We Have Never Been Miracles

by Asher Kay

On this edge of a new year, I’m reflecting about humanity.

I don’t have any huge hopes or expectations. What I would like to believe is that deep down, people are basically not idiots. I would like to believe that they are motivated, at least sometimes, by a desire to know what is true, and that this desire will lead them occasionally to question things, to evaluate evidence, to reason. Most of all, I would like to believe that in some small but fundamental way, people are capable of setting aside what they want to be true, and that through argument and imagination, reflection and discourse, they will sometimes be willing to follow the trail of what really is.

And with that statement of what I want to believe, I’ll leave you with a quote from Larry Kudlow, a former economic advisor to Ronald Reagan:

Despite the historic expansion of the federal government’s involvement in, intervention in and control of the economy — including Bailout Nation; takeovers of banks, car companies, insurance firms, Fannie, Freddie, AIG, GM, Chrysler and GMAC; large-scale tax threats; overregulation; an attempted takeover of the health care sector; ultra-easy money; a declining dollar; and unprecedented spending and debt creation — despite all the things that would be expected to destroy the economy — all this socialism lite and the degrading of incentives and rewards for success — despite all this, the U.S. economy has not been destroyed.

In fact, it is coming back. In 2009, the stock market had one of its greatest rebounds in history. And in 2010, we’re likely to witness a mini boom in economic growth.

If you believe in miracles, as I do, this looks like a miracle. If you have faith in free-market capitalism, as I do, then somehow this faith is being rewarded by a more durable and resilient free-enterprise capitalism than many of us thought possible only one year ago.

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7 Comments to “We Have Never Been Miracles”

  1. What are we to do when following the trail of what really is runs up against the other’s or our own religion? Are there choices to be made about whose minds have to change?

  2. The problem here is that the quote seems to come from a different reality than mine. One where the implosion of the economy under conditions highly favorable to ‘free-market capitalism’ is not taken to be disconfirming of faith in the free market, and salvaging of the economy by government intervention is not taken to recommend pragmatic appreciation of social democracy. I don’t suppose Kudlow thinks himself any more an idiot or any less committed to ‘what really is’ than me, yet we see the same facts and draw very different conclusions from them.

    I agree with John that the language of faith and miracles, along with the circularity of doctrinal self-confirmation, is characteristic of magical or religious thinking. I suppose I can tolerate all sorts of beliefs that seem wacky to me until they come with consequences I can’t tolerate.

  3. There’s the rub, isn’t it? As C. Wright Mills observed, in the absence of a shared vocabulary of motives, the only options are fight or flight.

  4. “Religious” seems appropriate in several ways. Beyond the idea of the economic miracle, there is an unwillingness – or maybe an *inability* – to question basic assumptions (in this case, that such-and-such policies are bad for markets). This article was written without a trace of irony. The “somehow” is left completely unexamined. Kudlow appears to be oblivious to the idea that his article might induce giggling.

  5. Well, it’s like the Underpants Gnomes. Phase 1, Collect Underpants. Phase 2, ?. Phase 3, Profit.

  6. Well more like Inverse Underpants Gnomes. Phase 1, Profit. Phase 2, ?. Phase 3, Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds (collect underpants).

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