This is ugly

I know I’ve pitched temper tantrums at commenters here before, so I don’t blame McMegan for losing her shit but for God’s sake, why can’t she correct a basic mathematical error (via Tbogg)?

Megan McArdle sees someone suggest that Bush’s tax cuts for the rich should be eliminated and the money used for better purposes, and she decides that it just wouldn’t make any difference. McArdle’s problems with the argument:

Dylan Matthews at the Washington Post has asked what we might be able to do for the economy if we repealed the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and spent the money on something else. The result is a nice post full of graphs, but the answer seems to be “not much”–the very best estimate is that we get about $75 billion in added economic activity, or about $25 for every person in the country.

The first two commenters correct her math. “Or $250, whatever,” says the first. The second: “Using current census data, I get $244 per person, but yes let’s call it $250, Megan was off by a factor of 10.” McArdle and math are two ships that pass in the night, never to have contact. Fortunately her commenters are available to do her long division for her.

It’s not a small error — no one would argue that a $25 rebate check (say) per American would help the economy much, but it might be argued that a $250 one would (I have no idea if it really would, but that would be about the same size as the 2008 tax rebate). We all make mistakes, but if you make an order-of-magnitude error that potentially affects your argument, shouldn’t you make a correction and revisit the argument, using the time-honored method of the strike-bar and the update?

This burns me up, whether it’s David Brooks (failed math in high school, no evidence he’s improved) wanking about some graphs he saw on iSteve or claiming that Clinton had an approval rating “in the 20s”, Emily Yoffe critiquing global warming research from a first-grade math level, or McMegan not admitting that $25 and $250 are not the same number, I wish that truly innumerate people would shut the fuck up about everything related to quantitative analysis.

Update. In her very next post:

And we would all of us–not just academics–like to be immune from getting fired for making stupid remarks.

Heh indeedy.

Update. Finally a correction, it’s because the calculator on her computer “won’t go into the billions”. In fairness, I just tested out the calculator on my Mac and if I try to enter 75 billion, it just stops at 750 million.

Anyway, as I said, everyone makes mistakes. I guess maybe it would have been a good idea to notice that the first few commenters pointed out the error rather than just screaming at them and calling them idiots.

I’d Recommend a Shitload of Scotch

I’m not sure whose turn in the rotation it is at Reason magazine to tell us there is no racism in the tea party movement (Welch, Young, Walker, and Michael Moynihan, with multiple entries, have all done their best, while the Fonzi of Freedom Nick Gillespie had a leather jacket to oil and outsourced his efforts… yesterday. Nice timing, boss.), but which ever poor bastard draws the short straw, I have some advice- start drinking. Heavily:

Dear Mr. Lincoln

We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!

In fact we held a big meeting and took a vote in Kansas City this week. We voted to condemn a political revival of that old abolitionist spirit called the ‘tea party movement’.

The tea party position to “end the bailouts” for example is just silly. Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn’t that what we want all Coloreds to strive for? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? What they need to do is start handing the bail outs directly to us coloreds! Of course, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the only responsible party that should be granted the right to disperse the funds.

And the ridiculous idea of “reduce[ing] the size and intrusiveness of government.” What kind of massa would ever not want to control my life? As Coloreds we must have somebody care for us otherwise we would be on our own, have to think for ourselves and make decisions!

The racist tea parties also demand that the government “stop the out of control spending.” Again, they directly target Colored People. That means we Colored People would have to compete for jobs like everybody else and that is just not right.

Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government “stop raising our taxes.” That is outrageous! How will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?

Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.


Precious Ben Jealous, Tom’s Nephew National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Head Colored Person

That would be Mark Williams, Tea Party Express Chairman, who last night took to CNN to call the NAACP “the real racists.”

No racism there. No sirree.


Leverage Meets Real Life

The latest Leverage episode, the Double-Blind Job, featured a plotline in which a drug company executive was planning to release a new drug and make billions. There was only one problem- they knew that it caused liver damage and would kill people. Not so fictional, it seems:

In the fall of 1999, the drug giant SmithKline Beecham secretly began a study to find out if its diabetes medicine, Avandia, was safer for the heart than a competing pill, Actos, made by Takeda.

Avandia’s success was crucial to SmithKline, whose labs were otherwise all but barren of new products. But the study’s results, completed that same year, were disastrous. Not only was Avandia no better than Actos, but the study also provided clear signs that it was riskier to the heart.

But instead of publishing the results, the company spent the next 11 years trying to cover them up, according to documents recently obtained by The New York Times. The company did not post the results on its Web site or submit them to federal drug regulators, as is required in most cases by law.

“This was done for the U.S. business, way under the radar,” Dr. Martin I. Freed, a SmithKline executive, wrote in an e-mail message dated March 29, 2001, about the study results that was obtained by The Times. “Per Sr. Mgmt request, these data should not see the light of day to anyone outside of GSK,” the corporate successor to SmithKline.

If only we had de-regulated the pharmaceutical market and got rid of the heavy hand of the FDA, the free market would have discovered this well in advance and SmithKline would be punished by consumers.

They’re Paid to Spin

Digby flags this CNBC clip of an anchor shooting down someone making shit up:

That was Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which as far as I can tell is dedicated to simply spewing right wing/glibertarian nonsense across a variety of formats. It’s basically Reason magazine if they wore suits and didn’t care about weed or porn. If I remember correctly, one of them even commented here about something a while back. It is hard to tell why the Jones Act has a bug up their ass, but I guess it has to do with some more recreational union bashing.

And Marijuana Remains Illegal

Sweet jeebus:

During one week in June Pfizer 1) agreed to pull its 10-year-old leukemia drug Mylotarg from the market because it caused more, not less patient deaths 2) Suspended pediatric trials of Geodon two months after the FDA said children were being overdosed 3) Suspended trials of tanezumab, an osteoarthritis pain drug, because patients got worse not better, some needing joint replacements (pattern, anyone?) 4) Was investigated by the House for off-label marketing of kidney transplant drug Rapamune and targeting African-Americans 5) Saw a researcher who helped established its Bextra, Celebrex and Lyrica as effective pain meds, Scott S Reuben, MD, trotted off to prison for research fraud 6) was sued by Blue Cross Blue Shield to recoup money it overpaid for Bextra and other drugs 7) received a letter from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) requesting its whistleblower policy and 8) had its appeal to end lawsuits by Nigerian families who accuse it of illegal trials of the antibiotic Trovan in which 11 children died, rejected by the Supreme Court. And how was your week?

I bet their stock went up that week, because the mavericks on Wall Street know to reward any company that will go to those lengths to make a profit. Of course, if we would just abolish the FDA, none of this would have happened because the first time one of Pfizer’s products killed someone, the market would punish them so brutally they would never do it again. That’s what I’ve learned at Reason magazine.