Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?


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Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby jhc68 » Sat Jul 02, 2011 9:58 pm

US and world economies are staggering under unsustainable deficits and debts.
Meanwhile, Democrats are hard pressed to find even one single thing they can justify cutting from budgets at any level of government, and Republicans apparently embrace as an article of faith the insane Ayn Randish notion that firing everyone who works for government and excusing anyone from paying taxes will lead to a wonderful, prosperous world.
WTF?
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby catson52 » Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:29 am

Couldn't put it much better.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby Cooter Brown » Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:41 am

Politicians understand talking points. Facts and knowledge get in the way of how they feel. They have no place in partisan politics.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby kuha » Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:56 am

Cooter Brown wrote:Politicians understand talking points. Facts and knowledge get in the way of how they feel. They have no place in partisan politics.



In this regard, I'm reminded of a quote I just saw from a review on a new book on the physicist Richard Feynman--taken from his report on the Space Shuttle disaster back in the 1980s. Substitute "policy" for "technology" and it has some relevance to our current situation:

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."

When "principle" hardens into impervious-to-the-facts ideology, disaster looms.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby Marlow » Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:20 am

To answer the thread's titular question:

No. Pols only believe what they want to believe, and then they find an 'expert' to corroborate their opinion. We see it ALLLLLLL the time.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby gh » Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:45 am

More to the point, I don't think that most economists understand economics!
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby trevorp » Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:24 am

One of my favourite radio presenters over here in the UK often says in exasperation after speaking to politicians: 'The Tories don't care and Labour can't count.'
That's crude, but not too far wide of the mark.

(Tories = the Conservative Party. The Labour Party is left-of-centre)
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby jazzcyclist » Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:12 am

What politicians understand is that leveling with people about the harsh realities of our current economic situation is incompatible with successful political campaigns. Here's how CNN's Fareed Zakaria put it:
The mess we’re in is not a product of a handful of idiotic politicians engaged in venal behavior. The problem is that Americans want low-taxes and lots of government services.

If you look at the recent polls, most Americans think there should be no changes to Medicare and no broad increases in taxation. This is magical mathematics. There is no way to make the budget work without doing both of these things - or at least one of them.

The reason people like Donald Trump have appeal is they seem to promise that through their superior business talent they will magically solve problems and save Americans from having to make hard choices. That’s a fantasy. It’s never going to happen.

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com ... p-fantasy/
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby TrakFan » Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:25 am

jazzcyclist wrote:What politicians understand is that leveling with people about the harsh realities of our current economic situation is incompatible with successful political campaigns.


Bingo...the fact that politicians start planning/strategizing for re-election at the half-way point in their term is ridiculous.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby kuha » Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:35 am

Th real bingo is Zakaria's point: the American public--taken as a whole--refuses to engage with reality. Our politicians are precisely as bad/stupid/irresponsible as we (collectively) are. The issues being faced today are all solvable, but they require that some actual pain be endured--and the realization that the real culprit is "us" rather than some despised "other." The central question is: how should that pain be allocated, and what is actually best for the society / economy as a whole as opposed to merely the most vocal / powerful segments of it?
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby Marlow » Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:44 am

I know that while everyone seems interested in lower taxes, very few are interesting in letting their sacred ox be gored. The programs and entitlements THEY want had better not be touched!! The problem is that ALL programs and entitlements are someone's sacred ox, so the real question for pols is: who can I least afford to piss off?
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby bruce3404 » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:12 am

I think Steve Forbes was headed in the right direction when he proposed a flat tax. Of course, he didn't get elected. I'll also support a VAT in conjunction with some sort of Federal spending cuts, but I can't imagine any politician jumping on either bandwagon since most of their constituents want more services and less taxes, while conveniently forgetting that the two are polar opposites. Sometimes I'm glad I've probably only got another 20 years to watch this country go down in flames from a lack of fiscal constraint coupled with "management" that seems to have little clue how to reduce spending while raising taxes to pay off the deficit.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby gh » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:47 am

TrakFan wrote:
jazzcyclist wrote:What politicians understand is that leveling with people about the harsh realities of our current economic situation is incompatible with successful political campaigns.


Bingo...the fact that politicians start planning/strategizing for re-election at the half-way point in their term is ridiculous.


This idea isn't original by me, but time to think about a single term of 6 or 7 years?
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby Conor Dary » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:51 am

gh wrote:
TrakFan wrote:
jazzcyclist wrote:What politicians understand is that leveling with people about the harsh realities of our current economic situation is incompatible with successful political campaigns.


Bingo...the fact that politicians start planning/strategizing for re-election at the half-way point in their term is ridiculous.


This idea isn't original by me, but time to think about a single term of 6 or 7 years?


They are already starting to do that. They can make more money as lobbyists.

The solution would be publicly financed elections. It would save us a ton of money.

PS. Pols don't wait until half way. They start as soon as the election is over.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby kuha » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:56 am

Conor Dary wrote:
gh wrote:
TrakFan wrote:
jazzcyclist wrote:What politicians understand is that leveling with people about the harsh realities of our current economic situation is incompatible with successful political campaigns.


Bingo...the fact that politicians start planning/strategizing for re-election at the half-way point in their term is ridiculous.


This idea isn't original by me, but time to think about a single term of 6 or 7 years?


They are already starting to do that. They can make more money as lobbyists.

The solution would be publicly financed elections. It would save us a ton of money.


