01/05/2017: Kling on Economists and Politics

Adam Smith recognized, when you specialize, you have a very strong interest in the market in what you produce. You have a much more diffuse or dilute [sic] interest in the stuff which you consume. So the politics are always going to push in this direction of subsidizing demand and restricting supply. That’s the way the politicians can please the people who care most about the product–the suppliers–and still kind of appease the consumers a bit. . . .  So that political tendency is not an accident. It’s a very natural tendency for the political process to evolve in that direction. So, for economists to–in theory, economists would say, “Oh, we’re perfectly pure. We’re going to act, only recommend policies that are optimally in our public-goods/externality framework.” But to do that knowing that when the politicians get ahold of it, they are going to distort it and turn it into the subsidize-demand/restrict supply result, is, I think, disingenuous. Or naive, certainly.

-Arnold Kling, EconTalk, May 2, 2016


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