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If a weather expert tells you what the weather will be on a specific day next year, you can safely ignore him. If he tells you a hurricane is heading your way, it's a good idea to get out of the way, even if the storm ends up turning. That's playing the odds.

Likewise, if an economist tries to tell you where the stock market will be in a year, you can safely ignore that. But if he tells you a gas tax holiday is an unambiguously bad idea, that's worth listening to, especially if economists on both sides of the aisle agree.

If you think it is okay to ignore economists because they are so often wrong, you're looking at the wrong questions. Economists are generally wrong with complicated models but right about concepts. For example, they know that additional domestic drilling won't make much of a dent in the energy problem. And they know that free trade is generally good for all economies. (You can argue with my examples, but the point is that some things are generally known by economists while not being understood by the general public.)

By analogy, a mechanic knows that changing your oil is good for your engine, but he can't tell you what problems you will have with your car next year. You shouldn't ignore the mechanic's advice on changing oil just because he doesn't know when your battery will die, or because he didn't personally perform any scientific studies on oil changes.

Doctors are often wrong, but you are still better off going to the doctor than diagnosing problems yourself. And when you get the opinions of several doctors, your odds improve, even if those several doctors aren't a scientific sample. The important thing is that following a doctor's advice, or the consensus of several doctors, increases your odds compared to the alternative. And the more doctors the better.

Some of you noted that the candidates have top economists on their payrolls, so voters can be assured any president is getting good advice. But realistically, an economist involved in a political process has to support the candidate's ideas or he's off the team. At best, one of the candidates obviously has bad economists advising him because they disagree with the other guy's economists.

Some of you noted that most economists are Democrats. Prior to doing the survey, I expected it would be the other way around. But indeed, most of the economists we surveyed are registered Democrats. But there are plenty of Republicans and independent voters in the survey so you can see how each group weighs in separately. Personally, I will be most interested in the independent voters and the economists who cross party lines.

After the results are announced I'll tell you how we cleverly found over 500 economists. There's a clear limit to how scientific you can get with your sample when it is a bunch of people who chose economics as a profession and were easily findable. But again, you have that same problem when you pick your doctor, or when you get second opinions. You're not dealing with scientific sampling.

You're going to wonder what my own political bias is. In the interest of full disclosure, I think I registered Independent the last time I voted, but frankly I don't remember. I'm not superstitious, which leads me to be socially liberal. Economically, I'm conservative. I'm closest in philosophy to an Arnold Schwarzenegger Republican. He seems to be interested in keeping the government out of people's private lives and managing things based on data as opposed to faith. Neither presidential candidate floats my boat. One wants to transfer my money to other people and the other is a lukewarm corpse. I think both candidates would be indistinguishable in foreign affairs because their options will be so constrained. Those are my biases.
 
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Aug 23, 2008
Scott explained:
"Some of you noted that the candidates have top economists on their payrolls, so voters can be assured any president is getting good advice."

I agree with Scott's point that this isn't always the case, but for a different reason.
As a New Jersey resident, I must point out a glaring example of how this is ridiculous. The status of the economy here in the Garden State is awful at best. Were it not for some spillover effect from the continued glow of New York City, things would be even worse. Yet, our great governor, John Corzine, is counted as one of a small handful of economic advisors to Obama! (http://www.northjersey.com/politics/Corzine_meets_with_Obama.html) NJ now ranks at or near the bottom of the pile in many public policy economic factors (e.g. highest property taxes, highest government debtload, etc.).

It is a complete joke that Corzine is even asked his opinion, let alone made a top economic advisor. His big plan to save the state's treasury was to sell the toll roads for a quick buck while acknowledging that 1/3 of the state's residents would see their commuting costs double/triple or more in only a few years. Luckily this was shot down.

Even worse, should Obama get elected, there's a fair chance that this man whose claim to fame (and massive riches) was taking Goldman Sachs public - not exactly an option for the federal government - is being talked about as potential cabinet secretary.

DISCLAIMER: I am an active member of the Republican party and will be voting for the "lukewarm corpse." However, part of the reason for this is having had enough of putting up with the mess that NJ's Democrats have created like the examples above.

