Columns

Hunter Fast ’12: A field guide to Thayer Street

By
Opinion Columnist
Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Thayer Street, the last remnants of warm weather often herald a panoply of activists handing out literature for causes reputable and otherwise. Thayer has recently played host to demonstrators for eight-time Presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche.

LaRouche’s followers may seem harmless with their accusations that President Obama and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) are agents of “the Inter-Alpha banking group and related banks.” However, this farce is a mere hors d’oeuvre in comparison to the insanity of the economic, social and scientific policies that LaRouche and his cadre endorse.

LaRouche, a self-styled economist, derives much of his influence from his claim to have accurately predicted all nine recessions that have occurred since 1957, to the point that he has claimed to be “the most successful economic forecaster in existence.” However, in this assertion, LaRouche conceals his predictions of turmoil that did not come to fruition. Throughout his career, LaRouche has made over 200 forecasts of imminent economic cataclysm. Even giving him the nine recessions that actually happened, his success rate is indicative not of a seasoned economist, but of a random number generator.

In addition, one must consider that in the time frame in which LaRouche has made such stellar predictions, the average time between recessions has been approximately five years and five months. Assuming that a forecast of collapse can be pointed to as evidence of prescience for two years, he could have simply issued warnings every three years and accurately “predicted” all nine recessions while only making 18 total claims. Among both economists and Major League hitters, such an average would be phenomenal.

Be that as it may, LaRouche’s difficulty in understanding randomness is not the only flaw in his forecasts. He touts his July 2007 prediction of the current economic downturn as proof that his wisdom is worthy of the title of revelation, completely oblivious to the fact that in August 2005, Alan Greenspan — the man frequently accused of precipitating the financial crisis during his chairmanship of the Federal Reserve — admitted the existence of a mortgage bubble. Other economists, such as Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, had been warning of it long before that.

Furthermore, aside from accusing President Obama of sporting a toothbrush moustache, the LaRouche movement also alleges that the current administration is quashing scientific innovation by opposing manned space flight programs. Though this statement’s validity is dubious at best, its credibility is undercut further by the gargantuan hypocrisy of the LaRouche movement’s calling anyone else “anti-science.” The fact of the matter is that throughout its history, the LaRouche movement has preyed on public confusion in the name of political visibility. Nowhere is this more apparent than LaRouche’s response to the AIDS pandemic.

In 1986 and again in 1988, despite overwhelming evidence that HIV was not easily transmissible, LaRouche and his associates pushed an initiative onto the state ballot in California that would have mandated the quarantine of hundreds of thousands of residents who had tested positive for HIV, including 47,000 children. Meanwhile, all across the country, LaRouche’s followers waged political campaigns to ban HIV-positive children from public schools, in some cases targeting individual children for removal.

To make matters slightly worse, in his psychotic rush to terrorize victims of a horrific disease, the alleged economist LaRouche did not take into account the fact that his proposals would have inflicted billions of dollars in economic loss on California, destroying the livelihoods of many thousands for media attention.

In light of this, how do LaRouche and his followers deflect inevitable criticism? Enter the role of conspiracy theories. In what is presumably a massive effort to make the Tea Party appear sane and rational in comparison, Lyndon LaRouche frequently accuses opponents and journalists of being agents of a global drug-running cabal headed by Queen Elizabeth II.

Much could be said about LaRouche’s other, less plausible conspiracy theories, but that would be to beat a dead horse. It is readily apparent that though LaRouche bills himself as an intellectual in the school of Leibniz, he belongs more to that of Nostradamus, constantly blurting out sufficiently vague nonsense such that it would eventually seem to his devotees as if he had predicted the future.

How, then, does one confront LaRouche’s followers claiming that President Obama will usher in a new age of Nazi British rule? The only option is with pity.

Hunter Fast ’12 has been reprogrammed by British MI6 agents. Please send help.

One Comment

  1. Henry Macwhirr says:

    The views attributed to LaRouche in this commentary appear to be largerly made up, either by Mr. Fast, or by the good people who bring you Wikipedia. LaRouche has a website where his actual views are presented. I don’t think that the editors here are going to permit me to post a link, but I’m confident that readers can find it.

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