Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Self-Identified Leftists Don't HAVE to be Dumb

Economic illiteracy is not destiny, it's a choice. KPC friend D-Klein has some data.

Me, I'm reminded of LvM:

Scarcely anyone interests himself in social problems without being led to do so by the desire to see reforms enacted. In almost all cases, before anyone begins to study the science, he has already decided on definite reforms that he wants to put through. Only a few have the strength to accept the knowledge that these reforms are impracticable and to draw all the inferences from it. Most men endure the sacrifice of the intellect more easily than the sacrifice of their daydreams. They cannot bear that their utopias should run aground on the unalterable necessities of human existence. What they yearn for is another reality different from the one given in this world. They long for the "leap of humanity out of the realm of necessity and into the realm of freedom." They wish to be free of a universe of whose order they do not approve.

So, it's a conscious choice to decide that the basic laws of economics should be amended. Lefties want to feel good about regulating housing prices. The fact that rent control actually HURTS the poor...well, that's inconvenient, and they just prefer to put their fingers in their ears and sing folk songs from the 1960s, and congratulate themselves on their INTENTIONS, not the actual impacts of the laws they advocate.

If you want to help the poor, but know that your dumb laws actually hurt the poor, you just pretend that the laws aren't really dumb.

14 comments:

eightnine2718281828mu56 said...

---
What they yearn for is another reality different from the one given in this world.
---

Like the right's yearning for a world where all teens are celibate?

Matt Gilliland said...

^^
Exactly.

Dirty Davey said...

The article is pretty weak. See http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/worst_poll_ever/ for a takedown.

"Somewhat (dis)agree", often a quite reasonable answer to statements as sweeping as these, was treated as "wrong".

One particularly bad one: "5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree)."

Unless you are confident that not a single third world worker is being exploited--which I very much doubt--then a "somewhat agree" (which Kline calls "wrong") answer is entirely consistent with believing that "most aren't, but some almost certainly are" (which is I suspect not too far from the truth).

Similarly: "restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable"--doesn't it depend on the restrictions? A requirement for a large lot certainly increases prices, but a restriction which encourages high-density development may produce less expensive property.

Anonymous said...

Apparently D-Klein should have started each question with: "99 times out of 100,". Then liberals wouldn't continually resort to the 1 time in 100 instance Krugman led them to believe is representative of aggregate reality.

Tom said...

As a libertarian, my first thought was "it's nice to be included." This is true despite Klein's seeming to set us up as a kind of variant on Conservative, which is misleading at best.

Tom said...

I want to help Dirty Dave in his quest for a "single third world worker" being exploited. To find that person, first squint at this comment from the panda page referenced:

The sweatshops become the best option after they take away your farm or break up the subsistence village you were raised in. [from "catfood", emphasis mine]

Blur your vision until you can no longer see the question - who is "they?" Did generic American Company become part of "they" by inducing Third World Power to engage in their style of eminent domain? Or is "they" the general progress of a human population explosion? I guess if you already hate American Company, it's easy to believe the first and even to blame them for so many people being alive. There's your victim.

Anonymous said...

Nate Silver did a nice analysis of the questionable methodology of this survey:

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/06/are-you-smarter-than-george-mason.html

Executive summary: bad sample, bad questions, half the questions are thrown out without explanation, and many of the answers are debatable at best.

@ Tom

Looking for exploited 3rd world workers? Look no further than the closest Ipad (over a million units sold!). Unless we are to believe that the Chinese just love working 34 hours shifts. At least he has the decency to not kill himself like a dozen of his co-workers. But hey, managment had a great solution: make all the remaining works sign pledges not to kill themselves after their 34 hour shifts.

Tom said...

Anon#1 left a light weight comment Chinese workers and 34 hour shifts. I wouldn't start looking for freedom in today's China, but let's say that the man was NOT threatened with state sponsored violence. Then the question is "what were his other choices?" In working that shift, he left us his opinion. IF (there's no link!) he committed suicide, then he made a comment about ALL his options -- not just the long shift.

MaxSpeak said...

Any doubts I had about DK's objectivity were put to rest by this paper. And not in a good way.

Angus said...

I have to say that I am with the Lefties on this one.

First of all, "somewhat agree" and "somewhat disagree" are basically the same answer, no? Yet Klein treats them very very differently.

Second, the questions are phrased as absolutes when clearly there is ambiguity in the real world. While I respect and largely agree with Tom's view about worker exploitation, according to how most people use the word, there is no way we can be assured that the question has a clear cut answer.

I don't think the Left has anything close to a monopoly on bad economics. Look at the right on immigration for Pete's sake!

Angus said...

I have to say that I am with the Lefties on this one.

First of all, "somewhat agree" and "somewhat disagree" are basically the same answer, no? Yet Klein treats them very very differently.

Second, the questions are phrased as absolutes when clearly there is ambiguity in the real world. While I respect and largely agree with Tom's view about worker exploitation, according to how most people use the word, there is no way we can be assured that the question has a clear cut answer.

I don't think the Left has anything close to a monopoly on bad economics. Look at the right on immigration for Pete's sake!

Anonymous said...

@ Tom

Actually the worker in question didn't kill himself, he merely collapsed of exhaustion and died. Unlike many of his co workers, who have ended their own lives. No link? Try google, genius. Type "34 hour shift ipad" and you'll get all the info you need.

Then the question is "what were his other choices?" In working that shift, he left us his opinion.

So you think the "choice" to work in sweat shop conditions constituents a free and unexploitive market decision?

Light weight comment? The survey asked "are third world workers exploited?" and said the answer is no. I give an easy counter example which blows up that entire question and the conclusions which the researcher draws. If it takes only a light weight comment like that to destroy someone's work, the it wasn't very good.

Anonymous said...

See what I mean?!? They continually believe that the 1 time in 100 instance is representative of aggregate reality.

BTW, I've worked plenty of 34+ hour shifts, and I'm still here. I'm not crazy (like the suicidal iPad workers), I just like money (like the non-suicidal iPad workers).

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