Greg Mankiw's Platform: I give it a gentleman's C
Professor Mankiw "gives an 8 plank platform designed to attract a majority of economists."
1. Support free trade. Sounds good, but it's just not that simple. Bilateral FTAs run to 1000s of pages and often just inefficiently divert trade rather than create trade. It's ridiculous to call the proposed pacts with Colombia and Korea free trade. If you really are in favor of free trade you should oppose these pacts.
2. Oppose farm subsidies. Agreed.
3. Leave oil companies and speculators alone. Agreed.
4. Tax the use of energy. Huh? The first sentence of plank #2 reads "Economists like free markets" so why increase taxes on energy (which, since we already have substantial energy taxes is what the plank should have said)? To make this argument, one needs, in my opinion, to (a) show the negative externality that is not already being addressed by current taxation and then (b) show that our government's marginal tax policy would reduce said externality more efficiently than simply assigning property rights and letting the free markets that some of us do actually like do their work.
5. Raise the retirement age. I have to give an incomplete here. Raise it for whom? workers already in their 60s? In their 50s? How old do you have to be before it's too unfair to change the rules in the middle of the game? In my view you can only consider doing this for workers under 30 and those who follow them.
6. Invite more skilled immigrants. Again, incomplete. Why be so stingy? Lets go with the inscription on the statue of liberty.
7. Liberalize drug policy. Agreed. Well said, and courageously said.
8. Raise funds for economic research. (to be fair there is a good change that GM is kidding here but) Wow, the NBER raises social welfare? Sorry sir, but I think abolish funds for economic research would be more to the point. The NBER is welfare for the well to do.