Arnold Kling  

Selection Bias

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Today's Washington Post has three prominent op-ed pieces. Mark Winne writes,


During my tenure in Hartford, I often wondered what would happen if the collective energy that went into soliciting and distributing food were put into ending hunger and poverty instead...Put all the emergency food volunteers and staff and board members from across the country on buses to Washington, to tell Congress to mandate a living wage, health care for all and adequate employment and child-care programs.

Andi Zeisler writes,

I can confidently say that I want my next president to be a b---, and that goes for men and women. Outspoken? Check. Commanding? Indeed. Unworried about pleasing everybody? Sure. Won't bow to pressure to be "nice"? You bet.

Tyler Cowen writes,

We still haven't secured our ports against nuclear terrorism. The $1 trillion we've probably spent on the war could have funded the annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security 28 times over.

So the Post's left-wing readers are having a nice, comfortable breakfast. They are reading that charity is bad and government is good. They are reading that Democrats should not be nice, and that the next President should be "commanding" and angry. Finally, they are re-reading one of the hoariest anti-war talking points, which is that the money instead would have been spent on domestic security measures.

A famous newspaperman said that his goal was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Today's Post pieces all serve to comfort the comfortable. That is, they reinforce the ideological predispositions of the readers. When I open up the Post and see a piece by Tyler on whether we should replace charity with government or whether we need a nasty, commanding President, that will be a man-bites-dog story.


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CATEGORIES: Political Economy



COMMENTS (5 to date)
Brad Hutchings writes:

That's certainly the pull quote from Tyler's essay, but not the main point, which is pretty "new" in the anti-war rhetoric. There aren't just dollar costs to these wars, but opportunity costs as well. Back in September, 2001, a lot of us rationalized the rest of the decade by thinking, "What happens probably isn't going to be terribly pretty, but it's necessary." No serious person who advocated or supported these wars denied or ignored the opportunity costs. In fact, they seemed to be outweighed by letting the status quo of the September 10th world continue. Some of us have stuck with that rationalization, while some like Tyler have not.

Let's see... Let me guess.

The first article then went on to say that businessmen should invest in their businesses instead of in charity.

The second article recommended Giuliani for President.

That's not what happened?

General Specific writes:

Maybe you're just feeling a bit down in the dumps because the party you supported is such a grandiose gargantuan failure, coming apart at the seams. Bloated prescription drug program (with actual costs hidden from congress). Wasteful, unnecessary, incompetent war in Iraq. Taxes deferred to the future (any tax cut without attendent spending cut is not a tax cut--Friedman). Failure after failure after failure.

And don't forget: you said that the people of Israel should be more angry. It looks like the thinking people of the US, who now support the Democrats over the Republics, have taken your advice to heart.

Troy Camplin writes:

There is something very perverse about someone who would prefer that people become lobbyists rather than volunteers who help the poor. And that is being generous. I rather think they are bad people -- if not evil (a bad person is someone who does bad because he doesn't know what the good is; an evil person knows what the good is, and does the bad anyway).

John Pertz writes:

living wage...hhahahhahahahha.....living wage hahahahhahahahhaha

Dont like poverty, just legislate it away..............hahhahahahhahhahahah

the liberals are just as "faithful" as the conservatives.

dont like the projections for future global temperatures? dont worry, just legislate it away.....hahahahahhahahhaha

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