Dismal Science

A policymaker or citizen looking at both arguments could see that each side made models of fiscal spending and GDP growth, and each had a smattering of econometric analyses of past fiscal spending that they said validated their models. But as Manzi wryly notes, “the only thing an observer could say with high confidence before the stimulus program launched was that at least several Nobel laureates in economics would be directionally incorrect about its effects.” In such a policy stalemate — professor against professor, Nobelist against Nobelist, Princeton against Chicago, all appealing ultimately to their own authority — what can we lay citizens do but throw up our hands and concede ignorance? And what does this mean for democratic self-governance?