Monday, February 18, 2019

Commentary: 'Boston University Economics Professors: "We Are Very Proud of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez"' by Robert Wenzel

Although there are many questions about whether socialist congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez understands basic economics, the economics faculty at Boston University, where she graduated in 2011 cum laude from BU's  College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor's degree in international relations and economics, seems to be in full support of her.

Yesterday, I spoke over the phone with a number of BU faculty members in the economics department and the consensus was that she was a very bright student who has "very interesting ideas" and that she will have an impact. They seemed to believe that she was getting advice from "top economists," perhaps Thomas Piketty. Yes, this Thomas Piketty.

Even Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff, who would seem to have the least in common with AOC from a policy perspective (He was President Ronald Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers), told me that the Boston University economics faculty was "very proud of her."

He emphasized that AOC was "impressive in many ways" and that what she is advocating "in many ways is closer to where we should be than where we are now."

He said it was good she was pushing the envelope and that she is causing serious discussion. He particularly likes that she is pushing for a "progressive fiscal system." He says we now have a regressive fiscal system.

Kotlikoff, who didn't have AOC in any of his classes, told me to give his number to her. He has a climate change model he wants to talk to her about.

The views of the BU faculty are, of course, different from many economists outside the school.

William L. Anderson has written:

[F]or all of the “grand vision” rhetoric that accompanies the rollout of the AOC plan, this is nothing less than an attempt to re-implement Mao’s Great Leap Forward, albeit with high-speed rail instead of backyard steel mills. One cannot overestimate the disaster that would follow if this were forced upon the American economy.
So-called political visionaries rarely are willing to be truthful about the destruction that follows their schemes. When Baby Boomers were in college a half-century ago, many saw Mao as their political hero, a man with great vision who had the political will to do what was necessary to advance the fortunes of his own people. That he was a murderous tyrant who presided over mass death that exceeded even the killings of World War II was irrelevant or even ignored. 
Today, we are told by her adoring press that Alexandria Occasio-Cortez is the New Visionary, a person who is far-seeing and knows what we have to do in order to survive the coming consequences of climate change. That her grand vision is little more than a mass-depopulation scheme is ignored, and we ignore it at our peril.
Robert Higgs has written that AOC should learn about the basic economic principle of opportunity cost that without this understanding she is destined to "make a fool of herself every time she talks about economic matters."

He suggested that she might want to sue for malpractice the people responsible at BU for awarding her a degree in economics.

But none of the BU faculty I talked to seemed concerned about the lack of basic economic understanding reflected in AOC's proposals.

It might be thought that perhaps there was simply support by the BU faculty for a student coming out of their university, but there appeared to be genuine enthusiasm for her radical proposals. At most, they simply wanted to tweak her proposals. The basic idea that central planning an economy and society is a horrific idea just didn't seem to register with them.

Their student was gaining influence amongst central planning leadership and that seemed to be what was important to them.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and Target Liberty. 

More about Wenzel here. 

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Economic Policy Journal and has been rerun with the permission of the author.

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