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Inspired by the brilliant work of the folks who put out the annual Darwin Awards, we here at the Unbroken Window will now be offering Darwin Awards to the pundit, policymaker, politician, economist, movie star, anyone really who really distinguishes themselves by their public display of economic foolishness. If we can think of what an appropriate gift would be to send to our pending illustrious winners, I would be grateful (and probably broke if the gift has a positive price). Any ideas for good gifts? A statue of Hayek? A free subscription to my site?

Of course, I should know better than to do this as an economist. I may be offering an incentive for some people to produce more economically illiterate nonsense than is already being produced. You see, unlike evolution in the biological sciences, where it seems like bad ideas and designs get out competed by good ones, the opposite seems to be happening in the realm of economic ideas and understanding. The problem in the economic realm is that at least for the short to medium term, one bad economic idea begets another, which begets another – and it is not until a major crisis comes along before people start to think, “hey, that was a major mistake.” Of course, that doesn’t mean the mistake is ever undone.

So, the first recipient is going to be EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. She gets the award both for her ignorance of the most basic idea in all of economics (that unicorns do not exist) and for not exactly understanding the nature of the environment she is supposedly responsible for stewarding. The award citation is going to have to be very long, so I will reserve it for a future post. But here is a preview of what we shall be examining:

Job-killing’ environmental standards help employ more than 1.5 million people.

She HAS to be the first winner of the award since she uses as her major justification for the existence of her department the greenest and worst broken window fallacy of all time. By the way, I can describe a situation where environmental standards do actually improve employment, but it is not what Ms. Jackson is implying the reason for it is in this article. Maybe I’ll have time after class today to walk you through the entire mess of a an article. Can the EPA be called in to clean it up? By the way, maybe Ms. Jackson will claim that her article generated one more job on behalf of the EPA – you see, I am spending my morning criticizing her. Of course, if you understand Bastiat, as my 11:05 class probably does, then you will clearly see that my 11:05 class will not feel like a new job was created (I am supposed to be prepping for it right now).

6 Responses to “Introducing the Economic Darwin Awards”

  1. Harry says:

    Can you give us some time on this?

    You can count me in for a reasonable contribution toward the cup, plate, or trophy. With the award there also should be a goody bag the donee could take along to the award gala, which I assume would be at an elegant hotel near the Rochester airport, or in Stockholm.

    I have a bunch of stuff out in my barn to give the EPA chief, including a hammermill with belt and a big feed mixer.

  2. Harry says:

    Any way could you do a video of a portion of your Bastiat class or your Hayek seminar and post it?

    You would have to figure out how to block anyone who missed class.

    This would be of benefit to those of us who are too cheap to pay tuition.

  3. harry says:

    On a more serious note, Lisa Jackson is just the EPA administrator, who I believe was subject to congressional scrutiny and as I write that line I think of whorehouse scrutiny.

    Carol Browner, on the other hand, is the EPA Tsar. Her pedigree is better known and scarier, and she for good reason was never subject to confirmation the last time around. I have heard her speak often, and have read many pieces she has written. She used to be a Ted Kennedy staffer, and to paraphrase Ted, she’s no Ted Kennedy. She and others pull Lisa Jackson’s strings.

    I have often underestimated the abilities of people who hold high office, only to learn later that impetuousness led me to an unwarranted conclusion. By the same token, I have learned that some people in high office know little or nothing more than I do, which often is not much; sometimes, when you know more than they do, it is a golden business opportunity.

    Having qualified everything I might say in all cases in the future, I categorically endorse Wintercow’s nomination of Lisa Jackson. I thank Wintercow for letting me be on his nominatng committee.

  4. Harry says:

    Perhaps a pair of pewter sconces and a box of candles, to light her way.

    The sconces could be engraved with inscriptions composed by Wintercow, the Grand Ayatollah of the Economic Darwin Awards, who is permitted to compose whatever he wishes, should he choose.

  5. Rod says:

    Along with the candles and sconces, how about one of those portable darkrooms photographers used to use for loading bulk film in the film loader while on the road? (They would be cheap now that digital photography has made the film equipment obsolete.) The portable darkroom would symbolize the candlemakers’ desire to blot out the light of the sun.

  6. […] Earlier this month, we nominated EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for the First Economic Darwin Award. What follows is her very lengthy award citation. In red you see the excerpts from the entirety of the OpEd she wrote in the December 2nd edition of the Wall Street Journal. Everything else is my commentary. Despite the length of this post, it really ought to be triple its length to really do it any justice. Here goes: […]

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