This Week's Poll

Comments - bottom of page


Ceteris Paribus

By John-Walt Boatright  —

In many undergraduate economics courses in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida, Dr. Sandberg would walk briskly into our classroom of roughly eighty students and immediately search for his stick of chalk to use for the day’s lecture.  With a Swedish accent and no notes, Sandberg would initiate the first of multiple price-quantity graphs that would progress our learning of theoretical economics.  And, yes, he prefers a chalkboard to Powerpoint, which aligned with the antiquated, 1950s ambiance of McCarty Hall D.

Within the first couple of weeks, we learned a shocking concept I never expected to hear in a university classroom, let alone professed by a paid university employee – government is inefficient!  Using the example of the 1970s oil embargo under the Carter administration, Sandberg masterfully and succinctly explained how the government’s intervention led to record gas prices and shortages throughout the country, drawing the graph as he went.  No political bias, just pure economics.

My entire understanding of economics, though at an elementary level, was cultivated primarily by skilled professors like Sandberg.  His straightforward style never left us floundering to grasp material, which many of the College of Business transfers outspokenly appreciated.  And he never injected political opinions, leaving us to form our own with the new knowledge we had gained at his hands.

The second concept I recall vividly from Sandberg’s teachings is a qualifier often used in political economic theory.  Economists thrive off models, the ones which we used daily to illustrate a particular concept and keep the learning process as clean as possible.  The downside to a model, however, is the list of assumptions one must make in order for the concept to hold.  An almost-always assumption was ceteris paribus, a Latin phrase meaning “other things constant,” which Sandberg could have trademarked by the end of our course.  For example, the price of this good declines by X dollars as its supply increases by Y units, ceteris paribus.  Again, ceteris paribus can be the bane of an economist’s existence because it discounts the volatility and complexity within the current economic system, made more so by the forces of globalization.

If I can apply an economic term to a political prediction, Hillary Clinton will be our next President, ceteris paribus.  If things remain constant, you can get used to saying Madam President.  Polling indicates as much, ranging from a 7-12 point national lead.  She is expected to easily reach the 270- vote threshold in the Electoral College, one model says as much as 326.  However, I am also using a caveat that is counter to the nature of this political season, the most unpredictable election cycle in American history.  There are still two more weeks for “other things” to become “unconstant.”

Political insiders on both sides predict a Clinton win.  What is not as certain is which   side will claim majorities in Congress.  Republicans have diverted attention on down-ballot races, and I don’t blame them.  The only thing more damaging than a Clinton presidency is a Clinton presidency AND Democratic control of Congress.  

The last product of such government representation?  The unmanageable, unaffordable behemoth that is Obamacare.

The other crucial races involve your representation in the United States House.  Dr. Neal Dunn (CD-2), Dr. Ted Yoho (CD-3), and Glo Smith (CD-5) offer the principled leadership and innovative solutions our federal government desperately needs, as shown by their life’s work.  Furthermore, they understand basic economics.  They know more government equates to more inefficiency.  And they know that ceteris paribus, the current direction is just more government and more unanswered problems.  

We need problem solvers in Congress. Now let’s elect them.