Democratic elites don’t seem to care much about equality (sentences to ponder)

by on September 18, 2015 at 1:30 pm in Data Source, Economics, Education, Law, Philosophy, Political Science | Permalink

Yes, the set up is important, but let’s cut to the chase:

The experimental behaviors of these three subject classes—once again, making real allocations with real money—revealed stark differences between attitudes toward economic justice among ordinary Americans and among the elite. To begin with, the Berkeley and Yale subjects were twice as likely to be selfish as their compatriots in general. In this respect, intermediate and extreme elites stand together with each other, and stand apart from the rest of the country.

What’s more, elite Americans show a far greater commitment to efficiency over equality than ordinary Americans. And this time, the bias toward efficiency increases with each increment of eliteness. The ALP subjects split roughly evenly between focusing on efficiency and focusing on equality; the Berkeley students favored efficiency over equality by a factor of roughly 3-to-2; and the Yale Law students favored efficiency by a factor of 4-to-1.

Yale Law students’ overwhelming, indeed almost eccentric, commitment to efficiency over equality is all the more astonishing given that the students self-identified as Democrats rather than Republicans—and thus sided with the party that claims to represent economic equality in partisan politics—by a factor of more than 10-to-1. An elite constituted by highly partisan Democrats thus showed an immensely greater commitment to efficiency over equality than the bipartisan population at large.

That is from Ray Fisman and Daniel Markowits, do read the whole thing.  I say that is mostly good news, and I disagree with the claim of the authors that a new class war is on its way.

1 TMC September 18, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Democrats lie about their motives. Film at 11.

2 The Original D September 18, 2015 at 3:34 pm

I think a more pedestrian takeaway is that people will vote against their interest if they can’t stand the other party.

3 Pshrnk September 18, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Hmmm. OK. But why can they not stand the other party?

4 Meets September 18, 2015 at 4:32 pm

This “voting against their interests” meme needs to die.

The poor in Venezuela supposedly voted for their interest and look how that worked out.

5 dearieme September 18, 2015 at 5:13 pm

What in blithering blazes is “economic justice”? Bah, humbug!

6 Cornfed September 23, 2015 at 11:51 pm

They did vote for their economic self interest. Their votes were bought. Cheaply, but they were still bought. Anyone with any means voted against the commies, but there are simply more poor people in Venezuela.

Nothing like that would ever happen in the U.S. Oh wait…..

7 David W September 24, 2015 at 8:23 am

Depends on how one sees “self interest” I vote against my “self interest” in so far that I vote against the offer of a share of the public “largesse” that I would ostensibly be entitled to simply by breathing. I vote for my self interest insofar that when barriers to economic activity and wealth creation are removed it creates opportunities for me and society that might not otherwise exist.

8 Ricardo September 19, 2015 at 2:53 am

Wedge issues and tribalism. To the extent that Republicans rail against Ivy League universities, promote white identity politics and align themselves with [white] evangelical Christians, people who attend Ivy League universities, are non-white or who are not particularly religious and/or not Christian will tend to become increasingly repelled by the Republican Party, even if they secretly want lower capitals gains taxes. It’s “What’s the Matter With Greenwich, Connecticut?”

9 chuck martel September 19, 2015 at 10:30 am

Another misconception of tribalism.

10 Nathan W September 18, 2015 at 10:02 pm

Maybe it’s time to look for ways to get more parties into the system then.

11 aMichael September 18, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Perhaps.

The bigger takeaway is that an individual’s vote is not consequential for real outcomes. So when it matters, they’re very self-interested. When it doesn’t, then mood affiliation and partisan identities kick in.

12 Anon September 18, 2015 at 6:34 pm

+1

13 Jan September 18, 2015 at 7:09 pm

And voter ID is about rooting out the millions of fraudulent voters out there.

14 TMC September 18, 2015 at 9:26 pm

Mostly, yes.

http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2015/08/27/yes-really-141-counties-have-more-registered-voters-than-people-alive/

Yes, Really: 141 Counties Have More Registered Voters Than People Alive

15 Nathan W September 18, 2015 at 10:04 pm

It’s far more likely that it means bad bookkeeping than evidence of voter fraud.

16 Art Deco September 19, 2015 at 1:01 pm

It’s not that difficult to maintain your electoral register in proper order. “Bad bookkeeping” is what most ordinary people would call ‘gross delinquency’. It’s not difficult to figure out cui bono. If anyone was paying attention, they’d be auditing the absentee ballots cast in those counties.

17 Jan September 18, 2015 at 10:05 pm

Definitely not. Your link does not show any evidence of voter fraud. What it shows is there is crappy record keeping. How about we fix that before we disenfranchise more voters? Voters who just happen to often be poor, black and vote Democrat?

18 Thomas September 18, 2015 at 11:05 pm

What does it say about Democrat policies, when by Democrats own claims, they disproportionately attract people who are unable to complete simple tasks?

19 Jan September 19, 2015 at 8:36 am

TMC’s diversion doesn’t make any sense,so you try one of your own? You lose.

20 J1 September 19, 2015 at 12:41 pm

How on earth is asking for ID “disenfranchising”?

21 Ricardo September 19, 2015 at 3:55 am

The problem of stale voter rolls is not going to be solved by a voter ID law. One could have a national, centralized system of voter registration so that every time you move, your updated address goes into the database linked to a unique identifier such as your Social Security Number and jurisdictions where you previously lived are notified to delete you from the rolls. But that is too European-sounding and too Big Brother-y for enough Americans so it will never happen and we are stuck with a highly decentralized system where jurisdictions don’t necessarily communicate or coordinate with each other.

