Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dilbert, The Economist, and Getting Policy Right

Scott Adams posted the results of his survey of economists about the candidates, which I've blogged on before.

Well, if a cartoonist's poll doesn't sound rigorous enough, here's the results from The Economist.

Basically, I think that Obama wins a lot of points with economists NOT because economists favor his ideology, or because economists favor government intervention. We don't - at least not blindly.

Basically, as James Heckman (Nobel Laureate in Economics from the - generally conservative - University of Chicago) puts it, "I've never worked with a campaign that was more interested in what the research shows." In other words, he listens, and for egotistical economists, that goes quite a ways. There also seems to a lot more attention to the details of what economic theories of behavior and empirical research tell us.

That's not to say that Obama's policy proposals are all good fixes, but it does say that the implementation is more likely to make sense. Good ideas on a broad philosophical level can do a lot of harm if they are poorly designed and implemented, and the lack of attention to detail is apparent in McCains "low-tax" dogma.

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