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Quote of the Day (So Far!)

On economists and health care reform

5:27 PM, Feb 9, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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As the mid-Atlantic stocks up on supplies to prepare for the coming storm, let's stock up on Quotes of the Day (So Far!). The first is from James M. Buchanan:

Unfortunately, economists, generally, failed to understand that aggregate variables that may be measured with tolerable accuracy ex post may not be variables subject to control, directly or even indirectly. The fundamental misconception here lies in the understanding of what ‘the economy’ is. The ‘economic problem’ is not (despite Lionel Robbins) an engineering problem that may be defined simply as the allocation of scarce resources among alternative uses. The economy, in some inclusive definitional sense, is perhaps best described as an order that consists of an interlinked set of exchanges, simple and complex, from which outcomes emerge that may in some respects be meaningfully measured but that cannot be chosen, and thereby controlled, by concentrated decision takers.

There's much more at the link. (And a tip of the hat to Tyler Cowen.)

Number two is from Yuval Levin:

The difference between the Left and the Right is not a difference of degree, but of direction, and each side tends to think that moving even a little in the wrong direction is worse than doing nothing. That’s why a compromise won’t be so easy.

The larger public, I think, is not so tied to either direction, but is opposed to doing anything huge. That’s a big part of what the Democrats have done wrong this year: They have proposed too much. Whichever side is smart enough to propose some modest and sensible incremental steps in its preferred direction will have far better luck with the public. Conservatives would be wise to do so in a serious and concerted way before liberals realize that it’s time to employ some different means toward their same misguided end.

"Modest and sensible incremental steps" like those found in the small bill, for example.

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