The Economist's Cookbook

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  • "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they know about what they imagine they can design."

    - F.A. Hayek

Ever Heard The Saying...

Posted by The_Chef On 10:35 AM 2 comments

"When all you've got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."?

VH over at Vulcan's Hammer said something that made me wonder about the psychological nature of the legislative beast.

Shall we take a moment to look at the composition of our houses of Congress?

  • 214 members (182 Representatives and 33 Senators) list their occupation as public service/politics
  • 225 (168 Representatives and 57 Senators) list law [www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40086.pdf]
  • 201 (175 Representatives and 27 Senators) list business
  • 94 (78 Representatives and 16 Senators) list education
[via Wiki]
Now there is obviously overlap in this because we know that there are not 133 Senators. We can however conjecture that of the upper house there are at least 60-70% that are in the "politics/law" area.

I'd like to find a more in depth study of this, but this is good enough for a rough estimate.

If I may modify the famous saying at the top of the post:
"When all you've got is experience in law/politics every problem looks like it can be solved with a law."

We are all prone to do this: I tend to see economics as a primary driving force behind actions and think that markets can solve 99-100% of the worlds problems. We are all looking at things through some sort of colored tint based on what we study, learn, appreciate, and understand. Psychologists see personality types, sociologists see group dynamics and traits, economists see cost/benefit and incentives, etc. and so on; we're all guilty of it to a certain degree.

Perhaps that's the problem with Congress and politicians in general. Their view of things is that problems are to be solved with laws, coercion, and force. That is simply how they see things. Not that such a state excuses their actions, but it makes sense and would seem to fulfill Occam's Razor nicely.

I wonder who in Congress has a Masters or PhD in Economics. I know that as far as I can tell, the most economically astute person in Congress is actually an MD (Thanks Dr. Paul!).

Yes economists disagree about many things. the fight between the Neo-Classicists, Austrians, Monetarists, and Keynesians has been going on for a long long time but at least they hold some sort of understanding of the underlying principles.

These people are making policy without any understanding of the basic and underlying principles. That would be like putting me in charge of a five star restaurant's menu. I like food. I even like to dabble in the kitchen a bit, but I sure as hell don't know enough to construct the menu for a high class establishment.

Congress is meddling in things they don't understand. They are sticking wrenches in a moving engine in an unlit room. If you keep monkeying with the engine, you're gonna break it.

Do you really wanna be sticking a wrench in something like this? I don't.

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2 Response for the "Ever Heard The Saying..."

  1. Great. I'm nothing. What does that say about how I see things?

  2. The_Chef says:

    Clearly you're a nihilist. :)