Top economic misconceptions of the lay people you wish you could correct?

That was the first request.

Economic misconceptions interact with values to skew overall judgment, but the value judgments are usually the main problem.  Consider how "anti-foreign bias," to borrow Bryan Caplan’s term, often causes people to oppose free trade.  The main problem isn’t bad economic understanding, though that often is present.  Rather the person has an emotional commitment to whatever economics, and other positive arguments, make the protectionist position sound higher status and more justified

Consider an analogy with political scandals.  It’s not quite right to pinpoint "mistaken beliefs about John Kerry’s wartime record on Swift Boat matters" as the main problem, even though the beliefs are indeed mistaken. 

Better thinking may do us more good than "better economic understanding" per se.

Both Alex and I have blogged that nationality (or sometimes
ethnicity or regional background) is often the best predictor of a person’s economic views and yes that includes among economists.  Given the diversity of economists’ views across nations, we are part of the problem too, thereby again illustrating the essential unity of mankind.

Still, I do believe in right and wrong and that means that the viewpoints of some nations (grossly construed) are better than others.  So the top economic misconception out there in the world is "unjustified dislike of the United States," noting that there are also justifiable reasons to dislike many aspects of this country.


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