Thing Two About Thucky


Posted by Bob Lord

I remember reading a piece by Matt Taibbi which he opened by apologizing to himself and his readers for succumbing to the temptation to blast away at David Brooks, after promising not to. Matt, buddy, I'll never be one-tenth the writer you are, but I feel your pain. 

On to the Thuckster.

This second thing about Thucky follows logically from the first, so I need to develop the first just a little further. I recently had an exchange with Thucky in which he ventured out of his comfort zone and tried to do his own analysis. He got it absolutely dead wrong, reaching the opposite conclusion that logic would dictate. I'll reprint the exchange at the end of the post.

So, I'm going to go out on a limb here, and guess that Thucky's a religious dude. I have no specific knowledge here. I've not seen any references to his faith, although there may be some in the comments he posts to posts of my colleagues.

But here's the thing. Thucky idolizes the conservative economists he cites. But he's demonstrated over and over again here that he doesn't have the intellectual wherewithal to understand how they reach their conclusions, or to test their logic with any real rigor. 

So, how does Thucky "know" the supply-siders he worships are right, despite all the evidence to the contrary? How does he disregard plain logic presented to him that undermines his supply-side view? Because he has religion, and that allows him to have faith that his supply-side heroes are not leading him astray.

For that exchange, follow me after the jump.

This is not nearly as dense as it may first appear. In any case, my point is that if Thucky gets tripped up on this sort of analysis, there's just no way he can slog through an academic paper and have a clue what the author is really saying. 

Thucky: We ought to be particularly concerned because the median length of unemployment has been creeping back up for the last four months despite the plunge in total unemployment. So, I suspect that the average length of unemployment is going down as people give up or go onto disability even as employment prospects are worsening as shown by the median length of unemployment.

The emphasis here is simply to show that I corrected a clerical mistake Thucky made, which he himself corrected in a subsequent comment.

So, Thucky figures out that the folks who are giving up are disproportionately from the group that are unemployed the longest. He then notes that their giving up will drive down the average lenght of unemployment for those remaining in the pool of unemployed. Okay, so far so good. Then, for no reason, he decides that would cause the median length of unemployment to rise. No it wouldn't. Say you have 11 unemployed people. The one who is the sixth shortest unemployed represents the median. What happens if the two who are unemployed the longest drop out? Now the one who is unemployed the fifth shortest represents the median. The median length of unemployment just decreased.

Worse, though, Thucky didn't even contemplate what the effect of increased hiring would be, as I explain in my response.

Me: It's just the opposite. You have two competing forces that push the median length of unemployment in opposite directions, but both of which reduce the unemployment rate. One is new job creation, which forces the median length up, because we know employers favor those who have been unemployed for a shorter-term. Thus, as the unemployed are hired and the unemployment rate decreases, the median term for those still unemployed is rising. Think of what happens to the median if you take the 100 most recent entrants to the pool and give them jobs.

At the other end, we have those who give up. They're disproportionately at the longer end, so, as they leave the ranks of unemployed, the median term of unemployment for those remaining is decreasing.

What's happening in the past four months is that the impact of new hiring is outweighing the impact of folks giving up. That's actually an encouraging sign.

I never got a response from Thucky on that one.

Is Thucky just totally feeble minded? I don't think so. He's no genius, but a large part of this is that his faith acts as a blocking mechanism. Reason can overcame faith, but not easily. For right now, Thucky has faith, in both his religion, which almost undoubtedly is a form of Christianity linked to the belief in unfettered capitalism and supply-side economics.


  1. Interesting how you’re worried about birthrates plunging while also opposing welfare. It’s like you want poor women to be forced to give birth but to have no support once they do. Typical anti-choicer.

  2. There are over 30,000 registered economists. I am only interested in the top one tenth of one percent, Nobel prize winners, economists at federal reserve banks, members and former members of the council of economic advisors, MacArthur award winners.
    The rankings of economists are determined, in part, by how frequently the are cited by other economists.

    And, I am only interested in what their research says, not what they have to say. I have found repeatedly that ranked economists talk about areas over which they have no expertise.

  3. I also wouldnt mind a tax that truly nailed the 1%, as long as it gave some relief to the small businesswoman. I would love to see Soros, Buffett and Gates squeal like little pggies after wtnessing years of their dishonest desires to be taxed, knowing full well that they arent payinf a penny of the taxes that Clinton and Obama increased.

    To rebalance the load, you would create a tax on accumulated capital of 1 percent over $10 million dollars, reduce the capital gains tax to 5 percent, make the top income tax 25 percent and reduce the corporate rate to 20 percent. All while closing every loophole.

    Buffett would be paying a cool 600 million a year in new taxes. Yeah baby!!!!!!! Feel that pain you
    have been delivering to everyone else.

    The economy would take off like a rocket.

  4. I am not harsh to the poor. I dont mind food stamps. But we need food stamp policies that have 30 million on food stamps, not 50 million. We need to take 40 percent of the small businesswoman’s next dollar, not 70 percent. We need regulations that consume 4 hours of her week, not 8 hours.

    She needs people at her door who need to work, a return on her investment of capital and time, precious time, to do the work and still enjoy life.

