Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Scott Adams on Economists

The gist of the article (linked below) is that Scott Adams wants to keep his money, and so will present the data he himself collected in such a manner as to justify his greed...

I like Scott Adams. I usually find Dilbert funny and his books are an amusing read. CNN posted an article he wrote about a poll he funded asking economists about the presidential nominees. It is not funny, it is a little sad.

Now he is honest enough to admit that he is a greedy wealthy person. One of the tiny percentage of this country that will actually be taxed more by Obama (while most of us get bigger tax breaks). His rationale is the same as most greedy people: the dirty government will mismanage/waste it, and (not explicitly stated) he earned it.

Taking issue with the second point first... Wealthy people earn more than poor, not because they are harder working or more deserving, or even more capable/smarter. They earn vast quantities of money because of luck. It happens that their talents had the good fortune to be developed, discovered and are more in demand. But they do have a tendency to think it is because of some sense of deserving. Hard work, ability, can get you a decent living, depending on location and your specific line of work that may mean $50k/yr, or $150k/yr, but that's about it. People making several hundred thousand to millions a year are not more deserving, just more fortunate. Of course they also have the most to spare for funding campaigns, so guess what often happens...

As far as his first point: government does have waste, but also funds the military, education, research, infrastructure, law enforcement... Waste other than military gets lots of attention but it is a tiny portion of the US budget. Cutting taxes to rich people doesn't mean less waste it means less for good programs. Of course, they can afford to send their children to school w/o government support and get health care without government support, and can even hire bodyguards, so have less need for police, so why should they give a damn? About the only thing they can't do is hire an army, so it's always okay to fund the bejeezus out of that cash cow.

The biggest problem though, is that, because of his belief, he does his damnedest to talk up the partisan nature of the economists. So I wonder: are economists views based on politics or are their political views based on economics? I would guess the latter in which case, the partisan divide is not only moot, it's idiotic. Scott Adams is a smart guy, and a funny fellow, but he wants his money so badly that he is pushing hard against the rather overwhelming opinion supported by the economists he paid to have polled:

Obama is better for the Economy of this nation.

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