Monday, November 28, 2011

Occupy Maine: The honeymoon is over

I visited Maine for Thanksgiving weekend and stopped by the Occupy protests in Augusta and Portland to spend some more time talking to the protesters about whats important to them.

The two Maine encampments were a stark contrast to the energetic Occupy Boston protest I visited when the movement was still young. The protesters seemed somewhat bored with the whole thing and perhaps resented the snow on the ground.

A substantial amount of the protesters focus has shifted from issues like income inequality and corporate personhood to the movement itself.

The first person I talked to at Occupy Augusta on Friday was Jarody, a tea party protester and former Republican candidate for the state house. When I asked him what are the important issues, he said the most important thing he cares about is that the Occupy movement is not hijacked by established political groups. That is to say, his primary interest in this protest is that he wants to participate in a protest with a degree of purity untouched by outsider organizations, or protesting for the sake of protesting as long as it's pure.

I also heard a lot of calls about free speech and the right to protest. Jarody and other protesters tried to dodge when I asked them about the legality of their tent city in the park and said they have a day-to-day understanding with the capital police. This is odd because the whole point is to illegally occupy land to attract attention, then play the victim card when police enforce the law.

They called a meeting while I was there with fellow bloggers Nate and Michael Hawkins announcing that capital police told them the eviction notice is coming Monday. The person leading the meeting, possibly named Lou, said he had been waiting five or six weeks to be arrested here, and the time was finally coming. He told the other members to call more people in to be arrested with them.

"They're be a lot of people coming here who will want to be arrested," he added. It reinforced my view that the left sees being arrested as a martyrdom, and uses these self-made martyrs to convince the gullible that the police are cracking down on them for their views, not for trespassing.

One person said during the meeting that if the police pepper spray him, he will spray them back. This person was clearly an idiot, and to the groups credit, the idiot was told he can't do that.

As of this time, Nate reports that the camp in Augusta is still around. Over the weekend nine people were arrested for hopping the fence of the governors mansion and stringing up a banner, but none of them were there Friday.

The protesters I talked to said if the police told them to leave or be pepper sprayed, they'd choose to be pepper sprayed.

One issue that united the 15 members of the Occupy Augusta was an opposition to genetically-modified food. They were picking at two roasted turkeys still sitting in their pans. One of them was filled with potatoes, mushrooms and onions (I assume it was a gluten-free attempt at stuffing) and it was obviously the cook's first bird: it was left sitting in two inches of congealed fat and the paper packet of internal organs was left inside when it was cooked.

The Augusta encampment had a teepee for sleeping in the center surrounded by smaller tents. The communal tent had brand-new metal shelves that organizes said were donated. There was a left-wing library, picnic tables, boxes of donated food and a few trays of loose tobacco for communal cigarettes. The system seemed to work, as there were only 15 people, but Nate said that number doubled to 30 when the police tried to clear it out today.

The most telling moment was when one of the protesters gave a long pour of table salt into a big cup, then came back a minute later to pour more and walked away. I said to Jarody, he's not salting the walkway with that, is he?

Jarody looked at me with wide eyes and said "Someone needs to stop him!"

I had a good time talking to the protesters in Boston and Augusta. I didn't enjoy the protest in Portland, known as Occupy Maine, when I stopped by Saturday at noon time.

I saw a group of about half a dozen people sitting lazily around a picnic table. No one was talking about I sat down with them and said I was a blogger originally from the area who wants to know what issues are important to them. One person asked what town I was from and then there was a big pause.

A wrinkled woman around age 60 glared at me and said I was being rude. She said I was interrupting them and went on (rudely) and insisted they were in the middle of talking. They weren't, but there's no point in arguing with crusty old hippies. I told the group that they're here to protest and identifying the issues they're protesting should be something they want to do.

I ended up talking to a young woman named Jenna, who was just there for the weekend. Jenna insisted the most Americans quality of life and standard of living had been dropping since the 1970s because of the rise in things like health care costs.

She said she knows it sounds crazy to say she's anti-capitalist, but wants to replace capitalism with a different economic system, although she said she doesn't know what to replace it with.

