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New Buturovic-Klein Survey on Economic Enlightenment, Results Coming May 2011

Zeljka Buturovic and Daniel Klein have designed and fielded a new survey with 17 questions of basic economic insight. The survey was completed only recently. The results will appear in the May 2011 issue of Econ Journal Watch.

Their previous study, which was based on a survey designed and fielded by Buturovic for other purposes, generated a great deal of controversy, particularly for its result that leftists scored much lower than conservatives and libertarians in economic enlightenment.

Eleven web critics were invited to write up their criticisms for Econ Journal Watch, and four graciously did so.

The major criticism of the initial study was that some of the eight questions used to gauge economic enlightenment challenged leftist sensibilities, but none specifically challenged conservative or libertarian sensibilities.

Taking this shortcoming to heart (and acknowledging it in their original article), Buturovic and Klein have designed a new survey to overcome the problem. They have expanded the number of economic-enlightenment questions from eight to 17. The expanded set consists of the original eight and nine new questions. The nine new questions challenge conservative and/or libertarian sensibilities.

As in the original survey, the economic questions all had the following format:

Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.

  1. Strongly Agree
  2. Somewhat Agree
  3. Somewhat Disagree
  4. Strongly Disagree
  5. Not Sure

The original eight questions, unchanged in the new survey, are as follows:

1. Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.
Unenlightened: Disagree

2. Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services.
Unenlightened: Disagree

3. Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago.
Unenlightened: Disagree

4. Rent control leads to housing shortages.
Unenlightened: Disagree

5. A company with the largest market share is a monopoly.
Unenlightened: Agree

6. Third-world workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited.
Unenlightened: Agree

7. Free trade leads to unemployment.
Unenlightened: Agree

8. Minimum wage laws raise unemployment.
Unenlightened: Disagree

The nine new questions, all of which challenge conservative and/or libertarian sensibilities, are as follows:

9. A dollar means more to a poor person than it does to a rich person.
Unenlightened: Disagree

10. By participating in the marketplace in the United States, immigrants reduce the economic well-being of American citizens.
Unenlightened: Agree

11. When a country goes to war its citizens experience an improvement in economic well-being.
Unenlightened: Agree

12. Making abortion illegal would increase the number of black-market abortions.
Unenlightened: Disagree

13. Legalizing drugs would give more wealth and power to street gangs and organized crime.
Unenlightened: Agree

14. Drug prohibition fails to reduce people’s access to drugs.
Unenlightened: Disagree

15. Gun-control laws fail to reduce people’s access to guns.
Unenlightened: Disagree

16. When two people complete a voluntary transaction, they both necessarily come away better off.
Unenlightened: Agree

17. When two people complete a voluntary transaction, it is necessarily the case that everyone else is unaffected by their transaction.
Unenlightened: Agree

The results of the new survey will appear in the May 2011 issue of Econ Journal Watch.

Matthew Brown joins EJW Advisory Council

Dr. Matt Brown, EJW's first manging editor EJW’s first Managing Editor was Matthew Brown, who helped to create EJW and who served for more than three years. In August, 2010 Matt was awarded his doctorate in economics at Florida State University, under the supervision of James Gwartney and Bruce Benson. His dissertation is entitled, “Determinants of Economic Institutions.”

We at EJW offer Matt our hearty congratulations and wishes of continued future prosperity — and we welcome Dr. Brown to the EJW Advisory Council!

Invitation to Critics of Buturovic-Klein on Economic Enlightenment

By Zeljka Buturovic and Daniel Klein

We invite the submission of criticism of our May 2010 EJW piece on economic enlightenment and the follow-up 8 June op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Below we link to 11 criticisms found on the web. We have tried to send an email to those critics, alerting them to our interest in submitting a critical comment of 200-1000 words to Econ Journal Watch. The exchange will be handled by EJW managing editor Kevin Rollins, who will let invited critics say what they like, within the word limit. Submissions of comments to this exchange should be sent to Rollins at the following email address by 31 July 2010: ejw@kevinrollins.com. Comments will appear along with our response in a future issue of Econ Journal Watch—we hope in the September 2010 issue.

The exchange is to “stand alone.” Critics should not assume that readers have read their critical posts elsewhere. Reproduce the points you think most important. Don’t worry about making points that are likely to be made also by other participants in the exchange – coverage, not parsimony, is paramount.

Submissions from others are also welcome, but priority will be given to those specifically invited (including all those listed below).

By the way, we intend to look into the possibility of conducting another survey, to include several questions specifically challenging policy views of conservatives and/or libertarians. We welcome suggestions for such questions.

11 Critics of Buturovic-Klein (all of whom are invited to submit critical commentary)

Many other criticisms appeared, but we believe that this set adequately covers the range of points made against our work.

