Why don’t people want to elect economists to run stuff?

Because everyone hates them

Topics: Politics, Economics, Science,

Two economists have come together to research the question of whether or not countries are smart enough to put economists in charge of everything. Their surprising conclusion: Nope, not really! There are hardly any economist prime ministers and surprisingly not that many economist central bankers, at least if we’re talking PhD economists and not “guys who took an Econ class once.”

At Ezra Klein’s WonkBlog, Brad Plumer summarizes the study and asks, “why aren’t more countries run by economists?” Here’s why: Because everyone hates economists. Economists are the worst. They’re usually very convinced of their own genius, though. And they act like because they use math, their “science” is more sciencey than sociology or whatever, but it is still mostly just a bunch of made-up stuff. If a bunch of economists had been running the world prior to the 2008 financial crisis the 2008 financial crisis would not have been averted because almost no one predicted it.



But the most important reason there aren’t a ton of economist prime ministers is that economists disdain politics. Economists tend to get a great deal of pleasure out of loudly attacking very popular policies (higher minimum wage! tax code giveaways to the upper-middle-class!) and they generally talk about normal people as little mindless “economic units” or something awful and dehumanizing like that. Economists don’t want to “campaign” and convince people to vote for them, they just want to be appointed to positions of power by people who actually did shake a bunch of hands and tell people what they wanted to hear. An economist doesn’t want to be an elected official who answers to voters, because that sucks.

Conveniently, the researchers did not bother to answer the question of whether countries that put economists in charge of stuff actually have better economic outcomes. But the economist in charge of Europe’s central bank is currently purposefully imposing disastrous austerity on a bunch of countries that did not elect him, so really if you want to know why we don’t let economists run stuff look at Spain’s youth unemployment rate.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>