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The Economy & Expertise

Wall StreetThe whole issue with the economy and the "Wall Street Bailout" has got me to thinking. First, let me share a related personal account.

I'm an engineer. But, the company I work for is small, so we all wear several hats. One of mine is being the webmaster. That means that my e-mail address is the one used for feedback from our website. I get lots and lots of suggestions from people about how to improve our aircraft - stopping the rotor, using two co-axial rotors, folding the rotor to stow it in flight, I've even gotten a few e-mails proposing perpetual motion machines. Most of these suggestions aren't stupid, just uninformed*. I didn't spend 5 years at the University of Maryland just to learn how to play beer pong and do keg stands. The professors actually taught me the specialized information I'd need to understand aerospace engineering. And the years I've spent on the job have taught me even more. 'Expertise' isn't any empty word, it means something.

So, how does this relate back to the economy? Well, those same people who think they know enough about aeronautics to know better than trained aerospace engineers are the same people who are now making a lot of noise about the economy, thinking they know more than trained economists. When I hear about polls and surveys that try to gauge the public's support for the bailout plan, my fist thought is to wonder how qualified most people are to have a valid opinion on the matter at all.

Personally, I can see the argument from both sides. I don't like bailing out the people that screwed us in the first place, but if the long term effect of not helping them is that I lose my retirement, well, to use a cliché, I don't want to cut off my nose to spite my face. Is the long term effect going to be that bad? I don't know. I know how to design planes, not run an economy. And if the problem's as urgent as some people are saying, I don't have the time to learn enough before a decision has to be made. That's why we're a republic and not a democracy - we do rely on our elected officials to know more about running a country than we do ourselves. So for this case, I'm just going to have to trust the experts, and hope they make the right decision.

Added 2008-10-03 I thought of one more thing to add, and it's important enough to add it here in the main entry so it doesn't get ignored in the comments. One other worry I have with Congress passing this bailout is that they're doing it merely to show that they're doing something, and not necessarily because they understand the bill enough to think that it will work. It's the same theme I've harped on about the TSA and security after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Just because politicians are making a show of taking action doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be effective.

*There are some good suggestions, too, and I don't mind explaining things for the uninformed suggestions, so please, nobody take this as a reason to not e-mail the company. It should also be noted that many people do recognize that they're not experts, and the suggestions are offered humbly. But, there are still quite a few arrogant ignorant people.


I agree. I trust the engineers that built planes when I fly, and I trust the economists when they say things are bad and need fixing.

I am a little bit reserved in that trust though. I know that an engineer has done countless test flights, while an economist can only look at previous examples and statistical data. Of course, planes don't fly because we all agree that they will, while the dollar exists simply because we will it to, so they do have a little wiggle room.

I always find it interesting when economies fail. Not because I'm sadistic, but because it just signifies the death of an old meme, and the birth of a new one. The new one will inevitably be better (for someone).

On another note, I noticed a guy over at atheist nexus that lived in Wichita Falls. I sent him a link to your blog.

#tagsforlikes #ss #jeffsbloghadmelike #jeffslunchbreak

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