I love when my predisposed notions are confirmed.

Over the last two days, I’ve had two:

  • Liberals don’t understand economics (at least, not nearly as well as conservatives); and
  • Liberals don’t care about science unless it confirms their predisposed notions.

Well start with the first. A post titled: The Further Left You Are the Less You Know About Economics:

Some of the results in this new article by Zeljka Buturovic and Dan Klein in Econ Journal Watch (a peer-reviewed journal of economics) are startling:

  • 67% of self-described Progressives believe that restrictions on housing development (i.e., regulations that reduce the supply of housing) do not make housing less affordable.
  • 51% believe that mandatory licensing of professionals (i.e., reducing the supply of professionals) doesn’t increase the cost of professional services.
  • Perhaps most amazing, 79% of self-described Progressive believe that rent control (i.e., price controls) does not lead to housing shortages.

Conservatism is correlated with economic literacy. Like we didn’t already know that. Here’s an excerpt from the study itself (link opens a pdf):

Adults self-identifying “very conservative” and “libertarian” perform the best, followed closely by “conservative.” Trailing far behind are “moderate,” then with another step down to “liberal,” and a final step to “progressive,” who, on average, get wrong 5.26 questions out of eight.

… None of those questions challenge policies that are particularly leftwing or rationalized on the basis of equity. Yet even on such neutral questions the “progressives” and “liberals” do much worse than the “conservatives” and “libertarians.”

Now: we can’t say for sure which way the causation, if any, runs. Are people more likely to learn economics because they’re conservative? Or are people who know economics more likely to be conservative, because that’s the direction in which economic theories point?

Regardless, the correlation obviously exists. Support economics education, people! An economically literate country is a conservative country!

Plus, as Todd Zywicki, writing at The Volokh Conspiracy, points out:

These are issues on which economic theory is exceedingly clear, well-confirmed over decades of empirical support, and with a degree of unarguable consensus among trained scholars in the field. Apparently the existence of a “consensus” among trained scholars on certain policy issues is less important on some issues than others.

“Consensus,” Zywicki asserts, is important to liberals when it supports what they already believe. Not quite so important when it conflicts with their own pro-socialist notions.

Which leads to my second confirmed predisposed notion. Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias takes issue with Zywicki:

As best I can tell, his argument is that because many rank-and-file progressives have mistaken ideas about economics, it’s okay for conservatives to have wrong ideas about climate science. But I don’t understand why anyone would think that. It’s important for people to have the right ideas!

Props to Yglesias for acknowledging the economic truths, and acknowledging that many liberals don’t understand those truths.

However. Those “right ideas” he thinks are so important. On what, precisely, does he base those “right ideas?” How does he know which ideas are “right,” and which aren’t?

When it comes to Global Warming, we’re told over and over, we know what’s “right” because of the scientific consensus!

And yet, consensus means little to the average liberal, “progressive” voter when it comes to economic issues. This is of little concern to liberal leaders like Yglesias, who freak out over conservative non-concern over “Global Warming” “consensus.”

It’s also important to note: that “consensus” over Global Warming…it’s a little on the thin side. The consensus on basic economics…with the obvious exception of Paul Krugman, is there any dissent?

So why is the first so much more convincing – to liberals, at least – than the second?

(Posted by The TrogloPundit)

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