07
Apr
12

That’s pretty dismal, all right

Arnold Kling on seventy-eight percent of those who practice the Dismal Science:

[T]he overwhelming majority of […] mainstream economists do not have confidence in the ability of people to choose for themselves. This may blunt one of the criticisms of economists, which is that they are too inclined to treat consumers as rational.

The topic is school vouchers, and the 78% statistic comes from a survey question which asks whether students (or, one presumes, their parents) are qualified to choose their schools independently.

I suspect that this position is a textbook example of Hanson’s Razor.  People signal “seriousness” and expertise by cynicism, and especially by a conservative pessimism towards idealism at the margins.  Nobody wants to look like a naïf, except maybe Bryan Caplan, so when names and photos are attached to each opinion the overwhelming majority prefer to answer in a way that makes them look knowledgeable and worldly.  Quelle fucking surprise.

Kling, by the way, endorses Edward Lazear’s answer:

The main disadvantage to vouchers is potential weakening of public schools. But those that would lose students are terrible already.

Fewer students in terrible schools… that’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

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anarchocapitalist agitprop

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