I totally agree. We need to drain the money-swamp that US politics has become. I fully believe in one person = one vote, but NOT one dollar = one vote, which is pretty much where we are now. If we're going to make decisions based on actual ideas & policies, as opposed to high-volume propaganda, then cutting off the money supply is a necessary first step.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby tandfman » Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:01 am

trevorp wrote:One of my favourite radio presenters over here in the UK often says in exasperation after speaking to politicians: 'The Tories don't care and Labour can't count.'

That reminds me of something I read a few days ago: There are three kinds of people--those who can count and those who can't.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby Cooter Brown » Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:38 pm

gh wrote:This idea isn't original by me, but time to think about a single term of 6 or 7 years?


and the salary should be whatever the national average salary is. No per diem. No living allowances. No health plan either since the average American doesn't have one. No retirement plan. and a 10 year ban on lobbying afterwards.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby lovetorun » Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:11 pm

kuha wrote:Th real bingo is Zakaria's point: the American public--taken as a whole--refuses to engage with reality. Our politicians are precisely as bad/stupid/irresponsible as we (collectively) are. The issues being faced today are all solvable, but they require that some actual pain be endured--and the realization that the real culprit is "us" rather than some despised "other." The central question is: how should that pain be allocated, and what is actually best for the society / economy as a whole as opposed to merely the most vocal / powerful segments of it?


Couldn't have said it better...this is the what I think as well...
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby lonewolf » Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:02 pm

Some do. Some don't. Their decisions are determined by the polls and how they think it will affect their re-election.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby jazzcyclist » Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:07 am

lonewolf wrote:Their decisions are determined by the polls and how they think it will affect their re-election.

The exception is Ron Paul but we see how successful his presidential runs have been.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:14 am

jazzcyclist wrote:
lonewolf wrote:Their decisions are determined by the polls and how they think it will affect their re-election.

The exception is Ron Paul but we see how successful his presidential runs have been.


Ron Paul can say what he likes, and a lot of it is pretty dumb, because he has a safe House seat and he knows his Presidential candidacy is not going anywhere.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby kuha » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:17 am

Exactly. He pretty much has Political Immunity. He's a fascinating blend of some reasonable insights and quite a bit of utterly ludicrous, impossible nonsense.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby jeremyp » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:46 am

Considering that most economists did not see the 2008 crash coming and, in fact, chastised those who did into shutting up about it, I'm not sure most economists understand economics.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby jhc68 » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:14 pm

I'd agree that -- like politicians and Wall St. moguls -- most economists don't understand anything about economics.

As for Rand Paul, I completely agree with about half of what he says. The other half is absolutely wrong and, in some instances, just plain nuts. But the electorate is just as nuts... Paul's son got elected even after he said he disagreed with the Civil Rights act and indicated that restaurant owners ought to be able to admit folks on the basis of skin color. He had confidence that the free market would ensure racial equality.

Thing is that Libertarian types think the free market will take care of everything. No need for FAA rules because when the flying public sees that a particular airline's planes keep crashing then people will opt to fly other carriers. It's all simple like that, see?

Which brings me back to my most fundamental problem with free market, Chicago School economics: If every individual acts in his own self-interest unfettered by regulation then everyone will live happily ever after. To me, this seems as ludicrous as Marxist ideals. Both extremes are near-religious credos accepted by faith alone without any hint of objective proof.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby kuha » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:44 pm

jhc68 wrote:Thing is that Libertarian types think the free market will take care of everything. No need for FAA rules because when the flying public sees that a particular airline's planes keep crashing then people will opt to fly other carriers. It's all simple like that, see?

Which brings me back to my most fundamental problem with free market, Chicago School economics: If every individual acts in his own self-interest unfettered by regulation then everyone will live happily ever after. To me, this seems as ludicrous as Marxist ideals. Both extremes are near-religious credos accepted by faith alone without any hint of objective proof.


Totally agree. Pure libertarian ideology is absolute fantasy--a willful abandonment of a good part of civilized existence (because all cooperative action is "difficult") in favor of a truly radical notion of utopian individualism.
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby bambam » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:41 pm

Marlow wrote:To answer the thread's titular question:

No. Pols only believe what they want to believe, and then they find an 'expert' to corroborate their opinion. We see it ALLLLLLL the time.


Actually its not just politicians. Simon and Garfunkel said it best "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."
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Re: Do Politicians understand ANYTHING about Economics?

Postby valleyrunner » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:34 pm

Great question and the answer is of course no! Why is because virtually NONE are schooled in anything other than pre-law and are lawyer wanna be's who turn to politics early on and are life long civil servents with no formal training in economics or finance or accounting.

My recollection and I can't at the moment find the exact count for the most recent Congress is that in 2009-10 Congress that of the 535 members just 4 had formal training in any thing economics or finance related. What do politicians spend about 90% of their time doing? Debating budgets or laws that require funding yet virtually none understands the complex reaction to the their decision making even when given the info by economic advisors.

We need to pass a law to eliminate all lobbying like the British have and we would make a huge step forward and could allow politicians to actually stick around more than a single term.

Our current crop of politicos does a great job at achieving exactly what they are schooled and focused on doing, gumming up the government or pushing special interest laws or budgets through and then giving lip-service to the issues they know the public really gives a damn about but will pass the buck on who is to blame for not a damn thing ever happening to bring out big change.

Imagine if every able bodied and mind American adult had to log on to a computer at least one time a month for like 10-15 minutes and provide feedback into a government data base. In doing so a citizen would be eligible for tax credits and benefits. As part of the process there would be links to related articles from multiple perspectives that all could read to help them form opinions. This feedback would be much more inclusive than these special interest polls that each side uses to try to measure the pulse of the nation.
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