22 chuck martel September 19, 2015 at 10:39 am

Why should it be a “nationalized, centralized” system? How about an international data base that keeps track of everyone, their past residencies and their current citizenship? That would make it a lot easier to regulate the movement of proles across borders as well as legitimizing their votes in the silly charade of representative democracy. If a Sudanese youth steals the neighbor’s goat a German cop will be able to pull it up on his computer 25 years later. By the way, it’s a constant refrain around here that “poor” people don’t necessarily stay poor forever, that individual circumstances are subject to change, that the unemployed occasionally find jobs and that good workers can be made redundant. It’s also a constant refrain that once an individual commits a “crime”, however that might be defined, he’s a criminal, basically forever. Isn’t there something of a contradiction there?

23 Aaron Luchko September 19, 2015 at 1:52 pm

More accurately, media coverage of study ignores independent variables and emphasizes potential confounding variables instead. Film at 11.

Does Democrats vs Republican matter for efficiency vs equality, probably, but we don’t know how much.

Does degree of eliteness matter for efficiency vs equality, probably, but we don’t know how much.

Does law school vs other programs matter for efficiency vs equality, maybe, but we don’t know how much.

The study suggests that eliteness matters a lot for efficiency vs inequality, all it tells is about party identification is if Democrat does make you favour equality it probably doesn’t do so enough to overcome extreme eliteness. But even that is uncertain because I didn’t see any indication that they controlled for party identification.

The study shows some interesting question to ask in the future, but it isn’t able to answer them now.

24 Mike September 18, 2015 at 1:39 pm

There are students. Most students think a high level of taxation and redistribution is appropriate.

Eventually these kids will get a job and put in long hard hours. Then they will have the experience of signing off on a tax return where they see a massive chunk of their income paid in taxes. That tends to change attitudes pretty quickly. Professed beliefs about other people’s money are very different from actual preferences vis a vis one’s own income.

25 asdfG September 18, 2015 at 2:21 pm

It’s a great story. It just happens to not true. Greater New York City, greater San Francisco, and even greater Chicago the places that actually pay for everything in this country, all vote strongly in favor of the democrats across age cohorts.

26 JWatts September 18, 2015 at 2:26 pm

“Greater New York City, greater San Francisco, and even greater Chicago the places that actually pay for everything in this country,…”

That’s taking clueless to a whole other level.

27 asdfG September 18, 2015 at 2:29 pm

The truth hurts. I’m sorry that fly over country is filled with welfare-by-another-name leeches. I wish it were otherwise.

28 JWatts September 18, 2015 at 2:39 pm

“The truth hurts.”

How would you know?

29 Doug September 18, 2015 at 6:55 pm

The greatest net tax burdens are Blue voters in Red states. Rural Southern blacks, trailer park Appalachian whites, Southwestern Mexicans. The greatest net tax contributors are Red voters in Blue states. Hedge fund managers, CEOs, corporate lawyers.

30 asdfG September 18, 2015 at 7:10 pm

A guy in a trailer park in Appalachian on food stamps and SSI is nothing as compared to a guy growing corn or building useless fighter planes that can’t even dogfight.

It’s funny how so many people who claim to hate the government either work for it, or work in highly subsidized industries.

31 Art Deco September 18, 2015 at 3:09 pm

I’d say it takes an incapacity to read statistical tables placed conveniently online to a whole new level.

32 Mike September 18, 2015 at 3:06 pm

My “story” is related to how people’s attitudes change as the actual amount of tax they pay increases. Regional differences, or differences in attitudes between the rich and the poor are not relevant to my argument. You are comparing two different people rather than looking at the same person as their amount of tax paid rises.

Try again.

I am speculating, of course. I’d be happy to see some data one way or the other.

33 colleteral September 18, 2015 at 3:08 pm

The best test to see if it was taxes as opposed to say social conservatism with age, would be to look at pre- and post- retirement voting patterns.

34 Gasputin September 18, 2015 at 3:30 pm

You mean the minority of wealthy businessmen who generate wealth in those cities surrounded by a wretched hive of servile scum and villainy?

35 Thiago Ribeiro September 18, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Ha ha ha. “Generate”.

36 AnthonyB September 18, 2015 at 10:03 pm

Quite right: the appropriate term is “appropriate.”

37 Careless September 18, 2015 at 3:10 pm

There are students. Most students think a high level of taxation and redistribution is appropriate. –

congratulations on not reading the post.

38 Mike September 18, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Experimental behaviors and professed beliefs aren’t the same thing. That’s the point.

39 Katie September 18, 2015 at 8:52 pm

Yeah, I don’t agree about the job changing idealism like that. I’m five years into the workforce and I feel OK when I think about the infrastructure, welfare, and education that chunk is going toward. And I worked as an independent contractor for most of my post-school years, paying the self-employment tax and buying my own insurance, etc.

I think people become more conservative because they allow fear and pessimism into their worldview.

40 TMC September 18, 2015 at 9:29 pm

People become more conservative when they realize about 20 cents on their tax dollar is going for infrastructure, welfare, and education.

Give yourself 5 more years. Also, I thought surveys found conservatives to be happier than average.

41 Alex September 18, 2015 at 10:10 pm

They’re definitely more religious on average – believers are much happier than non-believers. Adjusting for religiosity I think it could go either way.

