As the election approaches, please
remember to be kind to any economist
you know. Economists feel
on election day a little like Jews
feel on Christmas. Participating
makes them feel like a traitor to their kind but
boycotting the extravaganza makes them feel
estranged from the rest of society.
Like everyone, economists have a choice on
election day, but to an economist neither option
seems good. We don’t mean the choice of voting
for a Republican or a Democrat. We mean
the choice of whether to vote.
An economist who votes commits an irrational
act, and to an economist irrationality is
a sin. Why bother spending half an hour or
more going to the polls and waiting in line
when the chance is infinitesimal that your vote
will affect the outcome?
Yet, what is the other choice? Not voting.
But, an economist who doesn’t vote must
squirm when others ask that day: “Have you
voted yet?” Any explanation about the irrationality
of voting will be scorned.
There is no winning for an economist on
election day (unless he or she is running for office,
and probably even then).
Friday, October 31, 2008
From the current issue of The Economist's Voice