Academic economists make their way by demonstrating their mathematical prowess in top-ranked journals. Anyone who denies this is a fool or a knave.
And here is a similar, more fleshed-out condemnation of what we do, this time from Dani Rodrik titled, "What Use Are Economists?". The conclusion:
There is one other thing that the public should know about economists: It is cleverness, not wisdom, that advances academic economists’ careers. Professors at the top universities distinguish themselves today not by being right about the real world, but by devising imaginative theoretical twists or developing novel evidence. If these skills also render them perceptive observers of real societies and provide them with sound judgment, it is hardly by design.