Why aren’t most academics in the debate on issues of public importance?

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I seem to be popular with the media this morning. The Scottish Daily Record features an article by columnist Joan McAlpine MSP that says:

Next time someone tells you Scotland has a £15billion deficit, throw three words at them: Professor Richard Murphy.

The influential professor of ­practice in international political economy at City University of London made his name exposing the way big companies avoid paying tax — and the ineffectiveness of governments in collecting tax.

He is a chartered accountant who has succeeded in sexing up his subject with his book The Joy of Tax.

This month he turned his ­attention to Scotland and in ­particular claims that the country has a £15billion deficit and is too poor to be an independent country.

This was the dominant theme of this blog last week, of course. I did not intend it to achieve the publicity it did: to be candid the first post on the theme was meant to be simple observation on what seemed to me, as an accountant and political economist, to be an obvious truth and it just grew from there.

I was, to be candid, a little unaware of just how sensitive the issue is in Scotland before writing, although this would not have stopped me intervening. But that is my point this morning. I am well aware that as an SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is not an objective observer, but then, nor are any of us. We all come with the our own biases. Those are what colour debate, and the debate on this issue has been colourful. But what is notable is how little academic intervention there has been in it. The question to be asked is one Danny Blanchflower posed to academic economists in 2012, which is 'Where were you?' The public is funding academics. Why aren't they being seen and heard?

PS I have accepted three invitations to Scotland in the last couple of days.