Friday, January 18, 2008

Economists Ignore Their Economic Training to Support Edwards

The implications of this article are really quite astonishing:

Although John Edwards' campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination may be stalling, a group of economists is trying to get it running again.

William Darity, professor of public policy studies, African and African-American studies and economics, joined 33 other economists from various institutions in endorsing a statement that calls the former North Carolina senator the candidate who "has best demonstrated the capacity and the policies to be the next president of the United States."

The group, known as Economists for Edwards, was recruited by James Galbraith, professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin.

Galbraith said he started the group after an article in The New York Times claimed, "[Edwards'] populist bent helps explain why only one high-profile economist... has joined the campaign."

"The important thing was to establish that... I'm not the only guy out there with an economics Ph.D. who [supports Edwards]," he added.

He said the economists who endorsed the statement shared "a willingness to think large on policy questions."

The real clincher comes at the end:

John Herlin, a second-year graduate student in economics, said economic issues are often just one of many factors economists consider when choosing a candidate to support.

"If economists were going to support a presidential candidate based purely on what is taught in economics courses, we would probably all support Ron Paul," he said.

What an astounding (and refreshingly candid) revelation this is! Trained professionals of all kind no doubt consider many factors when choosing a candidate, but here you have economists supporting a candidate whose economics are quite clearly terrible. It's like the atheist supporting an evangelical like Mike Huckabee. What level of cognitive dissonance is required for such a decision?

To understand just how odd it is for credentialed economists to support a socialist like John Edwards, see what Lew Rockwell wrote recently about the importance of economic education as it relates to liberty:

The socialist and the advocate of free markets observe the same facts. But the person with economic knowledge understands their significance and implications. For example, only Ron Paul, of all American public officials, really understands economics. This is why we must never underestimate the central role of teaching about economics. Facts will always be with us. Wisdom, however, must be taught. Achieving a culture-wide understanding of liberty and its implications has never been more important.

William Garrity and James Galbraith are to economics what the 'intelligent design' crowd is to science. These court economists pervert and betray the discipline by cheering the statist Edwards. Supporting a candidate's politics is fine - but it's crossing the line to provide intellectual cover for economic policies you know to be destructive.

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