Econom⁠i⁠c L⁠i⁠⁠t⁠eracy & Progress⁠i⁠ves

By: The James Madison Institute / June 8, 2010

The James Madison Institute


June 8, 2010

By Francisco Gonzalez, JMI Development Director
A new study has been released that shows the ignorance of progressives on basic economics. George Mason University Professor Daniel Klein and Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic surveyed 4,835 American adults on eight questions about basic economics. They also asked each of the respondents about their political leanings, grouping them into six categories: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.As Klein states in his article in the Wall Street Journal, “Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical.”They focused on the incorrect answers of each respondent. How did they do? From best to worst, on average, very conservatives got 1.30 of the 8 answers incorrect; libertarians, 1.38 incorrect; and conservatives 1.67 incorrect. As we shift to those on the left, there is a sharp increase in incorrect answers, with liberals getting 4.69 of the 8 answers incorrect and progressives/very liberals getting 5.26 of the 8 answers incorrect. That is well beyond a failing grade and may explain our economic woes today with the political left in control of most levels of government and the government-run school system.As Klein asserts, “The left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals, and aesthetics.” One only hopes that if they read a little more basic economics, they might improve their score. And, perhaps change from their utopian ideologies to a more rational and enlightened approach, which will bring those on the intellectual and political left to an area they are least familiar with: reality.A more thorough analysis of this study and the questions are available here.