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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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    turfmonster | August 30, 2011 at 11:45 am

    How old is Ezra Klein? 17?

    LOL, while I’m certain that Dr. Krueger is an intelligent fellow, I don’t think that things like the Cash For Clunkers program that he worked on, is proof of near-superhuman rigor. But maybe the only other choice Obama had for this job was Cthullu and Obama decided on the lesser of two evils here…

      janitor in reply to turfmonster. | August 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      I don’t know who came up with “Cash for Clunkers” but I’d wager a bet that thousands of high school kids in the U.S. immediately realized it to be a stupid idea that served to burden their ability to purchase a used car.

    Cassandra Lite | August 30, 2011 at 11:56 am

    What else do we have to know about him beyond the fact that Obama hired him? It’s prima facie evidence of his incompetence. A horse is a horse, of course, of course…

    Thought this might be pertinent …

    (Hope it isn’t behind the paywall.) Sounds like his views about unemployment benefits doesn’t fit well with the Obamameister’s.

    janitor | August 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Read a couple of Krueger’s books; you may not like his conclusions, but he’s a careful independent thinker. E.g. “What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism” and “Myth and Measurement” on the minimum wage. Not that I wouldn’t have quibbles. The thing is, however, that retrospective analysis does not necessarily create predictive abilities, especially when variables (the biggest weakness in the field of economics) change over time.

    As far as judging an Obama appointee on the fact that Obama appointed the appointee, I’d suggest that Obama doesn’t have capacity to make these decisions on appropriate criteria, but that he takes others’ advice, often colored by inappropriate criteria and immediate political agenda. Obama does have every incentive to want to do well because that will enhance Obama. I think he just doesn’t know how, and it’s past time for the media and “the folks” to get this.

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