October 24, 2004


Resting on their laureates: Kerry leads Bush in endorsements from Nobelists. But does expert opinion matter in politics? (Christopher Shea, October 24, 2004, Boston Globe)

In August, the Kerry campaign boasted that 10 Nobel laureates in economics -- ranging from the redoubtable 1970 laureate Paul Samuelson to 2001 winners George A. Akerlof and Joseph E. Stiglitz -- had endorsed their man's economic proposals. The gap between the candidates on economic issues is "wider than in any other Presidential election in our experience," the Nobelists declared, citing Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and soaring deficits. Kerry, they contended, would "restore fiscal responsibility" and put Social Security and Medicaid back on solid footing.

Akerlof, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, reiterated in a recent interview that this year presented an unusually stark choice. "We are really appalled by Bush policies across the board," he said. "One can usually say there are good things about Democratic policy and good things about Republican policy. But you have to be extreme to support this administration."

Six other Nobel laureates in economics disagree, however. They include free-market icon Milton Friedman and this year's co-winner, Edward C. Prescott, of Arizona State University, who, together with 362 other American economists, signed on with Bush this year. "All in all John Kerry favors economic policies that, if implemented, would lead to bigger and more intrusive government and a lower standard of living for the American people," their statement read. [...]

Elliot Cohen, a military strategy specialist at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies who has been called more than once "the most influential neocon in academe," suggests that the Bushies could drum up academic support if they wanted it.

But perhaps there's a good reason they don't. "Professors are, for better or worse, a rather unimportant class of people politically," says Cohen, who insists he has no party affiliation. "This is a painful truth that they do not, for the most part, choose to face."

Would anyone who hasn't been comatose since the 1930s prefer the endorsement of the socialist Samuelson to the capitalist Friedman?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2004 1:42 PM

When your worldview dictates that you must see 53% of Americans as right-wing "extremists", as the good Dr. Akerlof does, a thoughtful person, a wise person, would re-examine their positions.

"[P]ut Social Security and Medicaid back on solid footing." - Without causing a deficit ?
Is Kerry planning to raise FICA taxes ?
But wait, that would impact people making less than $ 200,000/yr.
Therefore, the only option left to Kerry is to drastically slash benefits.
Given that Kerry's a stand-up guy, unlike that weasel Bush, I expect that he'll spend the last week of his campaign explaining how he'll be cutting SS benefits in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 24, 2004 3:31 PM

Academicians will favor those who put a premium on brainpower and active government. They are teechnocrats at heart, and believe that social and economic problems can be managed and controlled through government planning and policy. I talked about this in my blog post The Planner vs the Slogger with regards to the War on Terror. Tell me who the Laureates and the Academics prefer, and I'll vote for the other guy.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at October 24, 2004 7:59 PM

Sorry, link above doesn't work. Here it is The Planner vs the Slogger

Posted by: Robert Duquette at October 24, 2004 10:29 PM

The tunnel-vision required to get a Nobel in most fields is an impediment to that person's competence in other areas of life. You simply have to spend too much time in the lab or at the chalkboard.

Posted by: Bart at October 25, 2004 7:14 AM

Didn't Jimmy Carter and Yassir Arafat win Nobel Prizes?

Posted by: Ken at October 25, 2004 6:43 PM