Monday, January 21, 2008

Standard issue catch-up post

Let's see what I've missed.
(Btw, if anyone out there wants to write the occasional post mocking Megan here, drop me an email, and leave a comment saying you did so. I remember to check that account once every two months or so. It's pretty much back to me on this, n while I don't want to let all 7 of our readers down, I'm just not into Megan enough to see her every day.)
And now, the stupid.

There are no new arguments under the sun: I'm tempted to treat this post on its own, as there's so much in it to poke fun at. First there's the continued high quality of Megan's work, as referenced by one of our favorite of Megan's commenters; liberalrob,

1) We will sell more stuff to foreigners than they buy from us.
[...]
3) Over the long run, foreigners will sell us more stuff than we buy from them.

Is this some esoteric economic concept, or is it a typo? How can you sell more stuff to someone than they buy from you?

Was #1 perhaps supposed to be "we will sell more stuff to foreigners than we buy from them" and #3 "over the long run, foreigners will sell us more stuff than they buy from us"? I.e. #1 is a trade surplus, #2 is balance and #3 is a deficit? That would make more sense...
Megan, surprisingly, actually fixed this mistake. But that doesn't fix the post. You see, Megan, despite NOT BEING AN ECONOMIST, takes an assault on the claimed expertise of economists personally. Granted, it's hard not to see the following as a dig at her style, but she's NOT AN ECONOMIST.
You have to be very well trained in economics and have high-level skills to make such a brain-dead assumption and not even know you’ve made it. Then you don’t have to give serious consideration to counterarguments because, hey, why pay any attention to the fallacies of economic illiterates and mathphobes?
Megan apparently missed the sarcasm at the end of this quote, as she responds by calling non-economists, a group which includes Megan herself, superstitious morons.
Ordinary people in many parts of the world worry about getting fatal diseases because witches have cast an evil spell on them. That doesn't invalidate the germ theory of disease. Notably, doctors using the germ theory of disease have produced far more cures than doctors attempting to chase out the bad spirits with an energetic series of bloodlettings. And economies with (classically) liberal rules about trade both among the citizenry, and with citizens of other countries, tend to be much, much nicer places to live than the economies that charge you $1,500 for the privilege of importing a laptop.
To recap, Megan responds to charges that a group she pretends to number herself among has isolated itself from reality and is unwilling to hear the criticisms of the average man by comparing disagreement with "her" discipline to people who think evil spirits cause disease. Btw, the person (bottom of the page) who wrote what Megan is reacting to is a professor of Economics and has a B.A. and Ph.D in Economics. I'd go on, but do I really need to?

Don't just stand there, spend something!:
Mr. Brian Beutler complains that the Iraqi government has not spent much of its reconstruction funding. I find it interesting that so many people seem so obsessed with using the amount of money that the government has spent as their prime metric rather than, say, whether it built anything worthwhile.
Don't make the mistake of thinking this is just some idiotic post by Megan which ignores the fact it's difficult to build things without buying building materials and hiring and paying workers. It is, in fact, a kind of zen koan. This post isn't a stupid thought, it's an anti-thought, which will clear your mind of all thought by focusing on it.

Department of Awful(ish) statistics: While we just saw how Megan is a dedicated pro-choicer who thinks abortion is barbaric and hates all the other pro-choicers, apparently a decline in the rate and number of abortions in the US is awful(ish). She goes on to explain that Kevin Drum's.... nevermind. Who cares what Drum said, or why Megan is so schizophrenic about abortion?

Department of Economic Illiteracy: Instead of taking issue with the content of this post, I'd like to note something extraordinary; Megan cited a reference for a number. Granted, the link she provides doesn't actually mention the value of stocks held by "foreigners" (and with multi-national corporations and various funds and such it must be quite a task simply to determine who and what qualify as foreign), and a quick googling provides no source for Megan's number, but at least she's trying. We're about to be reminded that's not always the case.


Greg Mankiw explains it all
:
I don't want to hear any more about how the Democrats are the party of fiscal responsibility; none of them are planning to close the current deficit, much less deal with the now-seriously-it-really-is-looming entitlement problem. Their tax code changes will claw back only a small fraction of the revenue lost in the Bush tax cut. If you are surprised, it is probably because the Democrats and the Republicans have a different definition of the tax cuts going "mostly to the rich". If you mean, "which individuals got the biggest benefit from the tax cuts?", rich people did, because they pay the most taxes; that is the definition Democrats use. But if you mean "which class of people got most of the money?", then the answer is "the middle class". There just aren't that many rich people; it costs a lot more to hand out a modest amount of cash to 200 million than to hand out a lot of cash to 500,000. So when Democrats repeal only the tax cuts on the top one or two brackets, this may be symbolically rewarding, but it will not actually generate that much revenue for the treasury.

Democrats are, of course, planning to spend every bit of the money from their tax increases on new spending, plus it looks like some more. You may now return to forgetting that you ever thought you cared about the budget deficit.
To begin, Megan, and the blogger whose quote she bases the post on, are essentially taking a single line in an NYTimes article as a detailed description of Hillary's tax policies and complaining the numbers don't really add up. Neither do any real research, such as, say, going to Hillary's campaign site and looking at the more detailed position papers there. You see, this might make for reliable numbers and a considered, even nuanced response to Hillary's ideas. I'm not saying I know what Hillary's ideas are and agree with them, I have no real idea, and neither does Megan, who's just glad for a chance to be critical.
Clinton derangement syndrome is a terrible affliction. Give today, a cure may yet be found.

49 comments:

NutellaonToast said...

Where's a link to your email? I'd like to try my hand at the internets and I read her religiously because I have some kind of mental disability...

brad said...

Over on the left, under "contact".

NutellaonToast said...

C'mon, man. Tha'ts way too much work. I don't know how I missed that. It might be because I'm retarded.

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