Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2012 Popularity Contest

Candidates are starting to prepare for the 2012 US Presidential election.

One thing that bothers me is how candidates like to talk about "common sense," and voters say they want someone who has "common sense." Yes, we do want someone who is rational who has priorities aligned with voters' interests, but when people start making policy recommendations it is clear that they are in over their heads. This is especially true when talking about fiscal and monetary policy. A lot of economic policy is actually really technical. There are a lot of qualitative decisions about how to tackle income inequality and long term goals for research or education. However, things like tax rates, budget cuts, and determining interest rates require careful quantitative analysis, not "common sense."

Saying we need a president who just has "common sense" is as ridiculous as saying that we can design a cell-phone using "common sense." Who needs an engineering Phd??? Obviously we just need an antenna, some kind of processor, a screen, a battery, and some buttons. How hard can that be? MikeyP said people would call for "faster radiowaves." Really, that is exactly the kind of thing nontechnical people say when making engineering suggestions.

We need expertise not "common sense." Voters only seem to appreciate this when it comes to national security issues and foreign policy. When will it apply to domestic policy?

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