June 28, 2005
Intellectual Garbage Pickup
Yes, it's time for our once-every-three months websurf over to Donald Luskin. Why? As a public service: somebody needs to lay down a marker that he simply does not know what he is talking about, and that anyone who believes anything he writes without very careful verification is asking for big trouble.
And it is unbelievable. You don't have to read a dozen paragraphs before you run across something so bats--- ignorant that it should cause every National Review editor and writer to resign in shame, move to Rwanda, and take up a life of anonymous service to others.
This time Luskin denies the existence of the entire discipline of statistics--the idea that a properly designed random sample can tell you important things aout a much, much larger population:
The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid: The Times and the Journal cite many authoritative-sounding studies.... But to get an accurate picture... you'd have to track hundreds of millions of individuals.... [N]one of this is reliable... the Panel Study of Income Dynamics... tracks only 8,000 families out of a U.S. population of 295 million individuals.
And then goes on to reveal that he has never eyeballed the time series on growth and inequality:
Times of great prosperity have been associated with greater income inequality (for example, the 1920s), and conversely times of economic decline have been associated with greater equality (the 1930s). The lines of causality here are complex, and no doubt run in both directions: Prosperity is both the cause and the effect of inequality, and decline is both the cause and the effect of equality. So ideological advocates of income equality for its own sake ought to be careful what they wish for...
The relationship between growth and inequality in the U.S. in the twentieth century? None--neither positive nor negative: inequality is high in the fast-growing 1920s and low in the faster-growing late 1950s and 1960s; inequality is not low but high in the depressed 1930s.
Stupidest man alive.
Posted by DeLong at June 28, 2005 05:20 PM