Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Open The Floodgates

I was struck by this because it completely fit the Culture of Econ that I experienced as a graduate student. I think it's fair to say that despite their reputation and somewhat distorted public group persona, academic econmists were (I can't speak to now) generally self-identified Democrats, if not quite as much as people in other social science fields. Along with that was a general genuine concern with curing some of the ills of society.

But there was a very strong cultural opposition to more liberal ways of trying to achieve those things, in large part because any move in that direction would, in some sense, open the floodgates. Any lefty idea, even ones with merit, had to be stamped out in the crib just in case any more of those crazy ideas started to take hold. It was rooted in a basic anti-democratic sentiment, too, or "anti-populist," with the very mistaken belief that all the incentives for elected officials were to just keep handing out free goodies to the population in order to win re-election.

The people had bad ideas and undue influence over politicians they elected, so the economists must stand united against them.

Of course that's not how anything actually works. Everything is so rigged against "the people" demanding goodies, including of course the weight of elite opinion, that supposedly liberal economists didn't have join in to prevent the great unwashed for wanting things like "a modest increase in the minimum wage." But they did.

Are there problems? Sure. Should we do anything about them, however imperfect, that might actually work? Haha oh hell no. That could lead to full communism.