WSJ: Liberals fail economics test, conservative and libertarians score best

posted at 2:55 pm on June 8, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Consider this an answer to the silly “tests” and psychological reviews that the media likes to use to paint conservatives as either less intelligent or less sane than their “reality-based” opponents on the Left.  The Wall Street Journal reports on a Zogby survey on economics that discovered a significant difference in results based on political ideology.  Liberals scored worst, but who scored best?  Not surprisingly, the purer free-marketeers, but not by much:

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.

Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened.

Unenlightened?  Er, that sounds rather … subjective, doesn’t it?  Wouldn’t it have made more sense to craft questions that have actual right or wrong answers and score the surveys on that basis?  That makes the results that Daniel Klein produces somewhat suspect:

How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

Americans in the first three categories do reasonably well. But the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics.

I like beating up on progressive economics as much as any conservative blogger, but this looks a lot like a test designed to produce a result, not an objective analysis.  Besides, we’re getting a real-world demonstration of progressive economics over the last sixteen months.  We don’t need a Zogby survey to tell us that it fails; all we need to see are the job-creation numbers coming this year, and the precipitous drop in mortgage applications.

Consider the questions and “unenlightened answers” key that Klein provides:

The other questions were: 1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services (unenlightened answer: disagree). 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago (unenlightened answer: disagree). 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree). 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly (unenlightened answer: agree). 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree). 6) Free trade leads to unemployment (unenlightened answer: agree). 7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment (unenlightened answer: disagree).

As it happens, I agree with the scoring on these, but some of them are at least arguable.  The rent-control question, for example, prompts a chicken-and-egg argument.  Rent control doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but usually in a market where housing shortages already exist for other reasons (high population, overly strict zoning requirements, and so on.)  A “disagree” on that question might well hinge on a disagreement over the source of the shortage, which is at least a reasonable question to ask.  Likewise, the answer to the question of exploitation of Third World workers is probably not a yes/no answer, but a matter of degree, and of whether the “exploitation” tends to benefit both parties or just one to the exclusion of the other, and the answer is not going to be the same in every single instance of Third World outsourcing.

But I suspect that Klein and the people who will quote this survey don’t care for nuance and substance as much as they will want some ammunition in the who’s-dumber war among pundits.  This is every bit as substantial as the previous salvos, which is not saying much at all, but therefore it has some terrific tu quoque value.  Sling away!

Update: King Banaian takes issue with my taking issue.  Be sure to read it all.  I also fixed a problem in the penultimate paragraph, noted in King’s post with a [sic].  One other point I forgot to add: in the structure of the scoring on this test, one could have “passed” by simply answering “not sure” on every question, which also tends to discount its usefulness.

Update II, 6/11/2010: Apparently, E. D. Kain at TrueSlant didn’t bother to read this post before linking it and characterizing it as a happy dissemination of the “poll”.    Let’s see how long it takes before he actually reads this post, rather than just grabbing the link from Memeorandum and assuming I’m a big fan of this work.

Update III: How long?  Immediately.  Kain sent me a very nice apology and will correct the record in his two blogs.  Many thanks for such a quick response.


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Bush’s fault.

Good Lt on June 8, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Liberals don’t understand how wealth is created. They only know how to accumulate wealth by taking it from someone else.

Skandia Recluse on June 8, 2010 at 2:59 PM

You have to be an economic illiterate to be a liberal. If you understood economics, you’d be a conservative.

Cicero43 on June 8, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Watcha talkin about? The Stimulus worked.

El_Terrible on June 8, 2010 at 3:02 PM

This is every bit as substantial as the previous salvos, which is not saying much at all, but therefore it has some terrific tu quoque value.

appreciate the sling ED :)

cmsinaz on June 8, 2010 at 3:03 PM

You could argue that the use of Third World labor is exploitation. But that would definitely NOT be an economic argument; the labor in question would be improving their income, dramatically in many cases.

I could quibble with the use of the word “unenlightened” because it sounds objective. They should’ve said “economically sound”.

hawksruleva on June 8, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Ed, they don’t give a bad mark for someone marking “unsure”. So it’s rather objective if you ask me. Now, if they only provided credit for giving the “right” answer, I’d agree with you. But that’s not the case.

As Skandia speaks to in their post, liberals do NOT understand how wealth is created or destroyed. Most liberals think money is wealth.

