Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Ideological Economic Illiteracy

UPDATE: MaxedOutMama discounts the results because it's based on an Internet survey.

In the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, Zeljka Buturovic (Columbia University PhD in psychology and research associate at Zogby International) and Daniel Klein (econ prof at George Mason U and associate fellow and academic advisor at the Ratio Institute in Stockholm) try to correlate savvy in economics with other variables, including education, ideology and 2008 vote. Here's Table 2:

source: 7 Econ J. Watch 174, 184 (Table 2) (May 2010)

Thus law prof and Volokh Conspiracy contributor Todd Zywicki concludes "The Further Left You Are the Less You Know About Economics":
It would be hard to find a set of propositions that would meet with such a degree of consensus among economists to rival these propositions--which boils down to supply restrictions raise prices and price controls create shortages. These are issues on which economic theory is exceedingly clear, well-confirmed over decades of empirical support, and with a degree of unarguable consensus among trained scholars in the field. Apparently the existence of a "consensus" among trained scholars on certain policy issues is less important on some issues than others.
So why do progressives and the media rely on experts insisting we must act now to slow man-made climate change yet loudly, and wrongly, dismiss free trade statistics (or, like Obama, flip-flop)? Because they place "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Avatar" ahead of actual outcomes of liberalized trade. (Remember, Obama promised to promote only policies that worked.) Put differently, they're environmental socialists but economic mercantilists.

Trade and growth remain the best anti-poverty programs. But progressives dismiss economists and other experts. Apparently, blue-colored, computer-created effects are more equal than educated and actual-human experts.

(via Protein Wisdom)


Marc said...


Wow. You could do a post a day for a couple weeks on this.

It's funny and depressing at the same time.

On page 190 of the of the PDF:

"In the 2008 presidential election, the candidates were Democrat Barack Obama, Republican John McCain, independent Ralph Nader, Libertarian Bob Barr
and Green Cynthia McKinney. For whom did you vote?"

Total incorrect ( out of 8 )

2008 Election Mean

Obama 4.61
McCain 1.60
Nader 4.92
Barr 1.56
McKinney 5.56

I think I detected a flaw in the methodology.

Zogby should have stressed that the answers aren't what you think would be fair. The answers have to be based on reality.

I'd like to see a similar study on historical facts. Like how many deaths communism was directly responsible for in the last century.

OBloodyHell said...

> Trade and growth remain the best anti-poverty programs.

They remain the best pro-environmental programs, too.

The richer you are, the more you can put into alternatives that are less effective and profitable but better for the environment.

The richer you are, the more you can pay for expensive scrubbers to clean the air coming out of smokestacks, then dispose safely of the toxic sludge that results from THAT.

The SovUnion's record on the ecology was a disastrous nightmare of unparalleled pointless destruction and poor attitude towards enviro concerns.

Corporations do screw up, but governments don't give a damn.

"But that's not true, here?"

Really? Go ask Jindal who cared more about the environment, him, or the Army Corps of Engineers?

They cared about the paperwork.

He cared about the results.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Stunning. Even I would not have predicted it was this dramatic. I am forwarding this, with encouragement that the graph here is more visible on page 11 of the pdf