Sunday, May 26, 2013

When is a straw man not a straw man

I have been on a crusade against the people of the straw and the people who argue with them.

I think there should be a rule that you can't ascribe arguments to a vaguely defined group without naming names and quoting or linking. I think Mike Konkzal semi agrees.  He seems a bit embarrassed to type

" I’m going to keep specific individuals vague here and generalize, because the arguments are predicated on a general move [sic] rather than any idiosyncratic argument. Here’s what I take to be the current conservative policy consensus:" 

 He gives a list of 6 bullet points, then writes "I don’t think I’m making a strawman here. (1-3 is directly from Paul Ryan.) "

 OK but what about 4, 5 and 6.  4 starts with a link ("Always click the link" -- Kevin Drum).  It is to Ben Domnech who remains a conservative in good standing and fairly prominent.  Konczal's summary strikes me as fair.

So how about

"5. Inequality is largely a non-issue, manipulated by liberals to justify their programs. The rich work harder in a global market that rewards skills and superstars. The middle class is only stagnating if you ignore health care costs and the fact that you can consume better technology cheaper. The economy works far better for average people than liberals understand."

 First google search "Pethokoukis inequality" second hit

" In addition, research shows that median hourly wages (including fringe benefits) rose by 28 percent from 1975 to 2005."


6. Global warming, to whatever extent it is happening, should not have a government response to try and reduce carbon. Market signals, technology, migration, and adapting are better and cheaper options for even the gloomiest predictions. Or, looking at it in a different way, growth will ultimately solve the problem of global warming, and so any government policy that hurts growth (which they all do) is the wrong option.

I don't quite see how anyone could imagine that the market would signal that some activity generates an undesirable externality or any reason why it would be profitable to develop technology to deal with an externality.  However, it is clear that some people believe this.

Harvard Business School professor  Jim Heskett thought it was worth asking his readers "Will Market Forces Stop Global Warming?" and "Edward Hare comments that "Given history, government will most likely get things wrong. A 'free' market will do better…albeit more painfully to too many of the world's six billion residents…." n  Uh Ed I don't know what planet you live on,but there are over 7 billion people resident on Terra.  Hmmm doesn't seem clear that Mr Hare is among the conservative best and brightest.

Back to the googling board.  Plenty of names here  .  But more full out denial than market magical mysticism.

OK Jonathan Adler at the Competitive Enterprise Institute delivers.

"Fortunately, there is an alternative. Rather than creating new government programs and restrictions on energy use, we should eliminate government interventions in the marketplace that obstruct emission reductions and discourage the adoption of cleaner technologies. "

That wasn't hard.  Konczal is not debating with a straw man.  However, that wasn't hard and Konczal should have googled up a couple more links to show he wasn't debating a straw man.

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