Right and Wrong, Politically Speaking

A friend recently advanced the notion that one of our political parties is more “right” than the other when it comes to economic policy. As an admitted layman in economics, I disagree:


Interesting that you’d specifically mention macroeconomic policy, as it may be considered particularly confounding as the subject of an exercise seeking to discern “right” from “wrong.” Approaches and proposals – along with underlying principles – vary between the two major political parties, sure, but to unequivocally deem one as altogether more economically sound or, dare I say it, *enlightened* than the other seems disingenuous.

From the 2008 economic stimulus to recent quantitative easing, I could line up for you an equivalent number of economics doctoral degrees and professional accolades on either of two polarized viewpoints. “The amount of the stimulus should be doubled.” “There should be no stimulus at all.” “QE is critical in loosening credit markets.” “QE encourages risky investment at exactly the wrong time.” No statement above is correct, none is incorrect; each has sound economic theory which can (and has) been cited in its favor.

More to the point, if there were instilled in me a personal bias, I could line up for you a greater number of economic doctoral degrees and profession accolades on either side of two polarized viewpoints, the viewpoint of my choosing. This is convenient for my political agenda; I can leverage the sheer complexity and, really, nuance attached to (macro)economics to form in the shroud a convincing argument that serves my purpose. It is not crucial for my agenda that my argument be “right;” it is more important that it be polarizing, feigning a bright line where none exists.

Economics is fodder for this, as it can be so difficult to quantify. Compounding the matter is the fact that meaningful retrospection is tough because causality is so elusive. As for “right” and “wrong,” though, neither is neither. The “whole point” I originally mentioned (somewhat in passing, wasn’t it?) alludes to the fact that we are constructed (politically) so that powers (i.e., parties) – neither more correct than the other – gnash teeth and thump chests, fighting with equal conviction to accomplish their respective myopic visions and, in doing so, arrive at something in between. Neither party was meant to succeed entirely, nor would we want them to; even the staunchest partisan would find him or herself regretting the unilateral success of his or her own party.

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