-BG
 
 
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Aug 23, 2008
someone wrote: "...having just gotten married a few months ago, find myself strapped pretty tightly."

Ooh, kinky!

(sorry, couldn't resist the cheap shot)
 
 
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Aug 23, 2008
Scott,

Obama's tax plan essentially takes us back to the way things were during Clinton's presidency, i.e., nowhere close to a truly redistributive tax regime such as existed pre-Reagan. Anyway, you should be less concerned with overt taxation, when it's inflation and the declining value of the dollar that are truly eroding your spending power. Energy policy's another example of a hidden cost.
 
 
Aug 23, 2008
Dear bshn,

You keep accusing me of ignoring facts and using "noisy rhetoric". Gee, isn't this exactly what you've done throughout this "discussion"?

1. You (the self-styled learned economist) warned us not to take the opinions of the eminent Dr. Kevin Hasset without considering immediate rebuttals because, "Kevin Hassett is a partisan economist, who has been an adviser to Bush and now to McCain. And more importantly, he is a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative and right-leaning think tank.' This isn't "noisy rhetoric"? And, of course you chose not (or more likely "could not") refute Dr. Hasset's simple explanation why more oil exploration would, by itself, immediately affect current oil prices -- thus putting the lie to the number one talking point of the Democrats Against Drilling.

2. Instead of addressing Dr. Hassett, you tried a different tack to defend Scott's absurd assertion that 'they [the economists he's hired for his "survey"] know that additional domestic drilling won't make much of a dent in the energy problem. If "dent in the energy problem" could no longer apply to price (thank you, Dr. Hassett) -- you felt obliged to try to imagine that Scott was only speaking about overall supply. And you tried to get away with a cheap trick -- insisting that we had to imagine that all of the (currently estimated) recoverable oil on the continental shelf were to be dumped on the market immediately, and then waving your hands and exclaiming in effect, "that's only two and a half years worth, folks!". When I pointed out that the real effect of allowing the federal ban on drilling to die its natural death in October would be an increase of 20% to our domestic supplies for a period of forty or fifty years, you tried to switch your explanation of "dent" back to price again, claiming (without substantiation) that this would result in no more than a 5% decline in prices. Obviously, this is absurd (which is why you "waved your hands" at it). When I confronted you with our Katrina experience -- you chose to ignore it and to repeat your silly claims.

So, where are we? Oh, you want us to applaud Scott for his benevolence for paying for this "study". We should all be thankful? Why?

I understand you claim to be a practitioner of the "dismal" science. But we who were trained in "hard" science (my MS was in OR, and my BS in Physics) know that facts aren't determined by polls (pols, perhaps). It doesn't matter how many learned folk agree with one theory or another. What matters is who is right -- not who is more popular. The public gets this -- that's why the WarmAlarmists have failed to persuade us (I really wish the pols would wake up before they do some real damage).

If Scott wanted to pay these economists to write essays for his blog, I'd be delighted and I would read them. And, I would be thankful. But Scott revealed his hand by his comment, 'they [the economists he's hired for his "survey"] know that additional domestic drilling won't make much of a dent in the energy problem." Why would anyone (other than the political partisans -- of whom you laughably disclaim membership) give two cents for the counts of their yes and no votes? Scott's premise is manifestly untrue -- as we've demonstrated in our instant discussion (I cleaned your clock).

OBTW, oil is in no sense a "scarce commodity". The world is awash in it. And, sustained high prices will bring new supplies onstream (if we can get our pols out of the way). If government would get out of the way (who in hell needs a national "energy policy"?) and let industry meet the public demands, there would be no "energy crisis". The market is remarkably efficient. Government is anything but.
 
 
Aug 23, 2008
Scott, I think you should fund the building of an eHarmony-type website for political candidates.
Then we can all vote based on deep levels of compatibility.

It's funny to think about, but done well it would really be an interesting experiment.

Certainly in-depth psych evaluations with stress tests and polygraphs would be a fun thing to do to presidential candidates.

And then we could go online, fill out a questionnaire form, and it would match us up. We could set priorities and rank our specific concerns, answer general multiple choice questions, etc.

Then, instead of us trying to match up issues based on bullet points in a newspaper, we could use an neat little algorythm.