ButterflyDragon on June 8, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Get that damn light outta my eyes…

mojo on June 8, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Much has to do with age.

Many “progressives” are simply addled youngsters who actually believe the things the MFM tells them, that singers and actors tell them and what lying Democrats tell them.

Then they grow up, get a real job and learn everything the left has told them all their lives, is wrong.

Either that or they age stupid and remain a Democrat progressive. Which happens.

NoDonkey on June 8, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Liberals don’t understand how wealth is created. They only know how to accumulate wealth by taking it from someone else.

Skandia Recluse on June 8, 2010 at 2:59 PM

I believe most liberals don’t understand that wealth IS created. Most of them seem to see the world as a finite pile of resources. So they complain about running out of oil, even though we keep finding more. And they complain about impending food shortages, though we produce more per acre than ever. And they try to redistribute wealth, instead of letting productive people increase the wealth of consumers, workers and investors involved with their products.

hawksruleva on June 8, 2010 at 3:05 PM

I’m not sure that that is so much a test of economic knowledge as it is of indoctrination level.

Count to 10 on June 8, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Likewise, the answer to the question of exploitation of Third World workers being exploited is probably not a yes/no answer, but a matter of degree, and of whether the “exploitation” tends to benefit both parties or just one to the exclusion of the other, and the answer is not going to be the same in every single instance of Third World outsourcing.

They offered a “not sure” option that was not counted as incorrect if people had other diagnosis.

Aquateen Hungerforce on June 8, 2010 at 3:06 PM

This is what I’ve been arguing about with my friend, Ed, these questions aren’t ideologically loaded; it’s basic econ. Ideology comes in when debating whether the negatives of these things outweigh the positives of them.

The problem is that liberals never admit that there are negative outcomes to their problems and when those outcomes eventually arise, they tend to blame conservatives or some other mythical monster that they then have to slay.

cpaulus on June 8, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Understanding of Economics requires a relationship to people, effort, and results… which the liberal does not have. To steal from the movie… “I think of a man, then I take away reason and accountability.”

lm10001 on June 8, 2010 at 3:07 PM

As it happens, I agree with the scoring on these, but some of them are at least arguable. The rent-control question, for example, prompts a chicken-and-egg argument. Rent control doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but usually in a market where housing shortages already exist for other reasons (high population, overly strict zoning requirements, and so on.) A “disagree” on that question might well hinge on a disagreement over the source of the shortage, which is at least a reasonable question to ask. Likewise, the answer to the question of exploitation of Third World workers being exploited is probably not a yes/no answer, but a matter of degree, and of whether the “exploitation” tends to benefit both parties or just one to the exclusion of the other, and the answer is not going to be the same in every single instance of Third World outsourcing.
POSTED AT 2:55 PM ON JUNE 8, 2010 BY ED MORRISSEY

So I guess you get 2/10 wrong, which places you between conservative and moderate.

ebrawer on June 8, 2010 at 3:10 PM

Look at the typical University professor. Works 3 days a week, yellow notes from work done years ago, can’t be fired, never ending supply of boys & girls, and a discount on Turtle Neck sweaters at the Mens Warehouse. How on could a person like that even contemplate the existence of cause and effect… let alone consequences for actions.

lm10001 on June 8, 2010 at 3:12 PM

So I guess you get 2/10 wrong, which places you between conservative and moderate.

ebrawer on June 8, 2010 at 3:10 PM

If there was a neutral answer, then Ed would still have a perfect 0.

Count to 10 on June 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM

So all the Progressives get a B+?

CC

CapedConservative on June 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM

But the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics.

This cracked me up. They can’t differentiate it seems. I guess they aren’t good multi taskers either.

upinak on June 8, 2010 at 3:15 PM

A good example of liberal economic expertise could be illustrated by Larry Summer’s performance at Harvard and now he is a WH adviser. Or you could look at Geithner’s record.

LarryG on June 8, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Of course the third world labor is being exploited. It is being used for maximum advantage. This is not a bad thing. The problem is the left has used “exploit” as a negative term for so long, it has corrupted the popular meaning of the word.

The alternative is that the labor remains “unexploited”, which means unemployed, unpaid and starving. Hardly a preferable condition, IMHO.

Haiku Guy on June 8, 2010 at 3:17 PM

At first, I agreed with your take on the subjective grading. But looking at the trend of the answers, I took it back…mostly.

