The more you study economics the more likely you are to be Republican and to hold free-market views.
How terrible, eh? The more you study astronomy the more likely you are to think the Earth is not flat, the more you study physics the more likely you are to think that gravity works, not the Earth sucks, the more you study medicine the more likely you are to think that conventional medicine has its points as opposed to Mail style Woo!
The more you study economics the more likely you are to conclude that this capitalism/free market blend has something to do with the fact that we\’re rich enough to be able to study economics.
Such a shocker when the study of a subject actually teaches you something about that subject, isn\’t it?
But the best bit is this:
The other questions were: 1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services (unenlightened answer: disagree). 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago (unenlightened answer: disagree). 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree). 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly (unenlightened answer: agree). 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree). 6) Free trade leads to unemployment (unenlightened answer: agree). 7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment (unenlightened answer: disagree).
How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.
Isn\’t it fun that someone has just published a survey which shows that those leaning rightwards (which is what Republican means, there are some as wet as Francis Pym was as well as those more forcefully righty) are indeed more informed as to the basics of the interaction between economics and the real world.
And what does Ritchie say about, no, not this survey, but that the economically informed lean right?
But it does show just how biased, opinionated and thoroughly normative economics is.
I had to go and look up normative economics just to check that I wasn\’t having a brain spasm:
It is common to distinguish normative economics (\”what ought to be\” in economic matters) from positive economics (\”what is\”).
Umm, those questions there and their answers are not normative economics at all: they are positive economics. They are not describing what ought to be: they are describing what is.
Normative economics would be such things as: the rich ought to pay more tax, the workers should get higher wages….positive economics is, well, OK, maybe they should but in the real world there\’s a limit to how much you can tax the rich before either or both future growth is constrained or tax revenues fall. Maybe the workers should get more: but at least at some level minimum wages curtail employment. Wishes and shoulds are wonderful but we do have to test them against what is.
And so on etc.
That is, it is Ritchie who is the great advocate of normative economics and us proper liberals who are the great practitioners of positive economics.
But then he did say that he didn\’t pay attention to his economics lectures, didn\’t he?