Crats, Maybe, But Not Much Techno, by Paul Krugman, in NY Times: Atrios complains, rightly, about the description of the policies being followed in Europe as technocratic. His point is that
we’ve conjured up images of very sensible highly educated wonky people doing the right thing, even as they destroy the world.
But it’s more than that: these alleged technocrats have in fact systematically ignored both textbook macroeconomics and the lessons of history in favor of fantasies. The European Central Bank has placed its faith in the confidence fairy, while imagining that it can run policy in a way that has never worked in several centuries of central bank experience. Meanwhile, the European policy elite has simply wished away the clear evidence that the euro zone needs to make an adjustment that is virtually impossible unless inflation targets are raised.
The point is that I know technocrats, and these people aren’t — they’re faith healers who are making stuff up to suit their prejudices.
You can say something similar, although a bit less pointed, about the Obama administration. The line from people there, including the president, has been that it was too technocratic. But the real technocrats — people like Christy Romer and, well, me — were saying right from the beginning that the stimulus was too small, etc.; people like Geithner who opposed stronger action were basing their position on gut feelings about confidence, not number-crunching.
And by and large, people who did the numbers have gotten it mostly right; it’s precisely because we’re ruled by crats who trust their guts rather than the techno that we’re in such trouble.