American Automobile Fuel Consumption Debate


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brad setser

Help me out -- what is a complexifier (i.e. me)


Well, Larry Lessig once said that in Washington if you are explaining, you are loosing. It is a bumper sticker culture. Hence we get vastly oversimplified versions of everything. Liberal policies, for example, become "Cut and Run", "Tax and Spend", or "Man on Man". So, if I support agricultural subsidies, I become a protectionist. If I support NAFTA, then I become anti-labor rights, and so on.

We have too many people who make such simplifications. What we need is more people who do the opposite, and explain the nuances, trade-offs, and long term implications. I call such people Complexifiers.

Perhaps, a little too long an explanation. In case you need to calibrate, I would probably call Peter Orszag a complexifier too!

brad setser

You actually need people who can do both -- people who understand the world's complexity, but who also can simplify that complexity into a memorable (and sometimes cutting) phrase without losing too much of the underlying complexity. Not everyone wants to understand ever nuance. Repetition also works. And so on.

But I am very happy to be mentioned along side Dr. Orzag.

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