Friday, January 15, 2016

Our elections

I have no idea what Donald Trump did (or learned) in his years at Wharton.  Neither, it seems, do the writers at that university's student newspaper. Read this.

There must have been an Econ 101 and they must have taught Lesson #1, that trade is all about the gains from trade. I did catch Trump's thoughts on trade with China as part of last night's debate. They are, of course, bizarre.  He is also uninformed about how currency exchange rates are formed and sees nothing but clever manipulators outfoxing our less clever manipulators. This as the Chinese economy tanks -- and sinks lower whenever hapless policy people test another intervention.

Trump leads in the polls so this may just be how our politics goes. The Hillary-Bernie economic pronouncements are no better. Democracy is not always pretty. In fact, it's often awful.

The three biggest voting blocs these days are people who do not vote at all, those who vote with a paper-thin level of interest and those who love being on a team. This is about what public choice economics predicts. The model also predicts the quality of politics (and policy) that results.

Who won in 2004? Not who you think.  The New York Times of Dec 26, 2004, (p. 16) reported the results of that year’s presidential election. Most people think that George W. Bush was the winner (over John Kerry and Ralph Nader). But the reported vote totals were these: Nader with 407,992; Kerry with 59,026,003; Bush with 62,027,582; eligible and not voting were 79,279,000. The “I don’t care” vote won by a huge margin. This is not an electoral college total but very suggestive.