42 BenK September 18, 2015 at 1:40 pm

The irony that the paper is behind a paywall; available primarily to those with campus journal access,…
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6254/aab0096.abstract

To source the claim for a coming class war (growing popular outrage), they cite this:
http://www.nber.org/papers/w18865

43 Annoying Pedant September 18, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Several Republicans have recently abandoned the party over social policy and tone. There’s always been a contingent of moderate/fiscally conservative Democrats and that contingency seems to have done nothing by grow recently. I don’t find it surprising at all that Yale law students tend to fall into a socially liberal, fiscally conservative camp and tend to vote Democrat.

Pat Kehoe and Sargent are both lifelong Democrats. I sincerely doubt either of them are all that concerned with equality over efficiency.

44 Slocum September 18, 2015 at 5:01 pm

“There’s always been a contingent of moderate/fiscally conservative Democrats and that contingency seems to have done nothing by grow recently.”

What!? I find that statement mind boggling. It appears to me (and most other observers) that the Democratic party has shifted markedly to the left. In 1996 Bill Clinton famously declared, “The era of big government is over”. In 1998, Paul Krugman wrote, “So what are the effects of increasing minimum wages? Any Econ 101 student can tell you the answer: The higher wage reduces the quantity of labor demanded, and hence leads to unemployment.” Which prominent Democrats have expressed sentiments *anything* close to those recently?

45 JWatts September 18, 2015 at 5:32 pm

There’s a whole Lefty meme that Democrats have moved to the right , Republican’s have moved far, far to the right and that the Progressive Left is the only “centrist” group. It’s not supported by the facts if viewed in any kind of context. However, if you cherry pick the Nixon administrations economic policies as a “right” wing bench mark, you can attempt to create that narrative.

46 Jan September 18, 2015 at 7:17 pm

Yeah, I think both parties have moved. Liberals may be a bit more liberal than in the past, but the Republicans have clearly moved much, much further.

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/29/how-liberal-is-president-obama/?_r=0

47 Ricardo September 18, 2015 at 10:48 pm

Andrew Gelman showed some time ago that rich Democrats living in blue states tend to be social liberals and economic conservatives while poor Democrats are social moderates and economic liberals.

There’s nothing new or surprising here. If you ask many of these students why they are Democrats, my own experience is you will hear a lot about abortion, gay rights issues, and the environment. Probably not so much about, say, Medicaid expansion or a higher minimum wage.

48 Hazel Meade September 18, 2015 at 1:44 pm

“Economic justice”?

To me that means properly enforced contracts and property rights.

49 Coffee with Milk September 18, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Good for you. It’s just that most other people disagree.

50 Hazel Meade September 18, 2015 at 3:19 pm

“Most”?
I don’t think so.

51 Coffee with Milk September 18, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Yes, most. Unless you weasel in the “social contract” and government’s right to tax property into your definition of “enforced contracts and property rights”.

Uncompromising libertarianism is very unpopular.

52 Hazel Meade September 18, 2015 at 4:24 pm

I would love to take a survey of this. I highly doubt that the average American thinks “wealth redistribution” when they hear the words “economic justice”. In fact, they probably have less idea what “economic justice” means than “social justice”, and the latter is not exactly mainstream opinion itself.

When most people hear the word “justice” they think enforcement of current rules in actual courts, they don’t recall their favorite Alinsky chapter.

53 Coffee with Milk September 18, 2015 at 4:58 pm

The survey would be heavily influenced by what exactly you ask.

If you asked something like, “Would you agree that there should be no wealth redistribution at all from the very rich to the very poor?”, the majority will say no.

I’m 90+% confident about this prediction.

54 HL September 18, 2015 at 7:58 pm

What the average american thinks should terrify those self selected to comment on economics blogs.

55 Hazel Meade September 19, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Um, yeah, that has absolutely nothing to do with what the phrase “economic justice” means.

56 Gasputin September 18, 2015 at 3:31 pm

Most people can row a boat to Cuba.

57 Coffee with Milk September 18, 2015 at 3:42 pm

I’m not sure. I don’t know enough about the physical and logistical requirements for such rowing.

But more seriously, if you reject majority opinion, you’re going to have a rough ride. The more you are in disagreement with it, the more raw power you need to hold over a large number of people. Some dictators can pull this off, but the outcome is inevitably much more corrosive to individual rights than the taxation in democracies – for property rights and contract enforcement, but even more so for other liberties like free speech, which should matter perhaps even more to libertarians who are not bat-shit crazy sociopaths.

58 spencer September 18, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Can you name a single individual that has rowed a boat between the US and China?

It has been done between the US and Europe, but it was by very exceptional people.

59 Plucky September 18, 2015 at 8:00 pm

That’s only because most other people think economic justice means either “I deserve more money” or “everything I want should be subsidized”

60 Nathan W September 18, 2015 at 10:15 pm

I think they just want a more equal chance to make more money, not handouts. But some people prefer to focus on the handouts part of the equation. Handouts can be very useful in providing people with the breathing space to “pick themselves up by the bootstraps”.

61 Curt F. September 19, 2015 at 10:48 am

“Economic justice” means “I should get more money and society should tell me that I earned it.”

62 Nathan W September 21, 2015 at 8:29 am

Curt, if they didn’t earn it they wouldn’t have a job.

63 Art Deco September 18, 2015 at 1:44 pm

given that the students self-identified as Democrats rather than Republicans—and thus sided with the party that claims to represent economic equality in partisan politics—by a factor of more than 10-to-1.