Another of her points was that the strength of the movement comes from not having a list of demands. She said she'd rather see a revolution that be promised demands that will never come.

That was all I was able to get out of the Portland group. I later learned why they've been on edge. The week before one of their members had attacked a critic, and two others choked and bludgeoned a third member for banging a drum at 7 a.m. On Thursday Jason Carr, the one who assaulted someone for disagreeing with their message as he tried to leave, was arrested again for domestic violence in the camp. A couple was also arrest for hitting one another and a third person was arrested for disorderly conduct.

One of my friends has been an organizers there from the start and he looked exhausted. After a quick talk he expressed frustration with running the group, which he said was like herding cats.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Breakfast Pie

I don't want to steal Larry David's shtick, but there's no logical reason why the slice of leftover lemon meringue pie I had this morning is any less a legitimate breakfast item than a lemon jelly doughnut.

And in the same vein, leftover birthday cake is as legitimate a breakfast item as coffee cake. I'm not sure about cheesecake and cheese danishes. That issue requires more (delicious) research.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why skeptics should consider libertarianism

The skeptical community is roughly 70 percent progressive and 30 percent libertarian, at least according to an informal poll at TAM 7. While that's nowhere close to a majority, it's two to three times larger than the American public at large and I think it should be higher.

Last week it came out that the European Union prevented a bottled water company from putting a statement on their product that said water helps prevent dehydration. Their academic panel spent three long years on the case and declared that since pure water isn't the only way to prevent dehydration, the claim is misleading and can not be printed.

Dr. Steven Novella, arguably the most prominent skeptic in New England, verified the story and wrote yesterday:
My fear is that this sensational event will create a public backlash against regulatory agencies reviewing health claims by product manufacturers. This is a dramatic and emotional case that can have undue influence on what should be a thoughtful and nuanced discussion about the proper role of regulation in health claims. I suspect the anti-regulation crowd will jump all over it.
Well, here I am. It's not that I'm against all regulation, I just want less of it. I even support regulation to stop fraudulent claims on products, which is exactly what this case was supposed to be about.

But unlike my friends and fellow skeptics on the left, I know the regulations tend to end up grotesque and flawed. I want fewer regulations because there is no reason to expect the regulations will be based on the best knowledge available and with the public interest in mind.

As Friedrich Hayek wrote in The Road to Serfdom:
"...We all think that our personal order of values is not merely personal but that in a free discussion among rational people we would convince the others that ours is the right one."
Progressive skeptics assume they will be the ones who write the regulations simply because the science is on their side. Granted, it usually is, but that's a naive way to look at the political process.

Remember corn-based ethanol? The government funneled taxpayer money to big corn producers to convert their food product into fuel. We quickly learned that the fuel is inferior and harms engines, there is no net energy gain from all the fossil fuels we put into ethanol and the corn shortage caused mass starvation in other countries. Corn-based ethanol is a bad idea and the public turned against it, yet the subsidies remain.

And why wouldn't they? The corn industry has a lot of money to spend protecting these subsidies, where the public's benefit is spread among many people. It's the old political game of dispersed costs and concentrated benefits.

I'd love to ban homeopathic products for claiming they can heal people, but fighting that battle is a waste of my time. I gain very little waging that war, where the sham medicine companies have a lot to lose and will spend a lot of money protecting their business interests. That's why I concentrate my efforts on convincing potential consumers.

Skeptics assume that merely being right will guarantee victory in a political system run by people. Yet skeptics understand that most people aren't relentless critical thinkers and will believe myths and fables, including the people likely to be elected. There is no reason to believe the people they appoint to a position will be the brightest, most competent, or share the same love of science.

Look at Orac's ongoing posts about defunding the NCCAM, the federal governments alt medicine $121 million annual laboratory. I've written about defunding it too, but I know that's not going to happen with our government.

When lefties talk about regulation, it's in a state of perfection. They assume the regulators will have perfect knowledge and constantly update the regulations to the latest scientific understanding. They forget about unintended consequences, such as forming a board to stop soda companies from saying their product cures cancer only to have that same board declare that water doesn't prevent dehydration.

