Greg Mankiw reports on Robert Whaples study of AEA members agreement or lack thereof on a wide range of policy issues. The economists questioned start off strong, but then quickly begin to advocate government interference in the market in a variety of ways:
* 87.5 percent agree that “the U.S. should eliminate remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade.”
* 85.2 percent agree that “the U.S. should eliminate agricultural subsidies.”
* 85.3 percent agree that “the gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged.”
* 77.2 percent agree that “the best way to deal with Social Security’s long-term funding gap is to increase the normal retirement age.”
* 67.1 percent agree that “parents should be given educational vouchers which can be used at government-run or privately-run schools.”
* 65.0 percent agree that “the U.S. should increase energy taxes.”
* 90.1 percent disagree with the position that “the U.S. should restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries.”
Interestingly, one issue that fails to generate consensus is the minimum wage: 37.7 percent want it increased, while 46.8 percent want it eliminated.
Other interesting results from the Whaples Supplemental Table.pdf:
* Only 42.9 percent believe the legal monopoly held by the U.S Postal Service on the delivery of first class mail should be ended.
* Only 34.9 percent agree that the U.S. should eliminate inheritance/estate taxes.
* 62.2 percent believe that the U.S. should legalize marijuana.
* 45.8 percent agree that the U.S. should adopt universal health insurance.
One important question is who are the economists in the 12.5 percent who would not eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade?
Or, the 14.8 percent who want to maintain agricultural subsidies?
Or, the 57.1 percent that want to maintain the government monopoly on mail service?
I guess, understanding economics is hard even for economists.