A court needs a jester. Power corrupts, and the king may lose his sense of proportion. A good joke releases tension and reminds of reality. The ultimate meaning of democracy might be that people can elect the best court jester.
For science, the role of court jester is taken by the fringe. Astronomy has astrology, physics has the perpetuum mobile, psychology has parapsychology and ESP, economics has the gold bugs and Karl Marx. Much of the fringe consists of the dustbin of history, of old discarded science, that once had a moment of relevance but didn’t survive the advent of new ideas. Scientists can work in multidisciplinary teams, and thus the fringe have their combinations too: like the illuminati who aspire at economic world domination but who also have some dark astrological annunaki and/or parapsychological aspects.
When a scientist looks at the fringe it is like looking in a laughing mirror. It is great fun, like reading a science fiction novel (or choose your own genre). Many novels are awkward but then it is fun to consider them from the angle of how they might be improved upon, see for example this deconstruction of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Looking in a laughing mirror improves your sense of proportion. It improves modesty to see that so much is still unknown.
Just to be sure: The amusement that I speak about comes about naturally. It is good-natured and irresistable. It would be improper to deliberately make fun of the fringe, i.e. to seek it out and artificially abuse humour. The laughing mirror effect is not a sign of disrespect, it just happens because of the distinction between mainstream and fringe. If fact, the effect can only arise when one regards the fringe with a basic respect, otherwise one wouldn’t notice them at all.
Gold bug Bix Weir composed a hilarious “testimony by Alan Greenspan”, in which he unveiled his secret plan to return to the gold standard by means of destroying the current fiat money standard.
It helps to be aware that Greenspan when young belonged to the Ayn Rand inner circle, see his real testimony in The Age of Turbulence, pp. 51-53. Michael Shermer, formerly also influenced by Ayn Rand and now at Skeptic Magazine, speaks about The unlikeliest cult in history, because the Rand-ist professed rationalism should have prevented such behaviour. Another good review that however looks deeper into Greenspan’s own demise is by Maria Bustillos in The Awl.
Curiously, Greenspan indicates that Rand warned him when he was young about the irrationality of man, but he still needed the 2007+ crisis to realise this ‘fully’.
In this 2013 Wall St. Journal interview Alan Greenspan: What Went Wrong, he states: “I’ve always considered myself more of a mathematician than a psychologist.” A good economist should be both. Of course, this weblog advises first to install an Economic Supreme Court (ESC) and thereafter, using the advice of that ESC, to reconsider the structure of the monetary system and their appointees.
After this fun “testimony by Greenspan”, Bix Weir totally amazed me by his discussion of the Boston Federal Reserve children’s picture-booklet Wishes and Rainbows with its teacher’s guide The Road to Roota. Join my amazement by checking Weir’s page120 and page190. The name “Root A” would come from financial programming, initiated by a friend of Alan Greenspan, John Kemeny who also created the computer language Basic. Perhaps “A” even stands for “Alan”, but it might also be “Allocation” or “Account”. See Weir page101.
Is this another story about finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or is it a roadmap for the re-introduction of the gold standard ?
We are reminded of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with the Yellow Brick Road (of gold) to the Emerald City (greenback) and Dorothy’s silver shoes, a story that quite likely reflects the political mayhem about the gold or silver standard and the creation of the greenback. Bill Still made a nice documentary on it.
Is writing children’s books an American tradition to discuss monetary policy ?
This interpretation challenges mainstream economics and history about what is actually true and what isn’t. Fiction of course doubles the complexity. It is already a problem to establish what actually happened, and now we have the added problem of how much the children’s books authors knew and intended to include in their stories.
From the standpoint of teaching economics, a storyline like the Wizard of Oz or perhaps even Wishes and Rainbows might be a good gimmick to make it stick. It adds to the complexity though that teachers of economics would need to look into what exactly is being taught here.
Just to be sure, Bix Weir goes over the top when he concludes on page101: “Personally, I would like to thank Chairman Greenspan. It took a truly brilliant and courageous man to take down the bankers that stole my country, and I believe he has succeeded.” To answer this: (1) Greenspan hasn’t taken down the bankers, (2) the gold standard isn’t so useful, see my paper Money as gold versus money as water, (3) see the About page above for sound economic policy.
PM. I almost forgot about the angle on Holland. There is Willem Middelkoop who has been scaremongering the Dutch audience and getting free TV time since 2008 about buying gold (“and other commodities”) as a way to survive the crisis and coming collapse. Middelkoop’s “claim to fame” is that he “forecasted the crisis”, which is a complex proposition, also given the failure of mainstream economics but also the failure of the media and the disinformation for example here in Holland by Dirk Bezemer. Since the system didn’t quite collapse as Middelkoop suggested and his clients lost money on gold, he has switched position, giving the new book The Big Reset: “There are only two options: a financial reset planned well in advance, or a hastily implemented one on the back of a dollar crisis.” I consider it an academic scandal that the book was published by Amsterdam University Press (AUP), while Chicago distributes it for AUP as part of general co-operation. World monetary reform is a serious issue that requires attention in the capitals of the world. It is only fair that journalists sense that something is happening here. Middelkoop’s angle however is upbeat sensationalism. He is not interested in discovering deeper lying economic processes and truths and properly informing the public, but he wants to do his own thing and cash in on the gullibility of the general audience. Surely, I didn’t read “The Big Reset” but the earlier scaremongering is warning enough, and this review in Dutch is indicative enough, and this one neither. While Bix Weir’s pages are fun to consider, Willem Middelkoop’s work is nasty.