One Endorsement

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I know nearly nothing about Samuel Bodman, Bush's pick to take over the Department of Energy. But apparently Hernando de Soto is a fan.

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  1. Didn’t he discover the Pacific or the Andes or something? Why is he speculating on Ennergy Sec’y in the 21st century?

  2. The downside of this would seem to be that Bodman is now “lost” to Treasury.

    And while I am encouraged by deSoto’s endorsement, let us put it in its place. It suggests that Bodman is a bright man, and that is always good to hear. But giving high praise to a man because his “understanding of how markets work” — well, what the hell does that say about the rest of the Bush administration’s economic team? In addition, I think it is a bit much to say, from this endorsement, that Bodman has a “discriminating mastery of powerful economic ideas” — Perhaps deSoto laid out a stronger case for Bodman, but it is not given here.

    Finally, the cheap snub about journalists not understanding chemical engineering…Well, it’s a cheap snub. I don’t know what else to say. Bodman received his Ph.D. in chem. eng. at MIT, then managed to hang around as an associate prof. at MIT for six years before leaving to work at a venture captal firm and never looking back. There is no mention of what sort of scientific work he did, though his thesis work was on heat transfer in nonequilibrium chemical reactions. There are few reference I can find to any papers he wrote, though, to be fair, his work would be old enough that citations might be difficult to track down electronically. I read this as the biography of a scientist who felt more at home at business. This is perfectly fine, but let us not oversell his unique capacity to understand the scientific issues at play in energy policy. In fact, I am perfectly willing to believe that it is possible to craft good energy policy while knowing next to nothing at all about heat transfer in nonequilibrium chemical reactions.

    And as someone who works with many MIT science grads, under and post, let me assure you that a scientific degree from MIT in no way assures that you understand math.

    Sorry, I’m in a cranky mood this morning. To reiterate: The quote from de Soto is encouraging, but the hype from the linked post is annoying.

    Anon

  3. No, Anon, it’s all too true. Like all of us at Reason, I’d dreamed longingly of an engineer’s life until a “B” in calc crushed my dreams forever. Nobody would choose a career in media except out of desperation when their math skills proved inadequate.

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