Friday, March 02, 2007

My thoughts on the Faux Delong Debate

I have no particular expertise, will do no research and am totally totally biased. The debate is roughly about free trade.

Good snark here.

The de in debate here.

DeLong's latest here.

My comment

I think that you (DeLong) and Faux are not quite talking past each other. He makes claims which can be confronted with reality "wages have been stagnant for most manufacturing workers there for the last decade." and "little "of the sacrificing by the American working class through out-sourcing to China trickles down to the poor Chinese workers" and "he ways in which the globalizing economy creates an upward redistribution of income, wealth "

All of these assertions are assertions about what has happened to non rich Chinese. Faux is speaking your language. He is, in particular, saying things which are demonstrably false. You won't convince him, but continued debate with him is fruitful, since any sensible person can tell by now that he has no valid response to your question (do you want to keep Chinese poor ?) and has to invent an altnernative universe to pretend he is not advocating that.

I expand. I find it hard to believe that Chinese wages have stagnated for the past ten years, but without checking, I grant the claim for the sake of argument. This does not mean that "[little]of the sacrificing by the American working class through out-sourcing to China trickles down to the poor Chinese workers". A huge increase in the income of the poorer 90% of chinese can occur even if the incomes of the average Chinese manufacturing worker and the average Chinese peasant stay the same as the number of workers increases, since the workers have much higher incomes than the peasants. This is obvious, yet Faux pretends not to understand.

Furthermore, his claim that globalization causes increased inequality conflates two questions -- does globalisation cause an increase in inequality within each nation and does globalisation cause an increase in inequality in the world wide income distribution. A huge increase in the average income in two huge very poor countries (call them India and China) can imply that world inequality decreases even as inequality in each country increases. I think it is clear that globalisation has caused a large increase in ineqality within China, a small increase in inequality in the US and a huge reduction in global inequality.

Faux' claims of fact are not supported by links (maybe I linked to the wrong Faux post). His parody of Brad's quantitative analysis is absolutely dishonest, a lie, an intellectual fraud

"DeLong’s response to my point about the growing class structure in China is to guess that there are 200 rich people in China, whose income, if you divide it among a billion Chinese, doesn’t go all that far. This is supposed to prove that economic classes don’t matter."

This can only be a comment on Brad's actual argument

"Scratching on the back of my envelope, I find that at current exchange rates, China's GDP per worker--and there are 800 million workers--is $3,000 per year. (In 1990 it was $1,100 of today's dollars per year.) According to Piketty and Qian's guesses, the top 0.1% of China's workers get an average of $30,000 per year at current exchange rates. This elite of some 800,000"

Faux' argument rests on the claim that 200 = 800,000. Faux is a liar and a fraud and should not be allowed to pollute a serious debate.

200 != 800,000 is very "simple arithmetic". A fraudulent quote is not acceptable in debate.

Now what is wrong with this guy ? I think his is a case of the politics of resentment . He doesn't like Davos man and he fears the power of super rich Americans, therefore he decides that the right policy is the one they like least. He should debate Katherine Jean-Lopez and not waste Brad Delong's time.

I suppose it is also possible that he is so deeply deeply innumerate that he thinks that almost all of the huge increase in China's income has gone to a few hundred (hundred thousand?) commissars turned capitalists and that 200 is approximately equal to 800,000. I find this possibility so frightening that I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt and call him a liar.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agreed; but Brad needs to continue responding for the subject is essential to argue through.