Ah, Math

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"Ah, Math"

I was going to write something about Tyler Cowen’s column on inequality and my disagreements with it, but thinking about that came to serve as a reminder that it would be possible for media outlets to hire economics commentators who are familiar with basic math were they inclined to do so. Larry Kudlow, in other words, doesn’t work at CNBC and National Review because there’s no one else around. Instead, he does economics commentary for them because they don’t really care about informing their audience. For example, there’s this:

Take a look at the high union states vs. the low union states.

The high union states—New York, New Jersey, Washington, etc—also happen to be high tax, slow growth, population losing, states.

Now here’s the thing. New York isn’t losing population. Nor is New Jersey losing population. Nor, for that matter, is Washington losing population. My guess is that Kudlow is confused. He’s remembering that these states are losing congressional seats and doesn’t understand how this works. The number of congressional districts is capped, so that a state that grows more slowly than average puts itself at risk of losing seats. But who knows. Maybe he wasn’t thinking of anything. Maybe he was just making stuff up.

UPDATE: Also note that Kudlow is leaving 40 percent of the high-union states — Hawaii and Alaska — off his list, perhaps because they don’t fit his theory.

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