Even better, we'd be able to compare our answers to the rest of the country -- and see how needs differ according to region, profession, income, etc.
 
 
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Aug 22, 2008
NormanRogers:

Now you seem to be ignoring the glaring facts and getting into the noisy rhetoric mode.

I don't quite know why you are drawing me into a Democrats vs. Republicans battle. I don't know what the Congress must do about allowing offshore drilling and I am not airing any opinion on that issue. And I am not interested in criticizing Hassett's point of view, since I have sufficient facts in front of me to derive my own conclusion on whether offshore drilling will have a significant impact on the gas price at the gas station.

Refer to the numbers I mentioned earlier. In reality, even if the oil companies gave away 5% of each sale for free, the increased domestic oil production (which is 5% of the total demand) will not result in even 5% reduction of gas price at the gas station. (I am sure you know that the gas price at the gas station includes various other price components.) But I used that assumption to give you the best case scenario for your theory.

Oil is a scarce commodity (at least that is the generally accepted theory) and the demand for it is increasing worldwide. That means, despite minor corrections, the international oil price will continue to rise in the long term, until a technology innovation (sustainable alternative source of energy) results in constructive destruction, leading to diminished demand for oil.

All the historic examples you have quoted only reaffirm this theory. (In all instances, the significant variation in price has been upward.)

The one exception I can think of is if the domestic supply surpasses the imported supply. That is, if domestic supply is tremendously cheaper and constitutes 80% or more of the domestic consumption, the more expensive imported supply would do less damage. Unfortunately though, since offshore drilling can raise the domestic supply to no more than 29% of the overall domestic demand, it is reasonable to believe that any hike in imported oil (the other 71%) will negate cheaper (if it would be) domestic supply. But we don't even need to go that far.

I hope you will look at the facts objectively and not heckle me with irrelevant issues.
And let us thank Scott Adams for personally financing this attempt at compiling information that might help us make better informed decisions.

(And those of you cooking up the conspiracy theory that Scott has some hidden agenda and that he will fabricate the survey results, I wonder why he would spend his money and do so. Maybe the candidate that benefits from Scott's "benevolence" will get him the exclusive rights to syndicate his cartoons in Iraq and Afghanistan?)
 
 
Aug 22, 2008
Dear bshn,

Why do you claim that a 20% increase in domestic oil production will only reduce prices by 5%? The experience of Katrina shows that a far more minor change in domestic production nearly doubled the futures price of crude and derivatives. Indeed, how do you explain the tenfold increase in crude prices in less than a decade? Surely your economics lessons taught you that minor fluctuations at the margins (where supply is roughly in balance with demand) produce major price changes. The curve is neither smooth nor linear.

There's an old saw that I'm sure you learned in ECON 101: "Income 20 Pounds, Expenditures 19 and 6 -- Happiness." "Income 20 Pounds, Expenses 20 and 6 -- Misery". Oh wait, that's common sense. I guess they don't teach that anymore.

And it's just absurd that you pretend to not question the inanity of the Democrats trying to extend the ban on offshore oil exploration. Let's see you give us an economic justification for it. Like the oil will be worth more tomorrow, so we should never exploit it now (as some other posters have claimed).

Look, even if you're correct (and you aren't), so what? Why should we permit Congress to act on this belief and so "manage" our economy? Every time societies have let you Brahmans make economic decisions for us, mankind has suffered. If the oil companies want to spend their shareholders' monies, why not let them? Where is the harm?

OBTW, you still haven't told us what is wrong with Hassett's explanation of why the mere exploration for more oil today will affect prices immediately. All you've done is to claim once again that we should be wary of him because of his political beliefs. Come on, give it a shot.
 
 
Aug 22, 2008
"One wants to transfer my money to other people and the other is a lukewarm corpse."
Fantastic!!
 
 
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Aug 22, 2008
NormanRogers:

To answer your questions:

1. "And, there's NO REASON to prevent more oil exploration. No environmental reasons, no economic reasons, no reason at all -- except to placate the Luddites who think we ought to live simpler lives. Please explain to me why you think Congress should renew a law banning oil exploration off our shores. Thus far your only argument is that it "wouldn't make a dent -- so we ought not do it". We've dispensed with that. And if oil companies are willing to bet their shareholders' monies that I'm right and you're wrong, why should we permit our legislators to thwart them?"

