Friday, September 05, 2014

Thank your local economist!

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Litan's talk explores the surprising role economists have played in the development of the internet economy -- and quite possibly your love life. 
Good talk declaring that economists deserve some respect. I would underline, the talk informs us that economists who have developed theory tested with experimental and observational evidence use their knowledge to improve institutions serving us.

I think there is one point that may be misinterpreted. Robert Litan ascribes great benefits to the deregulation of the airlines. That may be true, but if you think about it the airlines are heavily regulated in some ways and it makes them better. True they are not price regulated, but would you like to fly into Chicago, Los Angeles or New York without air traffic controllers? The air traffic controllers tell pilots when and where they can take off and land their planes, and pilots obey those regulations. So too, there is very strict safety regulation of the aircraft themselves, and as a result passenger aircraft are very safe vehicles. You are much safer in an airplane than an automobile per mile traveled, because the regulation of the airline  industry  is more effective than that of the automobile industry and of us drivers.

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