In the intro to "The Technical and Social History of Software Engineering", the author writes:
From analysis of what passes for arguments between the Democratic and Republicans, both sides seem to be wrong and the end results will probably __________ no matter which path is taken ... But instead of rational discussions.... both sides have merely pour out rhetoric with hardly any factual information or proof of either side's argments.... They both rail against each other, but neither presents anything that looks like solid data.
Anyone care to guess what topic he is referring to? It scares me that so many different ones fit.
First guess: the economy.
Second guess: the environment.
Third guess: the difficulty in finding a decent cup of regular coffee, not this fru fru frappe-latte-chino stuff. (OK, that's a bit of a long shot, but coffee drinkers seem to be very passionate on this issue.)
As the book is recently published (November) it could be about healthcare.gov (which, by the way, appears to be working pretty well now; my partner used it to easily and quickly sign up for a marketplace policy.)
But, could any number of other things; I'll go with NSA spying.
I like the diversity of guesses. Which shows that politics is polarized on many issues. While the book just printed, it finished being written in Spring 2013. Too early for healthcare.
Joined: Oct 13, 2005
What amuses me is that Jones suggests that using models of the economy and sufficient data would have permitted accurate predictions and improved the American economy.
Politicians have this touching faith in their ability to achieve something, whereas they usually the more they do, the more harm they do. I was told that is one of the great contributions of the US system of government: it restrains the ability of government to do anything quickly.
Also there are a plethora of economic theories, often contradictory to one another. So the conclusions drawn often depend more on the theory being used than on the data available. It can take a long time before people notice the behaviour of the economy is completely different from that predicted by the theory. For example: Keynes was popular in UK in the 1960s and one of his beliefs (I was told, so this might be inaccurate) was that inflation was associated with full employment because workers could then press for higher wages. Keynesians thought high unemployment and high inflation were mutually incompatible, but we had both inflation and high unemployment in Britain throughout most of the 1970s.
I'm actually amenable to the idea of using historical data and computer models to predict the results of a policy. Yes, the economy is too complicated to predict accurately with any computer model. There are just too many variables to control for. Modeling is still a good tool though ... better than going with "your gut" or simply pandering by picking the most popular short-term solution.
For Keynes, I believe he still is pretty popular. I only have vague recollections of him from my econ classes decades ago, refreshed by a Planet Money episode last week. However, I'm pretty sure 0% unemployment would indicate a labor shortage and would lead to inflationary pressure. As I remember, the "stagflation" of the 1970s stemmed from the formation of OPEC, which resulted in a reduced supply of oil and higher prices. The world economy eventually adapted, but it took awhile. I don't see how that discredits Keynes's idea that 0% unemployment can cause inflation, unless he insisted that was the only possible cause.