Wednesday, November 2, 2011

OWS fails to protest Greg Mankiw

I thought the theme of Occupy Someplace protesters was to stand around somewhere you're not supposed to be and dare the police to remove you, then complain about the police department's use of force.

Today Occupy Boston tried to do the opposite and get Greg Mankiw's entire Ec 10 class to walk out on him at 12:15 p.m. In an open letter, an organizer claimed the introductory course doesn't teach the type of economics they like.

A legitimate academic study of economics must include a critical discussion of both the benefits and flaws of different economic simplifying models. As your class does not include primary sources and rarely features articles from academic journals, we have very little access to alternative approaches to economics. There is no justification for presenting Adam Smith’s economic theories as more fundamental or basic than, for example, Keynesian theory.
What a ridiculous thing to say. Adam Smith is indeed the foundation of modern economics, and I imagine a low-level biology class treats Charles Darwin the same way and a creationist would try to cite a lack of academic journals in an argument for teaching rib-based origins. Someone else has written a more in-depth take down of this silly accusation, so I will outsource that aspect of my post.

I imagine this protest has little to do with the declared motivation and is really about his role as an economic advisor in the Bush administration and some of his mocking posts about the movement and challenges to their assumptions.

Regardless, the protest was a flop, as only five to 10 percent of the class participated, and that was offset by former students who occupied the class in support of Mankiw.

As Tyler Cowen wrote today, "OWS supporters should be embarrassed by this garbage behavior." They won't. Add this to the long list of shameful actions protesters have committed and moderate supporters have overlooked.

These moderate supporters, who I have gone to great lengths to distinguish from the bomb throwers, do not have clean hands. They are holding hands with violent thugs and have been cheering protesters on to resist when police try to remove them for trespassing. This is essentially taunting the police to enforce the law.

The moderates celebrated when New York police decided against enforcing the evacuation of the park, but when Oakland police used force they carried on the liar's cry of victimhood. Now that has spiraled into shutting down the Oakland port, and they still haven't lost the support of the herbivores.

Greg Mankiw has said he considers himself a diplomat of the economic literature to his students, and his goal is to share what major economists have discovered even if he doesn't agree with it. It's a shame that with the ignorance of these protesters, the one place they aren't willing to occupy is an economics class.

1 comment:

  1. I would argue that artists of all types (e.g. poets, musicians, performance artists) have been taking advantage of "the system" for far too long already, despite the puppeteer's claim that "the system" screwed him. Publicly funded entities like NPR and the universities have been artificially propping up less than stellar art for years on the backs of those who wouldn't otherwise value it enough to buy it. In short, the government gives out grants to allow artists that would usually be unemployed by their lack of talent, inability to arouse interest in the public or lack of a niche market to continue to make their "meh" art. Of course, there are PLENTY of good artists that need no propping...
    Your thoughts?
    Noteworthy, I was dumb enough to make this claim to a university poetry professor once. He wasn't happy.