We Need a Better Class of Plutocrat

Comparing

(1) this tweet from Nate Silver yesterday:

Between national + battleground state polls so far today: 29 Obama leads, 3 Romney leads, 5 ties.

with

(2) this anecdote from Josh Marshall

Listening to a story from a friend this evening. Guy in a social setting talking to a group of Wall Street heavyweights. Every single one in the room certain Romney wins. Has Ohio locked. Has the whole thing tied up. No doubt.

and

(3) the fact that you can get nearly 4:1 on Romney at Betfair

makes the financial crisis much easier to understand.

Hoping that your guy will win even though he’s down? Reasonable. Figuring out a way he might actually win, despite the evidence? Not reasonable, maybe, but normal.

But being subjectively certain of a very unlikely outcome? Scary, in people who get to play with billions of dollars’ worth of other people’s money.

And the Murdochized Wall Street Journal isn’t helping. It used to be that the crazies got to do their thing on the editorial pages, but the news columns played it straight. No longer.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

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Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.