Russ Roberts: Why Economists Are Irrelevant
“I came to realize that economists…tend to focus on things that can be measured,” says Russ Roberts, host of the long-running podcast, EconTalk, and author of the new book Wild Problems. “Dignity is hard to measure. A sense of self is hard to measure. Belonging is hard to measure. A feeling of transcendence is hard to measure. Mattering—that you are important, that people look to you. [These sorts of things are] about the life well-lived and they’re not about getting the most out of your money. They’re not about what the interest rates are next week. And economists truthfully have virtually nothing to say about these things.”
Roberts is an economist by training whose great theme over the past 40-plus years has been the fundamental inadequacy of his chosen discipline to really comprehend what matters most to the people it seeks to explain and understand. Wild Problems deals with the decisions that define us—such as whether to marry, whether to have kids, and what kind of work to pursue—that don’t yield to anything like easy cost-benefit analyses.
I talk with Roberts about how to navigate the increasing amount of choice most of us have gained over the past 50 years and how to make sense of a world that is richer than ever in material resources but seemingly lacking in deeper meaning. We discuss Ro
Article from Reason.com