Free market philosopher Milton Friedman saw government interference like regulation as coercion and said:
“I have no right to coerce someone else because I cannot be sure that I am right and he is wrong.”
Skepticism is a process of discovery, it is not a set of positions one takes. With a hands-off approach to government, I would have better control over how much of my money goes to chiropractors or homeopaths. Under current federal regulation, all health insurance policies must offer chiropractic options. Our private actions also respond faster to new information than it takes to write new government policies.

The comparison should not be between no regulation and perfect regulation, but a different society that adjusts to having fewer regulations and a world with many imperfect regulations that solve some problems and cause new ones. While I don't expect all skeptics to switch camps, I'd like them to consider being more libertarian in their approach.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

I told you so

Last month I wrote:
The left has this habit of trying to get arrested, then looking at the arrests as a noble sacrifice and proof that the police are thugs. That doesn't mean that police never brutalize protesters, of course, but the protesters aren't always the victims they claim to be.
Yesterday at U.C. Davis trespassing protesters dug themselves in so police couldn't pull them apart and were told they would be pepper sprayed if they didn't disperse. You can guess what happened next.

Now left is are up in arms about police brutality, excessive force and freedom of speech - concepts they clearly don't understand. If you break the law and dare the police to enforce it, they will enforce it. It is an automated response, like pressing a button.

Non-gifted Associate Professor of English Nathan Brown penned a rambling letter calling for the university chancellor to resign for calling the police to remove the tresspassers. He offers this
The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly.
Here's my open letter to Nathan Brown:
Sir, you do not understand freedom of speech. With some narrow exceptions, the content of speech can not be censored. There are, however, limitations on time and place speech can be expressed as long as they are content-neutral. One can not hold a protest that blocks the lanes of an interstate highway, for example.

It doesn't matter if the protesters were non-violent, they were illegally "occupying" space they were not allowed to be. They linked their bodies in a way that made it impossible for the police to pull them apart without using something like pepper spray.

If the police catch me robbing a bank while singing "Born to Run," the police are not suppressing Bruce Springsteen music. Likewise, when people - students, kids, veterans or whatever kind of people they are - illegally trespass, it doesn't matter to the police why they are doing it. The police will use force before they'll tolerate law breaking.

And you knew this. Next time you feel like organizing a protest where participants break the law and dare the police to pepper spray them, I expect to see you on the front line.

This is a bait-and-switch routine. The protesters break a law and act as if the police are after them for their beliefs. Anyone who believes this narrative is a sucker.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Can we find a definition of rich and stick with it?

This morning on NPR, Fresh Air host Terry Gross brought on guest Tim Dickinson who recently wrote an opinion piece in Rolling Stone masquerading as a news article on how American tax policy drives inequality.

Dickinson omitted a few pesky facts that challenged his thesis. Here's part of the exchange:
Terry Gross: "Have taxes become less progressive in the past few decades? And by progressive, I mean the idea that the more money you make the higher level you're taxed?"

Tim Dickinson: "The most important place where that's true is with investment income. In the tax reform of 1986, Ronald Reagan brought the top marginal tax rate down to 28 percent, which is far below where it is today, but he also brought the capital gains tax up to match it."
You see what he did? She asked him if taxes are less progressive, and his answer was to say they are in one narrow aspect. This misleads the listener into believing that taxes are less progressive in all aspects.

Dickinson's answers use a common trick people make when they barrage you with economic data to prove a point: they keep changing the parameters of the concept they are talking about. In this case, it's what group is counted as rich. In my last post, I showed how even when you include capital gains and dividends as income and factor in loopholes, the top 1 percent pays the highest tax rate in the nation, projected at 33.8 percent this year.

The Occupy Wall Street crowd set the line at the top 1 percent, and the interview starts with that parameter, but then Dickinson moves the goalpost to the top 10 percent. Then when he wants to make the point that rich people pay a lower tax rate, he moves it again to the top 400 earners with their tax average rate of about 17 percent.

He's not alone. Sometimes the line is moved to the top 0.1 percent. Irregardless, while there are a few anecdotal examples of rich people that have found a way to pay a lower tax rate, you have to leave out a lot of multi-millionaires to concoct a definition of "rich" that pays a lower tax rate on average. It's no different than holding up a handful of welfare cheats as proof that all people on government assistance are scammers.

