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October 18, 2011 10:35 AM They’re not parallel ideologies

By Steve Benen

Russ Roberts had a much-discussed item recently on Keynesian economics, which included an interesting criticism of Paul Krugman: “Krugman is a Keynesian because he wants bigger government. I’m an anti-Keynesian because I want smaller government. Both of us can find evidence for our worldviews.”

I was glad to see Krugman explain just how mistaken this is.

First of all, while conservatives see smaller government as an end in itself, liberals don’t see bigger government the same way. Think about it: while you often see conservatives crow about, say, reducing discretionary spending as a good thing just because the number is down, do you ever see liberals crowing about a rise in spending, never mind what on? Liberals want government to do certain things, like provide essential health care; the size of government per se isn’t the objective.

Krugman added some related points — Keynesianism isn’t about promoting bigger government; conservatives have traditionally supported Keynesian economics; and basing economic views on political prejudices is a bad idea — but it’s this first point that stood out for me. Regular readers probably know we’ve discussed this before, but I continue to believe it’s one of the key observations in American politics, because it’s fundamental to understanding how both sides of the political divide seek to advance their goals — and the nature of the goals themselves.

For the left, political objectives relate to policy ends. We want to expand access to quality health care. We want to lower carbon emissions to combat global warming. We want to reform the lending process for student loans so more young people can afford to go to college. We want to make public investments to create jobs. There are competing ways to get to where progressives want to go, but the focus is on the policy achievement.

What conservatives often find confusing is that the liberal worldview is not about necessarily increasing the size of government or raising taxes; those mechanisms are only valuable insofar as they reach a desired end-point. Whether the government increases or shrinks in the process is largely irrelevant.

For the right, it’s backwards — the ideological goal is the achievement.

Jon Chait had a terrific piece on this several years ago.

We’re accustomed to thinking of liberalism and conservatism as parallel ideologies, with conservatives preferring less government and liberals preferring more. The equivalency breaks down, though, when you consider that liberals never claim that increasing the size of government is an end in itself. Liberals only support larger government if they have some reason to believe that it will lead to material improvement in people’s lives. Conservatives also want material improvement in people’s lives, of course, but proving that their policies can produce such an outcome is a luxury, not a necessity.

The contrast between economic liberalism and economic conservatism, then, ultimately lies not only in different values or preferences but in different epistemologies. Liberalism is a more deeply pragmatic governing philosophy — more open to change, more receptive to empiricism, and ultimately better at producing policies that improve the human condition — than conservatism.

Now, liberalism’s pragmatic superiority wouldn’t matter to a true ideological conservative any more than news about the medical benefits of pork (to pick an imaginary example) would cause a strictly observant Jew to begin eating ham sandwiches. But, if you have no particular a priori preference about the size of government and care only about tangible outcomes, then liberalism’s aversion to dogma makes it superior as a practical governing philosophy.

Conservatives tend to prefer a different approach that decreases the role of government, not to achieve specific ends, but because decreasing the role of government is the specific end.

This, of course, affects nearly every debate in Washington. When it comes to job creation, for example, the task for Democrats is pretty straightforward: let’s do more of what’s been the most effective, and less of what’s been the least effective. Again, it’s about pragmatism and results based on evidence.

For Republicans, it doesn’t work quite that way — they have ideological ideals that outweigh evidence. GOP leaders could be shown incontrovertible proof that the most effective methods of creating jobs and improving the economy are aid to states, infrastructure investment, unemployment insurance, and food stamps, and they’d still refuse. Why? Because their ideology dictates the response.

The left starts with a policy goal (more people with access to medical care, more students with access to college, less pollution, more jobs, less financial market instability) and crafts proposals to try to complete the task. The right starts with an ideological goal (smaller government, more privatization, more deregulation) and works backwards.

These are not parallel ideologies.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • Chris on October 18, 2011 10:42 AM:

    It's worth highlighting the fact that the right merely uses the phrase "Keynesian economics" as another rhetorical trick to demonize their political opponents. In reality, they don't actually have a problem with Keynes.

    For example, when they assert that it hurts the economy to raise taxes during a recession, that's Keynes. When the push taxes cuts for economic growth, that's Keynes. Admittedly, their recent application of Keynes lacks nuance (it doesn't hurt economic growth to tax income that would not otherwise be spent), but its Keynes nevertheless.

