Friday, January 15, 2010

Imagine if Engineers Fought Like Economists

I read a De Long piece today about his abject dislike if not what appears to be hatred or the Chicago School. It is truly is a diatribe. De Long is clearly a left wing Democrat Economists and yes the Chicago has their preferences as well.

Now I thought what if Engineers let their political bents dictate how they say design a bridge. Perhaps there would be the truss school, the suspension school, the arch school, and endless other schools. They would create "theories" of bridges, showing how the other guys bridge will fall down, cost too much and the like. Yet engineers do not think that way.

Yes we have architects and they are akin to economists, like Frank Gehry, whose buildings are akin to parts of the new health care plans, yet for engineers there are the laws of physics and they enter into collaborative discussions to design a bridge. Each engineer has a set of tools to predict with a great deal of accuracy how strong a bridge must be and though they differ on truss versus suspension they arrive at the same numbers. No one economists can arrive at the same numbers two time periods apart, no less the whole crowd of them.

DeLong states:

"Fama or Lucas or Posner could never have said any of those things if they had bothered to spend fifteen minutes talking to any one of Romer or Krugman or Summers about the issues. They would have learned that Krugman and Romer and Summers say what they believe and believe what they say.

Stupidest men alive..."

One need look at the Cassidy interviews. You see, as I noted in my review of the Cassidy book, he writes well but has a strong political agenda. Why Fama or Posner would even sit for the interview is itself questionable. In the New Yorker interviews by Cassidy he quotes them as:

"So what caused the recession if it wasn’t the financial crisis?

Again per DeLong, "stupidest men alive...". Thus I am amazed, that frankly sir, the ad hominem attack seems to apply to whole bunch of you!