EconTalk Jumps the Shark
Russ Roberts could at least pretend that Amity Shlaes (B.A., English Literature) had written a book related to economics, no matter how badly contrived and poorly researched it was.
But what’s his excuse for this (B.A., English Literature, Penn; MBA Chicago)?
Sadly, it appears he has stopped even pretending to be interested in economics, and has just decided to shill for the cheapest huckster.
I find it amusing that this entry is filed under “jourMalism”. It exemplifies the carelessness of Houghton’s post. Roberts has interviewed a variety of guests, from Lucas and Friedman (the horror!) to a car dealer (S.Cole), to a sociologist (E.Castronova), to a marxian economist (S.Marglin), and even Rauchway. The quality of EconTalk varies, and every guest is a gamble of sorts. To his merit, Roberts is always respectful and is not selecting them based on their degrees. Popper warned against those who disqualify scholars based on title and affiliation. Kripke stopped at the A.B.; Croce never got an A.B. (laurea, to be precise). Wittgenstein’s qualification was a mere aeronautical engineer (Manchester U) and received his PhD at the age of 40. If you disagree with McArdle or Roberts, fine. But you should debate them on merits of their arguments, rather than summarily dismissing them as self-evidently idiots.
Pictoresque aside: in the Econtalk episode and in the “Atlantic” article McCardle extols the virtues of self-restraint and freedom from debt. These are recurrent themes in talks and blog posts of a pet peeve of McArdle, Elizabeth Warren. I enjoy the fact that people can appropriate and share ideas in a far less partisan way than Angry Bear would suggest.
Ken, I believe that she also has a MBA from the University of Chicago.
I knew a Chicago MBA quite well. He ended up running a bicycle shop in Massachusetts.
Since this topic is going to be boring and a lot of “he said, she said” I will turn to something more interesting. Gates has told the Afghans that “the US is in this thing to win”. Of course he never tells us what “winning” would be. Would it be to kill all the Taliban? Get the Taliban to sign a contract saying they will be “good” and go back to their caves? I find it difficult to image what winning in Afghanistan would entail. What a moron like Gates can’t figure out, evidently, is that they are there forever, in effect, while we are mere transients who will be gone before long. Obama was dumb dumb dumb not to get rid of Gates. I suppose he kept him on toe placate the idiotic warmongers who still manage to waste billions every month without anybody saying much about it. I think somebody should calculate the amount spent on “defense” since 2001 compared to the stimulus spent to try to rectify Bush’s disasterous economy.
(Off topic so deleted…rdan)
Taxing the rich to pay for the war might be a useful idea. The rich don’t like to pay taxes. They run the country. Taxing them for the war might stop it. On the other hand they may just make sure such a tax is never enacted or push it down onto the masses. So you are right back where you started from.
I clicked the “daveramsey” link with trepidation, and when I saw the text of the site come up, I was even more worried, then the photo loaded and I breathed out a sigh of relief. Not the same Dave Ramsey that I went to school with (at least when I went to school with him, he was a radical socialist).
“What a moron like Gates can’t figure out, evidently, is that they are there forever, in effect, while we are mere transients who will be gone before long.”
What evidence is there for Gates not being able to figure this out? Just because he isn’t stupid enough to admit to a problem that he hasn’t been able to solve, doesn’t mean he “can’t figure out” that the problem exists.
I don’t know whether this “what you fail to grasp” trick has become more popular or I have just become more sensitive to it, but it is nothing more than a trick, a cheat that gives the writer a way to dismiss the other guy, rather than deal with what the other guy says. (One of the apparent gifts to the world from the internet is fads in bad thinking, so I’m entirely willing to accept that the “what you fail to grasp” trick is on the upswing.)
A reasonable starting point, when discussing people who do something for a living at a high level, is that those people understand as much as non-professionals. It isn’t always true by a long shot, but the assumption the other guy knows his stuff has the virtue of keeping us non-professionals honest. It keeps us from the lazy claim that the other guy “doesn’t grasp” the truth that we part-timers have, in our wonderfulness, uncovered.