Mitt Romney won 37% of voters under 30 and 59% of caucasian voters. I’d be fascinated to know how the admissions examiners worked it to see to it that the law school of the alma mater of George Bush pere et fils has that ratio of affiliations.

64 Plucky September 18, 2015 at 2:07 pm

It’s very easy, all they had to do was call it a law school. There is no such thing as a conservative law school, only law schools that extend minimal tolerance to conservatives. Law students everywhere are overwhelmingly left wing, there’s nothing special about Yale there.

65 Millian September 18, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Probably because there aren’t many Yale Law attendees in the 55-plus, “get your government hands off my Medicare” demograph.

66 Art Deco September 18, 2015 at 3:00 pm

I see math is hard for you.

67 Careless September 18, 2015 at 3:12 pm

And after he laid out the numbers for you, you still embarrassed yourself like that.

68 asdfG September 18, 2015 at 3:29 pm

It’s easy, filter for people who are very smart. Even Scalia acknowledges that’s what Yale and Harvard do (when asked why he takes clerks only from those schools).

69 Art Deco September 18, 2015 at 5:38 pm

You fancy yourself among the ‘very smart’?

70 asdfG September 18, 2015 at 7:11 pm

I certainly could not have gotten into Yale or Harvard law. My LSAT score and undergraduate GPA were good, but not that good.

71 chuck martel September 19, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Obviously then, the ideas and opinions of the Elis and Crimson are more valid and important than those of everyone else. George W. Bush went to both schools but he’s considered an intellectual doofus. What’s up with that?

72 Ricardo September 19, 2015 at 12:27 am

As asdfG pointed out, elite universities filter so that, on average, only the smartest applicants get admitted. More intelligent people are more likely to self-identify as “liberal” and are more likely to hold liberal views on issues like abortion or gay rights.

This is entirely consistent with the article above and the lop-sided of Democratic v. Republican voters in elite universities. Young social liberals in blue states tend to consider social issues to be a deal-breaker. They don’t want to see Roe v. Wade overturned in their lifetimes, for instance. Elite universities filter on intelligence and wind up with a class that is largely made up of social liberals. These same people tend to care much less about economic inequality or unions, though.

73 Art Deco September 19, 2015 at 10:50 am

More intelligent people are more likely to self-identify as “liberal” and are more likely to hold liberal views on issues like abortion or gay rights.

In the minds of people who fancy chopping up infants and extending a bevy of legal privileges to sexual deviants, they are more ‘intelligent’, as two individuals have sagely informed us in this thread.

74 Ricardo September 19, 2015 at 11:18 am

By any conventional measure of intelligence, yes, social liberalism correlates with intelligence. Institutions that rely on conventional, testable measures of intelligence include the United States military. You are welcome to share your expertise on the subject with them and try to convince them they should not be using the tests they have been relying on for decades if you feel they are worthless.

75 Art Deco September 19, 2015 at 12:57 pm

By any conventional measure of intelligence, yes, social liberalism correlates with intelligence.

Did it occur to your intelligent self what the implications of that might be (beyond the crude and vain implications you’re drawing)?

76 Ricardo September 19, 2015 at 12:12 pm

By the way, I like the cognitive dissonance that allows you to cite so nonchalantly a figure on how many white people voted for Romney but then feign outrage at the suggestion that one might break down political preferences or voting patterns by standardized test score instead of by race.

77 Art Deco September 19, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Political preferences do not break down by standardized test scores in the manner you fancy. I’d be fascinated to know just what Yale’s recruitment and admissions criteria are, but the notion that it simply selects for the intelligent is merely and indicator of the vanity of a certain social type.

78 asdfG September 19, 2015 at 2:28 pm

So what standardized tests have you taken and how did you do?

79 chuck martel September 19, 2015 at 10:53 am

So “smart” people, actually precocious, liberal youth, are selected by the elite institutions where they are made even more intelligent and more liberal. There’s a huge fixation in this neighborhood on Intelligence. The most intelligent, however that quality is measured, are more important and more deserving than the lesser intellectually endowed members of their specie. They’re more equal than others. We find, however, that there are many acknowledged brillliants that don’t really make the A-list. Chess whiz Bobby Fischer comes to mind immediately. There are more just like him.

80 Ricardo September 19, 2015 at 11:30 am

Oh, give it a rest with the faux-PC outrage. There is a positive correlation between measured intelligence and social liberalism. There’s also a positive correlation between intelligence and adult height. That doesn’t mean that all short people or all social conservatives are dumb and it doesn’t mean that all tall people or all social liberals are smart. It means there is a statistical correlation. If that bothers you, tough. If you can’t wrap your head around what statistical correlation means, hit the books.

81 chuck martel September 19, 2015 at 12:08 pm

“It means there is a statistical correlation”

Ain’t no predictive capability in a statistical correlation. Randomly select any social liberal (however that might be defined), test for his intelligence and then see how you do.

82 Ricardo September 19, 2015 at 12:54 pm

“Ain’t no predictive capability in a statistical correlation. Randomly select any social liberal (however that might be defined), test for his intelligence and then see how you do.”

I hate to break it to you but this is exactly what correlation means. If X and Y are positively correlated, and X2 > X1, I can actually say that E[Y|X2] > E[Y|X1]. That’s just math.

Of course, as I said, it does not mean that the actual value of Y will always be higher for a larger X. It means the expected value will be. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson are by all accounts highly intelligent men, for instance. But if I randomly sample Americans who hold their views on abortion and gay marriage, there is a decent chance that the average intelligence of that group will be lower than a random sample of Americans holding the opposite points of view on both.

I would strongly recommend you not place bets with actual money on this understanding of yours until you check your math.

83 chuck martel September 19, 2015 at 1:38 pm

“But if I randomly sample Americans who hold their views on abortion and gay marriage, there is a decent chance that the average intelligence of that group will be lower than a random sample of Americans holding the opposite points of view on both. ”

A decent chance? Is there some math involved in a “decent chance”? What’s the “average intelligence of that group” got to do with anything? Tell us all about how much money you win betting on horse races on the basis of the average speed of all the horses in the race.

84 Careless September 20, 2015 at 3:37 pm

You’re being a fool, Chuck

85 Arjun September 18, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Of course elite Democrats don’t give a damn about inequality, despite occasional rhetoric that says otherwise. Democrats generally represent the interests of financial and real estate interests (as opposed to the Republicans, who generally represent agricultural, petro-chemical, and military interests). Both parties represent and speak primarily for various sectors of America’s economic elites, while paying lip-service to the issues of different sectors of the masses without *actually* empowering them.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, this is extremely obvious, given that the most progressive/leftist groups are continuously speaking out against local Democratic elites and campaigning against them during election season.

86 Just Saying September 18, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Strong answer.

As soon as we recognize that two parties can’t possibly speak in a unified voice for 300 million Americans, the sooner we’ll be done with these kinds of stupid and frivolous “Some members of X don’t do a thing that X purportedly supports” feaux-hypocracy feaux-outrages.

87 Pshrnk September 18, 2015 at 3:53 pm

+1

88 Anon September 18, 2015 at 6:46 pm

If you are on the far left it seems that American is obviously right wing and constantly moving rightwards. If you are on the far right both the country and both parties are obviously constantly moving leftwards. If you are sane both of these claims are pretty dubious.

89 Nathan W September 18, 2015 at 10:20 pm

Strongly agree. I take it as a strong sign of minimal bias and centrist reporting when a media outlet is accused of pandering to the left OR the right, depending on who is writing. Of course, the extremists will always think other skew too far the “wrong” way.

My understanding of American presidential races, however, is that parties skew hard right/left to win the nomination and then drive to the centre to win the election. So a priori I would expect “extremism” to be more manifest a full year before the election, but probably the selected candidates will start speaking more sensibly come next summer.

90 JWatts September 18, 2015 at 11:21 pm

Yeah, that sound about right.

91 lxm September 19, 2015 at 10:59 am

Or to put it another way:

Democrats support rich people; Republicans support rich people, too.

The rest of us pay taxes and get killed in wars.

92 Ted September 18, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Totally disagree with interpretation. If equality is motivated by efficiency (I.e. more aggregate utils per dollar) then this experiment is completely consistent with that. Small dollar amounts do not have the same diminishing returns that large amounts do.

93 Hazel Meade September 18, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Yeah, I don’t know about the study itself, but whoever wrote the Slate article has a raging leftist bias. The “efficient” students preferred equality when it maximized aggregate utility. They only disfavored it when is decreased aggregate utility. The interpretation implies the author thinks that being pro-equality always means you have to be willing to sacrifice aggregate utility in favor of equality. In other word’s that you have to be in favor of making society generally poorer, or it doesn’t count.

94 Careless September 18, 2015 at 3:15 pm

That does not sound like a leftist bias, let alone “raging.” It sounds rightist.

95 Hazel Meade September 18, 2015 at 3:20 pm

If you read the article, the authors end by saying all those selfish elites at Yale are preventing the country from addressing inequality and we’re going to end up in a class war. That’s pretty raging, imo.

96 Careless September 18, 2015 at 8:18 pm

I don’t care what their conclusion was, I was responding to what your description was, which was of a rightist bias.

97 Careless September 18, 2015 at 8:25 pm

And your description was of a rightist bias.

98 Pshrnk September 18, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Rightist? Is that the same as Correctist?

99 Anon September 18, 2015 at 6:49 pm

The statement “Whoever wrote the slate article has a .. leftist bias” is a little unnecessary. I think it is something we can just assume it will be true of every Slate article.

100 Lord September 18, 2015 at 4:14 pm

The interesting question is whether selfishness differed. They could always assume if it were highly inefficient in the game, they could always bypass it and give outside of it in other ways.

101 Dale September 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm

So, what’s with the “good news” statement? In what way is it good and good for whom? Finding out that people care about both equity and efficiency would be good news to me – finding out that efficiency is more important to the rich is not so unambiguously “good.” Or are you saying it is good news that Democrats do not seem to really care about equity if they are rich – i.e., is the “good news” that Democrats are hypocrites?

102 Clay September 18, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Both sides are hypocrites when it comes to their high-horse issues. I expect there’s a substitution effect going on, I.e. If I don’t actually care for the poor, I can make myself feel better by supporting the party that claims to.

103 JWatts September 18, 2015 at 2:12 pm

“I expect there’s a substitution effect going on, I.e. If I don’t actually care for the poor, I can make myself feel better by supporting the party that claims to.”

I wouldn’t phrase it that way. I think it’s more likely, “I want to keep what’s mine, but I want to get invited to the all the right parties. So as long as someone else will take the heat and keep taxes low, I’ll proclaim my support for fiscally progressive cause. But secretly I’ll be happy that taxes are much lower than I publicly proclaim they should be.”

