Tyler Cowen has come the closest but even he thought it wise to hedge his bets (“better-than-first-best economist”). Rather the typical response has been “oh yeah, I’m definitely in the second-best camp, no question” and then “me too, I’m also with the sophisticated, nuanced, second besters!”. This of course brings out my natural contrariness and makes me want to be the first person to officially declare as a first best economist. The First First Best Economist. That way, when other first best economists come forward, if and whenever they deviate from the party line to, like, first-and-three-sevenths best economics, I will have the moral authority to give’em demerits. Of course it could just happen that I end up demeritting only myself.
As far as the substantial foundations for my claim I DO happen to think that if the world could be put on “autopilot” and the policymakers, the authorities, and the monkey that pulls the levers had to either automatically follow the directive:
a) "Do exactly what "Econ 101" tells you too!"
or the directive
b) "Assume all the potential market failures that could occur are in fact occurring! Implement Econ 340 solutions to all potential market failures immediately and simultaneously!"
I think we'd still wind up with a better world in a) than b). And that's assuming that the monkey doesn't have a lever, c), labeled "get more bananas for monkey while pretending to be doing b)" (an elaboration on Dani's third counter argument to second best economics). Which is I guess what makes me a first best economist.
Now of course economists of the >1 best school will counter that that's not a fair comparison. What they advocate is not mindless government regulation, micro overmanaging, problem fixing and excessive lever pulling. What they advocate is looking at each problem in detail and figuring things out on case by case basis, all carefully, reasonably and all. In other words that what I'm doing above is just ... GASP ... setting up a straw-man (a straw-man with perhaps a shade of truth to it. After all straw-men only work if they somewhat resemble actual humans)
Whatever could've suggested that course of action to me?
I think I like Michael Greinecker's classification system better (and I'm sorry to drag him into this):
I think one may be able to sort economists by how much they believe in the merits of both markets and governments.
Tyler Cowen - Believes in both markets and government.
David Friedman - Believes in markets but not in government.
Joseph Stigliz - Believes in government but not in markets.
John Roemer - Believes neither in government nor in markets.
It´s hard to find a ideological pattern here.
The last sentence is particularly true. Theoretically I think I most agree with John Roemer. But he's also the person on that list that I'm the farthest from politically. I probably agree the least-theoretically-but-most-politically with Tyler (given that these are correct summations of these fine folks' views).
and here's a guy who definitely beat me to it but telling you that at the beginning would've ruined the, uh, aesthetic point and I would've missed the opportunity to make that stupid demerit joke above.
This guy too (thanks to Robert for pointer)