Economists Who Should Know Better

Via the new Bush Blog, Max Sawicky caught a WSJ editorial (editorial here, subscription required) by three very sharp labor economists who should know better. Max gives their argument a quick drubbing and then issues a powerful warning to academic economists:

The greatest threat to academic economists is the chance that they will get an opportunity to publish on the WSJ editorial page. Robert Barro, Larry Lindsey, Kevin Hassett, Greg Mankiw, Glenn Hubbard, and now these three dudes, all very smart guys — they write columns and turn into blithering idiots.

So, the WSJ editorial page transforms economists into blithering idiots, while a stint at AEI makes them into lying frauds. By comparison, writing for the NYT editorial pages is quite benign–it is only alleged to make an economist shrill.


P.S. The basic point of the WSJ editorial is that lowering taxes raises the marginal return to investment in human capital and is therfore necessarily a good thing. Here was my response (written to Max) regarding this argument:

I’d expect more of that trio…Yes we know that cutting taxes raises the marginal return to just about everything. On the other hand, many of the things taxes fund also have high marginal returns. And massive deficits make the future less bright, which also lowers the marginal return to everything.