Monday, November 23, 2009

Detestable Economics

Economists should examine why their arguments are so often the crux of dispute rather than enlightening and so frequently polemical rather than scientific. One of the largest problems is the implicit assumption what is good for themselves is good for everyone else or to select who is favored. Another is the willingness to overlook shortcomings in favor of support for favored policies, often focusing on the insignificant rather than the important. In the attempt to be useful towards setting policy, they often argue legalistically from the results desired backwards rather than
forward from facts. They will often defend something while ignoring how that which they are defending is not that at all.

Some examples will help clarify this. The natural constituency of economics are consumers, so whenever an economist argues the position of a producer something is up. An example is arguing farm subsidies disadvantage foreign producers while ignoring how it benefits foreign consumers. Another is arguing energy excise taxes will discourage production while ignoring they will fall almost entirely on producers rather than consumers and would be remarkably efficient as a result. Another is to declaim for free trade and rail against protectionism while ignoring exchange rate pegging that prevents it from being free and induces protectionism, asserting the free lunch of bargains while ignoring the harm done by such policies. Selective bias towards preconceived conceptions is abundant in economics writing.

No comments: