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    From “the best and the brightest” to “the best of the worst”

    From “the best and the brightest” to “the best of the worst”

    The Kennedy administration has been described as having attracted the best and the brightest to government service, sometimes with bad but well-intentioned results.

    I don’t know Alan Krueger, Obama’s new head of the Council of Economic Advisers.  But Ezra Klein claims to know a lot about Krueger, describing him as such:

    … Krueger is arguably the leading labor economist in the country.   He’s known for bringing a near-superhuman rigor to a subject that, oddly enough to non-economists, had fallen into a bit of disrepute in the profession …

    Obama’s new top economic adviser has undertaken superhuman efforts in a subject matter that has fallen into disrepute.

    We’ve gone from the best and the brightest to the best of the worst.  What possibly could go wrong?

    Update:  What possibly could go wrong already has, via The Hill:

    While at Treasury, Krueger served as a vocal advocate for a number of programs contained in the 2009 stimulus package. In particular, he called on Congress to extend beyond 2010 the Build America Bonds (BAB) program, which encouraged state and local governments to borrow for capital projects by subsidizing the interest costs of their bonds. Those efforts proved unsuccessful, as the BABs expired at the end of that year alongside many other aspects of the stimulus.


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    wsjostrom | August 30, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Your mistake was to take the work of a no-nothing like Ezra Klein. Labor economics is anything but disreputable. It was up in to the ’70s, but has become a very hot field. The last Nobel went to three economists for work on labor problems. Alan Krueger, although he is not the best labor economist in the US (Ed Lazear and Jim Heckman pop to mind quickly as better ones), is a very talented guy, unlike Ezra Klein, whose ignorance sometimes seems encyclopedic.

    Kreuger authored a study of a minimum wage rise in New Jersey that claims to have proven that raising the minimum wage doesn’t affect unemployment.
    Frankly, I think he just proved that there are some markets where they are already paying above minimum just to attract workers. New Jersey, the home of some of the highest incomes and highest taxes in the nation, is most likely one of those communities.
    When you fix the deck, you can make the cards to anything.

    MaggotAtBroadAndWall | August 30, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Don’t you love how people like young Ezra elevate the politicians they like to God-like status? The hero worship puts Homer’s Iliad to shame.

    Note to young Ezra: There’s nothing superhuman about crunching economic numbers. I’m pretty sure Krueger is not “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”. I doubt he’s allergic to kryptonite, either.

    And here’s another clue, while it’s true Evan Thomas was willing to embarrass and publicly humiliate himself on national TV by once saying Obama is “sort of like God”, Obama really does not have Messianic qualities. He’s a garden variety sleazy politician.

    Valerie | August 30, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Obama’s doing what he should have done initially. The real question is whether the old Clinton crew, which admittedly worked better than the original Obama selections but which also dealt with entirely different problems, is the best answer. My guess is that this is an improvement.

    WarEagle82 | August 30, 2011 at 11:16 am

    If deficit spending actually stimulated the economy we would have to be experiencing the greatest boom in the known world at this point. And we obviously aren’t.

    How much empirical evidence do “progressives” need to demonstrate their world view is completely wrong?

    We have been trying this wrong-headed approach since the 1930s and it hasn’t worked. Let’s try something else for 80 years and see how that works…

      Weirddave in reply to WarEagle82. | August 31, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      Your argument has about as much chance as that of an atheist convincing a Christian to abandon his beliefs because “There’s no proof of God”*. Facts don’t matter, progressive “economics” is a cult, and it’s adherents will eagerly drink the Kool-Aid over and over again, even as one by one their preconceptions drop dead before them.

      *Note: I am not an atheist (can’t bring myself to adopt a worldview so devoid of logic and critical thinking), but I would concede that there is indeed no proof of God. FAITH is the entire cornerstone of theism, it’s kinda the point. Faith is fine, necessary even, in the spiritual realm. In the empirical world, however, faith in defiance of evidence top the contrary is lunacy.

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