Last week, Michael Kinsley wrote a really smart column completely dismantling the shoddy mathematical underpinnings of Greg Mankiw's self-pitying column about how high marginal tax rates will ruin his children's life. I linked it, with the headline, "Kinsley Curb Stomps Mankiw." This has Megan McArdle quite upset, and convinced once again that bloggers who are not Megan McArdle are driven by rage:Call me a vaporing language nanny, but I thought it was pretty creepy when Jon Chait described another liberal journalist, Michael Kinsley, another journalist, as "curb stomping" economist Greg Mankiw for, yes, daring to suggest that higher marginal tax rates might have incentive effects. Woo-hoo! ...
But why stop with curb-stomping? Wouldn't it be fun to pile ten-thousand gleaming skulls of supply-siders outside the Heritage Offices? We could mount Art Laffer's head on a rotating musical pike that plays The Stars and Stripes Forever! Then, in the most hilarious surprise ending of all, the mob could turn on Jon Chait, douse him with gasoline and set him on fire, and then sack the offices of the New Republic!
Somehow, that's not actually funny.
We have just one thing to say in response:
Instead of telling McArdle to stick her 2x4 where the sun don't shine, he apologizes to the professional concern troll.
I'm willing to take my chances that the blog headline in question does not lead to me being burned alive. But, honestly, I'm sorry I gave offense. It was a headline I wrote quickly, and I thought the image of Mike Kinsley engaged in an act of violence was kind of funny because Mike is not really the violent sort, to say the least. Anyway, one person's little joke is another person's "rage of people who cannot bear to see their sacred ideals profaned," to quote McArdle.
Anyway, like I said, I'm not really worried that my blog item will instigate mobs to violence. But there's no point in causing McArdle such immense trauma over something I considered so trivial. So I will hereby endeavor to avoid any future headlines that would seem to celebrate violence or conceivably endanger the physical safety of Arthur Laffer or anybody else.
Heh. "Immense trauma."
Mrs. McArdle goes on to say:
I'll reiterate that this is not a "left wing blogs are angry and evil" post; I have no opinion about which side is worse, and I've never seen such arguments offer much in the way of convincing empirical data, beyond the evidence that whoever is making them really, really hates the other side. The example is an illustration, not a political indictment. I sense it going on on all sides of me, and it bothers me. A lot.
Petty partisan tricks are below her. Strange, then, that her husband's previous career as a partisan trickster, to put it politely, didn't bother Mrs. Suderman, but we suppose that this just proves Matthew Yglesias is right that valuable people don't need to follow the same rules as the less valuable people.
But perhaps it is explicable in an era when the federal budget is finally close to riding off the rails.
She finally remembered that she is ostensibly writing an economics blog, not posting on Facebook.
With Social Security and Medicare nudging into deficit, and the government's share of GDP already pretty high, we're fighting over a lot of taboo trade-offs, in a context where we can't help but bring money into it. The result is the rage of people who cannot bear to see their sacred ideals profaned--and worse, to see the profaners walking around apparently happy. Only a primal scream of outrage will do.
Is this supposed to mean that conservatives and libertarians were right all along and public assistance won't work? McArdle has wisely given up using numbers, is she now giving up making statements in favor of making vague allusions as well? We do appreciate "primal scream of outrage," however, although McArdle might want to think twice about criticiizing Chait's violent imagery when she has a habit of doing the same.
UPDATE: Crooked Timber has the same thought. McArdle whips up another self-exculpatory post in response, which we will explicate in loving detail as soon as possible.
SECOND UPDATE: The comments on that later post are awesome!