  • Chris on October 18, 2011 10:45 AM:

    Steve: "Conservatives tend to prefer a different approach that decreases the role of government, not to achieve specific ends, but because decreasing the role of government is the specific end."

    One more thought. Conservatives do have a specific end in mind when they seek to reduce the size of government...enrich the rich. They can't say it, but it's true.

  • Ron Byers on October 18, 2011 10:47 AM:

    Every economic idea seems to be Keynes on anti-Keynes. I wish we all knew enough about his ideas to talk about economic thought with some precision. To hear everybody here and in the rest of the media talk economic theory begins and ends with John Maynard Keynes. What a sad "science" if he populated the whole field.

  • walt on October 18, 2011 10:49 AM:

    The right-wing political mind is religious in the most conventional meaning of that word. It has a faith-based understanding of reality that simply rejects evidence that doesn't support its worldview. It's why they can lie with such fervor and conviction. When your entire ideology is eschatological, you argue from that endpoint. You have to. Your entire existence is predicated on being right in an absolutist sense.

    It's been observed before, but the political ideology modern conservatives most resemble is probably Communism. Their ideology cannot fail. It can only be failed.

  • c u n d gulag on October 18, 2011 10:51 AM:

    Liberals care about the goals and getting to them.
    If it takes a few rights to get to where we want to go, ok, we'll make a few rights.
    The destination is what's important, not the path that got you there.

    But with Conservatives, you can't ever take a left - you always have to go where you want by taking rights.
    To them, it doesn't matter if you get to a destination, it's all about following the right path.

    There's a huge difference between wanting better government for the sake of the people, and wanting less government for the sake of less government.
    And let's not kid ourselves - that definition of their goal means lower taxes on the wealthy and white, and less money for anyone who's not.
    PERIOD!

  • Danp on October 18, 2011 10:57 AM:

    "Small government" is not actually what Republicans want either. They are fine with defense spending, enforcement of blue collar crime, subsidies for businesses, narrowly defined morality, etc. It really is all about class and wealth distribution. "Small government" is just a euphemism.

  • Chris on October 18, 2011 10:59 AM:

    I lied. I have more thoughts...

    We should never, ever forget that conservatives don't actually care about reducing the size of government. As evidence, they seek subsidies for gas, oil, coal, pharma, agriculture, and unlimited defense spending while otherwise seeking to cut programs that help the poor and middle class. They don't actually care about reducing deficits. They don't even care about privatization and deregulation in and of themselves.

    The ideology that they claim, again, is actually rhetoric to achieve their real agenda, to enrich the rich. To the extent that the man on the street believes these things (smaller government and all that crap), he only believes them when Rush Limbaugh tells him to. How many of our "conservative" neighbors are calling their Republican representatives demanding an end to farm, oil, coal, and nuclear subsidies? They frequently call to demand an end to foreign aid or endowments for the arts, but what about the rest?

    Again, the agenda of the right's political and media stars is to enrich the rich. That's the only thing that matters. As for our poor conservative neighbors, unfortunately, they've allowed themselves been manipulated with skillful rhetoric and pretzel logic.

  • Mimikatz on October 18, 2011 10:59 AM:

    This is also behind the otherwise somewhat perplexing GOP climate change denialism. GOPers realize that if drastic climate change is really happening, it will lead to much more government intervention and regulation. So they decide it can't really be happening, because the governmental consequences are unacceptable. Never mind the environmental consequences--they don't seem to care what warming means for individual people, let alone for the economy. I suppose some do see potential profit in drilling in the newly open Arctic Ocean, but I really think the root of denialism is the inability to accept what warming means for government's role as much or more what it means for all of our well-being and even survival.

  • Rich on October 18, 2011 11:01 AM:

    The New Yorker profile of Krugman last Spring provided a nice snapshot of how his thinking evolved in economics and in politics. He went from fairly orthodox neo-liberal pro-global economics and econometric modeling to where he is now because the neo-liberal and econometrics approaches were basically failures. he describes himself as apolitical pre-Bush, which would have been when his economic thinking began to change, partly on the basis of his historical work on the Depression.

  • Stevo on October 18, 2011 11:07 AM:

    Oh yeah? Three words: "Public employee unions."

