From Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek, Sometimes There Are No Good Options:

Whenever I hear politicians and their deputies discuss the subject that I know best, economics, they typically get it wrong.  And they get it wrong not in minor ways; they get it wrong in fundamental ways.  They frequently speak and write as if trade-offs don’t exist – as if the titles of statutes determine the outcomes of statutes – as if prices are arbitrary numbers that can be manipulated by government with no undesirable or unintended consequences – as if the benefits of international trade are “our” exports while the costs of such trade are our imports – as if nations “compete” against each other economically – as if the destruction wrought by natural disasters has an economic upside – as if government officials are immune to the knowledge constraints and self-interested motivations that affect actors in private markets.

In short, when the subject of discussion or the object of action is the economy, politicians and their deputies typically sound and act as if they are imbeciles (or as if the audiences they aim to please are made up largely of imbeciles).  So why should I trust that these same politicians and their deputies, when they discuss and act on matters about which I know far less than economics, are not imbeciles?  Why should I suppose them to be any more informed, reasonable, and wise – and less politically motivated – than they are when they discuss economics?


In the economy there is at least a choice between private and public action that does not exist in foreign affairs.