104 Art Deco September 18, 2015 at 3:04 pm

I doubt impecunious service workers NOS are of much interest to aught but a few among the Yale student body. If carefully questioned, I’d wager the client groups they care about are homosexuals, homosexuals, homosexuals, truculent feminists, truculent bourgeois blacks, truculent bourgeois Chicanos, truculent bourgeois Puerto Ricans, and cartoon representations of ordinary blacks, Chicanos, and Puerto Ricans.

105 Nathan W September 18, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Aside from the fact that it clearly bothers you that anyone cares about these groups ….

It seems that some people care more about values than money.

106 Art Deco September 19, 2015 at 10:52 am

Aside from the fact that it clearly bothers you that anyone cares about these groups

It is clearly manifest that you have illusions about your quality of insight.

107 Nathan W September 21, 2015 at 8:40 am

It is clearly manifest that you revert to insult as a mode of argumentation whenever you don’t like what people have to say.

108 dr September 18, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Or perhaps what’s being proven is the utility-rationality of highly-educated students in a lab without significant consequences or moral implications. Or perhaps what’s being proven is the relative perception of the value of the money being allocated. To suggest that Yale lawyers represent elites at large also seems disingenuous – obviously they have decision-making processes more homogeneous than elites as a whole. Perhaps, most importantly to the conclusions drawn, one has to wonder how the results would change if students were instructed that their actions would dictate the overall structure of society, or were instructed that the receiving parties had asymmetrical wealth to begin with. Interesting study, but the conclusions are unconvincing, and the experiment design is not clever enough to support them.

109 mavery September 18, 2015 at 2:13 pm

“Interesting study, but the conclusions are unconvincing, and the experiment design is not clever enough to support them.”

You should just save this and re-post in response to most studies that get reported in popular press.

110 JWatts September 18, 2015 at 2:18 pm

‘Or perhaps what’s being proven is the utility-rationality of highly-educated students in a lab without significant consequences or moral implications”

From the article:
” Our subjects weren’t making hypothetical choices in responding to the survey—their decisions affected how much real money they would get when the experiment ended.”

Clearly there was a direct financial incentive and moral implications. The straightforward interpretation is that the Democrat students were more greedy than they would publicly admit to being.

111 Hazel Meade September 18, 2015 at 2:27 pm

No, if you read the study, the Yale students just preferred not to redistribute when the other player would only get 10% of the benefits. It’s not necessarily “greed” to not donate to a charity where only 10% of the proceeds actually go to people in need.

112 JWatts September 18, 2015 at 2:35 pm

“No, if you read the study, the Yale students just preferred not to redistribute when the other player would only get 10% of the benefits.”

I don’t see that in the study. What page are you referring to? (Or what chart?) To be fair, the write up is poor enough that I might not be interpreting it correctly. (Doesn’t anyone take a serious course in technical writing any longer?)

113 JWatts September 18, 2015 at 2:36 pm
114 Hazel Meade September 18, 2015 at 2:41 pm

From the Slate article:

Each subject could keep or redistribute as much of her budget as she liked, but with a twist. Whereas the standard version of this experiment—known to economists as a “dictator game”—asks subjects to split a fixed pie, we varied the “price” of redistribution. In some cases, giving was expensive: Every dollar of her own that a subject sacrificed bought her anonymous beneficiary as little as a dime. In other cases, giving was “cheap”: Every dollar sacrificed contributed as much as $10 to her beneficiary. Most cases fell between these extremes.

Our experiment also allowed us to measure how subjects trade off equality against efficiency. Subjects who care only about efficiency respond very sensitively to changes in the price of redistribution. When giving is expensive, they give little; when it is cheap, they give a lot. By contrast, an equality-minded subject will always ensure that both she and her recipient end up with the same amount, even if it means that less money is paid out overall.

What’s more, elite Americans show a far greater commitment to efficiency over equality than ordinary Americans. And this time, the bias toward efficiency increases with each increment of eliteness. The ALP subjects split roughly evenly between focusing on efficiency and focusing on equality; the Berkeley students favored efficiency over equality by a factor of roughly 3-to-2; and the Yale Law students favored efficiency by a factor of 4-to-1.

I mean, what kind of retard gives away $10 out of a $11 pot, just so that both players end up with $1?
The Yale Law students aren’t anti-equality, they are merely anti-stupidity.

115 JWatts September 18, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Ok, I was looking at the underlying paper not the Slate summary.

“I mean, what kind of retard gives away $10 out of a $11 pot, just so that both players end up with $1? The Yale Law students aren’t anti-equality, they are merely anti-stupidity.”

Yes, I agree with that. But the more telling examples are when it’s $1 for $1. Ergo, how many dollars did you give away when it cost you $1. How many dollars did you give away when it cost you $0.10?

Off topic:The last is the worst example to me. Because a non-stupid person realizes that if it cost you $0.10 and the other person gets $1, then a third party must be paying $0.90.

116 Hazel Meade September 18, 2015 at 3:33 pm

Yes, the third party in this case being the study investigators. Why not maximize your returns if it’s coming out of someone else’s research funding?

The interesting thing is that if the Yale Students were “efficiency sensitive” that means they gave away MORE money when the payouts to others were higher. And yet this is being spun as anti-equality. The Yale students could have ended up with $0 and ten other students got $10 out of it, but that would be regarded as an anti-equality result by the study’s authors.

