Open Thread: Megan McArdle, Still Wrong About Everything

Professional proponent of Failing Upward, Megan McArgleBargle (she’s not just the president — she’s also a client!) decided to review that new econ book all the kewl kolumnists are banging on about. Erstwhile Balloon Juice front-pager Freddie deBoer, at his own blog, has an excellent satire:

I apologize in advance, because I am going to talk about a piece that I have not yet read. To be clear, I do not intend to read Megan McArdle’s “Piketty’s Tax Hikes Won’t Help the Middle Class.” I’m afraid that I can’t wait to weigh in — not on the review itself, but on its topic. How much doesn’t inequality not actually not matter?

My first objection is to McArdle’s central argument, “Taxes are gay.” I find this offensive and wrongheaded. First, taxes are bi-curious at best. Second, using the word “gay” as an insult, even against an inanimate concept such as taxes, is not the way we do things here in the 21st century. Besides, the sexual proclivities of taxes are really neither here nor there when it comes to the pressing issue of securing government revenues in a fast-paced world. Even if, as McArdle argues, “taxes are a little light in the shoes, if you get my drift,” it’s unclear what else she proposes be done to raise funding for schools, roads, and emergency services…

I also find it unpersuasive when McArdle writes about the plight of the working poor. McArdle claims that the real issue for fast food workers is not their low wages, but rather “listening to the hippity-hop, dancing in public, and carrying on with the baggy clothes and the girls wearing trousers.” While I don’t doubt that culture plays a role in helping people escape poverty, this goes a bit too far. She also seems to underestimate how badly low wages hurt our most vulnerable. When McArdle argues that “your average McDonald’s worker should be satisfied, at the end of the day, to suck the disgusting gristle from the grease trap of the skillet that cooked the capitalist perfection that is the McRib, and consider themselves well paid,” I wonder who is really guilty of “class war.”…

Apart from blogerrific nostalgia, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

26 replies
  1. 1
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Freddie’s appeal continues to escape me.

  2. 2

    Watching the cliff line of civilization erode in the endless waves of rampant stupidity, and drinking heavily.

    And praying for Holly.

  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
    Jay C says:

    Well, I’m sure one sort of “Dubious Achievement Award” that Thomas Piketty is a good bet to garner this year is the one for “Most Reviews Of His Book By People Who Didn’t Read It” – blithering pontificating about Capital in the Twenty-First Century seems to have become the favorite pastime of about half the bloggers on the Internet (as well as a non-trivial segment of print media as well).

    I mean, in preparation for a book-club discussion on a another blog, I downloaded C21C and am currently about 1/3 of the way through. It’s a bit of slog (it’s economics, so the “slog” is only to be expected), but so far, it’s nothing like the “Marxist screed” some wingers have already slagged it as – again, probably without reading it: but then, numbers and charts (especially French numbers and charts!) are HARD – but then, economic semiliterate as I am, I could probably still do a better review than most of the crap I’ve read online so far.

    Of course, that doesn’t count the bloggers/commentators who know what they (and Piketty) are talking about; but that seems to be a tiny minority…

  6. 6
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Howard Beale IV: Did Ritholtz hire her?

  7. 7
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Howard Beale IV: No offense, but that relies on Yves Smith, who has her own history of thoroughly dishonest writing.

  8. 8
    RSA says:

    To be clear, I do not intend to read Megan McArdle’s “Piketty’s Tax Hikes Won’t Help the Middle Class.”

    Ironically, my response to Freddie’s tl;dr is tl;dr, as is usually the case.

  9. 9
    mai naem says:

    I am a little disturbed by the $1.67/mo/head of cattle grazing fee. I looked up the State of Arizona fee. The 2014 fee is $2.78/mo/head of cattle. I don’t claim to know crap about cattle ranching but I do know there’s a lot of Arizona land which looks pretty similar to the Nevada land that Bundy is on and the cost of living in AZ and NV are pretty close, if anything NV is slightly higher. So what gives? Why are we not getting our fair value from these grazing rights?

