Heidi Moore, U.S. finance and economics editor at The Guardian, recently sent the twittersphere buzzing with the hashtag #EconMyths. Economists, columnists and tweeps of all sorts weighed in.
Outside of the confines of 140 characters, Moore sat down with us to dispel three of the top #econmyths.
#EconMyth 1: Economics is a science.
"We do call it a social science but it's much more like an art, because a lot of the underlying statistics are not completely reliable," Moore explains. "You have to make a lot of inferences and it really takes almost an artistic or creative mind to see the connections among all of the numbers." So when the lay person looks at something like last Friday's jobs report and thinks this represents the world, the truth is there is always a different way to look at that information.
#EconMyth 2: Individuals can pull themselves up by the bootstraps in this economy and just get a job.
Moore says this idea keeps coming up with Congress debating and voting on extending long-term unemployment benefits. The idea is behind the myth is that the long-term unemployed are just lazy, explains Moore, and if they wanted to they could just look for work and get a job. Moore says that's a fallacy -- though it might be true in a really good economy, the fact that the labor force participation rate is the lowest since 1978 indicates there aren't a lot of jobs out there. Thus, the idea that an individual simply needs to "get off couch" to find employment doesn't hold water.
#EconMyth 3: That we know what happens when we raise or don't raise the minimum wage.
Moore says both sides of the debate are arguing their cases based on theory. "We don't have enough facts or studies on either side to know what the long-term implications of raising the minimum wage are," according to Moore. "A lot of these big policy decisions are spoken with certainty...when you dig down into science and numbers, they don't back up the dogma." That's a lesson to keep in mind when you listen to the rhetoric coming out of Washington.
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