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Does being on the short-end in some transaction empower the loser to become an expert on relevant policy? This is one of my largest pet peeves. For example, no doubt that the families of those murdered and injured in the 9-11 events have suffered a great deal, but does it make any sense at all to consult them on how best to prevent future terrorist attacks? Or how about consulting the fishermen in the Gulf on how to practice safe drilling and to prevent the next oil spill?

These sound silly. It would sound sillier in other applications as well. For example, should we consult the victim of an arson on how best to put out fires? Or should we consult someone who cut their fingers with a knife on how sharp knives should be allowed to be?

How come when we do similar things in the economic realm they are not viewed nearly as laughable as some of the above? Nothing makes me wretch more than watching politicians give a stump speech, where they invoke the trials and tribulations of some hard-working, nice, sweet-as-apple pie couple as a reason for overhauling the health system, or for extending unemployment insurance benefits. It is especially wretching to hear politicians argue that, “I’ve spoken to hundreds of people like Mary and Tom Smith” as if speaking to people who have had a tough time in the labor market makes either them or the politician an expert on labor market policy.

In fact, you might think that consulting those people who have been particularly affected by some economic change might be precisely the people you would not want to consult or invoke when proposing and promoting new economic policies. It is sort of like asking a newly dumped teenager what they think should be done about dating “policy.”

Nevertheless, I am preparing myself for the upcoming election season with a large bottle of Pepto Bismol. Maybe the pharma companies should consult me on how to formulate a new anti-puke medicine after the November elections are over?

One Response to “Experts on Economic Policy”

  1. Michael says:

    I’m not sure I would want to consult an economist on how to run an economy either; there are some good ones out there, but then there are the Krugmans.

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