  • CJColucci on October 18, 2011 11:08 AM:

    To be more fair than the Russ Robertses of the world deserve, there are two coherent things one could say about liberals and big government:
    (1) Liberals may be more inclined to accept big government solutions to policy problems and undervalue small government, market-oriented solutions.
    While possibly true, this does not strike me as an important criticism. If, in fact, a small government, market-based solution could be shown to be effective, why wouldn't a liberal want to endorse it? You solve the policy problem without raising taxes to pay for it. Win-win.
    (2) Some significant parts of the liberal political coalition have a direct pocketbook interest in big government as such because their jobs depend on extensive public programs.
    This is true, but then significant parts of the conservative political coalition -- soldiers, arms manufacturers, crony capitalists, and the like -- are in the same position.

  • Butch on October 18, 2011 11:12 AM:

    Ron - the reason Keynes always comes up is that his prescriptions for dealing with the cyclic nature of demand driven economies actually make sense

    Contrast him with the economists of the Chicago/Austrian schools and the Randian nutjob Alan Greenspan - who were remarkably quiet after the economic implosion of '08 but are now oozing out from under their various rocks and hoping people have forgotten their prescriptions that directly led to disaster.

  • Grumpy on October 18, 2011 11:14 AM:

    "...do you ever see liberals crowing about a rise in spending, never mind what on?"

    Well obviously that's because liberals know, deep down, that bigger government is wrong, but they're ashamed to admit it.

  • Locke on October 18, 2011 11:27 AM:

    The difference between conservatives and liberals is input vs output legitimacy, or means vs ends, or however else you choose to describe it. It is not strictly ideological vs practical, because an ideology of social equality underpins output legitimacy as much as one of equal opportunity underpins input legitimacy. But in practice, it often looks that way, because we know that market forces skew towards inequality, and need to be restrained by governance to produce greater equality.

  • Michael on October 18, 2011 11:30 AM:

    I would argue that a smaller government per se is not what motivates conservative ideology. It all depends on what the government is focused on doing. Conservatives seem to have no trouble with the concept of an engorged Pentagon because it's always money spent in opposition to (foreign) people they don't like. It's when government tries to HELP people that conservatives balk, because the government might be helping the (domestic) people conservatives don't like (i.e. anyone who's not them). The government's involvement in the military -industrial complex is good and must be expanded; the government's involvement in healthcare is bad and must be repealed. Patriot Act good; American Jobs Act bad. It's as simple as that.

  • karen marie on October 18, 2011 11:33 AM:

    In other words, "conservatives" are anarchists.

  • yournamehere on October 18, 2011 11:34 AM:

    Although I agree heartily with most of Steve's analysis, I'd like to point out that there are some parallels.

    Conservatives are morally opposed to "big government" (for whatever crazy or immoral reasons) and therefore would increase jobs with less efficient tax cuts rather than more efficient spending programs.

    Many Liberals are morally opposed to military interventions and therefore would increase jobs with less efficient domestic infrastructure spending rather than more efficient massive war.

    Yes, it's a bit of a stretch, but I think conservatives are so enamored of out of context quotes from Thomas Jefferson that they do think infrastructure spending is as morally abhorent as liberals think mass murder would be.

  • majun on October 18, 2011 11:37 AM:

    "Conservatives tend to prefer a different approach that decreases the role of government, not to achieve specific ends, but because decreasing the role of government is the specific end."

    That statement is a little too broad since the right wing is made up of a number of factions that tend to work at cross purposes. For some factions, most notably the libertarian faction, decreasing the role of government is clearly the specific end that they have as their goal. But, at the other end of the right side of the spectrum are the Christian Conservatives, and far from decreasing the role of government, they wish to expand it into areas that would make the founding fathers shiver.

    How the far right manages to control that obvious contradiction has always eluded me, but there it is. If the GOP ever does win the complete and uncontested control that they have so brazenly sought, I give it six months, on the outside, before competing factions are at each other's throats. And the libertarian wing better watch out, I know that they probably like to think of themselves as the "Bolsheviks" of the right wing revolution, but it is the Christians who will end up in control of the coercive agencies of the government, the police and the military.

  • Russ Roberts on October 18, 2011 12:39 PM:

    For those who are interested, I provide more evidence for the claims here:

    http://cafehayek.com/2011/10/truth-seeking-and-ideology.html

    I know it's comforting to believe that you are trying to make the world a better place while the rest of us are ideological fanatics but that is simply another example of confirmation bias.

  • Chris on October 18, 2011 12:49 PM:

    Ironically, in Russ Roberts' comment above, he accuses Steve and others of confirmation bias, which he details in the piece he linked to as a person who "cherry-picks data and stories that confirm his worldview. He doesn’t just dismiss data that challenges his worldview. He usually ignores it." (He's specifically referring to Paul Krugman.)

