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Monday, March 21, 2005

Good Economists=Bad Politicians

Stumbling and Mumbling has an excellent examination of why economists often make poor politician (like, for the umpteenth time, Larry Summers). Here's the first two:

  1. Economics is the study of trade-offs, of costs. It was, therefore, wholly natural for Larry Lindsey to discuss the costs of the Iraq war, and to be surprised when he attracted opprobrium: whoever thought wars were cheap? Politicians, of course, hate the idea of trade-offs and costs.
  2. Economists love counter-intuitive ideas. The two most successful theories in economics are probably comparative advantage and the invisible hand – things that don’t strike the layman as obvious. This leads to us stressing paradoxical notions – like the notion that outsourcing can be a good thing. Good politicians, by contrast, prefer sound-bites that corroborate the public’s prejudices.
Click here for the whole article.

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