Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Left Flunks Econ 101

The Wall Street Journal has published an article by Daniel Klein, who is co-author of a survey of economics. The results of that survey are astoundingly clear, though not surprising at all to those of us who are conservative Libertarians.

First, the links:
The Wall Street Journal Article.
The author's abstract at Economics Journal Watch.
The PDF of the actual report, including links to the raw data and the survey form itself.
The conclusion is unequivocal: the Left doesn't understand economics. They just. don't. get. it. This isn't just suggested by the data, or implied... the gap in their understanding is deep and wide. Even though the respondents were given every possible break -- "not sure" answers were counted the same as correct ones -- Progressives and Liberals got more than 60% of the questions wrong, on the average.

The text of the PDF clearly discusses the results, as well as caveats in the methodology, but some of what interested me were the results listed in an off-hand way in tables at the end of the report. For instance, out of 8 questions, on the average,
  • Obama voters got 4.61 wrong. Only Nader and McKinney voters scored worse. It was no surprise to me that Obama was chosen by people who have a poor understanding of economics. I think he's seriously challenged in that respect himself. People in the know voted "No."
  • Democrats got 4.59 wrong. Only the Green party scored worse. Libertarians and Republicans scored best, with 1.29 and 1.61 questions wrong, respectively.
  • African Americans scored worse than any other ethnic group, with 4.26 questions wrong on the average. I didn't find this surprising, not because of their race, but because Blacks overwhelmingly tend to be Democrats. I believe the score was bolstered by those Blacks who aren't Democrats. By the way, Asians scored best.
  • Athiests and Protestants scored best of the various religions identified, with 1.91 and 2.4 questions wrong, respectively. "Other/No Affiliation" (i.e. people who are spiritual but non-denominational) scored the worst by far, with 4.09 questions wrong. I don't find this surprising at all... I think it's self-evident that the amorphous "touchy-feelies" aren't very well connected to reality to start with.
  • Of the Protestants, Born-again Christians tended to score better than those who were not born-again (2.03 to 2.72 questions wrong)
  • People who go to church scored better. This is a direct correlation... the more often you attend church, the more likely you are to be economically enlightened.
  • Married people score best of the various marital statuses (2.72 questions wrong). This applies only to traditional marriages: people in "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" scored worst by a large margin (4.05 questions wrong)
  • People who identified themselves as residents of "America" scored best (2.25 questions wrong), while those who identified themselves as residents of "The Planet Earth" scored worst by a large margin (4.59 questions wrong).
  • Families with members of the Armed Forces score better (2.68 vs. 3.06 questions wrong).
  • NASCAR fans score better than those who aren't (2.43 vs 3.06 questions wrong) Perhaps this puts to lie the stereotype of the NASCAR fans as a bunch of drooling hicks... keep in mind that those stereotypes are propagated by people who don't know as much about economics themselves!
  • People who frequently shop at Wal-Mart scored much better than those who never do (2.24 to 4.24 questions wrong, respectively). This isn't much of a surprise to me... the snoots who won't shop there aren't likely to know a thing about saving a buck. It's pretty clear that the people who shop there aren't stupid about economics... but their detractors may be.
  • Households with union members score worse. Duh. We hate unions here in the South. Maybe that has to do with us being NASCAR-lovin' churchgoers who respect the military. Or maybe we just recognize it when a group is trying to subvert economic realities to their own benefit, and we don't like the injustice of it.
  • In direct proportion, the results are correlated to income. The less you make, the less you're likely to know about economics. Again, not surprising.
Keep in mind that all of these results are true for the people who are likely to respond to the survey. The authors surmise that this self-selection may skew respondents to the higher end of the IQ scale. One might conclude that these results come from the smartest of those people polled. That thought should scare you to death if you're a Democrat.

For what it's worth, I personally am a Libertarian Protestant who voted for McCain. I am traditionally married; an ex-USAF staff-sergeant who frequently shops at Wal-Mart, likes NASCAR, and makes a decent living. By all rights, I should have scored 100%... and I did.

Warnings on the Constitution? Give me a BREAK!

As reported by FoxNews, Wilder Publications believes it's necessary to put a disclaimer on the founding documents of this country, including the Constitution of the United States, the Federalist Papers, and the Articles of Confederation (precursor to the Constitution).

Wilder apparently believe that these documents are in danger of being pulled from library shelves because they may be offensive to some readers. So in order to forestall a perceived potential offense among a hypersensitive minority, they have decided to guarantee the offense of the mainstream public. Astounding.

The disclaimer reads as follows:
"This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work."
In an interview with FoxNews' Trace Gallagher, Wilder company spokesperson Warren Lapine indicated that the company had received repeated complaints about the values expressed in the documents and had written the disclaim simply so that they didn't have to keep explaining that values differed 200 years ago.

I'm not buyin' that sad, ignorant argument. These documents are the basis of every freedom we have. They are the only authority under which any of our elected or appointed officials are empowered to act. If we live in a better world than our ancestors did, it is purely because of the values that they codified in these specific documents. There is no reason whatsoever that parents should sit down with their children for a political correctness indoctrination session before allowing these documents to be read.

A disclaimer, BTW, is intended to defend against legal liability. These documents ARE the law. Not only are they the law, they are, by every definition, above any law created under their authority. The disclaimer is therefore absolutely worthless from a legal standpoint; its only arguable worth being its propaganda value. Perhaps Wilder simply thought the country was more politically numb than it is.

Sadly, from long experience I have come to recognize that these forms of "trial balloons" when sent up by the Far Left, are positive indicators of the tactics that they will bring to the mainstream 20 to 30 years from now. To that end they confuse - deliberately or not - the prevailing morals of the day with the ideals expressed in the Constitution by these same men in their attempt to build a future better than their present. Expect to see more of this argument, that the founding fathers' views were somehow offensive; and especially expect to see it couched in the assertions that "everybody knows" this to be true. This gradual re-definition of mainstream opinion through bold assertion and repetition has been their modus operandi for decades. Don't let them do it to the Constitution.

In the meantime, my own response is to boycott Wilder Publications. I've seen blogs argue that they shouldn't be punished for simply pointing out the misogyny and racism of our founding fathers. These people miss the point, which is that Wilder should face the economic consequences of suggesting to their readership that free and unfettered access to these documents should be restricted to only those who have somehow been properly prepared for them. THAT'S the offensive portion of this disclaimer. This is a government of the PEOPLE... no portion of the governmental process should be walled off from the citizens of this country, and don't you ever, ever forget it.

Let Wilder remain a small publisher or go out of business. Should you wish to add your voice to those reviewing Wilder's publication of these documents on, here's the link.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Vincent and the Doctor

I'd have reviewed this episode of Doctor Who, but Den of Geek has done it already and said everything I would have.

Here's the Review.

I will say this... BRAVO, Tony Curran. And BRAVO, Bill Nighy.

BTW, if you know nothing about The Doctor, you're culturally deprived. Here's a primer.