STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES

Christopher MarkowskiArticle, Research & The EconomyLeave a Comment

“Mama said, stupid is as stupid does.”

Forrest Gump
I am sick and tired of all these useless studies. These adventures in academia are usually funded with taxpayer funds, done by some sensitive pony-tail professor using his undergrads to do all the work. For example: Drinking Alcohol Makes Young Adults Act Stupid, courtesy of Washington University and Workers Are Happier When Their Workplace Isn’t Like a Prison courtesy of Wake Forrest University.

Thank you masters of the obvious!

This past month there was a study conducted by Zogby International whose conclusions were as obvious to me as the two other aforementioned studies. However, this piece of research is so glorious, so beautiful that I consider it a piece of art which I am seriously considering framing and hanging on my office wall.
Who is more informed about the policy choices facing the country, liberals or conservatives?

From the Wall Street Journal…

Zogby researchers Daniel Klein and Zeljka Buturovic questioned 4,835 American adults with eight basic questions about economics. They also inquired about the political leanings of each respondent. They categorized each respondent into six different categories: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.
Consider one of the economic propositions in the December 2008 poll: “Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.” People were asked if they: 1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure

Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical.

The researchers counted incorrect responses of “somewhat disagree” and “strongly disagree.” This treatment gives leeway for those who think the question is ambiguous or half right and half wrong. They would likely answer “not sure,” which we do not count as incorrect.

In this case, the percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6%, and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly.

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…

Very conservative, Libertarian, Conservative, Moderate, Liberal, Progressive/very liberal.

One does not have to look very hard to find examples of the failure of Keynesian/socialist/left-wing economics. Be it Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, England or the United States, the ignorance of politicians who spend too much, promise too much, and tax too much carries with it a mighty price tag that now has to be paid.

Economic ignorance is something we can no longer afford. Stupid is as stupid does.

Klein, Daniel Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader Econ Journal Watch 05/10

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