Economists Signing Petitions
By David Henderson
Dan Klein and David Hedengren have a piece at Cato on economists signing petitions. One of their basic findings is how little overlap there is between the group of economists who sign anti-freedom petitions and the group who sign pro-freedom petitions. One of their other findings is that Vernon Smith, Mark Perry and I were the most-frequent signers of pro-freedom petitions.
You might think that I’m a “signing slut,” but I’m actually not. I have said no to a fair number. I refuse to sign either when I disagree with some important statement in it, even if I favor the bottom line, or when I agree but I think it’s misleading. An example of the latter is one a few years ago against a tax on California oil producers. I opposed the tax. But a major part of the argument was that it would cause California gas consumers to pay more. Well, yes. Along with gasoline consumers in France. The point is that the oil market is a world market and so a reduction in supply due to a tax doesn’t have a bigger impact on consumers who live near the producer than it does on consumers in general. And when you consider how much is produced in California relative to world production and how relatively small the tax increase was, I would have been surprised if the price of gasoline were to rise by more than about a penny a gallon. What I thought was terrible was that it would take wealth from California oil producers.