Tuesday, June 08, 2010

What We Said: "Progressives" Are Out of Touch

If it weren't for complaining that the political left regularly exercises what appears to be willful ignorance of economic reality, we'd have little to blog about.

In today's WSJ, George Mason University economist Daniel Klein codifies as much. Klein summarizes results of a recent survey to assess the grasp of economics found among different political groups. Asked eight questions reflecting basic economics, self-described adherents to various political ideologies missed the following numbers of questions, on average:

Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

N.B. that the questions were given on a five-point Likert scale, and three of five responses were scored correct for each answer. That means that the left did worse than random guessing. It also means that noble, principled Moderates (read: confused and indifferent) are only slightly worse than random guessers.

Go ahead, Lefties: carp about the nature of the questions or the validity of the survey. The rest of us will try to get on with dealing with the grim reality.


Micah said...

There's some sample bias in play here. A couple of weeks ago, I actually read the paper in question. The paper authors said that the scores would likely be more even if a few conservative sacred cows were examined... specifically on immigration and police militarization.

JB in CA said...

Micah: I'm aware that (typical) conservative views on the economic impact of illegal immigration are incorrect. (The drain on social resources, I've been told, is about $15 billion, which is a drop in the bucket compared to our GDP.) But at the same time, (typical) liberal views on the economic impact of illegal immigration are also incorrect. (The economic benefits of illegal immigration is likewise only about $15 billion.) So the economic ignorance of both groups would appear to balance out, leaving the survey unaffected. Is there something else in play that I'm unaware of?

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Our sad guess is that presently conservatives would answer that legal immigration has negative economic impact on balance. We think this is the primary blind spot of our conservative friends.

But allowing this, the right still has better scores than the left.