Larry Summers will still be stupid.

Larry Summers was the director of President Obama's economic council, a former head of the World Bank and president (emeritus) of Harvard University.  You know our Ivy League ruling class is "smaht" - they tell us all the time, but he fell for the "broken window fallacy".  Seriously.  In an interview Friday, Summers said rebuilding after the tsunami "could temporarily boost the Japanese economy."

Now, Summers is not extremely bad in the interview.  He doesn't make a big case for the fallacy, but he does pretty obviously state that it will cause "temporary increments in their GDP", and imply it's "ironically" good for the Japanese economy.  That's just wrong.  Frédéric Bastiat pretty much demolished the idea that disasters were good for the economy in 1850. 

I'm sorry, Mr. Summers.  Lord knows I've said some stupid things, too.  I just expect people with your background to debunk that fallacy, not promote it. 


  1. The country's in the very best of hands.

  2. Perfectly in step with the thinking of his employers. Remeber Rahm "you never want a serious crisis go to waste" Emmanuel? The phoenix fantasy, where the old must be destroyed to bring forth the new, is pretty prevalent among "teh elite" even if you have to dig a little below the surface platitudes to get to it. You can see it in many policies on the left - energy policy, social "progress", education, the economy - destroy what exists to make way for what you want to create. Every disaster is a chance to remake things. What's that cliche they love to use about broken eggs and omlets...