Friday, June 28, 2013

Erick Erickson Wants To Base Policies On Perceptions Instead Of Reality

Today, Politico's Dylan Byers posted the back and forth between Red State's Erick Erickson and economist Paul Krugman.  You see, Erickson recently stated that regular folk (by that I assume he means conservatives) are concerned about the price of milk and bread inflating despite claims by Fed Chairman Ben Bernake of low inflation.  Well, Krugman decided to respond with that evil treachery known as "data."

As you can see, the price of milk has dropped since the Great Recession and bread has held fairly stable:

Confronted with hard data, Erickson's response was, well, bizarre.
Paul uses a chart to try to disprove the reality that Americans with small kids actually experience at the grocery store. His problem is he thinks I'm attacking the Democrats and wants to defend them, when the criticism is broader and bipartisan. And if he hung around moms and dads with kids more often he'd hear a lot more real world complaining about bread, milk, and other grocery item prices going up while paychecks are staying the same. Not everything is academic or chartable and sometimes the accuracy of the chart isn't as real to people as the perception they have that their grocery store bills are getting more expensive though their shopping habits haven't changed.
Seriously, Paul's point is correct, but it is an issue of perception of people versus the reality of his chart.  He can certainly go tell people milk prices haven't gone up, but good luck getting them to believe him.

So, he concedes that Krugman is correct but that people won't believe him.  People are complaining about the prices of bread and milk going up even if they aren't actually going up.  Okay, that might be true, but then what is the point here?

Is Erickson asserting that our government should be basing policy not on what is actually true but what people instead believe even when that belief is incorrect?  People wrongly believe we have inflation, therefore the Fed should do policies to combat inflation.  Gee, what could go wrong!?

This is made all the more hilarious when you realize it's coming from a promoter of the party which claims its problem in national elections is rooted in messaging and perceptions and has since continued making inflammatory statements about immigrants, rape victims, and women in general.

So let's call a spade a spade here.  Erickson made an incorrect statement about the prices of bread and milk, got called out on it by someone who actually knows what he's talking about, and then tried to pass it off as something else.  The unfortunate aspect is once these ideas get planted, they're tough to crack.

When confronted with the real price of milk, Tom Anderson (who directs a conservative think tank called National Legal And Policy Center) told Bloomberg's Josh Barro that he doesn't buy store-brand milk as if somehow switching from choice cut steaks to prime cut steaks would implicate inflation.

I guess store-brand milk is for snobs...

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