Sunday, July 13, 2008

Slipperyslopeaphobia

In response to Bruce Wilder's comment on Economist's View,

I meant that I thought Mankiw supported Republicans because he was Libertarian on economic issues. To support Republicans he clearly must have cared far less about social Libertarianism. I modified my blog post to make this point explicit.

Another reason for Mankiw's puzzling support of Republicans, a rarity among successful academic economists, may be that he has what I would call, "Slipperyslopeaphobia", an irrational or just highly exaggerated fear of slippery-slopes, like if we have any social programs, even ones which are clearly shown to be tremendously high return and sensible, there's a great risk that we'll fall down the slope and go to stifling socialism. But history shows with very rare exception that people are able to do a relatively moderate amount of things without then falling to a Koo-Koo extreme (and when they do it's usually relatively temporary if not enforced by a brutal undemocratic regime). We've had public schooling for about 200 years, and we haven't gone communist. We've had the New Deal more or less for 70 years, again no communist dictatorship. We've had some restrictions on free speech and expression always, and we didn't go down the slope to Stalinism. In fact, we've with ups and downs over the long run gone up the "slope" to greater free speech and expression. People aren't complete idiots; if we go too extreme, the costs start to become ridiculously obviously greater than the benefits, and people vote to pull back. But a lot of people still have Slipperyslopeaphobia.

Of course, another reason for Mankiws support of Republicans may be that he's just Plutocratic, or just hates it when anyone takes his money, even if it increases the total pie, and the net quality of his own family's life. I'm not saying Mankiw's necessarily like this, but I have no doubt that a lot of Republican activists and politicians are.