Squaring economic thinking
This is a thought provoking vignette about research that may prove worthless, however entertaining.
In my circle of albeit liberals, compassion for those in need and desire to fund help often comes with the notion that there are sufficient resources for everything. That, of course, is not the case. That is why it is imperative that elected officials and government work with high precision in aligning scarce resources with highest yield and best uses.
Since this is a government of the people, we have an obligation to know and understand economics so that we can carryout our citizen duties to elect capable people and to guide their prioritization.
"But the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics" - Daniel Klein
“Economic literacy has less to do with party affiliation than 'experience, intelligence and open-mindedness.'“ - Philip Dine
Liberals livid over economic enlightenment gauge
By Michal Elseth, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
8:04 p.m., Thursday, June 10, 2010
It's one of those dispatches from the world of social science that leave some gloating and some fuming: A pair of researchers have concluded that when it comes to grasping basic economic concepts, liberals and Democrats are significantly less "enlightened" than conservatives and libertarians.
Researchers Daniel Klein and Zeljka Buturovic put forth their analysis in a recent article in Econ Journal Watch, an online scholarly journal, and in a subsequent column Mr. Klein wrote for the Wall Street Journal. Needless to say, it has elicited a less-than-favorable peer review from liberal economists.
Americans describing themselves as conservative, very conservative and libertarian "do reasonably well" when asked about basic economic questions involving supply, demand and the effects of regulation, concluded Mr. Klein, an economics professor at George Mason University, and Ms. Buturovic, an associate researcher with the polling firm Zogby International.
"But the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics," the two write.
Mr. Klein and Ms. Buturovic used a December 2008 poll conducted by Ms. Buturovic to gauge economic enlightenment, finding that a college education has less to do with an understanding of basic economic principles than the respondents' political leanings did. The two analyzed Ms. Buturovic's data to determine which factors had the most impact on what they called "economic enlightenment."
"We think that, for many respondents, economic understanding takes a vacation when economic enlightenment conflicts with establishment political sensibilities," the two concluded.
To which their critics have essentially replied: Hogwash.
Liberal economists and analysts said the questions gave the study a conservative bias. They did not dismiss the conclusions completely, but took issue with the way the data were gathered.
"The study is essentially worthless as acknowledged by the author," said Philip Dine, an analyst on labor economics and a columnist for The Washington Times. "That said, the conclusions are not necessarily false."
Conservatives, he said, are often well-informed economically. But he argued that economic literacy has less to do with party affiliation than "experience, intelligence and open-mindedness."