The rich have received tax reductions in recent years, but so has everyone else. Some lefties like to point out that the top federal marginal tax rate in 1963 was 91 percent, but what they don't realize is that the lowest tax bracket at that point - the poorest of the poor - had to pay 20 percent. Please don't take my word for it, scroll through the numbers for yourself. You can go back to 1954 and see those same extremes were the same for everyone.

For comparison, In 2001 the lowest tax bracket was 15 percent and the villainous Bush Tax Cuts brought it down to 10 percent.

In the interest of fairness, if you want a further historical perspective, 1913 had 1 percent tax for the lowest and a 7 percent tax for the highest and by 1918 the poor had a 6 percent tax while the highest marginal bracket was 77 percent. Taxes have been all over the place and while one can argue they're not as progressive as they were in 1918, they're certainly more progressive than they were in the last 60 years the spotlight is focused on.

Dickinson must have done a lot of digging through the data, so he knew how much more progressive taxes are today than in the last 60 years. The way he worded his answer shows that he deliberately altered his definition of rich to focus on the top 400 to a prove his point - a point that is completely reversed when the data set is expanded.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Taxes are progressive enough

There is a lie being repeated that America has a regressive tax system, that the rich pay a lower percentage of their wealth than the middle class. Instead, we have a progressive tax system that has done a great job of keeping inequality in check.

As I've said before, there's nothing wrong with inequality. What we should focus on is the well-being of the poor, and the poor in America enjoy a high standard of living.

The recent Bruce Meyer episode of Econtalk made a compelling point that inequality is much lower than the pundits claim because they are merely looking at pre-tax income. Once you factor in taxes, consumer spending and government assistance programs like the earned income tax credit you see a much different picture observe.

Both the left and the right make the mistake of focusing on the top tax bracket in the past, which was higher than it is today, but affected few people. A much larger percentage of our federal taxes paid by the wealthy, and it's not just because they have more of the wealth. We are seeing lower taxes for the poor and middle class.

Enter Warren Buffet and the claim that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, whose income was never identified. He claimed he paid 17.4 percent while everyone else in his office pays 31 to 44 percent. Greg Mankiw said that isn't even true, but let's play along and say it is.

Is it fair for members of the left to use him as an example to "prove" that the rich pay a lower tax rate, like "Bob" did in an exchange we had in a comment section at For The Sake of Science last month? People rightly claim that taxpayers are able to use loopholes and write-offs to reduce their tax bill, and the rich have access to smart accountants who can exploit them, so could this stymie the progressiveness of the official tax rates?

The good news is that the hard data says otherwise. Using Warren Buffett as an anecdotal example is misleading, as we can see by looking at the effective federal tax rate that compares what people actually pay in taxes to their incomes. Here's what the Congressional Budget Office projected for this year:

It's plain to see that in reality, the five different quintiles fall neatly in line, with the top 1 percent that gets so much focus today paying the highest at 33.8 percent. It is a lie to say the rich pay less of a percentage of taxes than anyone else.

All is not lost for the left. They could simply abandon this bogus claim of a regressive tax system and instead focus on the gains that have come through lowering taxes for the poor and middle class and various "redistribution" programs like the earned income tax credit. That would allow them to sleep better at night instead of, in the words of Michael Munger, elevating the sin of envy to a virtue.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why I support corporate personhood

Imagine a caveman wakes up in the modern world, sees a television for the first time and smashes it with the first object he can lay hands on. He doesn't know anything about it, but assumes it's a threat and feels compelled to destroy it.

That sums up the young lefts view of corporate personhood. People with no understanding of business law have taken it upon themselves to edit the constitution to strike at firms they see as their enemies, but don't realize how savage their actions really are.

The point of a corporation is to create a legal entity that can own property, has its own debts and can spend its resources. It is, in essence, a stand-in for a group of people. It is not, as critics like to remind us, an actual person, but that doesn't mean corporations don't deserve rights.

