NY Times columnist David Brooks writes:
One of the best pieces of career advice I ever got is: Interview three people every day. If you try to write about politics without interviewing policy makers, you’ll wind up spewing all sorts of nonsense.
Brooks was not talking about economists in particular, but this piece of wisdom can be taken as a critique of much of the economics profession. Many economists who write about policy rarely, if ever, encounter actual policymakers. Instead, they prefer to sit in the comfort of their ivory tower offices. (I know I do.)I wonder how different the economics profession would be if economists were expected to do a year of service outside of academia or, at the very least, if hiring committees rewarded a year of real-world experience as the equivalent of, say, a couple of academic publications. My conjecture is that the profession would be less creative but more useful.