The Science of Journalism

If I Had My Way
One Man's Opinion -- for what it's worth.


To: Jared Bernstein - info@jaredbernsteinblog.com

Cc: Paul Krugman - pkrugman@nytimes.com

From: Doug Skoglund - skoglund@pdmsb.com

Date: 26 Jun 2014 06:00 am CDT

Subject: 2014018 - It's All About Egos - III

Regarding your post, "The Risk of Insular Wonkiness" -- I quote:

Still, I'm not at all comfortable with the idea that those of us working on progressive policy can blithely ignore the politics, assuming someone else will fix that, while in the meantime, we can just run another specification of the model!

I don't know the answer to this.  Everybody's got their skill sets, and certainly, one point of this blog and that of others with greater reach (e.g., Krugman) is to inform the debate with fact-based analysis and shine as bright a light as we can on those who are busily shooting out the lights.  It's just that more so than other periods in my working life, and I've been on this beat for decades, facts and smart policy are on the run.

Clearly, money in politics-more precisely, the toxic mix of increased wealth concentration and the increased role of money in politics-is a big, growing factor here, as the powerful are more than ever able to buy the think tanks, "research," and policy outcomes they want.

Obviously, you understand the problem -- and you seem to understand your responsibility as a citizen (I assume) of this country. We are all responsible for the ultimate result. If we are unhappy with the present results, we must do whatever we can to elect people that will do a better job.

"Shining a bright light" is helpful -- but, it is obviously not ernough.

Paul Krugman responded to your post with the following:

The best answer I can come up with is to work on two tracks -- to talk about first-best policies but also be prepared to support second-best policies if that's what is on offer. Obamacare is a Rube Goldberg device that is nonetheless much better than nothing -- and it's working. Carbon taxes would be the way to go in a better world, but in this one various administrative actions may be the best you can do.

It's a tricky balancing act. You don't want to give up on good ideas and make it seem as if flawed political compromises are better than they are -- and if they're bad enough, you have to oppose them. (And how do we know if they're bad enough? Um ....) But you certainly haven't done your job if you just lay out your fine theory and walk away from the real choices on offer.

Nobody said life would be easy.

And, I disagree -- Paul's second track is a cop-out. Paul is an Economist, he has every right to have an opinion on Health Care; however, his expertise is going to waste without a full scale voter education program -- you have to put pressure on that portion of the system that you understand the best. You must become a teacher -- the voter must gain some understanding of your policy recommendations -- and more importantly, the voter must learn how to evaluate candidates.

And the ultimate measure of your individual contribution will depend upon the ultimate results. You have the power to change the future -- use it!!!

To be continued (I hope) 

Doug Skoglund skoglund@pdmsb.com

I don't provide for comments since that is a system designed to control the communication process -- I do provide an e-mail address!! (Please put a [MYWAY] in your title to get my attention)

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