I would still like a test that could have stricter grading, but this will do.

cozmo on June 8, 2010 at 3:18 PM

Everyone was asked the same questions and everyone was given the same answers to choose from. They self identified their ideology, what exactly is the issue. Maybe it could have been more scientific to suit some but just saying for this data set this was the result.

bluemarlin on June 8, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Shocka!!!

Bruno Strozek on June 8, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Heckuva job there, Liberals.

Doorgunner on June 8, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Damn your objectivity Ed!

Alternate Headline:

As suspected, now proven:

Liberals are idiots

Brian1972 on June 8, 2010 at 3:25 PM

This information must be kept from the people. I’m sure this link has already been sent to flag@whitehouse.gov.

Mojave Mark on June 8, 2010 at 3:25 PM

The commies of the donk party think they can borrow and spend our way to solvency.

That. Is. All.

jukin on June 8, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Libertarians would’ve scored higher if it weren’t for the liberal whackjobs that claim to be libertarian.

John the Libertarian on June 8, 2010 at 3:28 PM

You have to be an economic illiterate to be a liberal. If you understood economics, you’d be a conservative. Cicero43 on June 8, 2010 at 3:01 PM

What he said.

This is as profound as a report stating that blind people can’t see.

Akzed on June 8, 2010 at 3:29 PM

I’m not sure that that is so much a test of economic knowledge as it is of indoctrination level.

Count to 10 on June 8, 2010 at 3:05 PM

So pick one and refute it. I agree that the test statements are basic conservative ideas, and it would be more interesting if some statements that are challenging to conservative thinking were included. It seems those situations have to do more with specific instances of corruption and not the theory.

pedestrian on June 8, 2010 at 3:30 PM

I think you’re trying to be too nuanced with those qualifications on rent control, Ed. It’s irrelevant whether housing shortages exist at the time of rent control imposition. The question is what does it “lead” to. IOW, do rentals increase or decrease after rent control is imposed.

As for the exploitation, you’re close to the target, but overall the exploitation is issue is way too infused with with uncontrollable (in an study of economics sense) lefty social justice issues to even bother with arguing in the economics of it much less using it in a survey like this. Bottom line, however, is that it is not exploitive.

Dusty on June 8, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Ed,

While I agree with the question on third-World workers not being solidly objective, the question on rent-control is. It is very easy to draw a straight line between rent-control policies and housing shortages.

In short: City passes rent control laws in response to _________ (the political cause really doesn’t matter). Most landlords simply suck up the loss of their profits, since the profit potential is still better than other investment opportunities, especially considering the sunk costs already incurred. But the landlords operating on the margins eventually find their variable costs exceeding the costs of maintaining the property to rental standards. At that point, it makes economic sense to either convert the property for commercial use (after expending the necessary monies to get the property rezoned, of course), or in the case of rental properties at the low end of the cost scale, either ignoring the costs of maintenance (and paying off the appropriate government agencies), or in extreme cases (like NYC) simply walking away from the properties.

Boom! Instant housing shortage. Just add government.

JohnGalt23 on June 8, 2010 at 3:34 PM

As it happens, I agree with the scoring on these, but some of them are at least arguable. The rent-control question, for example, prompts a chicken-and-egg argument. Rent control doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but usually in a market where housing shortages already exist for other reasons (high population, overly strict zoning requirements, and so on.) A “disagree” on that question might well hinge on a disagreement over the source of the shortage, which is at least a reasonable question to ask. Likewise, the answer to the question of exploitation of Third World workers being exploited is probably not a yes/no answer, but a matter of degree, and of whether the “exploitation” tends to benefit both parties or just one to the exclusion of the other, and the answer is not going to be the same in every single instance of Third World outsourcing.

On the first item, While other factors can ALSO lead to housing shortages, I think it would be hard to create a case where Rent controls did not push supply down from its normal demand other things being equal. So it will always lead to shortages.

On the second, you may be right that it depends on what exploited means. Since the Left tends to think of overpaid union laborers as exploited workers, it would be hard to make sense of this question. How do you exploit a worker without chaining them to a stool or forcing them into some sort of indenture? If they are free to quit, you can’t make them do anything that they think is worse than the alternative. They at least feel working is an improvement over other options. So every job is expansive not exploitive.(is that a word?).

