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Why Economists Seem Wrong

2010-03-25

Category: politics

All over the world, recession has beaten the economies of nations of all sizes. One would think there could be something we could do about it. We have Economists who study this stuff and figure it out. The United States government has a large number of economists on staff to advise the government on what to do. Could it be that the economists are all wrong?

Things That Go Right

In general, economists are pretty bright. Like with any field, there are those aren't in the top percentiles, if you know what I mean. Overall, though, they have to be able to demonstrate proficiency in some complex concepts and some relatively heavy mathematics.

Also like other fields, they are constantly finding out new stuff and refining their models. This means that as new information becomes available, they can figure out more. Until that, new data shows up, they are stuck doing the best they can with what they have. Again, this is just like everybody else.

There are also different schools of thought in economics. These are based on different interpretations of the current models. Even when these differences show up, most of the fundamentals of economics are still agreed upon. Of course, the math is an established discipline with the benefit of provability.

It sounds as though they should be able to do something. Why haven't the economists yanked us back to prosperity? Well, that's rather simple.

An Example of What Goes Wrong

Let's say we have a politician and we'll name him Weasel. Weasel knows he needs to do something about the economy because his constituents are upset. Weasel consults with an economist we'll call monkey. Monkey tells Weasel that we must engage in Activity A or everything will go badly. Logically, Weasel should try to implement Activity A.

Now let's look at one of Weasel's constituents, whom we'll call Ferret. This Ferret character was born down near the chemical plant where his mother worked as a paint taste tester and his father was one of three escaped patients from a home for criminally insane clown school rejects. Ferret decides that anyone who would perform Activity A is obviously in league with the Devil and possible the Communists Terrorists who plan to put Fluoride in the water to help the mind control practices of space alien cross dressers.

Because Ferret sounds very sincere and can cite a large quantity of made up literature, many other people in Weasel's constituency tend to lean toward Ferret's philosophy. These people insist on Activity B, because that was the Activity Jesus said to do when he founded America after defeating Kaiser Stalin, the former king of Britland.

Weasel is rather fond of his job as an elected official and would like to be reelected. It's obvious, though, that if he chooses Activity A, there is no way any of his morons will vote for him again. He has to choose Activity B. So he makes deals with the other legislators so he can seem like he is pushing for B even though A is the correct Activity.

The result is that we get Activity C, which is a combination of Activity A and Activity B. There is no guarantee the solution provided by Monkey will work with the changes that made it through. Still, the Activity goes forward.

If the economy gets better, either as a result of Activity C or by dumb luck, Weasel gets full credit for his work. Ferret also stands up with a loud "I told you so" and possibly suggests that it would have been better still if they had done all of Activity B. Monkey is left to wipe the perspiration off his brow and be thankful that it worked.

Poor Monkey

On the other hand, if the economy gets worse, Monkey gets all the credit. Ferret gripes loud about how the economists have screwed it up again. Weasel has to claim that it is definitely the fault of Monkey, because he would have supported all of Activity B if it hadn't been for those pesky economists. No matter how much Monkey tries to explain that Weasel didn't even do what Monkey said to do, no one will listen.

Conclusion

There you have it, the reason that we like to blame economists for everything. Can they solve all the world's financial problems? I don't think so. That doesn't mean that they are useful, when people really listen to them. Unfortunately, much of the financial trouble comes from those who do not like to listen.


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