I trust you on the journalism piece
Reader comment on: NPR on the Rich and State Tax Rates
in response to reader comment: What about the facts and statistics in the article.
Submitted by ben (United States), Apr 30, 2011 21:18
I am persuaded by your expert opinion that the NPR piece was not quality journalism, but a good portion of your original post was disputing the conclusions drawn in the study. My points were more about whether you have a leg to stand on when you speculate that people making 400k are reacting in the same way as people making 500k? Is there data to back up this point?
I suppose I do often defer to experts when they know a lot more than me. We can't all be experts on everything, so if 95% of climate scientists tell me the world is warming, I would put a lot of stock in that. If a doctor tells me I have the Flu, I generally believe them. If two professors at distinguished universities show that raising taxes does not effect migration patters, that influences my thinking even if logic might suggest otherwise.
I suppose this is a proxy war for our general disagreement about government regulation. I don't think it is realistic or efficient for consumers to have to understand and be experts on everything they do and buy. Government regulation, while imperfect, is a far better way to help people navigate a world in which there is so much complexity at every turn. We can all be experts on somethings - journalism, teaching - but we can't be experts in everything - economics, climate science.
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The Future of Capitalism replies:
The paper actually considers and gets into that point about the future income expectations of the 400K earners (which, again, disappointingly, the NPR piece doesn't get into.)
In general I agree this gets to a bigger issue; the left/progressive/New Dealer philosophy/politics/inclination puts more faith in credentialed experts, while Hayek/free-market types puts less faith. To me a democracy with near-universal suffrage requires voters who are somewhat generalists. And the experts don't always agree with one another. If a doctor tells me I have the flu, I generally believe him, too, but if he tells me I need an operation, I would try to get a second opinion. Some of this economic stuff is even less exact than medical science. This is a big point of Hayek in his critique of what he called "scientism" — the belief that because some things like physics operate according to predictable knowable laws, other things like economies, which are more complex, must therefore operate under similarly predictable knowable laws.
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