I’d like to thank Mark for inviting me to join the team. I’m an environmental and urban economist at UCLA. A couple of random thoughts.
1. Harold Pollack’s post about “Dog Bites Man” interested me. I know economists who signed the petition to revoke “Obama Care” and I also know economists who signed the petition to keep it going. Harold is right that a large majority of the leading ” health economists” did sign it and I believe in comparative advantage.
I am a big believer in experimentation. We know that the current incentives in health care do not provide doctors or patients with sufficient incentives to invest in preventative care. I am hoping that “Obama Care” will encourage experimentation to help us learn about what are potentially cost effective ways of “bending the curve”. Moving forward, I want to see academic economists be much more honest about what we know and what we don’t know and for us to suggest research designs that would provide the evidence to improve our body of knowledge. For example, under President Obama’s new rules of the game could Medicare choose different incentives regimes for doctors (hopefully randomly assigned) and then examine outcomes and treatment choices to see how doctors respond to these new “rules of the game”?
2. Switching subjects, many of my friends who are not UC faculty members “worry” about the fate of our excellent public university system. I appreciate their concerns! Yesterday, Meyer Luskin’s 100 million dollar gift to UCLA was announced. A large % of this gift is geared towards the UCLA School of Public Affairs (SPA). SPA has an excellent faculty and Mr. Luskin’s gift signals a confidence that UCLA’s best days are ahead of us. With all of the fiscal uncertainty, I can honestly say that this good news lifted my spirts and I even gave a good lecture for once in my California Sustainability Challenges class. I’m hoping that Mark and Andy will blog about how they envision the growth of our SPA School and how we will build on Meyer Luskin’s wise investment. I have a fiscal plan for saving the University of California. I will reveal it soon and it doesn’t involve UCLA basketball ticket prices.
UPDATE: I can already tell that I’m going to enjoy responding to the comments posted to my entries. First, let me remind everyone that economists are a diverse group. There are the University of Chicago economists and the nice “new age” economists such as Larry Summers.