Where are the experts? (A 3 paragraph essay)




"Either it will be a stroke of genius that saves the country, or it will blow up the economy," said one Tory MP. Another stated: "There’s a 10-15% chance it’s genius. There’s a 10-15% chance she’ll get lucky somehow. And there’s a 70-80% chance it’s a disaster." A third was more frank. "This whole thing boils down to infectious childlike optimism in Downing Street. It would almost be endearing if it wasn’t so completely and utterly fooking mad."

It's Monday morning and the financial commentators are all in a tizz trying to make sense of the UK's new economic landscape. The general consensus following the Truss / Kwerteng 'mini-budget' is that their actions were reckless and 'bad'. Yet there's also a sizeable minority who see these same policies as 'brave' and 'just what we need'. This optimistic response emanates from two sources. Predictably, there's the excited squeals from the free-market right, but also, less audibly, a cautious response from some politically agnostic commentators reasoning that 'The economics of the past 20 years hasn't worked so we might as well give this a go.'

If nothing else, Truss and Kwerteng have given us something to talk about and, in the process, have forced the 'experts', paid to opine on these subject, to nail their opinions, credibility (and by extension, their careers) to the mast. Here, at last, is our chance to see if these experts really do know more than the average man on the Clapham Omnibus. And while it's true that some issues remain unclear (it's hard to know how long to give Truss before declaring her a genius / madwoman if there are no costings or a timetable) it's also true that Truss & Kwerteng have left the 'experts' horribly exposed. If we now see a swift upturn in the UK's fortunes (caveat: in a way that benefits all of society, not just the rich) then we should heap praise on those experts who called it right. If Truss and Kwerteng fail, (and, in all probability, if they fail, they'll fail big) then no amount of back-tracking, dissembling, rewriting of history and deletion of embarrassing tweets should prevent us from ever seeing these experts as credible again. Perhaps some experts are, in reality, charlatans? Truss and Kwerteng have given the experts no place to hide and it's delicious.

A couple of years back the gnomic (and gnome-like) Michael Gove suggested that "people in Britain have had enough of experts". He was making a case against the European Union, but it's an argument he'd have made against any expert who disagreed with him. A more nuanced point he might have made is that "people in this country have had enough of so-called experts who don't know what they're talking about." I'd have agreed with that. I'm happy to take advice from my doctor, but doctors and scientists and anyone who deals in 'facts' are of a different order to the commentators and advisers from whom we seek guidance on matters politic, economic, marketing or advertising. There's a big difference between fact-based science and the more subjective arts where so many more irrational (and often unknown) variables influence the outcome. If the so-called experts were to acknowledge this, then perhaps we'd respect them more. If, as a result of such humility, they were a little more equivocal in their pronouncements it might help us appreciate the underlying complexity of this life we all try to navigate blindfolded. Sadly, being equivocal isn't something an 'expert' gets paid for. They are paid the big bucks for being certain. Perhaps Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng in all their certainty, will change that?

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