At no point am I saying "we ought not do it". There are far too many factors for and against offshore drilling and I am not well-informed to take either side. I thought this discussion is about the impact of offshore drilling on the energy crisis and the economy as a whole, and I am sticking with the opinion that offshore drilling will do little to alleviate the energy crisis or the economic crisis. Explanation below.

2. "So, the realistic scenario is where say, 1 million BL/day are introduced into the market -- a 5% contribution to our current demands -- and sustainable for forty or fifty years. Do you still claim this would have no effect on the price we pay at the pump or our national security?"

I have no idea about the impact of this 5% increment in domestic contribution on our national security. Now, getting back to the topic - the impact on the pricing - let us try some straightforward math using your own statistics:

- We consume 21 million barrels a day.
- Domestic supply currently is about 5 million barrels a day.
- Offshore drilling will increase domestic supply to 6 million barrels a day.

Assuming oil companies sell this extra 1 million barrels (5% of domestic demand) for FREE (whoa!!), the price of gas will come down by 5%. Since EIA projects $3.82 as the average price per gallon for 2009, the gas price after !$%*!$%*! this 5% reduction would be $3.63. (A huge saving of $0.19, if the oil companies drill offshore and SELL IT FOR FREE!) Now imagine how much that saving will shrink once the oil companies recover their cost (and of course, profits).

I hope now you understand why offshore drilling will have minimial impact on the overall energy crisis faced by our nation. All other issues about whether or not to go ahead with offshore drilling are largely political or environmental; but then again, I don't know much about those issues to take a stand.
 
 
Aug 22, 2008
I've always been torn when considering my political identity. As Scott described himself, I'm fiscally conservative and socially liberal. As many folks suggest, this points toward libertarianism, but so many of that ilk are clearly irrational. (There are far too many stupid people for loosely-clothed anarchy to be effective...)

Neither party appeals to me and I tend to vote on "issues". I cringe when I think about politicians boiled down to single issues. Dichotomy? Yep, but what better choice is there? Third party wacko? (Yes, okay, I even voted for Perot that one time...)

I wish we could separate religion from the rest of the issues...

Ain't no-one that can have a sensible discussion once religion steps into the ring...
 
 
Aug 22, 2008
Dear bshn,

If Scott will cease deleting my posts I would be delighted to engage with you. Perhaps we'll both learn some things

I don't think that I was so caustic in my first posting in this thread as to suggest that Scott was unintelligent (no longer funny, perhaps -- but not dull). Alas, Scott has sent that post down the memory hole so I cannot be certain. So let's deal with your specifics:

Your common sense tells you that the impact of opening up our near shores to oil exploration would have negligible effect on our oil markets. And this is the extent of your rebuttal to the redoubtable Dr. Hassett (lest you "drag us into the depths of economics").

OK, let's deal with your argumentation. One, the estimates for offshore production of 18.2 BBLs (2/06 EIA report to Congress) is based on what would "likely" be recovered if the price/bl was $50. Well, we know historically that proved world reserves were estimated to be 521 BBL in 1971 when the price was $1.25/BL -- and it zoomed to 1.317 BBL in 2007 when the price/BL rose to $67. So we can be reasonably confident that more oil will be recovered at higher prices.

Two, all of this oil won't be "dumped on the market". The EIA estimated a flow rate of 200,000/BL/day from all the now-forbidden tracts. Of course, this is far too low -- the Thunder Horse oil production facility in the Gulf of Mexico alone will produce 250,000/BL/day when it comes on line, and the Atlantis platform alone currently produces 200,000/BL/day. And the EIA assumed Gulf conditions for all of their estimates even though Santa Barbara oil is available almost immediately at far lower production costs.

So, the realistic scenario is where say, 1 million BL/day are introduced into the market -- a 5% contribution to our current demands -- and sustainable for forty or fifty years. Do you still claim this would have no effect on the price we pay at the pump or our national security? As a trained economist, I'm sure you're familiar with price/demand curves. Of course, with commodities, this gets highly nonlinear. A similar imbalance a few years ago (of about the same dimensions) saw oil plummet to $10/BL.