117 dr September 18, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Do you think giving or taking 1-2 unearned dollars represents a significant consequence or moral decision to a Yale law student? It might not be imaginary money, but it might as well be.

118 JWatts September 18, 2015 at 3:26 pm

“Do you think giving or taking 1-2 unearned dollars represents a significant consequence or moral decision to a Yale law student? It might not be imaginary money, but it might as well be. ”

If that’s the case, why didn’t they just give all the money away? Instead they gave the least amount of money away.

119 Nathan W September 18, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Really, how much does a Yale law student, who will soon be earning six figures, care about a few dollars difference in the payoff?

120 Just Saying September 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm

True story: Study Shows Most Studies Are Wrong.

Odds are that whatever study TC reports on is wrong, not because of bias, but because of statistical probability.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2014/07/01/studies-show-many-studies-are-false/PP2NO6lKd7HMyTZa1iCHGP/story.html

121 Hazel Meade September 18, 2015 at 2:24 pm

For those that have not read the link, the way the study worked is that in dictator games, the “cost” of redistributing wealth was varied. In some cases, spending a dollar would only give 10 cents to the other player. Other times spending a dollar would give $10 to the other player.

The study considers favoring “efficiency” to mean that the player would give less when the cost was high, and give more when the cost was low (or negative). While favoring equality means a bias in favor of redistribution, even when it is inefficient.

The way this the article frames it it makes it seems like “efficiency” and “equality” are opposed and mutually exclusive.
The hidden assumption in the entire piece is that there’s something morally wrong (and anti-equality) with choosing the “efficient” outcome in situations where the cost of redistribution is high. I don’t think that is fair and I don’t think Americans are going to go join a class war over situations where getting free shit means a net loss for the economy.

122 Matt B September 18, 2015 at 2:33 pm

So Barack Obama has repeatedly said equality should be emphasized over growth and at times even stated that if equality decreases net GDP then so be it. I imagine you are one of the Internet commissars like Jan than spend so much time reading what David Brock claims Republicans are saying that you don’t even have time to listen to what your own party is saying.

123 Hazel Meade September 18, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Not at all. I’m a libertarian and I’m totally against wealth redistribution.
My point is that the study itself is a piece of leftist claptrap that frames the issue as if only an evil selfish person would favor aggregate utility over equality.
Also, RTFA.

124 CD September 18, 2015 at 2:58 pm

Thanks for contributing something useful. Should we make anything of the differences the study finds between elite and non-elite subjects?

125 Hazel Meade September 18, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Maybe that elite subjects are smarter or more rational? Or maybe they are thinking outside the framework of the game – if they maximize utility inside the game, they can always share the wealth outside of it later.

126 Brian Donohue September 18, 2015 at 3:02 pm

I think you’re right and the article is confused, but the study sounds odd itself, and I’m not sure if the article is leftist claptrap if it’s trying to argue that elite Democrats are stingier than everyone else or something. All very confusing.

But I’m with you: what it seems to be telling us is that Yale law students give a lot of weight to the size of the pie and not just the distribution, which sounds pretty rational to me and contrary to stereotypes of lawyers.

127 Jan September 18, 2015 at 9:22 pm

Ooh, Internet Commissar. I like that.

128 bellisaurius September 18, 2015 at 6:55 pm

This is a real setup here. “I don’t want to waste money” is interpreted as “I’m not going to share at all” And worse, to take this position, that I don’t think it’s a good idea to destroy net utility is taken as a sign of selfishness.

I see this go on in public policy debates all the time. If you ask “Is this worth it?” The entire room looks at you likek you’re a weirdo. I get that there are occasions where everyone just needs to share a bad deal equally, but if you’re throwing money down a commode, you’re not doing anyone any favors.

129 Hasdrubal September 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm

While it confirms my priors and tickles my schadenfreude bone, I’ve got to be fair and acknowledge that the abstract doesn’t mention a sample size (which makes me think it’s relatively small,) and while they used real money, it’s still done in a laboratory setting so they really have to work to show how it transfers to real life.

Unless I get a chance to read the whole paper and see their methodology for myself, I’ll just file this in the “Great for trolling my liberal friends when they post self righteous anti-conservative memes on Facebook, but not really convincing” category. (And I don’t really expect to upgrade that position even if I do end up reading the paper.)

130 Tom Brown September 18, 2015 at 2:38 pm

“Yale Law students’ overwhelming, indeed almost eccentric, commitment to efficiency over equality is all the more astonishing given that the students self-identified as Democrats rather than Republicans—and thus sided with the party that claims to represent economic equality in partisan politics”

This isn’t surprising to me at all. How can someone with any knowledge of and appreciation for the basic facts of reality possibly vote for candidates in the party of “The Earth is only 6000 years old ’cause my ancient book of nonsense says so!!”… might as well be voting for flat-Earthers, or worse yet, this guy. I can’t and won’t support the fully delusional. They need intervention, not votes. They don’t even belong at the adults table.

131 Art Deco September 18, 2015 at 3:06 pm

You know, Tom Brown, we often do not see ourselves as others do.

132 asdfG September 18, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Case in point.

133 JWatts September 18, 2015 at 3:28 pm

So, Tom, how do you feel about that whole Guam capsizing thing?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7XXVLKWd3Q

134 MC September 18, 2015 at 9:09 pm

I assume that the political party you are referring to is the Democratic party since a large portion of the “coalition of the ascendant” is compromised of blacks and Latinos who believe in an “ancient book of nonsense” at much highers rates than the average citizen.