SO I have no problem with the scoring on these.

OBQuiet on June 8, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Soory. The above should read “… the variable costs (the costs of maintaining the property to rental standards) exceeding the rental income.

Preview is my friend.

JohnGalt23 on June 8, 2010 at 3:36 PM

[Haiku Guy on June 8, 2010 at 3:17 PM]

Granted. Even I’ve been indoctrinated into the knee-jerk socialist meaning of exploitation. I reverse my bottom line, above, based on this caveat.

Dusty on June 8, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Obviously this survey is RAAAAAAACIST.

crazy_legs on June 8, 2010 at 3:37 PM

I’m not sure that that is so much a test of economic knowledge as it is of indoctrination level.

Count to 10 on June 8, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Thread winner.

JusDreamin on June 8, 2010 at 3:38 PM

it has some terrific tu quoque value. Sling away!

But tu quoque is a fallacious argument, Ed. You only win argument with fallacies against dummies. Oh, I see what you mean…

Akzed on June 8, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Liberals get a lot of mileage from their assumption that “exploit” is a negative term in every context. Thus regardless of the individual circumstance, they see every employer/worker relationship as explotation. The whole system of capitalism is therefore evil. It’s typical of their one dimensional, shallow and emotive thinking.

But “exploit” really just means “to use.” It can certainly be a negative act, for example a pimp exploiting a homeless woman. But it works both ways: I exploit the labor of my employees for profit just as they exploit me and my business when they sell their labor to me for a profit (that profit being everything they make after their job expenses are deducted).

Yet despite the fact that I have an excellent relationship with my employees and everything is to our mutual satisfaction, lefties I’ve argued with have consistently maintained that I’m immoral because I’m “exploiting them.” I’ve learned over the years that laughter is the best reply to this.

Sharke on June 8, 2010 at 3:41 PM

All that economic stuff might be technically true, but it doesn’t feeeeeeel good. Also, it’s mean. And unfair. /do really I need a sarc tag?

bitsy on June 8, 2010 at 3:43 PM

I’m sorry but this really isn’t telling me anything I don’t already know. The questions only revealed a person’s assumptions and beliefs which defines their politics. Of course a liberal will say companies exploit foreign workers and a libertarian will say increasing the minimum wage will increase unemployment.

The survey would hold more weight if they asked question with concrete answers such as the differences between economic systems and historic data. I’m confident if you ask such questions as “Where do companies get the money to pay their taxes?” it would be more obvious liberals don’t know a damn thing.

AaronGuzman on June 8, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I should have also said that the free trade question could have been an example. Certainly opening up trade can lead to temporary changes in employment rates while labor markets adjust to regional advantages. But that is really a result of previous trade restrictions rather than free trade itself. But the difference could be misunderstood in the answer.

Exit Question: How long until Allah starts crowing about the results on table 907 that show atheists doing the best on this? Though within std error of Born Agains.

OBQuiet on June 8, 2010 at 3:44 PM

The last 2 questions are kinda dumb because they both are yes and no answers. Yes they increase employment in one place and yes they increase unemployment in other places. so for example: Free trade leads to unemployment: well yes, here, where the factory was. But it increases employment in china, and maybe some white collar and retail jobs.

sonofdy on June 8, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Commerce Clause!

Del Dolemonte on June 8, 2010 at 3:46 PM

One of the prerequisites to a leftist viewpoint, is a failure in dealing with their slice of the economy which then gets mislabeled as injustice.

Other sheep fall prey to the “we’ll control it and take care of it/you” sales pitch, and those fools are natural failures at everything.

About the only group that would be surprised by these results are liberals. The one thing that they are successful at is subverting our free republic through the politics of collective failure and lies.

ontherocks on June 8, 2010 at 3:48 PM

These questions had obvious, right answers. If it seemed ambiguous, you could answer “not sure”. Ed, I don’t know why you give liberals the benefit of the doubt on this.

Vince on June 8, 2010 at 3:48 PM

Besides, we’re getting a real-world demonstration of progressive economics over the last sixteen forty-two months.

FIFY

JohnJ on June 8, 2010 at 3:50 PM

“Economics? That’s a big effin deal!!!!”

–Joe Biden

search4truth on June 8, 2010 at 3:52 PM

I would have been considered unenlightened on #5. I happen to know what the word exploited means so of course I would agree that Third World workers are exploited.

