To Dig Holes In the Ground

Quick: someone explain to me how what Megan McArdle is saying here is substantively different from what Michael Steele told George Stephanopoulos last week:

http://bloggingheads.tv/maulik/offsite/offsite_flvplayer.swf

Now, I’m not an economist, but I like to think I know a bit about politics, and I wonder where Megan gets the notion that legislators craft their PR strategies for government hiring programs based on their perception of the marginal product of labor of those programs. I tend to believe that PR strategies are products of message-testing and polling rather than economic metrics, but maybe I’m just naïve.

Also, a note to Bob Wright or whoever decides Bloggingheads pairings: I like Megan McArdle. I read her blog regularly, I watch her diavlogs, and think she does a fine job of explaining economic policy (however much I may disagree) to a lay audience. But she’s not an economist. If you want to match her up with Felix Salmon or Michael Lewis or Bethany McLean or some other economic journalist, fine. That’d be an interesting discussion, and it’s an apples-to-apples match-up. But let Dean Baker debate Robert Barro, or Kevin Murphy, or John Cochrane. Pairing him up with Megan, apparently, just leads to pissing matches about which BLS measure said what in which year in the 1930s.

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