Thoughts on Thursday

I think I’m going to make this “Thoughts on Thursday” a regular Thursday column. At least, I see no reason why I shouldn’t.

Media vs. Economists

I wrote on Tuesday a little bit about Keynesianism. It was, essentially, a quick writeup about what it is and why it makes sense. One aspect of the Krugman vs. Scarborough debate that I didn’t touch on was the media’s general handling in economics. Scarborough had a media consensus: since the ideologically diverse people in front of him agreed with him, Scarborough assumed he was right. It’s a shame that a former congressman – someone who controlled the legislative branch of the government – couldn’t possibly wrap his mind around the fact that spending is a good thing. It’s a shame that he’s unable to question Krugman intelligently, and without bias, so viewers can get valuable from a Nobel laureate. This isn’t limited to economics either. Not to rub salt in the Romney wound, but a friend of mine told me that the BBC’s coverage of the Election Night 2012 included an anchor asking a Romney surrogate, “Given the positions of your candidate, why should any American vote for your candidate?” A stronger, smarter, quizzical media can go a long way to addressing the political interest gap in this country.

Race At Penn

Yesterday and today, professors clashed over whether or not Amy Gutmann has done enough to bring professors of color to higher ranking administrative positions. I thought this was pretty similar to the NFL, actually. The NFL has a policy called the Rooney Rule, which mandates that every team looking to hire a head coach must interview at least one candidate of color before making their decision. I have no idea if Penn has such a rule, but it is true that, while at Penn, the only non-white faculty or administrators I’ve dealt with are my Chinese professors. I can see where the Africana Studies senior faculty’s troubles come from. I struggle to make the next step and claim that this is a result of institutional racism, however. I do think that much more needs to be done to diversify administrators and faculty at higher level positions, and I hope that this fallout can help make it easier for professors of color to climb the promotional ladder.

Race in Washington

With Mo Cowan, the former Chief of Staff of Governor Deval Patrick’s staff in Massachusetts, tapped to replace John Kerry in the Senate, the upper branch now has two black senators serving concurrently for the first time … ever. Doesn’t that seem wrong? Doesn’t that also seem under-representative of America’s demographics today? To me, the answer to both of those questions is an undeniable yes. With Tammy Baldwin leading the charge for the LGBTQ community, this seems to be the most diverse Congress ever. And yet, with Lindsey Graham going on an elongated Twitter rant yesterday to tell followers how many bullets people would need in various situations, this also seems to be the most white-and-over-65 Congress ever. Similarly, President Obama has caught flack for the lack of diversity in his own cabinet. Again, something needs to be done in Washington to make sure that an increasingly diverse nation has increasingly diverse representation. Voters determine who actually makes up the Congress, but if staffs of congresspeople were more diverse, then there would be more qualified candidates to diversify races.

People Being Stupid on the Internet

Luca Bossi would be upset with Daniel J. Mitchell at the Cato Institute, who doesn’t understand how GDP works. Gross domestic product is the sum of the market value all final goods and services produced within a country in a given year; Gross domestic income, the inverse, measures the income of households and firms within a country in a given year. Essentially, these should be the same number. But Mitchell believes that one has a liberal bias. Matt Yglesias explains why Mitchell should reconsider his analysis.

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