Arnold Kling  

The Consensus Economic Platform?

Too Big to Bail?... Bailed it Shall Be...

Greg Mankiw runs on support for free trade, opposition to farm subsidies, an energy tax, raising the retirement age, and other proposals. I think he is correct that this platform would win a lot of votes with Ph.D economists. It would probably do horribly with the public at large. Cue Bryan Caplan, even though my guess is that he would not be such a fan of the energy tax.

One quibble I have is that I think that the biggest policy issue is what to do about Medicare. My guess is that raising the age of eligibility for Medicare is not quite the same consensus solution that raising the Social Security retirement age would be (and Tyler has some doubts about the consensus for the latter).

In fact, I am the only economist I know who consistently pushes for raising the age of eligibility for Medicare. I think that the economics profession would be more anxious to reform Medicare than the general public, but the profession might be too divided over the approach to reform for anything like a consensus to exist.

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CATEGORIES: Political Economy

COMMENTS (5 to date)

How do you feel about means-testing Medicare?

Raising the Medicare age would reduce preventive medicine. For people’s wellbeing, it’s better to catch diseases earlier rather than later. From this perspective, it would be better to lower the eligibility age so people can get regular checkups at an earlier age. I don’t know if there are any studies which show the cost/benefit of this strategy.

Economists would probably agree that Medicare needs to be addresses soon and before Social Security. We wouldn’t agree but we could debate the issue and try to find the best solution. We could start by examining France and Italy since they have two of the best medical systems in the world according to the WHO. This economic and political debate needs to be nonpartisan though. It will be hard to get both political sides together and to stop powerful lobbies.

PrestoPundit writes:

Mankiw's worst idea is to increase Federal funding of economic "research".

Economist almost universally misuse mathematics, mistaking mathematical constructs for causal explanations -- and don't even get me started on all of the misuses of the logic of statistics you will almost works of economic research.

And who has paid the economists to think and work like this? Well, the biggest funder has been the Federal government. Read Mirowski's _Machine Dreams_ for a real eye opener on this.

There's good reason to believe that the interference of government funding in the economic "research" sector has been as destructive of economic understanding among economists as government funding has been destructive of the environment in America's wetlands (e.g. the Army Corp of Engineers), or in a hundred other domains.

Dr. T writes:

Raising the age of Medicare eligibility implies that Medicare is a useful government program that just has some funding problems. Why aren't you advocating the elimination of Medicare (and Social Security)? These sacred cows must be killed to prevent the nanny state from swaddling us into helplessness.

RL writes:

PrestoPundit: If you read the last paragraph of Mankiw's piece, it is clear the "subsidize economic research" plank was a joke.

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