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We’re All Economists Now

February 15, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments


I don’t hear Dr. Science on NPR anymore, but years ago I always enjoyed the regular broadcasts of Ask Dr. Science, courtesy of Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre. And I never got tired of the two essential taglines: “He knows more than you do!” and “He has a Master’s Degree — in Science!”

I was reminded of Dr. Science yesterday when I read the NYT op-ed piece on the economy by Paul Ryan, the Republican representative of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. Congressman Ryan opens with the warning that “Congress has made a terrible mistake.” Evidently, Congress overlooked the “more dangerous consequences” of the stimulus bill, which is likely to produce a return to the high inflation and unemployment — stagflation — of the 1970s. Ryan further warns that ” individual earning power will evaporate, and our standard of living will decline.” (Hadn’t that been going on throughout the Bush presidency, except for a fortunate few?)

I got a little curious about Congressman Ryan’s background, so I went to the biography at his website, where I was relieved to learn that he earned a Bachelor’s in economics and political science at Miami University. Evidently he knows more than we do. He has a Bachelor’s Degree — in Economics!

And let’s not forget the US Senate’s good fortune that one of the noted macro-economists of our time, Susan Collins, resides there. I am eager to see the full details of her analysis that any stimulus package costing $800 billion or more would lead to ruin, but $787 billion is just right.

I once thought that the television show West Wing went a little overboard in silliness in having its fictional president, Josiah Bartlet, hold a Nobel Prize in economics. Now I realize I was wrong. Congress is full of economists of such stature. We’re lucky.

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