    Also, these arent my revered economists, many of these are liberals who are just letting the chips fall where they may. Its called scholarsip.

    All of this research has happened since 2000, reversing what we previously knew.

  5. I actually believe you grew up poor. Someone who starts out poor and escapes often is the most likely to be harsh towards those not as fortunate as he.

  6. Again, you evade. You’ve repeatedly used “top rankings” to breathe credibility into the views of the economists you idolize. But when I asked about Stiglitz’s ranking, you evaded. And you don’t seem to be acknowledging that Rogoff’s ranking didn’t prevent him from blowing it big time. The upshot is that you invoke the rankings out of expedience. When an economist you don’t agree with is highly ranked, you minimize.

    As I said before, you’re a fraud.

  7. No, I have. In both this post and the last I demonstrated that the synapses aren’t quite firing for you. You even implicitly acknowledged so mjch with your arrogant yet pathetic statement that I “lawyer technicalities” while you “conceptualize.”

  8. I dont know a thing about the poor? I grew up poor, very poor. But fortunately,, not on welfare.

    I know a lot about people on welfare. Its very unhealthy for children. At the age of three, they have experienced 30 million words fewer than effective families.

    They have experienced 500,000 fewer encouraging interactions than children from effective families.

    People on welfare are much more unhappy than other people.

    Putting people on welfare is very similar to getting someone addicted to heroin.

  9. The compromise in all this is thinking it on through. Some countries with extensive social programs still have high employment ratios because they require people to work for their welfare.
    Their experience shows that most people would much rather just get a job.

  10. Stiglitz research is in micro economics. Consider how bizarre Stiglitz’s Nobel prize winning theory is. Because workers are paid too much, markets dont clear and full employment cant be achieved. Therefore, government intervention is justified.

    Like Krugman’s arcane research on trade theory, nobody appears to believes it, you cant use it as an analytical tool to predict outcomes.

    Why would you have a minimum wage if you believed Stiglitz’s theory?

    You can use Rogersons and Prescotts work to predict. If you slowly did away with all welfare programs and reduced the top tax rate to 18 percent federal, 5 percent state, male employment would rise from the current 70 percent to 95 percent. Female employment would rise to at least 67 percent from its current 58 percent. This would also unleash great forces of freedom, instead of having 4 million jobs open, you would have 10 million. If you are abused in the smallest way, their are plenty of jobs elsewhere.

    As our economy has advanced to greater and greater sophistication, firms have become more and more successful at creating work environments that use all factors of motivation, not just monetary to achieve succesful outcomes for each employee.

  11. You havent blown me out of the water at all. You say that that the federal government is showing revenue strength when revenues per capita are still lower than they were six years ago. This is the weakest showing since the great depression. This economy is not delivering for the working man and woman because hours of work per adult has plunged.

    The economy is performing so poorly that the birth rate has plunged and iimigrants have returned to the countries of origin, endangering social security.

    And yes, welfare dependency is as toxic as heroin dependency. Just look at outcomes for people on welfare. It particularly dehumanizes their children.

  12. Okay, so you attempt to engage analytically and you get blown out of the water, so you respond by saying that I “lawyer technicalities” while you “conceptualize.” Yet the economists on whom you rely live in the technicalities. You’re a fraud.

    The upshot of your comment? I nailed it on your religioin. If you could have called me on this one and said “you’re wrong, I’m agnostic” you would have.

    By the way, on this ranking of economists, where does Joe Stiglitz rank as compared to Richard Rogerson? And how much does the ranking mean anyhow if a highly ranked economist like Rogoff could completely blow it on a major study?

  13. “Increasing taxes to transfer more money to the poor makes the poor worse off.”
    I’m not an economist, but I know this is complete horsesh*t.

  14. You believe, I reason. You lawyer technicalities, I conceptualze. I read and cite specific papers of economists rated in the top one tenth of one percent of all economists, you take advantage of the ignorance of your flock. You sneer, evidentedly out of insecurity that you are losing the debate.

    My point is simple: your cure for our economic ills is more of the poison. Increasing taxes to transfer more money to the poor makes the poor worse off.

    Your sneer about supply side economics is now a decade out of date. Even Austin Goolsbee, the liberal economist, former chair of the council of economic advisors has conceded that the supply side effects of the Reagan tax cuts were very powerful.

    Christine Rome, also a former chair, under Obama no less, has published a 45 year study showing huge supply side effects.

    Edward Prescott, Nobel prize winner in business cycle theory, has published a study doing a cross sectional and longitudinal study between Europe and the US showing unbelievably large impacts of taxation on labor force participation. This study helps explain what is happening in the US today.

    Alan Kruger, current chair of Obama’s council of economic advisors, hired Richard Rogerson into Princeton at $440,000 per year, so he has to be aware of Rogersons research. Rogersons ground breaking research is titled: The Impact of taxes on labor supply. Rogersons work completed Prescott’s work by showing that welfare also has huge effects on labor supply.

    You are just lucky that not one single Republican congressman, Senator or staffer reads research and understands all this. The sneers deserve to all be headed your way.

    Obama is an incompetent policy maker who has not just badly hurt the poor and the young, he has hurt all of us.

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