370 economists have signed a statement opposing Donald Trump for president. It's quite good with one exception that I'll get to. If I had known that this would come along, I would have (a) tried to be one of the signers and (b) signed an earlier statement against Hillary Clinton's policies. My hesitation at doing the latter was that I worried that it would be interpreted as a statement in favor of Trump. But by signing the anti-Trump statement, I would have covered that problem. One of the signers of both the anti-Trump and anti-Clinton statements--he might well be the only one--is my friend Mario Rizzo of New York University. I wish I had had his foresight.
First, let me point out my one problem with the anti-Trump statement: it's not that it's false--it's probably true--but that it's a strange item to lead with. Here is the first bullet point in the anti-Trump statement:
He degrades trust in vital public institutions that collect and disseminate information about the economy, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by spreading disinformation about the integrity of their work.
Really, guys and gals? That's your first major argument against him? Do you realize how nerdy and self-interested this makes you sound? He doesn't trust the government to collect data and not distort it. As I said, I think the charge against him is reasonably justified, but surely that shouldn't be the lead charge.
The rest, as I said above, is quite good. If I were to summarize it, my summary would be almost as long as the statement because each bullet point is important, accurate, and terse. The statement takes on many of the myths about the decline in manufacturing, the effects of NAFTA, and whether one can reduce the federal budget deficit without "an increase in tax revenue and/or a reduction in spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or Defense." [Spoiler: one can't.]
But here's my problem: Where the hell were you guys and gals when Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were mouthing a lot of the same nonsense during the primaries? I know that you can easily answer, with some credibility, that you were doing your own thing, sticking to your knitting, and that the current presidential election is an action-motivating event. If so, then I beseech you to keep it up. Whoever gets elected--and I still think it will be Hillary Clinton--show some integrity by, when she or Trump spouts some of this nonsense, going public with nice, hard-hitting critiques.
My criticism, by the way, does not extent to co-blogger Scott Sumner, who has signed this letter. He has been outspoken on these issues for some time and has been doing a lot of the heavy lifting that a few hundred of these other people should start doing.