Oh, they mean that other meaning. Right. Nevermind. There I go being a bigot again.

Jaynie59 on June 8, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Ed,

These are not political questions. These are basic economic questions that I studied in school (at a very liberal institution, btw). The correct answers do not depend on viewpoint. That is, they are not subjective questions. I would allow the one about third world workers to be questionable, because “exploitation” is not defined within the survey, and that in itself is a subjective term.

As far as rent control goes, your confusion shows you’ve never studied rent control. Controlling for the factors you cite, rent control still causes shortages and higher prices – every time. (Study Berkeley and neighboring Albany, for example).

Pablo Snooze on June 8, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Wow, Ed, blew the rent control one. A “disagree” on that is just plain wrong – negative price controls cause shortages like water causes wet. It may be that there are ALSO other causes, but, dude. The fact that flat tires cause crashes doesn’t mean that ice doesn’t.

The “exploit” question pretty much had to be on there because it’s a big issue on the green/organic part of the left spectrum, the “fair trade” movement. Unfortunately, good intentions aside, they never seem to realize the confounding factors, like corruption and the fact that the choice isn’t always “pay them a lot” vs. “pay them a little” but sometimes “pay them a little” vs. “don’t buy at all.”

Unfortunately, while kind of necessary, the word “exploit” created kind of a “knee-jerk” reaction there.

Merovign on June 8, 2010 at 3:58 PM

this is why ive been a conservative since i was 16yrs old.

moonbatkiller on June 8, 2010 at 4:04 PM

Leftism isn’t called a fantasy ideology for nothing. When you think mere words can replace actions, and that intent means more than doing the right thing, then you get to grave disconnects upon what you think will happen and what actually happens. Then things get nasty.

ajacksonian on June 8, 2010 at 4:05 PM

I think the bigger point is that worldview affects reasoning, and that’s true both in the study and in the observation of the study.

jdfister on June 8, 2010 at 4:07 PM

[...]but therefore it has some terrific tu quoque value. Sling away!

Just remember to flush after you finish pissing civilized discussion down the toilet. I agree with everything else you say in this post, Ed, but this last bit. Yes, there is a double standard, but that is OK because conservatives are capable of achieving a higher standard.

JackOfClubs on June 8, 2010 at 4:09 PM

daddy, did you put anyone to sleep today?

jbh45 on June 8, 2010 at 4:10 PM

Color me not surprised. These are the same people who think global warming is as big of a threat to America as Islamic terrorism, after all.

nickj116 on June 8, 2010 at 4:12 PM

The rent-control question, for example, prompts a chicken-and-egg argument. Rent control doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but usually in a market where housing shortages already exist for other reasons.

Nonsense. Rent control laws and every price control creates shortages. The empirical evidence is overwhelming and the logic is unassailable.

Real estate is the slowest market to respond to economic forces and these laws are knee jerk responses fueled by impatience and ignorance.

Any shortage in rental housing alleviates itself over time if the government doesn’t meddle in the process.

RadClown on June 8, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Exit Question: How long until Allah starts crowing about the results on table 907 that show atheists doing the best on this? Though within std error of Born Agains.

OBQuiet on June 8, 2010 at 3:44 PM

That’s pretty surprising consider that atheists tend to be liberals. Unfortunately there was a pretty low response rate to the email asking people to participate in the survey, so we don’t know how much of the results are skewed by that. In particular, people with only high school education tended not to respond.

pedestrian on June 8, 2010 at 4:36 PM

You have to be an economic illiterate to be a liberal. If you understood economics, you’d be a conservative.

Cicero43 on June 8, 2010 at 3:01 PM

I guess that is why I am a conservative.

jeffn21 on June 8, 2010 at 4:39 PM

There is finally starting to be some liberal responses to this (via memeorandum.com).

http://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2010/06/news-flash-liberals-do-not-think-like.html

The test proceeds like this, where the “correct” answers are all conservative economy theory tropes, and the “unenlightened” answers all are the opposite of the conservative ones. Liberals and progressives did badly on such a test. In fact, the basic definition of conservatism in economics is that you believe economics follows such basic rules. Orthodoxy, in other words. Liberalism in economics means you believe that economics doesn’t follow these basic rules, that systems are more complex, and that there are human factors involved…maybe even irrationality.

