Saturday, January 31, 2015

Greg Mankiw Responds to His Hecklers; Denies Koch Connection

The chairman of the Harvard economics department and super economic textbook salesman, Greg Mankiw, writes:
Those who attended either of the sessions I was involved with at the ASSA meeting know that the audience included some hecklers.  During the first session, I was the target. During the second, Larry Summers was. (At one point, the moderator Bob Hall threatened to call security.)  Here is a Washington Post article about the hecklers.

After the first session was over, one of the hecklers came up to me and asked, "How much money have the Koch brothers paid you?"  My answer, of course, was "not a penny."

I don't find it odd that people disagree with me. I am always open to the possibility that I am wrong about lots of things, and I much enjoy talking with students and colleagues who have views different from mine. But I do find it odd that people who disagree with me are sometimes quick to question my sincerity. If I am wrong, it is sincere wrong-headedness, not the result of being on some plutocrat's payroll, as some on the left want to believe.

The hecklers probably limit their own effectiveness by questioning the motives of those who disagree with them. I have found that to convince other people, it is usually best not to assume your own moral superiority but rather to talk with them as equals who just happen to have a different point of view.
Note: I have not spotted any connection between Mankiw and the Koch brothers, As far as I can tell, Mankiw works with more established elites. Mankiw was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush.  In 2006, he became an economic adviser to Mitt Romney.


1 comment:

  1. When a person makes intellectual arguments that go against the politics of the so-called 'left' he will be accused of being in the pocket of some force they see as being on the so-called 'right'. This is how they 'debate', by attacking the person.

    The forces on the 'right' that one will be accused of being paid by have changed over the years in subtle ways. Most recently it is the Koch brothers. Before it was the 'fossil fuel industry' or 'tobacco lobbyists' or whatever suited the moment. The Koch brothers by putting their fingers into so much have made for one generic attack that is used near universally now.