I follower the link and found an ad hominem against Amity Shlaes. Rdan tellls us that we’re not supposed to make ad hominems here. So do you get a special dispensation if you do it through a link. So it looks like the standards are being gamed here. Also, I would like a little more analysis by Ken to say why he agrees with the author of the Ad hominem.
Have fun with this:
Amity Shlaes Does Not Know What a Recession Is
Tell me then how Gates is smart and how he understands that he is going to achieve “victory” in Afghanistan. I would love to know. Do you think he knows he is basically fighting a religion? Do you think he knows that he is fighting Muslim anti-colonialism? Do you think he knows that he is going down the same path Nixon’s Defense guy went down? Do you think he knows he is a tool for US imperialism?
Amity is a hoot and a fool. How’s that for an “ad hominem”? (But I think she is female is she not?)
Same stuff we were told during the Vietnam war. The only way to suppress the Taliban would be to OCCUPY PERMANENTLY the country. Do we want to do that? If not, we’d better cut and run. What these bozos (yes no apology for that term) don’t get is that our puppet government has NO SUPPORT just as our PUPPET REGIME in Vietnam had NO SUPPORT. They can’t or won’t see it. Because they are enmeshed in a sure to fail policy they can’t get out of.
Why should we assume, always, that people in power know what they are doing? Did Hitler know; did Hirohito know? Most Americans [and others too] are far too deferential to power per se. If you think I should defer to Gates’ wisdom, then should Gorbie? Gorbie said the same thing I am saying…that it is impossible for the US to win in Afghanistan. Because he is a public figure he has to be nicer in his terminology. I don’t. But we are making the same point. Obama and Gates are trapped in a sure to fail policy. If they understood that, do you think they would continue? If so, then they are beneath contempt. Either they are scoundrels or else they don’t understand what they are doing.
Cantab you seem to be unclear about the difference between a factual if unflattering descriptor “dishonest hack” and an “ad hom”. Not every critique qualifies. Krugman and others made reasoned cases demonstrating that Schlaes used data in deceptive ways to advance an argument that was ultimately ideological, i.e. “the New Deal was a failure”.
I followed the link and at the point you saw an ad hom, i saw another link to an analytical piece explaining why the author chose that particular descriptor.
Which is far different that a simple drive by “you dumbass”. You have an unfortunate habit of choosing narrow definitions from sources of your own choice and insisting that somehow the precise technical usage of say accounting simply governs all other fields of discourse. There are words to describe this, but absent a long explanation of why they are appropriate would seem to fall on the ad hom side of the line. So in the interest of time I’ll forego.
“Ken, I believe that she also has a MBA from the University of Chicago.” MG
From Amazon.com, strangely the more comprehensive of the bios listed for Ms Shlaes,
“Miss Shlaes is a magna cumlaude graduate of Yale College and did graduate work at the Freie Universitaet Berlin on a DAAD fellowship.”
Interestingly she has no academic credentials of note. None of her A”research” has been the subject of peer review outside of the popular media. That’s not a very good arena for peer review. Too often the qualilty of the content of a piece of work, or a careers worth, is secondary to the quality of the point of view. Ideology often trumps objectivity in the popular media.
I appreciate your enthusiasm Margery….can you calculate the expense?
Any attempts to hijack a thread will be subject to moderation…Hijacking is impolite at least.
Kharris’s point is that you also can provide links to information from reputable sources to educate us….
I wouldn’t agree with Margery’s description, “a hoot and a fool.” She’s a dangerous publicist for right wing economic misinformation. Because she talks the right talk she’s been afforded a varied platform from which to broadcast her propaganda and she is therefore taken more seriously than the lack of objectivity and dishonest reporting should allow to her. But that is the way the world of corporate and right wing America work. Say the lie often and loud enoough and it begins to be accepted as the truth.
Hi Barry…thanks for dropping by.