The Corner

How Well Informed Are the OWS Protesters?

Based on this survey by New York magazine of “how much the OWS protesters actually know about the economic system that they’re fighting to change,” I think that they might not know as much as they think they do.

In particular, I was surprised to learn that most of the people asked in this survey (94 percent) thought that the government spends more on the military than it spends on health care, and 90 percent don’t know what the top marginal income-tax rate for the richest 1 percent is.

Granted, the survey may or may not be very representative, but it is interesting either way.

Also, in case you haven’t followed the story, some of Greg Mankiw’s students at Harvard waked out of his Economics 10 class this week in solidarity with OWS protestors. Today, Mankiw talked to NPR about the walkout (here). Also, take the time to read both the open letter of the protesters here and the response letter by one of Mankiw’s former students here (where I got the link to the New York magazine survey).

As my colleague Matt Mitchell told me this week when I sent him a story about the affair, this is very indicative of the danger of labeling. As Matt rightly noted, one of Mankiw’s “academic contributions (menu costs) helped resuscitate Keynesian economics,” and he has helped to raise the profile of Pigouvian taxation.


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