Friday, June 06, 2008

The Influence of Chris Hayes?

A couple of weeks back, The Nation notes Hillary Clinton's statement: "I'm not going to put my lot in with economists." I gather that Clinton's gas tax holiday is not a good idea. But, "Clinton had a point, though, not about the gas tax but about the undue influence of a certain brand of mainstream economists who dominate prestigious universities." The Nation editorialist further says:
"Hillary Clinton ... also apparently thinks the economists she knows--the ones who had her husband's ear--represent the totality of solid and relevant economic thought. In fact, many good economists have different views on trade and fiscal policies and cannot get a hearing."

Susan Jacoby, in an editorial for the New York Times has a different take:
"Senator Hillary Clinton's use of the phrase 'elite opinion' to dismiss the near unanimous opposition of economists to her proposal for a gas tax holiday was a landmark in the use of elite to attack expertise supposedly beyond the comprehension of average Americans. One might as well say that there is no point in consulting musicians about music or ichthyologists about fish."
Jacoby doesn't approve of elite-bashing. I think this point would work better if we were not talking about economists.

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