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Re: What econimists contribute?



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[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
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A great call from ss for 'easy to read and understand economic
literature'.

Nizam.
( a non-economist trying hard to understand why this subject has been
made so
unintelligibly difficult to comprehend)

Sanjeev Sabhlok wrote:

> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Was reading "What Economists Contribute?" edited by Daniel B. Kline. New
> York University Press  (1999).
>
> An altogether exhilarating collection of writings by Coase, Tullock,
> Schelling, Kirzner, and Hayek, among others. Very similar in theme to my
> draft paper on "Economists as managers of change" - which is a bit too
> ambitious, though, and which I am not yet ready to publish.
>
> Nevertheless, I would urge all the economists on this list to not
> hesitate to write simple 1-page flyers on simple policy issues. That is
> a task which will generally prove far more effective for the society
> than writing tens of papers in academic journals.
>
> Mr. Everyman - as Kline calls the non-economists, is the ultimate judge
> of the truth of the recommendations of economists. Avoiding Mr.Everyman
> is not going to get us far. Let us look at the world from the
> perspective of Mr. Everyman and explain - in very simple language - what
> Coase calls "simple truths." He states correctly,
>
> "The problem is that economists seem willing to give advice on questions
> about which we know very little and on which our judgments are likely to
> be fallible, while what we have to say which is important and true is
> quite simple - so simple indeed that little or no economics is required
> to understand it. What is discouraging is that it is these simple truths
> which are so commonly ignored in the discussion of economic policy."
> (1975)
>
> If Prof. Roy, Parth, and others here (including me) fail to communicate
> these simple truths to the people of India then the fault would lie not
> with the people who are following what they perceive to be the 'best'
> policies, as originating from their ignorance, but with economists who
> knew but did not communicate the simple truths in a simple language. The
> responsibility for the failure of Mr. Everyman to comprehend the basics
> of good policy lies not with Mr. Everyman but with economists whose
> incentives are skewed in favor of the ivory tower. Mr. Everyman is very
> intelligent but is hard pressed with time. He needs simple
> and short explanations.
>
> Kline talks of the need for economists to come together. IPI has made it
> possible for some of India's best economists to come together. If with
> this opportunity, too, we fail, then we will have nothing to show for
> our 'learning.' Much hot gas and equations in stale academic journals,
> read not even by all economists since the discipline has split into tens
> of branches, each competing for esoteric irrelevance.
>
> Friedman had said to Prof. Roy when he wrote to Prof. Friedman in
> September, 1998,: "The web provides you with a tool that I and my
> contemporaries did not have and you are wise to make full use of it."
>
> (see http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/Notes/friedman_note.html)
>
> But since september, have we reallly displayed the 'wisdom' that
> Friedman expected of us? If we fail to use this most magnificent tool,
> the web, then we would have squandered the greatest opportunity to work
> together as a team that has arisen in mankind's history.
>
> Let the flyers pour out from the pens of the economists (and
> non-economists who understand); let us make complex issues simple. Let
> us cause an era of enlightened policy making and citizens' participation
> to begin.
>
> SS

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