From a 2011 Cato Institute paper by Iila Shapiro and Caitlyn W. McCarthy:
...If corporations had no Fourth Amendment rights, the police could storm corporate offices and cart off computers and files for any or no reason. If corporations had no Fifth Amendment rights, the mayor of New York could exercise eminent domain over Rockefeller Center by fiat and without compensation if he decides he’d like to move his office there.

...When rights-bearing individuals associate to better engage in a whole host of constitutionally protected activity, their constitutional rights remain fully intact. These individuals do not lose their right to speak or act simply because they chose to exercise those rights by pooling their resources in a corporate form.
The targeted constitutional right that activists want to take away from corporations is freedom of speech, following last year's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.

As retired ACLU executive director Ira Glasser carefully explained, the case did not allow corporations to make unlimited campaign contributions like the left claims. Instead, it ended a stupid censorship ban that protected politicians from being criticized by corporations or unions around elections. This was a victory over censorship.

Glasser addressed another issue the left likes to make, that the wealth corporations command could allow them to drown out all other speech, so the government needs to cap what they can say. He wrote:
The inequities of speech that flow from the inequities of wealth are certainly a big and distorting problem for a democracy, and have always been so, and not just during elections. No one knows how to remedy that, short of fundamental re-distributions of wealth. But I'll tell you what isn't a remedy: granting the government the power to decide who should speak, and how much speech is enough. Nothing but disaster flows from that approach, and that was what was at stake in this case.
This idea of leveling the playing field for speech belongs in Harrison Bergeron's dystopia. If an entity's speech is too persuasive because of its reach, scope or volume, why not censor speakers who are skilled at attracting large audiences or making compelling arguments? Free speech does not need government oversight, and the ACLU has consistently supported corporate speech rights, despite left-wing campaigns that try to pressure them into switching sides.

Without free speech, corporations would be handicapped in trying to defend themselves in the public arena. Suppose a large group of naturalists starts a campaign that Acme widgets cause cancer, and have no scientific basis for this claim. What happens now? The activists get in the press, they talk to other people and they may be allowed to pass out their literature in classrooms.

But the corporation isn't a real person, so it needs to spend money in its own defense to speak. Perhaps science-based speakers will call the activists on their nonsense, but should Acme have to wait around hoping for good Samaritans? Why prevent it from launching a similar campaign to correct the lie using its own resources?

As my fellow defenders have been quick to point out, many groups the left loves are corporations who enjoy free speech. There's the ACLU, Media Matters, the Daily KOS, MSNBC, NORML and the transparently-named Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Once again, members of the American left are on the wrong side of a freedom of speech issue. Censorship harms the potential listener, not just the thwarted speaker, and adults don't need a moderator to decide who they can listen to.


Monday, November 7, 2011

What is it you don't understand about journalistic neutrality?

As a practicing journalist, there are strict rules I must follow for the purpose of neutrality. I can not publicly endorse political candidates, parties or movements. I can't march in a protest or place campaign bumper stickers on my car.

It's not just politics. Earlier this year I was invited to join Rotary International, and I knew I had to turn it down. My editor confirmed this; it would be a public endorsement of the group and I wouldn't be able to cover its events with what appears to be a fair viewpoint.

Like all conflict of interest issues, it's not a matter of if I could remain neutral. It's a matter of the mere appearance of neutrality.

I don't like labor unions at all. I interviewed the fire fighter's union rep in a recent story then saw him at a scene a few days after it was printed. I asked him how it came out and if I represented his side fairly, and it felt genuinely good when he said I nailed it. Clearly, I have some ability to set my views aside.

But how would he have read it if he knew I think his organization is a labor cartel that conspires to take advantage of the public with oligarchy power, fearmongering and flawed reasoning? His interpretation of my wording may have changed and the same story would have angered him. My paper's reputation would have been damaged.

That's why we have rules, you see. It's easy to understand. As a journalist, I give up certain rights in order to do my job correctly. It's not a legal requirement, it's a performance requirement, and I agreed to it when I chose this line of work.

But Caitlin Curran, activist and freelancer for a show broadcast on NPR, doesn't understand this basic journalistic rule. She got caught protesting in Occupy Wall Street, tried to turn it into a story and got fired for it. She did not, however, learn anything from the experience, as can be demonstrated by her dishonest statements in an interview with Bob Garfield from On The Media.

