What if Nobel Prize winners ran the country?
Colleague Zachary A. Goldfarb has penned a thoughtful Sunday Outlook essay, sketching out what an Obama administration stacked with Nobel prize winners might look like. His conclusions: Its members would be fairly old, and probably prone to disagreements. So who would do what?
Barack Obama (Peace Prize, 2009): "Still mired in Iraq and Afghanistan a year after his surprise win, Obama has yet to show he's the one the Swedes were counting on."
SECRETARY OF STATE:
Elie Wiesel (Peace Prize, 1986): "The Holocaust survivor could focus attention on ethnic warfare in Sudan and elsewhere, but his advocacy for Israel could make him controversial when engaging the Muslim world."
Edward Prescott (Economics, 2004): "Prescott would be skeptical of massive government spending to stimulate the economy. He'd also want to keep the Bush tax cuts in place to spur investment and boost productivity."
Thomas Schelling (Economics, 2005): "In his research, Schelling masterfully sketched out Cold War nuclear strategy. He could apply his game-theory approach to 21st-century threats such as terrorism and cyber-attacks."
Gary Becker (Economics, 1992): "He found that harsher punishments can be a more effective way to enforce the law than investing huge sums of money in policing and courts."
SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES:
Elizabeth Blackburn (Medicine, 2009): "She could ensure that science underpinned the nation's health-care decisions, but her aggressive support of embryonic stem cell research might alienate some."
Elinor Ostrom (Economics, 2009): "A political scientist, Ostrom studies how people share common resources such as land and advocates local autonomy."
Richard Heck (Chemistry, 2010): "He and his colleagues have developed chemical processes that can create substances to protect crops from disease."
Paul Krugman (Economics, 2008): "Though he might grumble about not running Treasury, he'd probably push for more aggressive policies ensuring that U.S. companies can easily sell to emerging markets such as China."
Peter Diamond (Economics, 2010): "He'd probably prefer a more permanent job himself -- Obama has nominated Diamond to the Fed, where he'd serve 14 years."
SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT:
Jimmy Carter (Peace Prize, 2002): "The 39th president, a carpenter, is the most famous "Habit for Humanity" volunteer and could work to expand housing for millions of Americans living in low-quality homes."
Al Gore (Peace Prize, 2007): "He would be keen to oversee the eco-friendly transformation of the nation's transportation systems, but his heavy investments in green technology could pose a conflict of interest."
Steven Chu (Physics, 1997): "Chu is an engineer who advocates a clean-tech future that reduces the effects of climate change. And he already has the job."
Toni Morrison (Literature, 1993): "The only living American Nobel laureate for literature would ensure that students read the classics, learn to love books and are exposed to America's diverse cultures."
SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS:
Jody Williams (Peace Prize, 1997): "Williams has spent decades working to protect civilians from the long-term effects of war and might be equally passionate on behalf of new veterans who have lost limbs or suffered traumatic brain injury."
HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY:
Henry Kissinger (Peace Prize, 1973): "As an immigrant himself, he might support novel approaches to border issues."
Read the full essay and leave your thoughts in the comments section below
| October 25, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
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