“Income Can’t Be Used to Predict Political Opinion”

What really irritates me about this column (by John Steele Gordon) is not how stupid it is (an article about “millionaires” that switches within the very same paragraph between “a nest egg of $1 million” and “a $1 million annual income” without acknowledging the difference between these concepts) or the ignorance it displays (no, it’s not true that “McCain carried the middle class” in 2008—-unless by “middle class” you mean “middle class whites”).

No, what really ticks me off is that, when the Red State Blue State book was coming out, we pitched a “5 myths” article for the Washington Post, and they turned us down! Perhaps the rule is: if it’s in the Opinions section of the paper, it can’t contain any facts? Or, to be more precise, any facts it contains must be counterbalanced by an equal number of inanities?

Grrrrr . . . I haven’t been so annoyed since reading that New York Times article that argued that electoral politics is just like high school. Who needs political science or economics when you can resolve all confusion with an appropriate Simpsons reference?

P.S. I’m not opposed to someone arguing for upper-income tax breaks. But couldn’t the Post have found a conservative who could make the case in an intelligent way?

P.P.S. A commenter caught this cute bit that I hadn’t noticed:

Gordon writes, “Today, $1 million in the bank generates only about $50,000 per year in interest.”

Where is this U.S. bank that’s paying 5 percent on deposits?

Perhaps that will be Gordon’s next column: “Five myths about banking.” Myth #1 will be that banks are paying 5 percent interest on deposits.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

Andrew Gelman

Andrew Gelman is a professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University.