Curran's silly defense, which Garfield did not let her get away with, was that:

*She just wanted to check it out.

*She wasn't really participating.

*She only held the sign for a little while.

*Her political sign wasn't political.

*Occupy Wall Street isn't political.

*This happened in her personal time.

*The rule is wrong and journalists should be able to express their views in public.

Curran just doesn't get it, and from the comments section in the liberal blogosphere, a lot of other people don't get it either. I can see a minor defense against a similar incident when the host of an opera show was eighty-sixed for being an anti-war spokeswoman. It's not as blatantly wrong as what Curran did, but once again, the sympathetic far left Internet squad just doesn't get it.

I have to walk a fine line. I was a newspaper editor in 2008 and the beginning of 2009 and some of my editorials are online. I was also the op/ed editor of my college newspaper my senior year and some of my political articles from that time are still online. My political views can be tracked down.

But I still make an effort. I was the president of a skeptics group when I was between journalism jobs and now that I'm working again, I'm not a member of any of them. I told my editor when I was offered a position to speak at TAM 9 and he gave me his blessing. Even still, I follow a strict policy about what I do, what I say and what I post here on YH&C.

I fully believe that I can write fairly on topics despite having a lot of strong views. The trouble is convincing my readers that I can pull it off. That's beyond my control, and that's why the proper thing to do is to keep them guessing.

As a journalist, I keep a single allegiance in mind. It's not to the politicians I interview. It's not to the publication that prints my words, nor is it to the public that reads what I wrote. My loyalty is to the truth; the actual events that occur in the world. It's not to any other idea or entity. Anything less is a betrayal of reality.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Idiot Hunting OWS

The squirmy nature of Occupy Wall Street makes fair criticism a difficult task. Because there's no official list of demands, critics can pick the views expressed by the stupidest supporters and go to town on them, as if that disproves the entire movement.

I don't want to break my own rule on idiot hunting and prop up the ignorant as living straw men to dismantle. That's too easy.

For example, early on everyone was looking for a list of official demands and a list from the official website got passed around. Now it has a snarky introduction saying it's a forum post, not an official list. The intro criticizes people who interpreted the list as official, but the web design was so poor that it was impossible tell it was a forum post. It said it was a real list.

The list featured some silly ideas like declaring a minimum wage of $20 an hour, making huge government programs, canceling all student debt and outlawing credit reporting agencies. I could snap these ideas apart in my sleep, but that doesn't actually prove anything.

The real ideas to target are the calls to end corporate personhood, increase regulations and lower the income gap. That is real engagement and the only way to seriously combat this movement is to strike its strongest points. Kicking infants doesn't prove anything.

I've been more than fair in making the distinction between the violent bomb-throwing anarchists who started the protests from the liberal supporters who tolerate them. I personally wouldn't want to support a movement that overlooks calls for violence and illegal behavior, but that's their mistake to make.

It's also hard to make criticisms of the idiots stick, as the movement is so fragmented most supporters will just say they don't believe in that idea or move the goalpost to another issue if they do. Idiot hunting won't defeat OWS.

I will, however, mock stupid ideas when they make their way to the front of the pack. Take the idiot who left a cushy tenured position in the NYC school department to get a masters degree in puppets. He wanted to get an extra $10,000 annually by exploiting the salary guidelines, but the job was gone when he finished playing with puppets.

This person is clearly a fool, not a victim, and it would be pure idiot hunting to single him out as a typical Occupy Wall street protester. That is, it would be if The Nation hadn't done just that in a sympathetic piece written by their executive web editor.

It's not idiot hunting when the claim makers are the ones propping them up as a fair example. The Nation is about as disinterested and seperate from this movement as Nintendo Power is from Nintendo. This is completely fair game.

He thought he could use the teacher salary guidelines as a loophole to make an extra $10,000 a year with the puppets at the public's expense. That is, he got greedy, took a risky venture that backfired and now wants us to bail him out. As Angus put it:
If you decide to "pursue your passion" in an un-economic area, don't be surprised when the economic system doesn't value you highly, and don't think that the problem is the system; the problem is you.
Christ. Puppets? What an idiot.


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.