David Glenn had a fascinating piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education last week about the struggle by academic economists to be relevant in the current fiscal crisis:
[N]ow that the dust is beginning to settle in Washington, many academic economists have the gnawing feeling that during moments of crisis, they don’t have much ability to sway public policy.
It’s a meaty piece that serves as a telling example of the broader problem of expert advice in government. The real money quote came at the very end, echoing a problem that I see in many areas that I cover as a journalist – the disconnect between the views of the expert and the realities of how the system works. The person speaking is economist James K. Galbraith:
“The question is not so much what economists need to say to policy makers, but what kind of policy education economists need in order to be able to intelligently understand the constraints that policy makers operate under.”