135 Dain September 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm

True, but they don’t vote like it. Same with abortion. They’ll register personal discomfort in surveys but still vote the party aligned with Planned Parenthood.

136 Dan September 18, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Some Democrats want to reduce economic inequality because they value equality, others want to reduce economic inequality because of the diminishing marginal utility of money. Sounds like the Yale & Berkeley students are more in the latter camp.

137 Lord September 18, 2015 at 5:10 pm

And some want to reduce inequality because they believe it will produce more growth.

138 Thomas September 18, 2015 at 11:20 pm

No one believes that

139 Nathan W September 18, 2015 at 10:36 pm

I think the better studies on inequality ask people what they think the income distribution of a society “should” be.

I tend to lean towards the “we should promote equality” camp. But if you construct a question such that “do you support a measure to reduce inequality which reduces aggregate welfare?”, well, I think I oppose it.

Let’s look for means to reduce inequality which increase aggregate welfare. For example by focusing on equality of opportunity, as manifest through access to good schooling and extracurriculars.

The basic social safety net should not be viewed as a means to reduce inequality. Instead, it should be viewed as a refusal, in a wealthy country, to allow absolute poverty to exist. Inequality should be addressed by enabling children of the poor to mix with children of the rich and to get access better quality schooling.

140 Thomas September 18, 2015 at 11:21 pm

If you are interested and access to good schooling you would be opposed to teachers unions a priori.

141 Nathan W September 19, 2015 at 3:43 am

Why … so the right wing can turn our children into STEM robots?

142 Wooba September 24, 2015 at 12:27 am

Yeah, can’t have children learning actual, verifiable facts, can we? Better that they spend their time talking about their fucking feelings and inventing thirty new pronouns to “express” their “gender”.

Fuck you fucking retarded, subhuman piece of shit. I hope you have to watch your children die of cancer you diseased filth.

143 Nathan W September 18, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Could it be that minority rights (a feature of Democrats) and a refusal to play the game of fear-motivated politics (a feature of Republicans) trumps concerns about how much taxes they will pay?

144 Wooba September 24, 2015 at 12:32 am

Right, “minority rights” like the right to bear arms, or the right to free speech or the right not to have your money stolen by fucking parasitic pieces of shit like yourself.

Oh, wait, those are all minority rights that the Democrats hate.

Speaking of fear-mongery, we can’t stop butchering millions of children because sometimes Planned Genocide gives referrals to real doctors for things like mammograms, herp a derp.

Crawl back into your mother’s rancid, festering womb you fascist subhuman cocksucker. A war is coming, and I’m not betting the limp-wristed, unarmed, shit-for-brains leftist scum are going to persevere against the well-armed Real Americans.

145 er September 18, 2015 at 10:44 pm

clearly the best way play that game is to make sure the researchers pay out the maximum amount of money no matter what.

146 Alain September 19, 2015 at 1:42 am

This shows, at least for the raging left of Berkeley and Yale, that when they are talking about OPM they fully support the redistribution of resources. However, when talking about their own resources they hold on tightly.

This is not a surprise. The left has a burning desire to dictate the how resources are allocated, in short for power. However, they are unable to gain control of those resources through free exchange, so they cajole, intimidate, or if they can gain control of the power of violence steal those resources.

So, yeah, the worst people in the world.

147 Nathan W September 19, 2015 at 3:45 am

LOL, says the raging right.

148 ThomasH September 19, 2015 at 9:27 am

The research set up does not represent very well the kinds of equity – efficiency trade-offs that real policy poses. Favoring/opposing redistribution is just not the same decision as giving more or less to strangers.

149 Greg September 19, 2015 at 9:34 am

I don’t think this study shows what it purports to. Participants know they can redistribute their earnings for free outside the study. There’s no reason to pay the in-study price for redistribution. The Cal and Yale students could have just figured this out at a much higher rate. The results don’t indicate less willingness to redistribute with any certainty, in my opinion.

150 Anon September 19, 2015 at 11:11 am

Agreed. The other HUGE issue is that the elites (Yale law students) where asked whether to redistribute to other elites (other students). Being unwilling to redistribute wealth to other elites does not tell you anything about whether students actually believe in redistribution to the poor. If anything, they should maximize their own payoff then donate it to a worthy charity later.

151 Floccina September 19, 2015 at 9:58 am

So why does the USA Government do so much redistribution so incredibly inefficiently?

152 Nathan W September 21, 2015 at 8:45 am

Define “inefficient”

153 Dallas Weaver Ph.D. September 19, 2015 at 5:17 pm

From the actual article, it is easy to see that their results didn’t necessary measure what they thought they measured in terms of the efficiency vs equality trade-off.

The so called elite at elite universities would almost all pass the “cupcake test” as children and understands the relevance of time and reward in life. Try and teach Joe Median the danger of credit card debt and it becomes clear that it is an extremely difficult job and they often have a different view of time and reward. The long term impact of “just” a few dollar per mo adds up and sinks them, but they can’t see “long term”.

The authors, in a pod-cast, mentioned that some in the dictators game gave away everything when the recipients got $10 for every dollar he gave up. They interpreted that as extreme efficiency focus and ignoring equality. I see a kid with the cupcake test who is very socially minded and believes good deeds get returned.

What does this say bout the echo chamber of our Social Sciences in Universities. Even their use of “equality” as a one dimensional variable of money, while excluding power, influence, status and pecking order, etc. as types of equality parameters. This sounds more like OPINION passing as Science.

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