I half-promised myself that I would quite ‘reporting’ on the voodoo-debate. I cannot help it, however; it reaches new levels all the time. The latest attack posted on Gristmill, an environmental blog, generated so hatefull comments that John Whitehead of Env-Econ didn’t want to post his own comment there:
I’m sorry to say I don’t have skin thick enough to comment over at Grist given the hate your post brewed up.
I understand John; here are some samples from the comment section on Gristmill:
economists are arrogant whores
Economics, a science? Don’t make me laugh. […] [E]conomics is about as much science as astrology. Listen to an economist sometime. They always pepper their comments with some kind of jingoistic pro-American boilerplate, usually to cover up the fact that they haven’t a clue about what they just said
Voodoo economics (it’s all a quack religion) and actual science do not mix. They don’t even seem to understand math principles like exponential change. Could they be turned into Walmart greeters? Would Walmart want economists? Doubtful.
Tim Haab, also of Env-Econ, took the time to sit down and write a brilliant reply to the attack from Gristmill. Some of the anger from the Greens is rooted in economists suggesting that combining green jobs and the stimulus package to the American economy is not necessarily a good idea. Tim:
It seems odd that Roberts would accept suboptimal stimulus and suboptimal green jobs policy when economists are arguing for good stimulus and good green jobs policy. As John has said many times–stimulus is short term, green jobs is long term. Why put bad green jobs policy and bad stimulus in place when we could have both with a little patience and thought and dare I say economics.
And from the comment section (still Tim):
I think there are two different time dimensions. There is immediacy on stimulus and less urgency for green jobs. It’s this difference in time that leads me to urge patience on green jobs.
I can hear the argument 5 yeears from now:
Environmentalist: “OK, now that the recession in over, we can really tackle renewable energy.”
DC: “What do you mean? We threw $XX billion at it back in 2009 in the stimulus package(s). You got your piece.”
Environmentalist: “Yeah, but that wasn’t the right policy, it was just a band-aid.”
DC: “Shouldn’t you have thought about that then?”
Economist: “We did.”
I do, as the commenter Patrick Walsh, find comfort in that economists seem to act most like adults in the debate:
I am comforted by the fact that the response to the attack on [Environmental Economics] has been economists trying to paint the full picture and fill in the details. I have not yet seen a counterattack, where economists bash enviros. This optimistic observation provides hope that there is significant room for collaboration, in the spirit of Tim Haab’s original post.
- Economists vs. Environmentalists (this post also has links to most of the key posts in the voodoo debate)
- Do economists help fight climate change?