TAKING STOCK: Economists stink

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Dear Mr. Berko: 
Gerald Friedman is a distinguished economist who initially wanted to be a psychiatrist. He says that under Bernie Sanders’ platform, in five years, U.S. median income would increase by $22,000, and 26 million new jobs would be created. He says that the unemployment rate would fall to 3.3 percent and that the economy would grow by 5.3 percent annually. This is a no-brainer. We should listen to our economists rather than our politicians. All my friends and I agree. All the presidential candidates should wake up and listen to experts such as Professor Friedman.
 
—LO, Buffalo, N.Y.
 

Dear LO: 

Please be careful when following the masses; oftentimes the “m” is silent.

Economics is the most useless profession in the universe. And Jerry Friedman, a Harvard Ph.D., is a bleeping flake who hasn’t held a real job in 40 years. I know more about what makes this economy tick than Jerry will ever know, and I can teach it better, too. I earned my economics degree sweating in the trenches and getting down on my knees in the dirt to bring home a paycheck. Though I never doubted that I’d make it, there were despairing times, and those times were superb teaching moments that few bloody academics can understand. I doubt that Jerry, with his impeccable white-shoe credentials, can identify with that. His numbers are dysfunctional fantasy and polluted drivel, published purely for political consumption. Except for Joseph Schumpeter, who developed the concept of creative destruction, I have little respect for economists, including Alan “The Mumbler” Greenspan, who headed the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006 and really screwed the pooch.

It makes sense that many economists initially wanted to be psychiatrists and that many psychiatrists really wanted to become economists. There’s little difference between the two. They both study human behavior. Both are born of human parents and can declare themselves male, female or hermaphroditic. Both had difficult parenting in their formative years, were alien to their peers and had unhappy childhoods that, years later, determined their choice of profession. That is why each profession has so many screwballs who can’t agree on anything. The psychiatrist evaluates and tinkers with the balance sheet of our minds, whereas the economist evaluates and tinkers with the balance sheet of our economy. And the latter does a stinky job. Consider the 21 percent interest rates and the advice of Greenspan that nearly bankrupted the economy. Candidly, I’ve never met a more insipid, dreary, colorless, droll, unstimulating group of people who are paid handsomely for advice that’s seldom worth a tinker’s dam.

Most folks can’t tell you what an economist does for a living. Economists don’t build things. They can’t make products. They don’t produce TV shows. They lack the skills to install an air conditioning system, repair a toaster or drive a forklift. In my 40 years of writing this column, I’ve met with dozens of economists, most of whom taught at the university level. And I’ve come to the conclusion that our educational system needs to review what these idiots have been teaching all these years. Since 1929, we’ve had 14 recessions, numerous real estate bubbles, short-term interest rates as high as 21 percent, inflation at 13 percent, oil prices at more than $140 a barrel, unemployment at 12 percent, record national debt, hugely underfunded public pension plans, an abnormally strong dollar, a negative balance of payments, etc. And considering the volatility of our economy now and the crazy distribution of wealth, those economic courses are not resonating with our students. The proof is in the pudding.

Economists are a useless breed. They are among the few college graduates who in their leisure enjoy teaching cats to swim underwater. Many economists are cross-dressers, and considering their bewildering, muddled assumptions, I understand why. Most drive Volvos, can’t make eye contact and have serious anti-social tendencies. Their handshakes feel like gripping a glove filled with Jell-O, and their shoes squeak even when standing still. These people are the only professionals who can be wrong 99 percent of the time and still collect a full paycheck.
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Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775, or email him at mjberko@yahoo.com. To find out more about Malcolm Berko and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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