Do politicians listen to economists?
By Scott Sumner
Congratulations to Paul Milgram and Robert Wilson for their recent award. Tyler Cowen noted that Milgram was a coauthor of this essay:
That’s an impressive group of economists. And here’s the abstract:
The ability of groups of people to make predictions is a potent research tool that should be freed of unnecessary government restrictions.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that this will happen, despite that powerhouse line-up of expert opinion. Nor is it likely that the government will remove rent controls, or allow the sale of kidneys, or legalize drugs, or eliminate tax loopholes, or impose a “Cadillac tax” on health insurance, or enact a carbon tax, or eliminate tariffs on imports, or open up the aviation market to foreign competition, or let car companies sell directly to customers, or eliminate most occupational licenses, or get rid of taxi medallions, or eliminate farm subsidies, or eliminate multifamily zoning restrictions in residential areas, or do hundreds of other things that economists recommend.
That’s not to say that governments always oppose the recommendations of economists. If they are already favorably inclined toward a policy, then they will listen to economists. But I shake my head whenever I read articles suggesting that the economic problems we face “show that orthodox economics is wrong”. When was orthodox economics ever tried?