The idea that economic theory does not apply in the real world is something I have heard from liberals before.

pedestrian on June 8, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened.

Makes sense to me.

2 + 2 = 5 if the Party says it is. In that case, it would be unenlightened and incorrect (not to mention crimethink) to say it is 4.

malclave on June 8, 2010 at 5:39 PM

Wow, Ed, blew the rent control one. A “disagree” on that is just plain wrong – negative price controls cause shortages like water causes wet. It may be that there are ALSO other causes, but, dude. The fact that flat tires cause crashes doesn’t mean that ice doesn’t.

Merovign on June 8, 2010 at 3:58 PM

I agree. While it may be a fact that rent control is only implemented in markets where there is already a shortage of housing, it’s irrelevant to the result. I remember doing this in Econ class and the takeaway is that you always get the same general result no matter what the vacancy market looks like.

landshark on June 8, 2010 at 5:44 PM

The left’s definition of exploited worker: Makes less money than they would if they were working in the US, even if the money they are making is 10 times the median income of the other working people in their community. They think Indians on tech support lines making enough money to put them in the top 1% economically are being exploited because they aren’t making $35,000 a year.

Why do they have this definition? Their ideology doesn’t let them see the situation in relative terms. They don’t see that $10 in Mexico goes many times farther than $10 in the U.S. They just see the $10 and the other half of the equation doesn’t enter their mind.

Are there factories with poor or horrible labor practices? Yup, but they are sniffed out, brought to light by the MSM and the company has to correct their system or face boycotts and other loss of business. In other words, the FREE MARKET forces provide correction.

The truth: American companies using foreign workers reduces the cost of the products for American consumers, thus increasing how far our money goes and improving our standard of living. The foreign worker makes, in 99% of cases, a way above average wage for their country and thus improves his/her life, the family’s standard of living and the standard of living of EVERYBODY they buy from in the markets of their country.

I shudder to imagine what India and other countries would be like today if not for the flood of dollars into the country from foreign companies taking advantage of worldwide communications networks. Wow.

This lack of perspective also effects their view of taxation. They are completely blind to the fact that with the internet and IP telephony, an overtaxed company can move to another country, keep their phone numbers and pass the increased shipping costs on to their customers, or use the savings in taxes to cover it.

PastorJon on June 8, 2010 at 6:04 PM

The problem is that the left rejects the veracity of the very fundamental principles in question. Worse, they don’t even care about the results of economic policies–they only care about who makes the policies. Economics is a matter of faith to them, not a subject of empirical scrutiny.

Blacklake on June 8, 2010 at 6:07 PM

triple on June 8, 2010 at 5:47

You still are making a false argument. You use words like proactive, come clean, honorable etc..You continue to put our armed forces at fault and make it some huge conspiracy. They did not do anything wrong in this situation, they did what they were supposed to do, save fellow soldiers and followed ROEs. As far as the website “Collateral Murder” goes, that would still be there had they went with your way and to think otherwise is beyond naive! They did no do anything wrong that needed a cover up or major PR campaign. Most Americans watch that video and understand that instinctively and you do not. Are you worried the man on the ground in the middle east was upset, they hate us either way and it would be an issue no matter how it was handled. Your whole argument seems to be designed to get someone to agree with your PR argument which then has them agreeing our men did somehing wrong, which they did not!

bluemarlin on June 8, 2010 at 6:13 PM

Oops sorry about that last post wrong thread!

bluemarlin on June 8, 2010 at 6:20 PM

Oops sorry about that last post wrong thread!

bluemarlin on June 8, 2010 at 6:20 PM

I was wondering

CWforFreedom on June 8, 2010 at 7:10 PM

But I’ll still get my “free” health care, right?

Oh, my unicorn is wanting food. Be back later.

skeedro on June 8, 2010 at 8:18 PM

Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened.

Unenlightened? Er, that sounds rather … subjective, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to craft questions that have actual right or wrong answers and score the surveys on that basis? That makes the results that Daniel Klein produces somewhat suspect:

Don’t get hung up over the word unenlightened. What they’re saying is that they didn’t just count up those who failed to get the correct answer, but only those who were clearly wrong. As they explain, if you answered incorrectly but the answer was plausible (such as, not sure), then they didn’t use the answer in their statistics.

