Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

10/06/2009 (5:32 pm)

Socialism is Better — Because We Say So

It was about 10 months ago that I took on Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz over his common-for-the-left-but-intellectually-laughable notion that deregulation had led to the meltdown that occurred last fall. I can’t say whether time has proved I was correct or not, but a recent announcement in France has proved that Stiglitz is both socialist-friendly and, so far as intellectual probity goes, nuts. Well, not nuts, exactly. More like devious and dishonest.

France announced, based on work by Dr. Stiglitz, that they are going to count “well-being” in their measurements of Gross Domestic Product (GDP.) By well-being, they mean things that everybody recognizes as beneficial: you know, things like government-sponsored health care, a short work week, and an expensive welfare system. [/sarc] These count as economic “output,” according to Stiglitz and French President Sarkozy.

France’s president on Monday urged other countries to adopt proposed new measures of economic output unveiled by a panel of international economists led by Joseph Stiglitz, the US Nobel Prize winner.

Mr Sarkozy, who set up the Stiglitz-led commission last year, said the world had become trapped in a “cult of figures”.

Insee, the French statistics agency, would set about incorporating the new indicators in its accounting, Mr Sarkozy said.

One consequence of the commission’s proposed enhancements to gross domestic product data would be to improve instantly France’s economic performance by taking into account its high-quality health service, expensive welfare system and long holidays. At the same time, the commission’s changes would downgrade US economic output.

The first cut at restating French GDP managed to erase half the difference between French per capita output and US per capita output. I’m shocked. [/sarc²]

In case you’re not comfortable with macroeconomics, what’s happening here is that with the cooperation of an American academic leading a team of international economists, France has decided that a given unit of French output counts for more than the same unit of American output — because the French are “happier.” How do we know they are happier? Well, because the government does things liberals want it to do for people. That’s how we know.

So, socialist government policies boost a country’s output, not because it actually produces output, but because Joseph Stiglitz says socialist policies make them count more. Because it makes everybody happy, you see. That’s how economics works. This is science, don’t you know.

A friend sent me this via email as an example of things so stupid they’re funny. This is not funny to me, though; it’s chilling. Basically, what is happening is that an international team of economists has decided to market socialism using “science” as an advertising tool, by arbitrarily making socialist countries appear richer than they are. They do this by declaring the illusory well-being of people living under socialism as “production” — illusory because the only evidence of it is their enlightened leftist opinion that people are happier under socialism. France is going along with this, and urging other nations to do so as well.

Keep this in mind when leftists start touting the economic benefits of socialism, and insisting that this “happiness” is a human right. They’re lying, and they’re getting help in constructing their lies from Nobel-laureate economists.

Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
“But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain…”
Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Psalm 2, New American Standard Version

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October 6, 2009 @ 6:42 pm #

It’s really sad what they call science these days. Anyway the scripture quote is excellent. I still remember Ern Baxter preaching on Psalm 2, and I can see him having a lot of fun ridiculing this bunch if “experts” dreaming up their own batch of “vain things”

October 7, 2009 @ 11:32 am #

Phil -

I am quite sure that most of the devoted followers of “socialism” are not consciously lying. In fact, accusing them of doing so is not really an argument against their position, but I appreciate that you are attempting to do so in the rest of your post.

By the way, Psalm 2 (excellent passage) is just as applicable to any spot on the political spectrum as any other, don’t you think? Those who put their whole faith in “the invisible hand” are just as culpable as those who put their faith in some other human invented system.

October 7, 2009 @ 11:59 am #

“Trust us to know and to do what is best, and we will take care of the rest.”

October 7, 2009 @ 12:01 pm #

>>I am quite sure that most of the devoted followers of “socialism” are not consciously lying.>>

What gives you confidence in this statement? Is there a moral code they follow that prohibits lying? If so, what is it?

October 7, 2009 @ 12:24 pm #

Suek -

In the spirit of Phil’s well-done sarcasm above:

What I REALLY want to do is get into an argument about charitability with someone with a proven track record for demonizing.

That being said, I can tell you that MOST of the devoted followers of socialism that are among my friends and associates have a moral code equally as strong as yours and mine. They may be wrong, and they may be misplacing their trust, but deal with them on that level then.

Saying all of them are lying because they don’t have a moral code prohibiting them from doing so (which, by the way, is a lie) is as helpful as discounting them by saying they’re all child-molesters because they have no moral code prohibiting them from doing so.

