Charles 'Charlie' J. Wheelan (born 1966) is American economist, speaker, founder of The Centrist Party, the author of Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data, Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science.
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- The goal of public policy is to make our lives better. Does that mean richer? Or healthier? No policy change is good for everyone, so we must weigh total gains against total losses. But even that task is more complicated than it first appears.
- Introduction to Public Policy (2011), Ch. 5 : Evaluating Social Welfare
- Good government is a prerequisite for a thriving market economy. At the same time, the coercive powers of government can be put to use in ways that serve narrow organized interests, including the government employees themselves. One of the most important tasks for policy analysts is determining when, where, and how government ought to involve itself (or not involve itself) in a modern economy.
- Introduction to Public Policy (2011), Ch. 8 : The Role of Government
Naked Economics (rev. and updated ed., 2010)
- Indeed, most bright, intellectually curious college students suffer through Econ 101, are happy to pass, and then wave goodbye to the subject forever. Economics is filed away with calculus and chemistry—rigorous subjects that required a lot of memorization and have little to do with anything that will come later in life. And, of course, a lot of bright students avoid the course in the first place. This is a shame on two levels.
First, many intellectually curious people are missing a subject that is provocative, powerful, and highly relevant to almost every aspect of our lives.…Second, many of our brightest citizens are economically illiterate.
- Economics presents us with a powerful, and not necessarily complex, set of analytical tools that can be used to look back and explain why events unfolded the way they did; to look around and make sense of the world; and to look forward so that we can anticipate the effects of major policy changes. Economics is like gravity: Ignore it and you will be in for some rude surprises.
- Having written all that, I must admit that there is some soul searching going on in the economics profession. As obvious as the financial crisis seems after the fact, few economists saw it coming (with some notable exceptions). Virtually none anticipated how severe it might be. In the fall of 2005, several prominent economists wrote in a prestigious journal, “As of the end of 2004, our analysis reveals little evidence of a housing bubble.”
Wrong. Actually the article was worse than wrong, because it was written explicitly to refute the signs of a bubble that had become obvious to many laypeople—which is kind of like the fire department showing up at a house with smoke wafting from the roof and declaring, “No, that’s not a fire,” only to have flames start leaping from the attic twenty minutes later. There was a bubble. And it can be explained best by incorporating psychology into economics, namely the tendency of individuals to believe that whatever is happening now is what’s most likely to happen in the future.
- Economics should not be accessible only to the experts. The ideas are too important and too interesting. Indeed, naked economics can even be fun.