    That's an excellent description of confirmation bias, or how it arises, but I don't see where he directly addressed anything here that "challenges his worldview." To the contrary, he "ignores it." In other words, Russ Roberts appears to be projecting.

  • SYSPROG on October 18, 2011 1:00 PM:

    Yes, CHRIS, you are right (or correct as the case may be) but the GOP mantra is to throw any name at those pesky liberals that they THINK might be coming their way. 'Confirmation bias'? Sure. They are CONVINCED they are 'victims' and the left is out to destroy them.

  • Robert Kennedy on October 18, 2011 1:25 PM:

    I do think Steve & some of the commenters here miss some important nuances:

    First, categorizing viewpoint into the 2 buckets: "the left" and "the right" is way too simplistic. Surely there are folks that support increased expenditures for defense and various subsidies & tax breaks for various industries and special interests. And many, but not all, of them are Republicans. But there also many folks, including Mr. Roberts, that rail against these market distortions just as strongly as they protest similar market distortions in housing, education, medical care, etc. that "the left" (whoever they are) are likely to support. There are many, many points of view in this world. Attempting to categorize them into 2 buckets is way too simplistic, I think.

    Second, suggesting that "the left" is all about policy outcomes and "the right" is all about the policy itself is disingenuous. I can't speak for everyone "on the right", but I'm sure that many of them are just as passionate about improving access to quality medical care, access to quality education, better jobs, a cleaner environment, etc., etc. The difference is that many of them, including myself, believe government intervention, particularly at the federal level, does more harm than good. Many of us believe that federal involvement in medical care & education, for example, has driven up costs and reduced quality, thus having the opposite effect of what "the left" might have intended.

  • Chris on October 18, 2011 1:35 PM:

    Mr. Kennedy,

    Steve was responding to a post in which Mr. Roberts wrote, "Krugman is a Keynesian because he wants bigger government. I'm an anti-Keynesian because I want smaller government." To the extent that this discussion lacks nuance, I believe that you're better served by taking your complaint to Mr. Roberts.

  • Redshift on October 18, 2011 1:47 PM:

    yournamehere:
    Many Liberals are morally opposed to military interventions and therefore would increase jobs with less efficient domestic infrastructure spending rather than more efficient massive war.

    Nice try, but I doubt that assertion is supported by economics. It's entirely possible to generate as much demand through domestic infrastructure spending as through military spending (wars require ramp-up, too), even if it's politically more difficult. And infrastructure spending creates long-term economic benefits, while war spending, for the most part, is as productive as paying people to dig holes and fill them in.

    If it actually were clearly the case, then there might be some kind of ideological dilemma, but if the only reason war spending is more "efficient" is because conservatives would be less likely to oppose it politically, then it's not any kind of inconsistency on the part of liberals, it's just another pain in the ass caused by Republican intransigence.

  • Redshift on October 18, 2011 1:51 PM:

    Ironically, in Russ Roberts' comment above, he accuses Steve and others of confirmation bias, which he details in the piece he linked to as a person who "cherry-picks data and stories that confirm his worldview. He doesn’t just dismiss data that challenges his worldview. He usually ignores it." (He's specifically referring to Paul Krugman.)

    Particularly since, if one reads Krugman, he takes on data that challenges his worldview all the time. The problem for folks like Roberts is that he produces charts based on actual economic data that show that they're just wrong.

  • Stephen Stralka on October 18, 2011 2:03 PM:

    You really have to look at the whole history, because in fact these battles over the size of the government can be traced clear back to the Washington administration, long before Keynes was born.

    I just finished Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton, and have been astonished to discover the extent of the parallels between the ideological battles of the 1790s and the ones we're fighting today. (A little embarrassed, too, that I didn't know this stuff before.)

    Of course you have to be careful about overstating things, since factions in American political history have developed along multiple fault lines, not just one, and the ways in which the various divisions have lined up have changed over time. But still, to the extent that the main ideological division today is over the size and strength of the government, it's easy enough to see the same division in George Washington's cabinet, with Hamilton representing the blue tendency and Thomas Jefferson the red.

    Which isn't to draw any firm conclusions about anything, but simply to point out that this really isn't about Keynes.

