Really Bad Arguments

Josh Bersin and the Myth of the Bell Curve is an example of a bad argument that hurts his case more than it needs to.  The Bell curve represents the outcome without intervention.  So human height and IQ might reasonably be expected to conform to a Bell curve or a normal distribution.  MWG could go on about IQ but it would distract from the story at hand.   MWG believes that when individuals intervene in the process (like instructors at a university) then the outcome is less likely to be a normal distribution.  We are positively disposed to agree with Bersin’s argument that human performance in organizations is not normally distributed.

The problem is that Bersin compares a distribution that have number of observations on the Y axis with one the has the total number of people on the X axis.  Of course they look completely different.  They are not comparable.  If Bersin had told us that 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work then we would have recognized his sagacity.  MWG agrees with Bersin but doesn’t find him convincing because of the bad argument.

EJ Dionne is trying increase unemployment for low paid workers again.  As the left is unwilling to do this, he is calling on conservatives to support a minimum wage increase because a Republican from California once did.  Amongst other reasons conservatives would favor it is that it is a massive stimulus.  That is a massive ceteris paribus there.  The redistribution of income and employment caused by a big jump in the minimum wage are beyond MWG skills to model but our analysis comes down to we don’t want to order food from an iPad.  On the other hand as Dionne notes conservatives have good ideas about the earned income credit.  It all goes to the poor.  The best study Dionne can find has nearly half of the increase in the minimum wage goes to the poor.  So let us think about this.  Do we want the one that all the help goes to the poor or less than half the help goes to the poor?  Do we want the one that puts the poor at risk for unemployment?  If inequality of incomes is important to you then try to do something that would be useful.

Then Dionne goes on to say

Conservative politicians really need to ask themselves: If they refuse to raise the minimum wage and at the same time insist on cutting health care and wage-support programs, are they not consigning millions more of their fellow citizens to lives of poverty? Most Americans reject this view, and that includes most conservatives who believe in work, family and personal responsibility.

A more honest way to put this is that certain parties are trying to raise the minimum wage to benefit unions and others at the expense of the poor.  Conservatives have been against this.  They have also been against the destruction of the US health care system.  They are for work, family, and personal responsibility because escape from poverty is difficult without these.



One thought on “Really Bad Arguments

  1. Pingback: Minimum Wage | menwithgloves

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