17 thoughts on “Seeking a Diverse Congress”

  1. Brett will probably agree with me on this one, but I still think I’m right:

    A good physical scientist or engineer has a far easier time picking up on economics than an economist has with picking up on science or engineering. Or let me rephrase this. I work in the Mammon biz, and play some role in hiring. I’ve been much more impressed with STEM undergrad majors than with economics majors. My guess is that the admissions committees of economics graduate programs feel the same way.

  2. In professional life as in high school, and especially in politics at both levels, the jocks do a lot better than their qualifications or their ability would often seem to justify. And the nerds correspondingly worse.

  3. Warren Terra’s definition of “professional life” seems to exclude computer programming and electical/electronics engineering — or his experiences have been so radically different from my own. Or maybe it’s his definition of “doing better”.

    Over my thirty year career in the Silicon Valley computer industry, I’ve seen a lot of successful engineers who were also athletes, but the jocks who lack the STEM nature soon get shunted into project management, or sales support.
    To an engineer that looks like “not measuring up”.

    It is true that there exists a lucky few who are both accomplished athletes and brilliant engineers, and the sun does seem to shine a bit more brightly on them.

  4. I’m with Jonathan on this one. But since we are talking about who we would like to see in politics, I want to see more graduate students in congress.

  5. A good physical scientist or engineer has a far easier time picking up on economics than an economist has with picking up on science or engineering.


    Specifically, I’d like some real ecological economists in Congress.

  6. Well, there are a lot of really clueless economists, will a highly defined sense of what it takes to sell out and are eager to do so.. There are many engineers who simply will not take anybody else’s opinion seriously except their own.

    Some improvement.

  7. There’s a lot of truth in what Warren says, but I think his high school typology could be teased out a little better:

    – Jocks do better where winning is important
    – Popular kids (non-jock variety) do better where institutional preservation is important
    – Nerds do better when getting it right is important
    – Popular jocky nerds do well everywhere (e.g., Barack Obama)

    Different organizations (or organizational components) have different imperatives, so different types do well in them. I agree with Warren that nerds often do worse than their qualifications or ability seem to indicate. This, to me, is evidence that getting it right is not very important in most organizations.

  8. No more law professors, please. Or maybe no University of Chicago faculty. One of those.

  9. 9% of Americans are unemployed (officially). Why aren’t 9% of Congressmen persons who weren’t (aren’t) employed?

    (Heck, to be radical: why doesn’t the President have the power to dismiss from office the same percentage of Congressmen as the current unemployment rate? I bet that’d get Congress debating a jobs bill !!)

  10. Economists?? God forbid we should have economists in Congress! Why not have TV “meteorologists” run the NSF?!

  11. Economists? Really? The geniuses who brought us 30 years of financial deregulation and crises now want to hold office. Mike Konczal:

    ‘And speaking as someone who has taken graduate coursework in “continental philosophy”, and been walked through the big hits of structural anthropology, Hegelian marxism and Freudian feminism, that graduate macroeconomics class was by far the most ideologically indoctrinating class I’ve ever seen. By a mile. There was like two weeks where the class just copied equations that said, if you speak math, “unemployment insurance makes people weak and slothful” over and over again. Hijacking poor Richard Bellman, the defining metaphor was that observation that if something is on an optimal path any subsection is also an optimal path, so government just needs to get out of the way as the macroeconomy is optimal absent absurdly defined shocks and our 9.6% unemployment is clearly optimal.’

  12. “I agree but as I’ve blogged in the distant past I want more economists elected to Congress.”

    Given that eocnomists as a class are a laughingstock, given the performance of the profession in not (on the whole) warning about the housing bubble, this wouldn’t seem to be a good idea.

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