The Limits of Politics

by Henry on July 12, 2004

“Megan McArdle”: responds to my previous post about third parties, suggesting that Barbara Ehrenreich (and I) have “about as tenuous a connection to reality as the folks who brought us Pepsi Clear.” Her counter-argument:

* That ‘first-past-the-post’ voting tends to produce two party systems.
* That presidential systems are much more prone to two-partyism than parliamentary ones.
* That the reason why Ehrenreich’s (or indeed McArdle’s ideas) don’t become policy isn’t because they’re blocked by the system, but because most Americans disagree with them.

* Therefore: third-partyism is an exercise in futility.

These arguments are exactly the sort of thing that we political scientists like to claim that we know something about (I note in passing that Megan’s confident assertion of these empirical relationships sits somewhat awkwardly with her belief that political science “doesn’t have much to do with falsifiable predictions”: On the first of these claims, there’s evidence from the literature to suggest that McArdle is sort of right (but not in a way that really helps her overall argument). On the second, there’s evidence to suggest that she’s fundamentally wrong. On the third, she seems to be on thin ice (if she’s making a limited claim) or falling through into the river beneath (if she’s making a strong general argument).

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The new consensus on minimum wages

by John Quiggin on July 12, 2004

Coming in a bit late, I have the opportunity to survey a range of blogospheric discussion of the topic of minimum wages, which largely supports the view (not surprising to anyone but an economist) that minimum wages are good for low-income workers. The traditional view among economists was that minimum wages reduced employment and thereby harmed workers, but this view has been overturned, or heavily qualified, by empirical evidence, beginning with the work of Card and Krueger.

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Spider-man and Morality

by Brian on July 12, 2004

Jonathan Ichikawa, who’s been doing an excellent job maintaining the “philosophy papers blog”: while I’ve been gallavanting around the world, recently posted the “following comment”: about _Spider-Man 2_. (Warning mild spoilers ahead)

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