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This can only lead to better debate by politicians and better public engagement by economists, which can only benefit the practice of economics.

I eagerly await the first political scandal involving the Canadian economic blogosphere, all ten of them.

While this might explain the intervention of economists, it doesn't really explain the lack of intervention of others: generally, you could replace "economist" and "ecomonics" with "specialist" and "specialty" and your argument would still hold...
Still, anything that adds to the quality of public debate is to be encouraged; I hope economists are joined by other specialists in due course.

This is the third straight election, and fourth of the past five, where tax policy was a major public point of contention between the parties. Hard for a health policy specialist to get into the debate since there are few differences between the parties on health. Also hard for defence specialists since both the major parties basically agree on the one issue that has been debated - the need to replace our main air force jet.

  • The core of the debate between the Liberals and the Conservatives this time around is whether to increase or further reduce corporate income taxes. Everything else in the two platforms flows from that.
  • In 2008, the main difference was the Liberal Green Shift. Everything else flowed from that debate.
  • In 2005-6, its was the GST cut versus the hellishly complex tax platform advanced by the Liberals - I never did understand the details.
  • I don't recall what the 2004 campaign was about - and I was involved in it full time.
  • The 2000 campaign involved, as a major issue, the Canadian Alliance proposal to extend the Alberta flat tax for PIT at the national level.

The puzzle is why it took so many elections for economists to mobilize a public campaign.....

I was wondering why, BTW, WCI hasn't been more active on the election front.

Ian: "The puzzle is why it took so many elections for economists to mobilize a public campaign...."

Part of the story is, I think, the changing incentives of journalists. The earlier campaigns were waged in the print media, where every column inch given to an economist blogger meant one less column inch for your honest working journalistic hack. So journalists had little incentive to welcome economist bloggers in, and economists are frequently lousy, I mean unbelievably bad, at networking and schmoozing and getting a foot in the door. Yes, there were electronic versions of newspapers back then, but they had less content, as they were seen as a potential threat to the print edition.

That's all changed, and much more effort is going into on-line news. So the crowding-in of new eyeballs from content created by economists bloggers offsets any crowding out of old-style contributors. And the role of journalists like G&M economics web editor Rob "Coach" Gilroy becomes soliciting writers, lobbying for front page space and massaging bloggers' outsized egos.

Brett, "WCI hasn't been more active on the election front"

218 comments on my story on the NDP pension platform, and the income splitting stuff hit all of the media.

It's partly succumbing to the Iron Law of Oligarchy. It's partly that some types of stories work better than others on WCI. That's why WCI gets the speculative posts about lawn signs that lead to fascinating discussions about the history of the conservative religious right in Canada, while the Globe and Mail gets the "these are some facts you may or may not know, and this the implication of these facts" type posts.

Well, if you're the Ian Brodie I think you are, former Chief of Staff in the PMO, then there is another point of contention. The Liberals at least give a nod to Pharmacare. The Globe and Mail has done an admirable job on this point.

Remember Ireland over the last three years. Academic economists can sign open letters or write blogs but they are deemed invalid unless:
1. They have a majority of academics as signatories. Don't bother weighting them either - for a government in trouble a lecturer in economics or business from a further education college will have an opinion worth citing if it runs their way.
2. A significant buy in from private sector economists. Trouble is, their employers won't let them sign.

The phrase "ivory tower" will find its way from the Executive to the Fourth Estate a short time later.

If 1 or 2 is found to be insufficient, appoint one of the minority as special adviser to the Minister for Finance. This will introduce discord into the family, not least when the government falls, he finds himself out of a job and looks for a professorship which leads to further drama over his research record.

If *that* fails to derail them, any academic economist appearing on television will be labelled a "celebrity economist". While former Irish PM Garret Fitzgerald (himself an economist, albeit specialising in transport) affixed that label without naming names in the Irish Times this week, we can look closer to Canada at the vitriol Krugman attracts.

Mark: "a lecturer in economics or business from a further education college will have an opinion worth citing if it runs their way."

Yup, perhaps it's not "public economists" who find a ready hearing so much as "creditable people who advocate cutting corporate taxes and restraining minimum wages." Though not all economics bloggers hold those views.

I've been thinking about calling economics "fifth columnists". I just don't know if people would get the references to the fourth estate and the fifth column.

I see. The posts I've been looking for here have been appearing on the Globe website. Now I know where to look.

Brett, yup, that was the motivation for that post on the iron law of oligarchy - Steve and Mike and I have sold out for a beer and a song.

I'm allergic to beer, so I got a gin and tonic instead.

Nick still holding out? BTW I'd appreciate some more Macro on the Globe's website.

I believe economics suits more blogging because: economics is widely held to be “scientific” and yet it has no scientific basis whatsoever. It's easily falsified when subjected to objective critical thinking, whereas objectivity is not always on the net...; economics have more political than scientific evidence to back it up, which helps blogging and conversation there from. Economics enjoys popular support in the “scientific” community (academics) and among citizens being part of daily life (Marx docet). Showing that that economics today is rocket science is more a matter of consensus than of proofs, experiment, empiricism, objectivity and honest critical evaluation. Popularity of public economists and bloggers rules the once scientific laboratory.

I'd love a long-time journalist to comment on this thread. I wonder if this is the start of a new phase of journalism, where by the role of a journalist or a news organization like the Globe and Mail becomes to find an expert with some decent writing abilities and push them or coach them to produce some quality content for you. Maybe "Ghost writing" pieces becomes a role for some who previously might have been journalists.

Wendy, "I'd love a long-time journalist to comment on this thread." Yes, me too. You raise some interesting points.

Determinant - I passed on your message.

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