So, where do economists agree?
- Technological change affecting differentially the returns to different skills is one of the leading causes of rising US income inequality. Weighted by confidence, 34% strongly agree and 54% agree. Moreover, simply increasing the top marginal tax rate is exceedingly unlikely to make a substantive dent in the deficit, though small increases would raise more money.
- Shifting to a gold standard would worsen price stability and employment outcomes for the average American. Massive consensus here: zero percent of the panel agreed, agreed, or were uncertain, that shifting to the gold standard would make things better. Everybody said it's a bad idea, or a really bad idea. Weighted by confidence, 66% "strongly disagreed" that outcomes would improve.
- Congestion charges are a fantastic idea. Nobody disagreed.
- Carbon taxes are more efficient than CAFE standards for achieving CO2 reductions.
- Shifting from drug prohibition to to legalization and taxation would reduce social costs. Weighted by confidence, 35% strongly agreed, 44% agreed, 20% were uncertain, and 2% disagreed. Bob Hall was the one dissenter, with this justification: "My limited understanding is that there is evidence of harm from cannabis." Of course there is.
- America's policy of preferential tax treatment for employer provided health care causes distortion.
- "Buy American" mandates do not have significant positive impact on US manufacturing employment.
- Getting rid of the home mortgage interest deduction, with compensating changes elsewhere in the tax system, would improve the efficiency of home financing decisions.
- Shifting to vouchers would likely, but not necessarily, improve schooling outcomes. The median respondent, weighted by confidence, was uncertain, but there's more mass on the agree side than the disagree side.
There are other questions at the site; go have a look.
I'd draw from this that government by technocratic economists would never shift to a gold standard, would immediately implement congestion charging, put in place a carbon tax while abolishing CAFE, abolish the home mortgage interest deduction and preferential tax treatment of employer-provided health care, get rid of "Buy American" mandates, and very likely legalize marijuana and put it under an excise regime like that used for alcohol or tobacco. They'd also likely consider broader trials on vouchers so we could move from uncertainty to confidence.
Dilbert's Scott Adams ought to adopt this set of policies in his independent run for the Presidency.