At a moment when the Trump administration has relegated economists to the back rows, it’s a good time to ask why economists don’t have more influence on politicians, and why politicians find economists so frustrating. Visiting scholar Alan Blinder argues that politicians use economics the way a drunk uses a lamppost—for support, not for illumination. Blinder contends that politicians and economists succeed or fail on entirely different Darwinian principles—they hail from “two civilizations.”
On June 20, Blinder, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8), and Vin Weber discussed the lamppost theory (the subject of Blinder’s forthcoming book), what politicians and economists can learn from each other, and what this all means for the prospects for tax reform in 2017. After a moderated discussion, the speakers took questions from the audience.