  • Robert Kennedy on October 18, 2011 2:05 PM:

    Chris,

    I'll beg to differ. Yes, Mr. Roberts used that initial language. And that might have been an unfortunate shorthand. But Steve made the next conclusion that Krugman is interested in policy outcomes and that Mr. Roberts is not. I read both Krugman & Roberts on a regular basis. Krugman's policy prescriptions, at least in the last several years, almost always involve add or increasing government interventions to achieve a desired outcome. Roberts' policy prescriptions almost always involves removing or reducing government interventions to achieve a similar outcome.

  • Chris on October 18, 2011 2:42 PM:

    Mr. Kennedy,

    I'm afraid that your 2:05 seems to directly contradict your 1:25. You eliminated nuance entirely.

    And since you did, let me say that the "almost always" assertion isn't accurate. For example, the American Jobs Act, which Krugman supports, has a higher ratio of tax cuts to spending.

    In addition, I'm not familiar with Roberts previous writings, but I do know that the right generally favors government intervention over here while arguing against it over there (e.g.., abortion, subsidies for specified industries, defense spending, tort reform in which the federal government overrules the states on punitive damages,...). I don't buy the "small government" self-characterizations.

  • Rick B on October 18, 2011 2:48 PM:

    Steve, your discussion of the difference between the liberal pragmatic approach and the conservative ideological approach makes great points. I think that for the masses it can be summed up as two types of institutionalized behavior - one is mission-oriented and the other is ideologically oriented. But this is what the elites feed to the masses in order to get their support in mass politics. There is another dynamic at the upper levels of American society and power.

    The moneyed elites (equivalent to the French aristocracy before the Revolution) want to weaken the central federal government because the central federal government protects the working classes from the predations of the moneyed elites. This protection is provided by the central government enforcing the rule of law on the aristocracy - or in America's case on the moneyed elites. [This is similar to the discussion of the King of France and his relationship to the Aristocracy before the Revolution. The discussion can be found in Fukuyama's new book "The Origins of Political Order."] In our industrial society moneyed elites take on the predatory powers of the aristocracy; those elites hate the limitations to central government places on them.

    The conservative movement in America has been a three decade long battle by the moneyed elites to weaken the federal government and to permit those elites to be predators on labor and the middle class. The battle to remove consumer regulations, to remove usury laws, to destroy unions, and to allow lenders to take property from borrowers without effective due process is all part of the predation.

    The centralizing of America's mass media into a few oligopolic behemoths is another of the tools the moneyed elites are using to weaken the federal government. This was a goal under Reagan and I suspect it is a major reason why Obama cannot get much good press. The atrocious press coverage of the Gore for President Campaign was their first major effort.

    And the moneyed elites prefer the Republicans because the Republicans are selling the functions of government to private enterprise under the guise of "privatization." The Republicans gain power by selling government assets and functions. The Democrats don't do this, so the moneyed elites (big businesses, Wall Street Banks, etc.) dislike the Democratic politicians.

    The ideology that is discussed here is just another tool being used by the conservative movement - the political institutional arm of the moneyed elites - to weaken the central government and to force the government to turn government functions and assets over to the moneyed elites so they can act as predators on workers and the middle class. It's a way private individuals can rip off the taxpayers.

    This conservative form of government is the same form of government as is found in most Latin American countries. That's why their governments are so relatively weak and those nations have a small very wealthy class and a large underclass with minimal middle class and generally weak rule of law.

    I agree that the American conservative and liberal ideologies are not parallel. In my opinion the conservative ideology is one more weapon in the battle by the American moneyed elites to weaken the central government and enable their predatory - even libertarian - practices on the rest of us.


  • latts on October 18, 2011 4:44 PM:

    Rick B:

    This conservative form of government is the same form of government as is found in most Latin American countries.

    This is an important point-- when I become frustrated with conservatives (keep in mind that I'm not really out to persuade them), I usually point out that people don't typically sell everything they own & leave their families to move to Mississippi, or Latin America, or libertarian Somalia, or various other highly religious, culturally conservative nations in Africa or the Middle East. If they believe in the concept of market wisdom, Blue America and Evul Socialist Europe have clearly won the aspirations, if not the hearts and minds, of the world in terms of overall quality of life, economic potential, and human development.

    At that point, the argument really has nowhere to go except into drawn out explanations of why various brands of conservatism only fail among darker-skinned peoples and non-Christians. I don't put up with that, either.

