Compared-to-what? analysis: Greg Mankiw edition

What’s more transparently shoddy and dishonest than Greg Mankiw’s economics? Greg Mankiw’s philosophy.

Is there anything more pathetically and transparently shoddy and dishonest than Greg Mankiw’s pretense at economics?

Why, yes there is: Greg Mankiw’s pretense at philosophy.

Isaac Chotiner reads Mankiw, so you don’t have to.

Extra bonus fallacy: Now that millions of people have Obamacare coverage, Mankiw’s “first-do-no-harm” approach would argue against repeal. Ditto social security privatization and reneging on public pensions.

What’s disgusting is that Mankiw can’t be, in real life, nearly stupid enough to believe the crap he publishes. If it’s not mere partisan hackery, it must be pure motivated cognition.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

8 thoughts on “Compared-to-what? analysis: Greg Mankiw edition”

  1. Clearly, 40 million Americans voluntarily decided not to get health insurance cover, or for several million of them the insurance companies voluntarily decided no to offer them insurance because they were already sick. However from the starting point of Utopia about 5 million have voluntarily decided to sign up for Medicaid. (In the case of the other 5 million signing up for regulated private insurance, we don't know how many were coerced by the fine or bribed by the subsidies, to which Mankiw presumably objects.) What exactly is his objection to this? The libertarian objection only holds for the historically Republican part of ACA – the exchanges – not the socialist / Democratic component, the expansion of Medicaid.

    If you take it seriously, the "do no harm" doctrine rules out taxation (an evil) for the general welfare, which the authors of the US Constitution thought, without any originality, to be an inherent power of the federal government.

  2. Chotiner noticed that a variant of Mankiw's argument was found in the use of the recent CBO analysis of a proposed increase in the minimum wage. The CBO concluded that, as a result of an increase in the minimum wage, "overall real income would rise by $2 billion." However, the CBO found that the increase would be concentrated: "Families whose income would have been between one and three times the poverty threshold would receive, on net, $12 billion in additional real income. About $2 billion, on net, would go to families whose income would have been between three and six times the poverty threshold." On the other hand "families whose income would otherwise have been six times the poverty threshold or more, [would see their] their average family income [lowered] by 0.4 percent."

    Obviously, "there is no objective way to compare one person’s happiness [those whose income is less than six times the poverty level] with another's [i.e., those whose income exceed six times the poverty level]."

    Based on a close reading of Mankiw, we can conclude that Janis Joplin was not being ironic, but was, instead, feeling real pain and loss when she sang: Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz? / My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends …”

  3. Chotiner noticed that a variant of Mankiw's argument was found in the use of the recent CBO analysis of a proposed increase in the minimum wage. The CBO concluded that, as a result of an increase in the minimum wage, "overall real income would rise by $2 billion." However, the CBO found that the increase would be concentrated: "Families whose income would have been between one and three times the poverty threshold would receive, on net, $12 billion in additional real income. About $2 billion, on net, would go to families whose income would have been between three and six times the poverty threshold." On the other hand "families whose income would otherwise have been six times the poverty threshold or more, [would see their] their average family income [lowered] by 0.4 percent."

  4. Do you want to know a dirty little secret of economists who give policy advice? When we do so, we are often speaking not just as economic scientists, but also as political philosophers.

    Blind Pig Principle at work: Mankiw speaks the truth.

    So, apparently the establishment of the Constitution is something GM would have opposed. It bodily replaced the Articles of Confederation, which were a prior economic arrangement agreed to by a large number of people.

    He says that the presence of negative externalities are a reason to overturn an existing agreement. So, 40 million uninsured are not negative externalities. The fact that inflation has eroded the value of the currency to the point that $10.00 an hour is roughly the Nixon era minimum wage is not a negative externality.

    What a hack. No wonder he was a Bush II economic advisor.

  5. From Greg Mankiw's blog, favorably citing an assessment of Medicare Part D, which, unlike the Affordable Care Act, was not paid for: "My overall conclusion is that, so far, the Part D program has succeeded in getting affordable prescription drugs to the senior population. Its privatized structure has not been a significant impediment to delivery of these services. Competition among insurers seems to have been effective in keeping a lid on costs, and assuring reasonable quality control." Why is competition among insurers a good thing for Med Part D, which Mankiw's boss passed, but not for the ACA? And why was Mankiw willing to disrupt my parents' previous contractual arrangement with CVS and Walgreen where they had the privilege of paying for their medication themselves, and the freedom to go without medicine they couldn't afford, instead of having it paid for by selling bonds to China?

    I think it's possible that Mankiw is not even a libertarian, but that most dreaded of creatures, a LIDAO, a libertarian in Democratic administrations only.

  6. Uhm, no. Mark is saying that *if* you accept Mankiw's argument that the default position is that you shouldn't change the status quo without a heavy preponderance of evidence, *then* you shouldn't be advocating the immediate repeal of the ACA now that it is the status quo. As is so often the case, the conditional is crucial to the meaning of the entire post and also the part that those with axes to grind are the mostly likely to omit from their analysis.

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