Looking For A Better Way
Personal Reflections On Economics, Morality & Common Sense
Presidential elections often involve debates about the economy, what ails it and how to fix it. Increasingly it seems that candidates exist in parallel universes in terms of economics. Each side bases its analysis and policy proposals on a set of certainties which seem hopelessly contradictory to the certainties of the other. Campaigns do not really permit candidates to explain the assumptions behind their economic proposals. Speeches tend to be peppered with buzzwords or references that will enable the “average American voter” to connect the proposals to some personal experience that shapes his or her ideas about “the economy.”
While voters were never asked to decide how to resolve a conflict between particle theory and wave theory in physics, they are asked to decide whether to reduce government spending in order to improve the economy. The vote cast indicates not only a desire to have an easier time for ones own family but also a decision as to which set of economists to believe when it comes to predictions about the effects of government spending. It would be nice if there were consensus among the experts, but we have to vote now, and we find reasons to trust one person rather than another. Perhaps most of us would say we rely on “common sense.”
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Richard G. Patterson studied philosophy at Yale and literature at Cambridge
before embarking on a career in and around the film business.