Economy, Opinion

Why do politicians make important economic decisions? Why not economists?

You wouldn’t get a window-cleaner to fix your boiler. You wouldn’t get a graphic designer to tune your piano. So why do we let politicians try to fix our economy? In most cases, they’re completely unqualified!

Economics is a complicated field of study. Intelligent men and women spend years studying the theories, and still admit that there’s more to learn. Most of us don’t fully understand the complex interplay between markets, traders, securities, currencies, industries and nations. But we do trust that those who make the key decisions have a better understanding.

Politicians are not automatically economic experts

Do they, though? How many of the top politicians in Britain or America are trained economists? Not many. Yet they vote on important issues such as the debt ceiling, often basing their votes on… what? A hunch? Something they’ve read? Ideology? Something they’ve been told?

In case you think this is an anti-Republican rant, it really isn’t. Both Republicans and Democrats are equally at fault here. The likes of Michele Bachmann, Nancy Pelosi, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are all trained and experieced in certain areas. But are they economists? No. So why are they making economic decisions of such huge importance?

Economists should have a central role

I’m not arguing that economists are perfect, or that they would always make the right decision. But they might have a better shot at it. If we continue to put such important economic decisions in the hands of people whose expertise is in other matters, we are denying the value of economic analysis. Economists should not be reduced to fringe characters, shouting from the sidelines and being interviewed on TV about whether politicians are making the right decisions.

We need an economic panel akin to the Supreme Court, although it would have to be closer to the spirit of the Supreme Court than the reality of that soured institution’s current disgraceful decline. An economic panel could make the really important economic decisions. Does that sound undemocratic? It need not be. But it could be the only way we can avoid having rank amateurs marching into political office and thinking that their time managing a chicken farm in Iowa qualifies them to make massive economic decisions that affect the fate of the world.

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About Michael R. Gideon

Writer, teacher, dog walker, guitarist, husband, father, reader, journalist etc. I mainly write at 100gf | Politics and Computers, but occasionally at other sites such as TV Vomit and Indie Bookspot. My Google Plus profile.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Why do politicians make important economic decisions? Why not economists?

  1. I suppose the simple answer is that economists disagree with each other. A lot. “Mainstream” economics is a myth. We’re still arguing about the causes of the Great Depression, and unlike, say, in physics, we don’t have labs to judge theories on the basis of experiment. We have to stick with trying to explain what’s already happened. Which is why we’re as surprised as anyone else when the economy does something weird, because our models don’t cover it. There WERE economists who were AFRAID that something like the current crisis could happen, but no one listened to them, because their predictions hadn’t come true yet.

    What we CAN do is think up possible scenarios for the results of a particular policy. If we knew how to consistently pick the right one, we’d all be millionaires. Give us a few hundred years of real data with lots of weird crises, and maybe that’ll change. Or not.

    If you elect an economist, she/he may or may not drive the economy into a ditch. But you’ll be given very detailed explanations about why the ditch shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

    Hope that helped. :)

    Posted by Omar (@ragpicker87) | August 23, 2011, 5:07 pm
  2. The simple fact is that the best ‘economists’ are in hedge funds, raking in billions and not working in a government job.

    Why would anyone logically take a politician job where they have to appease a bunch of pretty stupid and ignorant people, get paid a lot less and work with a bunch of idealogical morons? Maybe for the public good once someone has achieved all they can in life, but there’s really very little incentive for someone who is competent within finance and economics.

    Most politicians don’t even have a basic understanding of economics unfortunately, but then neither does most of the voting population.

    Posted by Kelvin Cheung | September 4, 2011, 12:05 pm

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