Thursday, July 22, 2010

Elizabeth Warren

When FLG sees Elizabeth Warren on TV, he simply changes the channel. This has been pretty much the case since February when FLG saw her on Bill Maher. FLG assumed that Warren had some normative commitments that FLG disagreed with and that this led her, when speaking for a mass audience, to dumb it down precisely in a way that would make FLG's head explode, but that her academic work included strong empirical evidence. FLG never took the time to read through it though.

Well, it turns out Megan McArdle has looked at it and comes away unimpressed:
Does this persistent tendency to choose odd metrics that inflate the case for some left wing cause matter? If Warren worked at a think tank, you'd say, "Ah, well, that's the genre." On the other hand, you'd also tend to regard her stuff with a rather beady eye. It's unlikely to have been splashed across the headline of every newspaper in the United States. Her work gets so much attention because it comes from a Harvard professor. And this isn't Harvard caliber material--not even Harvard undergraduate.


Also, Megan also writes this:
I've also been writing about bankruptcy long enough to know that assigning any one cause to the ultimate financial meltdown is, in many cases, impossible. (If you have nice consumer goods and no health insurance, does a car accident count as a "medical bankruptcy" or a budgeting deficiency? If you lived right up to the edge of your income, was a job loss, or your spending pattern, to blame? How you answer these questions depends on a large number of prior value judgments that are hotly contested in our society.)

FLG agrees with her, but what's interesting here is the prior value judgments. Liberals focus more on the proximate and immediate, the car accident or the loss of the job. Whereas, conservatives point more toward the poor series of choices leading up to the event. Long run, versus short. Bad luck versus poor choices. In truth, life is a bit of both, but it's the relative emphasis that matters.

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