But, what really gets me (and most of America), is the colossal conceit you folks have and the contempt you (quite wrongly) feel about our collective common sense. It is MANIFEST that more supply will cause prices to lower. And, there's NO REASON to prevent more oil exploration. No environmental reasons, no economic reasons, no reason at all -- except to placate the Luddites who think we ought to live simpler lives.

Please explain to me why you think Congress should renew a law banning oil exploration off our shores. Thus far your only argument is that it "wouldn't make a dent -- so we ought not do it"). We've dispensed with that. And if oil companies are willing to bet their shareholders' monies that I'm right and you're wrong, why should we permit our legislators to thwart them?
 
 
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Aug 22, 2008
NormanRogers: Glad you chose to further clarify the discussion.

1. Besides his degree in Economics from Hartwick College, he also has studied Economics and Management for his MBA from UC Berkeley. (I hope you don't consider UC Berkeley as "worthless" as Hartwick College.) The reason I chose to mention his background in Economics is because your original comment seemed to claim Scott wouldn't be able to spot an economist from a flying monkey.

2. Indeed you must not ignore Kevin Hassett's opinion. If you read my earlier comment carefully, you will notice that I am suggesting you consider the opinions of more than just one economist (preferably from different schools of thought), particularly when that one economist has demonstrated right-leaning, conservative position and long association with the Republican party. (Interesting that you claim he is a "real economist", unlike any of the economists Scott and his survey team may have identified.)

Now, about the offshore drilling. Without dragging you into the depths of economics, let us use some common sense. We consume almost 21 million barrels of oil a day. It is estimated that offshore drilling will yield up to 18 billion barrels. In a perfect world (ha ha) where oil companies can and will invest into the technology for exploring and drilling rapidly to get all the oil out quickly, at the current consumption rate, that is worth less than 2 years and 5 months. Seriously, do you need an economist to tell you that it will not make much of a dent on the overall economy?
 
 
Aug 22, 2008
You can mod me down but it doesn't change the facts:

1. Republicans and other activists have been wanting to drill in ANWR since it was created in 1973

2. Estimates are that ANWR and adjacent lands could produce 16 billion barrels of oil over 30 years; if development had started in 1973 we can estimate the well would have been productive from 1978-2008.

3. Average price of a barrel of oil, adjusted for inflation, between 1978 and 2008 was about $35. Multiply 16 billion barrels of oil by $40/barrel and that oil would have been sold for $640 billion.

4. As of today oil is selling for $114/barrel. At that price the oil in ANWR is worth $1.824 billion. That means the value of the oil in ANWR has appreciated by over $1 trillion over 30 years by doing nothing.

5. If the value of oil continues to increase at a rapid pace (I can't prove it will, although I believe it to be likely), the soundest long-term economic decision may be to wait. The value will increase and the oil will be much more vital to our national interests. Think of it as a major extension of the strategic petroleum reserves.

As for my claim that offshore drilling won't significant affect prices, here's the analysis from the DOE:

"Total domestic production of crude oil from 2012 through 2030 in the OCS access case is projected to be 1.6 percent higher than in the reference case ... Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant." http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/otheranalysis/ongr.html

We'll eventually have to drill for that oil, it's just a matter of when. The important things to realize are that;

A) It's not going to have a significant impact on gas prices. In fact other oil producers may slow production to offset US production to maintain high prices resulting in zero relief at the pump.

B) Dependent upon future prices there may be strong economic reasons to delay drilling. As with anything of value you maximize your return by selling at the highest point. Has the value of oil maxed out, or will it in the next thirty years? I'm not sure, but it's important to think about.

I know everybody wants lower gas prices, but that's not going to change the facts. If you're going to mod me down tell me where you think I'm wrong.
 
 
Aug 22, 2008
For bshn,

Scott hasn't yet deleted my comment so let's have a dialog. You wrote:

"1. Scott Adams himself is a qualified economist"

Actually, Scott took an undergraduate degree (BA) from a small upstate NY school and majored in Economics. My undergraduate degree was a BS in Physics. I would never call myself a physicist, let alone a "qualified" one. I don't think Scot would call himself an economist, either.

and,

" 2..: Kevin Hassett is a partisan economist, who has been an advisor to Bush and now to McCain. And more importantly, he is a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative and right-leaning think tank."

