Stand-Up Economist’s Letter to Obama Adviser

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Yoram Bauman (no relation), who calls himself “the world’s first and only stand-up economist,” has penned an open letter to Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee. (Goolsbee did some stand-up comedy himself earlier this month.):

Dear Austan:

You might think that it was quite a shock for me–”the world’s first and only stand-up economist“–to find a Wall Street Journal blog with the headline “Austan Goolsbee, stand-up economist“.

But in fact I was not shocked, or even surprised. You and your colleagues in the Obama administration have been quite active in redrawing the line between the public and private sectors, and it would not have been rational for me to expect that economics comedy would be immune from the onslaught.

Now, I could take your comedy endeavors as a threat and respond by hiring lobbyists to protect my turf, or by making an appearance on Fox News as “Joe the comedian”. But unlike plumbers or insurance executives or most other private sector businesses, stand-up comedians oppose barriers to entry. Although it pains me to remember the times I was crushed in comedy competitions by high school drop-outs telling fart jokes, I also remember that those crushing defeats made me stronger.

So I welcome the competition, even from the government (heck, especially from the government!) and in fact this letter is an open invitation for you to come join me in performing at the American Economic Association humor session in Atlanta on January 3, 2010. The humor session is free and open to the public, and will also feature Hugo Mialon of Emory University, Jodi N. Beggs of economistsdoitwithmodels.com, and country music legend Merle Hazard. University of Wisconsin professor Ken West will be emceeing, so you can RSVP to him or to me, or just show up unannounced and wait for Ken to invite you onstage. We even have a title for your presentation: Stand-Up Economics: The Public Option!

Regards, and hope to see you in Atlanta,
yoram bauman phd, standupeconomist.com
“the world’s first and only [private sector] stand-up economist”

I’m sure Yoram isn’t the only one who would be psyched to see Goolsbee cracking up the crowd in Atlanta. But what would Rahm Emanuel think?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest