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Is Blogging Part of the Solution?

My colleague James Buchanan (Nobel Laureate, 1986) is interviewed by Aaron Steelman in the current issue of Region Focus, a publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. As always, what Jim has to say is interesting and insightful.

I’m struck especially by two comments, one of which I’ll address now; the second of which I’ll address later.

At the interview’s end, Jim laments economists’ failure to explain fundamental economic truths to the general public:

As scientists, we are incredibly attracted to grapple with interesting puzzles that may have little immediate practical application. And, indeed, we are rewarded for doing that through greater academic promotions and greater prestige within the profession. So that type of work has a lot of private value to economists. Contrast that with making basic economic truths — such as the benefits of free trade — accessible to a wider audience. Economists gain very little from doing that — for instance, it probably won’t get you tenure. But there is an enormous public value associated with having an economically literate society. We need more Bastiats who are willing to talk to the public. As it stands, economists are losing the battle.

I wonder if blogging — for example, that done by my colleagues Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok at MarginalRevolution; by Lynne Kiesling at The Knowledge Problem; by Arnold Kling at Econlog; by my graduate assistant Kevin Brancato at Truck&Barter; by Kevin’s student colleagues at GMU at CornerSolution — will turn out to be a solution, however partial, to the public-goods problem that Jim identifies. I hope so.