Numerical Illiteracy and the Gang of 500 Mediocrities

Ezra Klein has this to say about the Gang of 500 Mediocrities (also known as our national political press corps):

For reasons that I try not to speculate on before 9am, the media likes to make policy disputes sound incredibly complicated. Much too complicated for mortals to understand, or base electoral behavior on. Take this Time article on the various tax plans floating around the election. The piece argues that the plans are composed of loosely connected soundbites, lacking numbers or details or real information. To read it, you’d think the two proposals were impossible to estimate, or understand, or in any way summarize. But they’re not. And reporters don’t even have to do the hard work themselves. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center — a joint project between the Urban Institute and Brookings — scored both plans…
These plans exist to give voters and the media a simple way to understand the candidate’s basic priorities on tax policy. And in that, they’re plenty concrete: McCain will blow a hole in the deficit in order to cut taxes on the rich. Obama will raise taxes on the rich and give cuts to middle class and poor voters, but he won’t end the deficit.

But that’s far too much work for these imbeciles. This is more their kind of stuff (italics mine):

Worry instead about three-pointers in Kuwait, and McCain’s time in Vietnam, and straight talkyness. That’s the stuff we know how to tell you, and the stuff that we trust you can understand.

I’ve always thought that one of the hallmarks of being smart is the ability to explain complex things to other people. Unfortunately, our political press corps is quite stupid.
Related post: Brad DeLong is quite shrill too.

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1 Response to Numerical Illiteracy and the Gang of 500 Mediocrities

  1. Physicalist says:

    “McCain will blow a hole in the deficit.”
    I assume this is supposed to mean the opposite of what it seems to me to mean.

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