Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mankiw plays tricks, but is saved by a Dave Barry column

Greg Mankiw, a respectable Republican, claims that the study of economics makes students more "conservative". Of course he's playing semantic games; he knows his more naive readership will equate "conservative" with Republican. It's only at the end of his post that his conscience forces him to confess that he really means "classically liberal"; in other words the very antithesis of modern Rovian Republicanism. Classic liberalism (championed by The Economist in the 1980s and early 1990s, and parodied by The Economist ever since) is a respectable doctrine, albeit one that struggles with "the problem of the weak".

Despite this bit of weaselly trickery, the column is redeemed by a link to a classic Dave Barry column. I do miss Dave Barry's writing, but he seems to have decided to semi-retire. Dave Barry in his heyday was a rare public and populist intellectual, of a sort we most desperately need.

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