Economic Illiteracy

Thomas Sowell:

Some years ago, the distinguished international-trade economist Jagdish Bhagwati was visiting Cornell University, giving a lecture to graduate students during the day and debating Ralph Nader on free trade that evening. During his lecture, Prof. Bhagwati asked how many of the graduate students would be attending that evening’s debate. Not one hand went up.

Amazed, he asked why. The answer was that the economics students considered it to be a waste of time. The kind of silly stuff that Ralph Nader was saying had been refuted by economists ages ago. The net result was that the audience for the debate consisted of people largely illiterate in economics and they cheered for Mr. Nader.

Sounds about right.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Hal says:

    Yea, that group seems about as economically literate as the supply siders. Or for that matter, most of this Administration’s supporters who think we can give massive tax breaks to the super wealthy while massively increasing government spending.

    Or the Californians who think that a rollback on the car registration tax can be paid for by borrowing money from our children.

    It ain’t just the wacko left that has a problem with economics, James.