14 September 2007


I am NOT an economist, but I did advise a senator on economic issues for a time. (yes, it's like not being a doctor but playing one on TV.) My job, in part, was to keep track of smart economists, try to translate their stuff into English, and synthesize it all into a meaningful commentary that would inform policymakers and shape policy. The best economists could do my job for me, and I would just send a note to the senator and say, "you should read this."

Of course, that was before many economists wrote blogs. Today, young and eager legislative assistants on the hill read blogs before most other things, and the smart ones go beyond the hard-line political blogs for economic news and views. Here is an abbreviated list of my regular reads.

Republicans I know often visit these folks:
Democrats I know often visit:
Of course, I realize that most (if not all) of these economists/writers will resist being folded into D versus R categories, and there's never a perfect fit. Some wear their politics on their sleeves, most don't. I've found each of these blogs to be useful and I note that all ten of these blogs often link to other economists that have very different perspectives than their own.

Who else should I be reading?

1 comment:

Mike Tikkanen said...

In Minnesota our D and R decision makers have become confused by a loud noise that disrupts rational thinking:

Our Mississippi bridge fell because anti tax people now have a stranglehold on our politics, suppressing even the most basic maintenance of our most necessary infrastructure.

A republican, a democrat, and a rabid anti tax voice debate public policy on all of Minnesota's major media and no one finds this unusual.

We have no counter voice to the loud aggressive arguments offered by David Strom and the anti tax league.

The bridge failure will end up costing about one billion dollars (below) and if our policy makers would wake up, they will see that it was about five hundred times more expensive than the requested bridge maintenance that would have kept the bridge in "pristine condition"**

Are we doomed to see our once safe city streets, superior schools and, child protection system, fall apart just like the bridge? As a CASA volunteer and child advocate, I am well connected to the benefits of taking care of children when they are young to avoid their collapse when they are juveniles.

Former Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Blatz states, "ninety percent of the youth in our juvenile justice system have come through child protection". Identified and treated early, young children can be given the skills to succeed in school and our community. Ignored because of our new anti tax paralysis, the serious issues faced by children in child protection are not dealt with until someone gets hurt (and it is exponentially more costly to warehouse them in schools, jails, and prisons than it is to help them lead normal lives)

Minneapolis City Pages September 5th, Economy In Freefall article quoted Governor Pawlenty as estimating the addition costs of gas and extra miles due to the bridge collapse at $400,000 per day (146 million dollars over the next twelve months).

An accurate calculation must include a fair minimum amount for the (lower estimate) 144,000 cars that used this bridge every day. Forty eight cents per mile is the IRS allowance for automobile deductions and this does not include the headache factor of stopped traffic and longer commutes that I seem to be experiencing.

Assume an average of ten additional miles for each car each way (some people take the longer 694/494 route around town and others drive fewer miles through downtown city streets or the 280 detour). Multiplying ten miles each way for 144,000 cars per day equals 2.8 million miles per day times the IRS forty eight cents equals $1,382,000 per day, or almost four times the governors estimate. If the bridge is completed in twelve months, the cost will be a little over five hundred million dollars. I

If the bridge is completed in eighteen months, the cost will be seven hundred and fifty million dollars. With no extra consideration for the ten to twenty minutes at each end of our commute we can honestly call this a hard cost of the bridge failure.

Add to this the two hundred million dollar estimate for the new bridge, and the sure to be substantial lawsuit settlements for wrongful death and injury from the victims of this disaster, and some minimal value for the businesses that are failing because of their new inaccessibility, and a billion dollars becomes a realistic estimate of the total hard cost of NOT MAINTAINING OUR BRIDGE.

**New York's twenty year veteran bridge engineer, Samuel Schwartz (NYT OP-ED 8.13.07) estimated 178,000 dollars annual maintenance would keep all of his states bridges in pristine condition.

It was five hundred times more expensive for our public policy makers to ignore the advice of the bridge maintenance engineers than it would have been to listen to them.

I have made a similar calculation for the children in child protection systems (3 million children per year are reported to child protection agencies in the U.S.)

We are not saving any money by not maintaining our bridges, courts, schools, or children.

It is time to counter the inaccurate assumptions of the anti tax people that have been given complete credibility by prominent Minnesota media. We have lost a great deal with these people making our public policies.