  • Captain Profit on October 18, 2011 4:46 PM:

    Yay team...

  • Robert Kennedy on October 18, 2011 5:11 PM:

    Chris,

    This is kind of fun! Thx for the interchange!

    I didn't think i was contradicting myself between my 2 posts but i guess that is in the eyes of the beholder so i won't challenge your assertion.

    I do invite you to explore Mr. Roberts writings at CafeHayek and his podcasts at Econtalk. I think you'll find that Russ is a consistent proponent of the benefits of market based solutions and does not contradict himself in terms of defense expenditure or immigration or the myriad of the other ways that "the right" is often guilty of.

  • Rick B on October 18, 2011 5:56 PM:

    @Robert Kennedy

    In your first post above [1:25 PM] you are completely ready to override any government intervention into health care and education based simply on what you believe. You offer no evidence and suggest none. Your only criteria is your personal belief.

    In your second post above [2:05 PM] the only decision criteria you apply is whether the solution increases the size of government or reduces it. There is no consideration of the mission or goals to be accomplished or evaluation of whether the project can do so.

    The distinctions are where you put your priority - fact-based mission accomplishment or belief-based action. Your decisions are primarily based on your beliefs and appear unlikely to change if someone showed you that government action was clearly a better way to accomplish the job.

    Medicare proves that government based health insurance is cheaper and more efficient than private insurance and gives equal or better medical outcomes. I'll change my mind when I see some insurance company doing better. It's unlikely, though.

    You are clearly one of the belief-over-facts people. Fukuyama [p. 44] describes that as investing mental models with intrinsic worth. That is an inherently conservative process and one that leads to error and failure when the value invested is so strong that it cannot change in the face of the failure of the model.

  • Chris on October 18, 2011 6:18 PM:

    Robert Kennedy @5:11,

    Thanks to you too. I appreciate the friendly tone.

  • Robert Kennedy on October 18, 2011 8:39 PM:

    Chris @6:18,

    I assume that the "Chris" I see over at CafeHayek now is you. Spirited discussion, huh?

  • Mesa Econoguy on October 19, 2011 2:42 AM:

    Mr. Benen,

    Can you explain to the lay crowd how, in the (mostly) past 75 years of Keynesian policy enactment of the US government, government has not expanded?

    I eagerly await your considered response.

  • Robert Kennedy on October 19, 2011 9:13 AM:

    Rich B @ 5.56 pm,

    is that your style? when you disagree with someone, you resort to character attacks? I'd be happy to continue the exchange if you'd like to be civil about it.

  • Rick B on October 20, 2011 2:03 PM:

    Robert, Yours is an interesting response.

    I used your two posts to demonstrate that your decision criteria in the first was nothing but your belief and in the second your decision criteria had nothing to do with the facts of the situation you were offering a decision on ohter than whether it (Might have) increased or decreased the size of government.

    Those are facts clearly demonstrated by your posts. From those facts I conclude that you are a belief-over-facts person.

    I then added to that conclusion the statement that Fukuyama [P. 44} points out that it is a common human attituded to invest mental models with intrinsic worth and to defend such models regardless of the facts that allegedly support those mental models. Such adherence to a mental model of reality in situations when the reality has changed is one of the causes of conservative mental failure. If my fact-based conclusion (above) is correct then Fukuyama's explanation is probably why you are incorrect.

    If you consider this a character attack on you then you are not a person with enough education to be worthwhile engaging in a rational exchange.

    This is my tentative conclusion based on the evidence above. I have no way of knowing anything about your character except what you offer in writing.

  • Robert Kennedy on October 20, 2011 3:25 PM:

    Rick B,

    Thanks for the response. We're on the wrong track here. I made a couple of short hand comments to elicit some conversation. They weren't facts. They were just a few words quickly recorded as responses to the author and other posters. It appears that you jumped to some conclusions about what was behind those comments and why i might made them. And now you are apparently questioning my education.

    How about this? You stop questioning the motives of my comments and I won't try to figure why you think the way you do?

    If you are interested, I can provide lots of details and facts and rationale and references for my admittedly broad comments. I will admit my confirmation bias to be skeptical of most government interventions. I can also offer a lot of background to support my perspectives. Your responses so far imply that you also have some confirmation bias. That's OK. Most of us do.

    Let me know if you are interested in a dialog. I'd be happy to participate. It could be fun if we can stay focused on the concepts and not question each other's "mental model" or education. Either way. Your call.

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