What an Awful Day!
links for 2007-10-18

Right-Wing Message Discipline

McMegan writes:

Megan McArdle (October 16, 2007) - I take it all back: A conservative publication, which I will not name, just spiked a book review because I said that the Laffer Curve didn't apply at American levels of taxation, even while otherwise expressing my vast displeasure with the (liberal) economic notions of the book I was reviewing. This isn't me looking for an alternative explanation for the spiking of a bad review: the literary editor accepted it, edited it, and then three hours later told me it couldn't be published because it violated their editorial line on taxation.

I suppose I ought to have known, but I didn't. Go ahead liberals, pile on: you told me so...

McMegan won't name names. She regards herself as still under some form of right-wing message discipline. So we are left in ignorance as to which conservative publications (a) want to serve as platforms to present the views of smart (albeit conservative) people, and which (b) regard their primary mission as telling lies to advance the power interests of Republican politicians.

I'm going to assign all conservative publications to (b) in the absence of anything to the contrary. Anybody have any conservative publications they want to whitelist--to move from (b) to (a)?

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

UPDATE: McMegan concludes:

The Laffer Curve and the supply siders pushing it seem to be the teacher's unions of the right.

Funny how I have never heard of a liberal publication spiking a piece because it was insufficiently friendly to teachers' unions or trial lawyers or AARP. Don't I remember seeing a lot of things in liberal publications about how school systems are overbureaucratized, in large part because of the unions?

It is true that I have seen a lot of right-wing hyenas but haven't seen many liberals attack teachers for being overpaid and underworked. Liberals are more likely to take a line like this:

Pay Teachers More Money: Without improving the average quality of our teachers, there is little hope of improving the system... teacher quality has declined over time... ironically... [because of] reduced discrimination against women. Fifty years ago, talented, educated women had few options other than teaching, and the schools were filled with highly qualified and able teachers. Today, college-educated women have moved into other occupations....

This is no surprise. Teachers are not paid very well, and many talented potential teachers have other options.... Why are teachers so important? Since most education in this country takes place in classrooms where there are many children, disruption by one child imposes penalties on other children in the class. The evidence suggests that child behavior is very sensitive to teacher quality....

[S]chools are failing badly for some subgroups... education has been demonstrated conclusively to be very important both for a country's economic growth and for raising the wages of individual citizens. Each year of schooling is associated with about a 10 percent increase in subsequent annual earnings....

[T]he reality is that the public school system will be with us for years to come, and it is important to make that system stronger.... To improve our schools in the 21st century, it is first necessary to attract more high-quality teachers...

That's the liberal line--that teachers need more money. But that line is not just a liberal line. It is a reality-based line. The quote is from Eddie Lazear, Hoover Institution Senior Fellow and Chair of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. (Eddie is also strongly, strongly in favor of vouchers, educational competition, and parental voting-with-the-feet--things that liberals tend to be more skeptical of.)