Browsing the blog archives for December, 2016.

The Intellectual Debate- part 2


I addressed the comments of CSU-Dominguez Hills professor Terry McGlynn in my last post. While arguing for the “open exchange of ideas,” McGlynn castigated Trump and his supporters as, among other things, racists and deniers of science. I believe McGlynn’s view is mainstream in academe. Not all academics are progressives or are hostile to those who don’t share their ideology, but McGlynn speaks for far too many when he just doesn’t recognize a genuine, legitimate basis for a non-progressive point of view. If you still think McGlynn is atypical, consider economist Paul Krugman.

I’ve commented on Krugman’s work over the years and I’ve always tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but his well-publicized tweet on Friday just went too far. Krugman inferred that Trump might instigate a terrorist attack against the US to solidify his legitimacy, noting that he (Trump) “will surely use [the] patriotism card to distract from tainted election and effects of his anti-populist policies.”

The overlap between economics and politics is obvious. Economic policy doesn’t occur in a vacuum; it is implemented by politicians with various motives and incentives. It’s okay for economists to mix some politics with their economic analysis, but I’m hearing less and less economics from Krugman with each passing year. He’s become more of a progressive apologist who rests on his Ivy League laurels. Krugman rarely makes a strong case for anything anymore. He mostly rants and attacks.

Of course, I disagree with Krugman on most issues. I believe less regulation, a simple tax code, and a smaller government is both constitutional and good for our economy. The arguments I present on issues like these are based in evidence and logic, not superior intellect. I don’t presume my detractors to be racists, ignorant, and uneducated. In fact, I enjoy reading clear arguments on the other side, as they help me sharpen my own views. But most of them—especially during the past six weeks—have been political, emotional, and downright insulting. Krugman’s recent tirade is just more of the same.

There’s still a lot left to be resolved in Washington. Will the Republicans have the courage to pull the plug on Obamacare, and if so, what will replace it? How will Trump and the Congress deal with trade policy? How will they deal with the Paris accord on climate change? Will Congress balk at Trump’s infrastructure plans? How will Trump address issues with China and Russia? Calling Trump names and attempting to delegitimize his election won’t help.

There are real disagreements among Republicans, so serious Democrats could play a greater role than minority Republicans could when Obama controlled both the House and the Senate in 2008. But if they fall in line behind Krugman and others who refuse to at least recognize the case for liberty, then Washington will continue to be completely divided, but with a new sheriff instead.

Merry Christmas!


Serious Debate


I understand why progressives feel disdain for the recent election. While President-elect Trump has some progressive tendencies, he’s a far cry from President Obama or Secretary Clinton. But what frustrates me the most is the complete lack of understanding of anyone or anything in disagreement to the progressive agenda. This frustration can be seen clearly in CSU-Dominguez Hills biology professor Terry McGlynn’s recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the industry’s legacy publication in terms of both news and opinion:

Like free speech and freedom of the press, scholarly inquiry is an ingredient of a functional democracy. With our federal government careening toward an anti-intellectual autocracy — led by a science-denying president who panders to white male insecurities and prejudices — the open exchange of ideas is as essential as ever.

The entire article is a window into the progressive academic view of Trump and the Republican party. The hypocrisy seems evident at first glance. In the same breath that he defends the “open exchange of ideas,” McGlynn expresses personal contempt for Trump and his ideas. McGlynn doesn’t explain why his ideas are superior, but instead tags Trump as racist, reckless, and hostile to science and academe. Perhaps this qualifies as the open exchange of ideas, but McGlynn’s article is riddled with contempt and scorn, and displays no intellectual curiosity.

But after reading McGlynn’s article a couple of times, I’ve reconsidered. McGlynn might not be a hypocrite after all. Maybe he’s just ignorant of the opposition. His article reminds me of a young man I saw on CNN the day after the election. His name escapes me, but he was affiliated with a religious tolerance group and seemed to be a nice guy. He said he walked over to Trump Tower on election night “to try to understand what Trump supporters were all about.” Really? Apparently, he assumed they were all idiots or malcontents unworthy of his time when he thought Trump was going to lose anyway. I guess he spent the previous year as an avid Clinton supporter who never stopped to wonder why so many people between New York and Los Angeles were not going to vote for her.

My message to the guy on CNN, McGlynn, or any other progressive is simple: There are other legitimate ways to view society, the economy, and national security. In fact, there’s a lot of diversity in the Republican party, from Trump’s populism to traditional conservatives to neo-cons to quasi-libertarians. Each perspective has a serious intellectual basis if you’re willing to open your minds, treat people with respect, drop the blanket bigot claims, and engage in real dialogue. You’ll learn something. You’ll probably find some common ground and meet some nice people while you’re at it.

Or you can continue to label all non-progressives as bigots who just don’t know better. So much for tolerance.