If anything, this would improve the significance of the results they had. Even if you regard the “clearly wrong” standard as being a bit subjective, they were all applied to curve the grade up, so to speak. By a more objective standard, the results would be even more stark.

tom on June 8, 2010 at 8:56 PM

Everyone was asked the same questions and everyone was given the same answers to choose from. They self identified their ideology, what exactly is the issue. Maybe it could have been more scientific to suit some but just saying for this data set this was the result.

bluemarlin on June 8, 2010 at 3:22 PM

The issue is these are economics questions that are also heavily political and poorly worded. Like with rent control, usually it is a response to a natural shortage nor does it necessarily always cause housing shortages. A better way to word it would be “rent control causes the supply of housing to be less than it otherwise would be”.

As Ed also pointed out, define “exploited”, the difference could be a non-economic matter of opinion of constitutes it. Similarly free trade needs to be better defined, because the free trade we’ve been following has really lowered unemployment huh. True free trade yes, but given that we’re a big “free trade” nation and have 10% unemployment the confusion is understandable.

Also, some questions could have focused on conservative ideological shibboleths. I guarantee you the right would get boned on questions like “tax cuts always increase tax revenues”, “tax hikes never increase revenues”, “free trade is always best”, and “comparative advantage means the country with the lowest cost should always produce that product” (ok most would probably miss that one), etc.

A much better list of questions would have focused on basic economic tenants and ignored the political issues. Questions directly about supply & demand, dead weight loss, marginal cost of production, etc.

jarodea on June 8, 2010 at 10:22 PM

Water is wet!

3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree).

Did they not poll any New Yorkers? Or are Libs so economically illiterate that they can’t even grasp reality when they are living it every single day?

NoLeftTurn on June 8, 2010 at 10:41 PM

Did they not poll any New Yorkers? Or are Libs so economically illiterate that they can’t even grasp reality when they are living it every single day?

NoLeftTurn on June 8, 2010 at 10:41 PM

Either that or as noted in the longish post above yours and by Ed, they think it’s caused by natural geographic constraints and don’t think the increase in rents required to marginally fix it is worth the price. Again that’s assuming geographic/regulation limitations are driving it, but from a liberal New Yorkers perspective it doesn’t necessarily lead that the house shortage is the direct cause of New York’s rent controls.

I can’t disagree with them there, and while it is true rent control causes the supply of housing to be less than it otherwise would be the question is poorly worded. As worded worded any answer could be correct since rents controls usually but not always will lead to housing shortages. Depends on the scope of rent control, geography, laws, incentives, etc. of a given city.

jarodea on June 8, 2010 at 11:34 PM

You have to be an economic illiterate to be a liberal. If you understood economics, you’d be a conservative.

Cicero43 on June 8, 2010 at 3:01 PM

One of my liberal friends is getting a Masters degree in Economics and actually admits it’s very hard to be a liberal and study Economics.

Don’t ask for a logical world and a liberal to co-exist. They would disintegrate if they come in contact.

scotash on June 9, 2010 at 1:07 AM

Mainstream Keynesian economics is facing its last hurrah. The global fiscal stimulus championed last year by the Obama administration is coming undone, repudiated by the same Group of 20 that endorsed it last year. Now, against a backdrop of a widening sovereign debt crisis, we need to abandon short-term thinking in favour of the long-term investments needed for sustained recovery.
Keynesian stimulus was premised on four dubious propositions: that it was needed to prevent a global depression; that a short-run fiscal boost would jump-start the economy; that “shovel-ready projects” could combine short-term cyclical and long-term structural agendas; and, last, that the rapid rise of public debt occasioned by stimulus need not be a concern. That these ideas were so widely accepted was a testament to the perennial political attractiveness of tax cuts and spending increases.

J_Crater on June 9, 2010 at 2:12 AM

One of my liberal friends is getting a Masters degree in Economics and actually admits it’s very hard to be a liberal and study Economics.

Don’t ask for a logical world and a liberal to co-exist. They would disintegrate if they come in contact.

scotash on June 9, 2010 at 1:07 AM

Pretty much, I just finished a BS in economics and reading textbooks written by people like Krugman, Bernanke, Summers, and Reich (I don’t think the last 2 wrote a book but contributed articles iirc) you wouldn’t recognize them on TV. When it comes to economics they’re spot on, when it comes to political decisions based on economics they seem to forget everything they know about the subject.

jarodea on June 9, 2010 at 2:26 AM