Earlier this afternoon I received an e-mail from a very sincere local retiree here in Fairfax who boasts about how he “canvas[es] for Barack Obama.” This gentleman is concerned that the public doesn’t know where Sen. Obama stands on economic issues. So he asked me if I would help him organize a visit by Sen. Obama to GMU’s campus — a visit to give the Senator an opportunity to talk about the economy.
Here’s my reply.
Dear Mr. _______:
Thanks for your note asking if GMU Econ is interested in inviting Barack Obama to campus in order for him to outline his “economic plan.”
I can’t go along with your suggestion. First, and most practically, such an invitation would really have to come from either the Office of the Provost or the Office of the President — not from the Chairman of the Department of Economics.
Second, and most importantly, I have negative willingness to be part of an effort to give any politician a platform to speak about economics. Very few of them have any knowledge of the subject, and even fewer of them are courageous enough to speak about it honestly.
Listening to politicians, regardless of party, discuss economics makes me sick both to my head and to my stomach. And the only people who are not similarly affected, I fear, are persons whose knowledge of economics is sufficiently scant — or whose ethics are sufficiently perverted — to protect their senses from being insulted by what issues forth from the mouths of politicians speaking on economic topics.
So as an economist, I am no more interested in having Sen. Obama (or Sen. McCain) come to GMU’s campus to lecture us on “how to manage the economy” than I would be, say, to have O.J. Simpson come to GMU’s campus to lecture us on how to manage one’s marriage.
Professor and Chairman
Department of Economics
George Mason University