This is (I guess) an ad hominem attack (pretty mild, though). Are you suggesting one should reject Hasset's ideas without considering them because he's a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute?

Anyway, please give us your thoughts about the substance of the quote by Dr. Hasset that I provided in the post that has gone missing -- this was in response to Scott's absurd claim that [all] economists agree that new drilling won't "make a dent" in our oil supply needs (and presumably affect the price). If you disagree, please tell us why. And please do it quickly before Scott deletes this post.

Hasset: -- The basic economics of how the expectation of increased supply in the future will affect prices today.
The economics of extracting resources is quite simple and intuitive. If you own property that has oil in the ground, then you have to decide how rapidly you wish to deplete your resource. If prices are low today, and you expect them to be much higher in the future, then you will hold off pumping a lot.

If prices are high today and are expected to be much lower tomorrow, then you would rather open up the spigot now when profits will be higher.

If exploration can be expected to be successful and significantly increase oil production in the future, then it would cause producers to revise downward their estimates for future prices. This would increase the attractiveness of extracting more today. As producers respond with higher production, prices today would drop.

The argument that drilling wouldn't influence today's price rests on two possible assertions. The first is that exploration will fail. In that case, estimates of future prices would be unaffected by discoveries that won't happen. The second is that current producers wouldn't look ahead to lower future prices and increase supply today to maximize profits.

Both assertions are clearly false.

 
 
Aug 22, 2008
For bshn,

Scott hasn't yet deleted my comment so let's have a dialog. You wrote:

"1. Scott Adams himself is a qualified economist"

Actually, Scott took an undergraduate degree (BA) from a small upstate NY school and majored in Economics. My undergraduate degree was a BS in Physics. I would never call myself a physicist, let alone a "qualified" one. I don't think Scot would call himself an economist, either.

and,

" 2..: Kevin Hassett is a partisan economist, who has been an advisor to Bush and now to McCain. And more importantly, he is a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative and right-leaning think tank."

This is (I guess) an ad hominem attack (pretty mild, though). Are you suggesting one should reject Hasset's ideas without considering them because he's a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute?

Anyway, please give us your thoughts about the substance of the quote by Dr. Hasset that I provided in the post that has gone missing -- this was in response to Scott's absurd claim that [all] economists agree that new drilling won't "make a dent" in our oil supply needs (and presumably affect the price). If you disagree, please tell us why. And please do it quickly before Scott deletes this post.

Hasset: -- The basic economics of how the expectation of increased supply in the future will affect prices today.
The economics of extracting resources is quite simple and intuitive. If you own property that has oil in the ground, then you have to decide how rapidly you wish to deplete your resource. If prices are low today, and you expect them to be much higher in the future, then you will hold off pumping a lot.

If prices are high today and are expected to be much lower tomorrow, then you would rather open up the spigot now when profits will be higher.

If exploration can be expected to be successful and significantly increase oil production in the future, then it would cause producers to revise downward their estimates for future prices. This would increase the attractiveness of extracting more today. As producers respond with higher production, prices today would drop.

The argument that drilling wouldn't influence today's price rests on two possible assertions. The first is that exploration will fail. In that case, estimates of future prices would be unaffected by discoveries that won't happen. The second is that current producers wouldn't look ahead to lower future prices and increase supply today to maximize profits.

Both assertions are clearly false.

 
 
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Aug 22, 2008
Firstly, I am entirely apolitical myself (and happen to be an economist). Also, I have not spent much time researching the positions of either candidates on the various economy-related issues, so I am in no position to comment on that.

However, I cannot resist responding on behalf of Scott Adams to some of the more acerbic comments here:

1. Scott Adams himself is a qualified economist.

2. NormanRogers: Kevin Hassett is a partisan economist, who has been an advisor to Bush and now to McCain. And more importantly, he is a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative and right-leaning think tank. Like Scott suggests, instead of sticking with the opinion of one surgeon that says you need an open-heart surgery because you have a chest pain, it might be a good idea to get the opinions of a few more qualified surgeons. If you lack access to credible research data, start by googling the subject.

