Comment of the Day: With respect to my time as DAS at the Treasury... I would have quit before I would have done the equivalent of what Holtz-Eakin has done. And one of scariest moment of my life was Lloyd Bentsen during the NAFTA debate looking at one of our presentations, looking at me, and saying: "Do you really believe this, or are you just trying to please me? It it is the second, you are useless to me." Plus there was Laura Tyson shutting down the message people who wanted her to shade her health care reform presentation with: "Fine. If that's what you want, I will go out there and say: 'This press conference is cancelled: right now is the only time in the next six months I could get an appointment at the HMO'": Robert Waldmann: : "It isn't just laughable. I think it is possible (and uninteresting) to prove that the communicative intent of the text is not the laughable interpretation...
...If the "if" in "If achieved over a decade, the associated increase in the annual rate of GDP growth would be about 0.4% per year" is logical if, so the statement is true whether or not "achieved over a decade" is probable or even possible, then it is a statement about arithmetic—that 4/10 =0.4. It is not possible that the authors intended to communicate this mathematical result. Out of over 7 billion people, it is quite possible that there isn't one who understands the notation 0.4 and doesn't know that 4/10=0.4. It is not possible that the authors believed that a non-negligible subset of their readers would benefit from the alleged arithmetic review.
Unless "if achieved over a decade" is intepreted as plain English and therefore a claim that the probability that this will happen is significant, the sentence is a waste of pixels. Gricean attribution theory tells us that we should not interpret it charitably as a statement about arithmetic.
The hairsplitting is sophistry which, if not punished, lowers the level of discussion. Laughter is a good response, but that would be public laughter as the authors are asked to argue that they really meant to teach people arithmetic and had no desire to insinuate anything at all about the probability of 10 year convergence, I think it would be useful to ask them if they stand by their claim to be remedial arithmetic teachers repeatedly until they confess their intent to deceive.
Ah yes, I forgot to type "the two step of terrible triviality." And there is not much triviality more trivial than division by 10.
Look not all entities which call them selves universities can be taken seriously and less than half of think tanks can. The problem is that some of the 9 have positions at respectable universitied.
Holtz-Eakin is a subordinate employee of Paul Ryan. He should be treated as press secretaries are treated. Like a lobbyist he has chosen money over any claim to participate in legitimate discussion. We can wish him well, but we can't pretend he is part of our (or any) intellectual community. Similarly, you were not a free participant in the discussion when you were a deputy assistant secretary (but you did it to serve your country not to make money).
Now you have found someone who does something other than laugh. As you must notice, I am enraged.