Now, if you CATCH someone in a bold-faced lie, that is something different all together – no matter what political philosophy the liar subscribes to.

October 7, 2009 @ 8:36 pm #

This seems to be another example of the typical Leftist maneuver of redefining words to suit their own purposes. You could define the energy production of France to include all the gas produced by French cattle, but it would not be a useful definition, even though it would raise their numbers. The point is, their new definition is not useful. They have nothing more to eat, they have nothing more to trade (you cannot do either with “happiness”). So fudging the production numbers may make your country look better on paper, but the result is simply meaningless.

October 8, 2009 @ 6:31 am #

Although this is nothing really new from a historical viewpoint of Socialism, just in a different way. In the Soviet Union especially in the early years, there was a fascination with Gigantisism- How many tons of steel produced, How much coal produced or used. How many tractors made. This may have changed or evolved later- follow the thinking and check out the history of the “Tzar Bomba.” It was not important that it was completely useless as a weapon being virtually undeliverable. It was important that they had the largest. (although one could argue that it could be useful from a perspective of testing the type of bomb they were developing- the multistage weapon, however, the same end could be accomplished with a far, far smaller weapon.)

The point I am making is that just as with this current example that it is a form of propaganda. It gives the people within the group a feeling that they are engaged in a grand undertaking. To outsiders it is supposed to intimidate with the idea that they cannot compete with their monolithic adversary. (Another example is the huge military parades, like the one we just saw in China for their 60th anniversary of Communist rule.)

The important thing is to remember that the end is not to report the facts, but is rather aimed as propaganda at those at home and abroad.

October 8, 2009 @ 7:15 am #


Very fascinating facts on propaganda. Reading “1984″ in my younger years has brought a lot of sensitivity to this practice of governments – every last one of them.

October 8, 2009 @ 12:05 pm #

Ok…they have a moral code.

What is it, what is it’s source, and what happens to them if they do something that violates that code?

October 8, 2009 @ 12:18 pm #

Two interesting statements.

>>What I REALLY want to do is get into an argument about charitability with someone with a proven track record for demonizing.>>

What has charitablity to do with anything? And if your response is that one should not immediately judge another based on their history of offense, then I’d say _your_ comment is not particularly charitable!

>>I am quite sure that most of the devoted followers of “socialism” are not consciously lying.>>

How can someone “un”consciously lie? A lie must be deliberate in order to be a lie. If it isn’t deliberate, it may be an untruth, or an incorrect statement, but it isn’t a lie.

But you are correct in that I think there are those who desire socialism – even communism – who have developed a completely bizarre concept of reality so that they can twist information in their minds in such a way that they can believe they are telling the truth even when what they say has no basis in reality. In other words, they are not actually lying – but neither are they making truthful statements. On the other hand, I think there are those who believe that the end justifies the means. “lies” don’t count if the end result is to achieve whatever it is that they want to result.

Once again I say that in order to discuss things, often we have to get down to definitions and basic assumptions so that we know what we’re actually discussing.

October 8, 2009 @ 1:35 pm #

I am quite sure that most of the devoted followers of “socialism” are not consciously lying.

I’m quite sure of that as well. I was not calling all socialists “liars,” but specifically those who are (or will be) claiming that socialism is superior on the basis of doctored statistics.

Even some of those are just dupes; I don’t imagine that all leftists who cooperate in lying of this type actually know they’ve been misled. But that does not make the misinformation any less a lie. The point is, the misinformation is deliberate; in this case, it’s the result of a team of academics who really should know better.

What I REALLY want to do is get into an argument about charitability with someone with a proven track record for demonizing.

This disturbs me. Who here has a proven track record of demonizing, anywhere but in your own estimation, darkhorse? And in what universe does your personal assessment qualify as “a proven track record?”

By the way, Psalm 2 (excellent passage) is just as applicable to any spot on the political spectrum as any other, don’t you think?

No, I don’t think. The spots on the political spectrum that substitute human, utopian vision and control by the state for the rule of God-imposed notions of righteousness are a much better target for this particular thrust of the sword. I think we both know which end of the political spectrum is prone to that particular error. You may be correct to say that there are sinners at all points on the political spectrum — you’ll find a sinner everywhere you find human beings, in fact — but “why do the nations rage, and the peoples imagine vanity,” and “the kings of the earth take their stand,” are rather specific to governmental arrogance.

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