Bryan Caplan  

Sadie Hawkins Rant

Paul Krugman on the minimum wa... Some Practical Advice...
[T]he practical basis of Sadie Hawkins Day is one of simple gender role-reversal. Women and girls take the bold initiative by inviting the man or boy of their choice out on a date--almost unheard of before 1937--typically to a dance attended by other bachelors and their assertive dates.
Nowadays, gender roles are pretty flexible.  Ideological roles, in contrast, seem more rigid than ever.  Hence, the main role reversal I'd like to see: For just one day, criticize people on "your" ideological side instead of "their" ideological side.  All day.  Full sincerity.  No irony.  No mischief.  No Strauss.  Just candid independent fault-finding, written as politely as you usually address your ideological opponents.

Maybe like this.

COMMENTS (7 to date)
Derrill Watson writes:

Wondermark recently did a great series of four comic strips on arguing with people. The first one tries out your suggestion:

Just candid, independent fault-finding

Garrett writes:

Stop thinking that the other side is stupid or nefarious.

ThomasH writes:

I like the sentiment, but it presupposes that there are "sides." Maybe we could think about this as criticizing people you mainly agree with instead of those you mainly disagree with.

My approach since I happen to find myself "in between" common "liberal" positions and typical "libertarian" positions, I criticize both. Typically, I criticize "liberals" for policies that have higher costs than (I think) necessary to achieve the goal that I generally agree with. And I criticize "libertarians" for only pointing out the costs of the "liberal" position without counter-proposing a measure that would achieve the goal at lower cost.

That is what you have done on unemployment.

In my case I criticize

1) minimum wages because it can harm workers who become unemployed or fail to become employed when there is a less costly way -- the EITC -- to transfer income to low paid workers.

2) green investments, green energy set asides and subsidies and fuel efficiency standards because they are less efficient ways of reducing CO2 emissions than a carbon tax.

3) requiring developers to include a certain number of "low income" residences in a development instead of subsidizing the housing expenditures of low income people.

4) restricting Uber-like services to protect people who have invested in taxi medallions/permits rather than buying them back and eliminating the entry restriction.

5) ACA for mandating employers to "provide" health insurance and subsidizing them for doing so instead of subsidizing individuals to purchase health insurance

6) creating a federal agency to do airport security rather than (now that it exists) selling it to the airports being served. [Actually, this does not work perfectly as as criticism of my "side" TSA was a "conservative" initiative but most liberals seemed to go along gladly.]

In these examples it is usually a "liberal" idea I criticize but I also criticize the "libertarians/conservatives" for not proposing a better alternative.

Handle writes:

How about Bryan Caplan takes on Open-Borders.

I'd make a few supplementary requests.

1. Keep it ideological, that is, find fault with ideas and point out weaknesses in the logic and evidence of the arguments. Don't make it about matters of tone, civility, or lack of adequate political / rhetorical savvy, and so forth.

2. Likewise, don't 'praise with faint damning', e.g. "The trouble with these people is that they are too passionate about their cause and have too much integrity, which causes them to lose sight of some strategic matters where discretion and creative ambiguity may be more optimal approaches ..."

3. Finally, the the extent one points out failures to adequately address legitimate concerns of the opposition side, don't degrade that legitimacy by conducting conspicuous Devil's Advocacy and framing the underlying priors as strawmen assumptions to be pushed over with ease. One should be sure to announce personal belief in the accuracy of any position or assumption that one is using as the basis for on-side criticism.

Greg G writes:

I consider myself a centrist, but when I comment on blogs like this one I am often accused of being a leftist. That doesn't trouble me because I am more interested in issues than labels but I mention this all in order to identify myself for the purpose of the comments that Bryan invites here. I do vote for Democratic candidates more often than Republican ones.

The thing that bothers me most about other people who tend to vote for Democratic candidates is that they often entirely lack an understanding of opportunity cost. The fact that we can identify a group of people who need help, and really would be helped, by a given government policy, should not be enough by itself to justify that policy. We also need to show that spending is a better alternative than the other uses for that money which include, but are not limited to, leaving it with the people who earned it in the first place.

I am more likely to think that burden has been met than most of the readers of this blog but it really bothers me that a lot of people who vote the way I do don't recognize that as a need that needs to be met at all.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Greg G,
Well said. If this were Facebook, I would click “Like.” Your self-description now explains a number of your comments. You will say “x” and I will peg you. Then you will say “y” and I will peg you differently. Now I get it.

Tallyrand writes:

I love this idea.

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