  10. 10
    Origuy says:

    I got off the boat.

    What I want to quarrel with is not the book’s methods or conclusion, but with the general idea that income inequality is the most important thing going on in the world. In terms of how it matters to lived human experience, I doubt it even makes the top 20.

    The French peasants of 1789 and the Russians of 1917 have their hands raised to be heard.

  11. 11
    jl says:

    For those who read the links, and the links in the links, and who are curious about the growth and interest rate issue in Piketty, Brad DeLong has an interesting piece,

    Notes and Finger Exercises on Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”: The Honest Broker for the Week of April 19, 2014

    By Brad DeLong | April 12, 2014, 10:29 pm

    There Are Four r’s

  12. 12
    Mike in NC says:

    Just tuned in to MSNBC for the first time in a couple of days, and they’re showing fucking Hannity talking to Bundy about how his case “has resonated with the American people”. Even for FOX, this is pretty surreal.

  13. 13
    omnissiah says:

    For fuck’s sake, I don’t even…McMegan’s opinion on inequality is obviously never going to change no matter what she reads, and her glibertarian audience could care less about her intellectual credibility…why not just lie and say had read it, and write the same article?

    What a fucking spaz she is.

  14. 14
    Joel says:

    Freddie seems like a nice enough guy, but I can’t read him. That whole crew seems intent on proving that Paul Dirac’s theory on poetry also applies to economics and political analysis.

  15. 15
    Redshift says:

    @Origuy: My reaction is the same as to Ronald Reagan’s comment about how “we didn’t have a race problem when I was growing up.”:

    Well no, you didn’t…

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Joel: That’s cold.

  17. 17
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): Care to cite an example of her dishonest writing-or is this your commanding self failing to realize/acknowledge that she linked to a NSFWCORP website article on McMegan and it wasn’t her own writing to begin with?

  18. 18
    trollhattan says:

    @mai naem:
    Hey now, it’s a buck thirty-five.

  19. 19
    Eric k says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    I generally find Freddie annoying, but read McCardle’s piece, he pretty much nailed her with exactly what she deserved here

  20. 20
    Joey Maloney says:


  21. 21
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @omnissiah: she is an evil, evil person. I had to stop reading her articles, even to make fun of them, because it literally made me sick to my stomach to contemplate the extent of kiss up kick down she engages in. I made the mistake of reading “Don’t worry your pretty heads about inequality” or whatever she called it. My stomach hasn’t grown to like her any more with the passage of time.

  22. 22
    Ajaye says:

    I apologize in advance for not having actually read the book, McArdle’s “review”, or the parody of McArdle’s abominable piece. Life is too freakin short. In any fair or just Social and economic system McArdle would not make a penny writing crap like that. I mean it is truly cringeworthy. I feel embarrassed for her and the person who writes her check for that. Goes lower than the lowest expectations one can fathom for renumerated writing.

    This woman truly should have no place in public discourse. She is to economics what Cliven Bundy is to history, anthropology, the law and the high school debate team.

  23. 23
    Rex Everything says:

    Freddie’s great! His stuff is top drawer. Nailed McArdle AND the weakness of the “left” response to her in one stroke; come on, that’s bad ass.

  24. 24
    J R in WV says:

    McArgle is one of those people who make me question my opposition in generic capital punishment – she deserves to walk in Central Park one evening and come upon the Wild Hunt in full throat.

    They would teach her about inequality as they digested her soul, and then they would bill her for the lack of nutrition in her soul. Then they would send her back to work.

    And NO one would ever notice the sudden lack of a soul in her writing, because there has never been any evidence of a soul in anything she does. What a total waste of Oxygen she is!

  25. 25
    ShadeTail says:

    I wonder how much deBoer’s distaste of McArdle stems from his being a viciously sexist jackass?

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    […] Casper mentioned a new book, so I thought I would tip you guys off to a hilarious  review of a review of Piketty (HT: Ballon Juice): […]

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