By explaining an economist’s joke, I ruin it

by pdxblake

The world of economic theorizing is pretty opaque to those who don’t follow it. I count myself as being on the outside since I last studied economics academically in college nearly 10 years ago (wow, didn’t feel that long). There is a lot of ideology that is behind a lot of economic thinking so when someone steps outside of what you’d expect, it is interesting.

The last place I expected to see this was on Twitter, but behold:

Richard H Thaler ‏@R_Thaler

Well [sic] know left winger…“@tylercowen: The proposed Romney fiscal policy just doesn’t make any sense.”

Richard Thaler is an economist at the University of Chicago (home of people like the late Milton Friedman), which tends to be a conservative environment for economics—although Richard Thaler is a bit of an exception, having been involved into bringing behavioral economics into the mainstream. The unusual bit for Thaler is that behavioral economics generally does not agree that “the market is always right”, something of a unifying principal for the Chicago school (as well as being an over-simplification).

Tyler Cowen, to whom he is replying, is at George Mason University, an even more conservative school that leans (quite strongly) politically conservative. And thus the joke from Thaler (who was interviewed in The New Yorker) of “We know, left-winger” makes sense as a tongue-in-cheek remark on how little sense Romney’s plans (or what he has actually revealed) makes.

It also proves that by explaining the context of a joke, I have ruined it.