Are economists stupid?
The Angry Economist asks
in a pretty snarky way why our legislative bodies create conditions which limit choices for people in exchange for providing what is at least thought
to a be a public good. He touches on building codes, minimum wage, and compulsory and publicly-funded education.
Sometimes I like to pretend I'm being as little disingenuous as possible, and this is one of those dress-up moments—but all the same, I recommend actually reading his blog entry, and some of his others, rather than relyin on my description. Boy, is that guy angry.
My feeling, as a non-economist and part-time poor person, is that the litany of public policies complained about are more about setting reasonable extremes of last resort than restricting choice, although by nature these and any non-trivial law will result in some phase-space of potential human choice ablated.
Objecting to building codes on the grounds that they restrict the choices of the poor is ludicrous. Back in my hometown of —&mdash&;mdash;, we had a similar incident where some of us in the town thought that perhaps the central square's commemorative pungee pits ought to have some sort of wall or fence around them, or at least that we should break up the sidewalks that led directly into
them. Our idea was, people are generally not going to want to walk into the pungee pits. The other political contingent in town argued that our measures treated people as idiots and that the pits were fine as-was.
Well, it happened that for awhile, because of the stalemate, nothing happened to the commemorative pungee pits, and one morning we found Jakob Crylhamar, a vocal crotchet on the other side of the aisle, buried up to his chest in pungee stick. I believe his last words as we tried to wrench him out were, "I meant
to do that." But still, I don't believe him. I guess I'm a skeptic at heart.
I emphasize: I'm not an economist, although economists and I share wonk- and assholery in common, so what I've said is most likley economically irrelevant. Asshole-wise, however, it's as informative as hell.