I don’t really think this one is of general interest so I’ll put it all below the jump . . .
I often read Greg Mankiw’s blog because it has lots of interesting little bits. Also, just as it can be fun to read the writings of someone nonideological, because you never know where they’ll stand on any given issue, it can also be enjoyable to read more partisan writings–in Mankiw’s case, you’ll get an educated conservative take on a wide range of economic issues. Sometimes I think Mankiw is misled by his ideology (as in his blogs on his work incentives, recidivism, and Sonia Sotomayor’s savings account); other times he makes a good point (as with the Obama team’s unemployment forecast and effects of tax cuts). But he’s often thought-provoking.
But I was unhappy to see Mankiw’s latest blog entry. Here it is, in its entirety:
Three on Health Policy
1. John Cochrane
2. Robert Samuelson
3. Charles Krauthammer
What sort of value is Mankiw adding here? He’s across the river from an excellent, excellent department of health care policy. Wouldn’t it be more helpful for Mankiw to read some of their papers and give his comments, from the perspective of a conservative economist? What does he gain by linking to newspaper pundits (links 2 and 3 above)?
This is not to say that a blogger should only ply the areas of his comparative advantage. For example, I sometimes like to recommend novels. Mankiw’s post is different, I think, in that he’s linking to arguments about economics–but arguments that are being made by people with much less expertise than he has! It would be like me approvingly linking to a Dilbert cartoon that endorses Bayesian statistics.
I guess the real question is why this bothers me. I guess it’s because Mankiw’s job description (researcher/educator in a technical field, blogger for fun and for public education purposes) is so close to mine. Conversely, lots of people in the so-called blogosphere get upset by the rantings of various bottom-feeder journalists and bloggers on the left and the right, things that don’t bother me much at all, I have no problem just ignoring them.
I’m certainly not saying that Mankiw has any duty to be commenting on the top papers in health care policy research for his blog–after all, he has a day job, he can blog on whatever he wants, and, as noted above, he has a lot of interesting things to say and he says them well. I just don’t see what he is offering by linking to newspaper op-eds. I think he’d have much more to offer, even as a blogger, by critiquing the work of academic health-care policy researchers from the perspective of his expertise in macroeconomics.
I guess this is a sign that I spend too much time blogging, if I start offering unsolicited advice to other bloggers.