Self-Interest Economics

Ariel Hart has a nice cover story in this morning’s AJC about the different metrics being used by political talkers to demonstrate how Atlanta is either getting fat or screwed in the distribution of Federal Stimulus funding.

As Hart points out, those in Atlanta  – who want more money – use the “For every thousand dollars metro Atlanta contributes to the economy, so far it’s getting back $1.37 from the stimulus road fund. The rest of the state is getting $2.02.” argument.

“How outrageous!!” cry the cultured urbanites.

The smaller cities and rural areas – who also want more money – roll their collective eyes and counter with this argument – summarized by Hart – “metro Atlanta is getting $66.81 per person in the area, while the rest of the state is getting $56.06.”

Not knowing which money-grubbers to trust, Hart turns to the economists, which surprisingly, are also of two minds.

So with few options remaining, the tired and intrepid reporter turns to the great-decider himself, Sonny Perdue, who’s spokesman rolls his eyes in his excellency’s absence and utters “If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that you can find an economist to say anything,”

And like a Turgenev short story, Hart’s article concludes without the closure we all seek.  We don’t discover who the real purveyor of truth is, or what it is about economists that makes them “say anything.”  It just is.