An Episcopal Economist Hedges his Hedging
File this one in the totally random thought category, but I pulled this gem out of my journal over the weekend:
Truman once said he wanted a one-arm economist, “so he couldn’t say ‘on the other hand’.” I have an MA in economics, so I should hedge, but on the other hand, I only have an MA, so I should “half-hedge” (that “hedging my hedging” bit should earn me a PhD on its own). I am also an Episcopalian, which means that on the one hand, I am Anglican and hedging is that most Anglican of instincts, but on the other hand, the Episcopal Church will take up some principles as long as they aren’t in the Bible, so I’ll half hedge from that.
On the other hand (and if the Hindus are right, I will be coming back as an octopus: eight hands and no backbone), I’m not going to hedge as much as present some “gradient alternatives”, especially when I talk about policy. I’ll call this the “better sex-education” argument – you should be abstinent until marriage, but if your aren’t going to be, condoms are better than birth control pills, which are in turn better than nothing. Since we could replace the public school system with a million better alternatives, and still be screwed by the system, I think this is the perfect analogy.