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January 30, 2009

Comments

TGGP

I agree (does that make me an HA fanboy?). His harping on the "geeks vs suits divide" strikes me as just Dilbert-infused populism (and I'm nothing if not a geek) and his "stern sheriff" has less to do with any understanding of the economy than a fondness for John Wayne movies. His talk of "spirit of the law" idea is the sort of vague idealism that he normally criticizes liberals for and he has not applied any public choice type analysis of how those "spiritual" laws are going to be enforced. His comment about how lefties hate the military almost makes me wonder if his only exposure to the left is filtered through Pajamas Media. Even after repeatedly being corrected on the nature of pre-industrial revolution markets he persisted in describing them through a silly Whig History lens, perhaps to make libertarianism seem more like a panacea. At the same time it was nice to hear from a guy who used to work at Freddie Mac, and he seems more interested in disagreement among economists on Keynesian macroeconomics. Caplan would like the profession to be a sort of multi-headed Bastiat and downplays things which would detract from his vision of a consensus among economists that the general public should accept as superior to their own understanding.

Hopefully Anonymous

"and downplays things which would detract from his vision of a consensus among economists that the general public should accept as superior to their own understanding."

That's too bad, if true, because it would only harm the absolute value of useful economist consensus, by putting up a barrier to its ability to optimize. Because at the end of the day it seems likely to me that economist consensus is going to come out ahead of genergal public understanding (except in instances of extreme professional deformation -and I can't think of any examples of that existing at the level of economist consensus).

"I agree (does that make me an HA fanboy?)."

You certainly have better dibs on the spot than anyone else!

TGGP

I think you're right that the consensus is superior, but Caplan is willing to shade the truth for what he sees as a noble cause. He gives advice to economists not to give a "one the one hand" spiel that presumably reflects what they really believe is the most accurate take and instead give a simplified version, emphasizing that economists agree with each other and disagree with the public.

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