11 critics listed alphabetically by last name:

CriticVenue and linkDate
1Stephen BainbridgeProfessorBainbridge8 June
2Bruce BartlettCapital Gains and Games8 June
3Jonathan ChaitThe New Republic blog8 June
4Rod HillThe Economics Anti-Textbook12 May
5E.D. KainThe Washington Examiner (and SF Exam.)9 June
6Daniel KuehnFacts and Other Stubborn Things9 May
7”Citizen Rat”Daily Kos10 June
8David RuccioAnticap.com10 May
9Nate SilverFiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right8 June
10Roger WilliamsElephant Journal/Desert Standard13 June
11John K. WilsonDaily Kos11 June

Inside Higher Ed focuses on EJW

EJW was the focus of a major and sympathetic article in Inside Higher Ed, Who You Calling Heterodox? (Oct 3, 2007). The article devoted numerous paragraphs to EJW, and treated EJW editor Dan Klein as the central figure of a classical-liberal “counterinsurgency.”

EJW featured in Regional Focus

In October 2008 the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond published Unsteady State [PDF], the lead article of its journal Regional Focus. The theme of the issue is “The State of Modern Economics.” The article begins by telling of the formation of EJW and the meeting in St. Louis in 2003, and returns to EJW at the end of the article.

We are honored to be featured in the wide ranging contemplation of economics offered by Doug Campbell’s insightful article. The article is particularly noteworthy because in 2005 EJW published a bold article by Lawrence White on the gargantuan role that the Fed plays as employer, funder, and publisher of monetary and macro economists.

Paul Krugman wins the Nobel Prize

When Paul Krugman won the Nobel prize, the front page article of the New York Times carried this paragraph:

“Much of his popular work is disgraceful,” said Daniel Klein, a professor of economics at George Mason University, who this year wrote a comprehensive review of Mr. Krugman’s body of Times columns. “He totally omits all these major issues where the economics conclusion goes against the feel-good Democratic Party ethos, which I think he’s really tended to pander to especially since writing for The New York Times.”

The NYT refers to the comprehensive review published in Econ Journal Watch, and linked directly to the article.

AIER Partners with Econ Journal Watch

Great Barrington, MA — The American Institute for Economic Research is pleased to announce a new partnership with the scholarly journal Econ Journal Watch.

EJW is a maverick journal of academic economics. It publishes critical commentary of leading economic research and analysis of the economics profession.

EJW is edited by Daniel Klein, a professor of economics at George Mason University. “The partnership is a match made in heaven,” said Klein. “Both outfits have a spirit of independent thought and critical discussion. We are honored by AIER’s decision to partner with us. AIER has a great tradition of integrating empirical evidence and conceptual understanding. We gain by their high reputation.”

Econ Journal Watch will carry the description: “A Journal of the American Institute for Economic Research.” The journal will remain where it has been, under the roof of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, but AIER will become the chief supporter of the journal. The partnership commences with a two-year commitment that is expected to become ongoing.

EJW was created to answer a need for critical commentary in the economics profession. A group of economists met in St. Louis in 2003, and in 2004 began publishing EJW three times per year. The journal found rapid success. Seven Nobel laureates have joined the journal’s Advisory Council: James Buchanan, Ronald Coase, Harry Markowitz, Robert Mundell, Douglass North, Thomas Schelling, and Vernon Smith. Readership and professional recognition have exceeded expectations. The journal has been selected by major scholarly indexing, including Thomson-Reuters’ Web of Science.

Among those who met to create EJW were Bruce Benson, Lawrence White, and George Selgin, all friends of AIER and past visiting fellows. Other EJW associates Rick Stroup, Jane Shaw, William Davis, and David Haddock have also been AIER fellows.

“It was Bill Davis,” Klein notes, “who suggested the idea. When I started to inquire with my EJW colleagues, I discovered unvarying enthusiasm.”

AIER president Charles Murray comments, “EJW watches the academic journals for inappropriate assumptions, weak chains of argument, phony claims of relevance, and omissions of pertinent truths. EJW scrutinizes the economic literature, sifting out wheat and exposing chaff. Our founder E.C. Harwood had a profound interest in fostering human knowledge. Harwood always asked, ‘How do you know what you know?’ EJW exemplifies that critical tradition.”

Murray and AIER senior research fellow Richard Ebeling will join the EJW Advisory Council.

“Their fierce integrity was of utmost importance in deciding to partner with them,” Murray adds. “This relationship will allow EJW to remain independent and will complement AIER ‘s existing research and education programs.”

AIER is building a new website EJWNews, with information about forthcoming articles, testimonials to the journal, calls for papers, and other news items. Other developments being considered include hardcopy publication of the journal as an annual volume and the migration of the entire EJW site into AIER’s website.

Murray adds: “EJW always invites replies, and always offers those criticized to have the last word. They are serious about engaging different views. That’s what our founder E.C. Harwood viewed as our mission.”