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Why Don’t You Say Things You Don’t Believe?

Summary:
I had an interesting back and forth with a commenter on my previous post, "Giving Thanks." I could have proceeded further in the comments but his style of argument is important enough and widespread enough that I've decided to post about it in a separate post. Here's the part of his recent comment that I want to respond to:When I say individual wealth I am speaking of the explosion of wealth in the top 1 percent of Americans. The control they exert over corporations and the government has led to some extraordinarily bad results. The ability to break the historical bond between productivity and wage grow [sic] which has lead to a thirty year stagnation in real median income leading to an explosion of

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I had an interesting back and forth with a commenter on my previous post, "Giving Thanks." I could have proceeded further in the comments but his style of argument is important enough and widespread enough that I've decided to post about it in a separate post.

Here's the part of his recent comment that I want to respond to:

When I say individual wealth I am speaking of the explosion of wealth in the top 1 percent of Americans. The control they exert over corporations and the government has led to some extraordinarily bad results. The ability to break the historical bond between productivity and wage grow [sic] which has lead to a thirty year stagnation in real median income leading to an explosion of household debt as people try and maintain the illusion of continuing prosperity. The ability of corporations to force all legal recourse into binding arbitration with the resulting effect of eliminating any control over bad behavior. I could go on but I am interested in your willingness to ignore these effects.

It's his last statement that is the key. The commenter, Chris Wegener, claims that I am willing "to ignore these effects."

What possibility has he left out? The possibility that I don't believe that some of the things he claims to be true are true. I could get into the specifics here, but those who read this blog closely know some of the specifics. One is that real median income has not stagnated.

So if I don't believe them, it's hard to justify the claim that I'm ignoring them.

Because discussions of these issues can get heated, I'll take a less-controversial example. Imagine that my wife and I go to a play and my wife wears nice dress pants. I run into someone later who heard that my wife wore blue jeans. He says to me, "I'm interested in your willingness to ignore the fact that she wore blue jeans." Of course, I'm not ignoring it: I think she wore dress pants.



David Henderson

David Henderson is a British economist. He was the Head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the OECD in 1984–1992. Before that he worked as an academic economist in Britain, first at Oxford (Fellow of Lincoln College) and later at University College London (Professor of Economics, 1975–1983); as a British civil servant (first as an Economic Advisor in HM Treasury, and later as Chief Economist in the Ministry of Aviation); and as a staff member of the World Bank (1969–1975). In 1985 he gave the BBC Reith Lectures, which were published in the book Innocence and Design: The Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy (Blackwell, 1986).

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