Sunday, February 06, 2011

As the blogosphere turns

Jeez. This is a weird mess. First, on Saturday, the NYTimes runs an article called "The lucky break of rent stabilization", which details the ups and downs of negotiations between tenants and developers over buyouts. Then N.G. Mankiw links to it for textbook promotion under essentially the same title, "The lucky break of rent control"

Here's NG's entire text:

For those instructors teaching about the economics of rent control (Chapter 6 of my favorite textbook) or the Coase Theorem (Chapter 10), this article about buyouts of rent stabilized tenants should generate a good class discussion.

Just your typical NG book plug, right? Nothing to see here.

But then, some blogger named Buce just goes off on NG with a post called "Mankiw's luck"

Here are some excerpts:

"Honestly, I sometimes wonder why this guy (i.e. NGM) gets taken seriously, but I suppose I know: he plays into every instinct for smug self-satisfaction that you would expect among cosseted, comfortable Harvard students--and that you would want a proper education to beat out of them."

Always good to start out with some non-germane mudslinging, Buce, please go on:

"Now strictly speaking, I am no great fan of rent control: I think it often does more (social) harm than good. But "luck"? Why is rent control more a "lucky break" than being born blond, beautiful, Norwegian and blessed with great ski-jumping skills? "

Umm, neither NG nor the NY Times article that he links to say anything like "rent control is the only form of luck that the human race can get". I think we can probably agree that since rent stabilized apartments aren't means tested or anything, it actually is lucky to be able to get one. but surely there's more to your complaint than NG didn't provide an exhaustive list of lucky things that can happen to humans:

Maybe I've got other friends who, say, bought apartments in the East 60s back in the Dinkins administration when those puppies were going for $65k a pop, tops. I suppose Mankiw might want me to think that those buyers (as distinct from those renters) were operating out of pluck and foresight and deserve every penny of the appreciation that they've enjoyed. I doubt it. I suspect that most of them were hard-working strivers who wanted to live in a nice place (considering) and got, well, lucky. Does Mankiw spend a class hour trying to delegitimatize their hold on good fortune, to figuring out ways of clawing it back from them?

Wow, WTF is this about? Again neither NG or the Times article says anything pro or con about price appreciation for homeowners! This guy/gal is basically unhinged.

NG must have taken a full Austin Powers right in the middle of Buce's cornflakes at some point.

Ok you say, that's amazingly bad, but hey, it's just some creepy corner of the interwebs, only NG fanboys like me (LOL) would ever find it.

Well actually I found it because Mark Thoma the king of econ blog links decided for some inscrutable reason to link to it! Why, Mark, why? Don't hate the Playa!


Mark Thoma said...

Greg has said very directly that when he links to something, it doesn't mean he endorses it (or that he doesn't).

I tried to tell him that people would take links as an endorsement no matter what he says, but he disagreed.

I always wonder if I get the benefit of doubt from him that he has claimed for himself.

[I was in NY in a hotel room, had walked from the World Trade Center to Central Park and back in miserable, rainy weather (first time in NY so worth it), and was dead tired and simply looking for something, anything, to get the links done. So I didn't give the links the usual scrutiny (haven't reread this one yet).]

Gerardo said...

Uh oh -- the Buce is loose!

Buce said...

Do rear it Mark, you'll enjoy it.

Jim said...

Such a great article it was which stabilized apartments aren't means tested or anything, it actually is lucky to be able to get one . It maybe complaint than NG didn't provide an exhaustive list of lucky things that can happen to humans. Thanks a lot for sharing this information.