3. ahoffman: Economics is founded on the concept of tradeoffs. Economists do not say "Hey, I think jobs make all the difference to economy, so let me see which candidate's policy creates jobs". They do recognize the complex relationships between the various factors and usually try to pick the economic policy that serves the long term. Also, historic data is pretty much useless in deciding which party has the better economists. Parties are political in nature and change their policies from time to time (and leader to leader). Alan Greenspan started out as a staunch Republican, but has since been disillusioned by some of the economic policies of the Bush administration (refer to "The Age of Turbulence"). Further extending your analogy, economists, like engineers, will only help you maintain your car in the best shape ("change oil periodically..."). Politicians are not out to buy a new car. Their job is to run the car (United States) the best they can.
 
 
Aug 22, 2008
Scott:

You sound a bit defensive - did we hit a nerve? I can understand why - you spend money on a "public service", and the public questions your integrity.

Keep in mind that many of us (including myself) are not so much nay-sayers, but skeptics. Not unlike you, actually. I don't know that the results of your survey will be bad, merely that I'm not going to believe in it (say "Hallelujah!") just because the Great Scott Adams is behind it.

Do I go to experts for expert advice? Sure.
Do I always follow expert advice? It depends. If the expert explains the PRINCIPLE behind his conclusion, in a way that I can follow his reasoning, then, yeah, usually.

Problems arise though, when different conclusions can be logically drawn from the same sets of facts. Simple examples:
Fact: Sadaam acted like he had WMDs.
Conclusion #1: Sadaam has WMDs.
Conclusion #2: Sadaam wants everyone to be afraid of his "WMDs", so he won't be invaded.

Fact: Dr #1 says "Your condition is incurable"
Fact: Dr #2 says "Your condition is incurable"
Fact: Dr #3 says "Your condition is incurable"
Fact: Dr #4 says "Your condition is incurable"
Fact: Dr #5 says "I can cure your condition."
Conclusion #1: Your disease is incurable & Dr. #5 is a quack / huckster.
Conclusion #2: Dr. #5 is a cutting-edge genius, and the other Drs are behind the times.

There is no logical method to figure out which conclusion is better.
If Sadaam actually did have WMDs, his actions would likely have been identical, and the war would have better polling numbers today.
You recently underwent "experimental" surgery.

I'll take all the education on economic theory that I can get. If a "conservative" economist explains his reason why a gas tax holiday is bad ("Supply and demand will just cause the demand to go back to where the price is back to where it was") and the liberal does the same ("Cutting government income means cutting government spending, which means less non-government spending which means inflation which means the gas price will go back to where it was") then great. Same facts, different logic; same conclusion.

But I'm not sure I know what to make when the facts are the same ("Barack will raise taxes") and the conclusions will be different:
"Decreased personal income = depressed economy"
"Increased gov't spending (targeted to oil independence technology) = stimulated economy / new markets (globally applicable)"
"It's zero-sum - no matter who spends the money - the gov't or the people - the economy as a whole will be unchanged. Only the sectors will be different"

Beats the heck out of me which is right.
But I look forward to the survey's release.

And thank you for doing it.
 
 
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Aug 22, 2008
Someone has probably already said this but I think you may be a libertarian. I agree with you about our choices this year. it is too bad really. this is the first year you feel a little tempted to vote and these are the choices we have. I would like to see a viable choice like Barr. If the media was forced to actually be unbiased and were prohibited from calling elections till everyone, east coast to west, had voted we'd have a chance of getting a 3rd party candidate. It would shake washington up; and they so need it.
 
 
Aug 22, 2008
Scott, you really need to check out Bob Barr's campaign. If we can get him polling up high enough to get into the debates, THEN you will really see some interesting discussions come to light.

ozzy - how is Bob Barr NOT a libertarian? He has discussed his past voting trends many times, and basically is against many of the things he helped author after seeing how they were used by the Federal Government.
 
 
Aug 22, 2008
"And they know that free trade is generally good for all economies." - it is a key point. Therefore, the voter, who know this, should always vote a candidate who promise less of the State and more freedom for trade of all kind. Therefore, in real life situation, economic-aware voter can chose only between evil and less evil. (As nearly non-evil Ron Paul is out...).
 
 
 
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