Bryan Caplan  

Unfair Humor for the Greater Good

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Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life features a truly funny joint review of my The Myth of the Rational Voter and Drew Westen's The Political Brain. This is probably the only published review that I consider unfair. But as Homer might say, "Yea, unfairly hilarious!" Best lines:

Caplan dismisses passion and patriotism in favor of a purely “rational” approach to voting, with “rational” being a code word for following the path to higher profits.

[...]

He is upset, for instance, that so many Americans embrace protectionist economic policies, against the advice of rational economists like himself. In his view, public policies that do not support corporate profits are just foolish.

Actually, I think that protectionism is a great way to support corporate profits of firms facing foreign competition, making it foolish for consumers to support protectionism. But why criticize my actual views, when you can criticize a straw man?

The funniest line in the view, however, is about the other book:

The Political Brain does have its weaknesses. Westen is not sensitive to the role subcultures (such as the hip-hop community) play in shaping people’s interpretations of mass media or of the stories politicians tell.
But is it fair to single Westen out for neglecting the hip-hop community, when I do the same?


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COMMENTS (2 to date)
Brad Hutchings writes:

Actually, Bryan, you overlook a deeper irony. Subcultures are made possible by commerce, and I'd bet that the popular ones arise when enough people have a profit motive to come together to make the whole thing work. An example:

Hip-hop... I know from the shoe show business that it's a business. If income doesn't exceed costs, you go broke pretty quick locking down venues, renting tables, advertising, paying a rap artist or a DJ, etc. My buddy who runs the most popular underground shoe show in LA, NY, and a few other cities has seen competitors come and go, many if not most of whom wanted to "take the profit out of the show".

I bet Comic-Con is the same way, huh?

FC writes:

Close the shoe show loophole!

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