Comment on Comments

June 14th, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Every once and a while I like to remind commenters of the mensch rule we follow here at OTE…if I judge a comment to be unnecessarily insulting or disrespectful–to anyone of any persuasion–I’ll reject it.

Those leaving comments–and we’ve got the most incisive commenters here at OTE–are encouraged to disagree with each other, with me, and even with themselves.  But try to disagree without being disagreeable.

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2 comments in reply to "Comment on Comments"

  1. Kevin Rica says:

    The mensch principle is an excellent one!

    But it needs some OTE guidance on how we deal with an unmensch and unmenschlichkeit.

    A true mensch is offended by unmenschlichkeit and isn’t expected to react like a nebbish.

    Paul Krugman is a mensch. That does not mean that he is always right, but he is never in doubt, and you can never doubt that if he says it, he means it. I could elaborate more, but he just won’t say something that he believes is technically incorrect, not matter what the crowd or party line says. He has backbone! When my mother uses the word mensch, it is usually in this sense (and often in an old-fashioned, non-gender neutral sense).

    And, as Carmen Reinhart has noted, he sometimes isn’t terribly civil. (And you weren’t much kinder to them Jared.)

    We’ve a good, recent example of unmenschlichkeit; the Tamar Jacoby article on why America has a shortage of uneducated, poor people willing to work for low wages.

    Whatever the alliterative similarities, menschlichkeit and mendacity are opposites.

    To the mensch, mendacity and unmenschlichkeit are anathema (though I probably conflate to separate and distinct traditions).

    She disgraces everything she touches and everyone that touches her – e.g. New America. They forfeit all moral authority. They are unmenschen: excommunicate and anathema!

    It also besmirches her cause. But as you rightly pointed out, “the WSJ is nonsense, but that doesn’t prove the opposite–what kind of logic is that?”

    But as lawyers (mavens of mendacity) say: Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus.

    This also raises the logical question: “Why is it necessary to lie in a good and honest cause?”

    If we accept the proposition that it is not necessary, then we can logically infer that, at least, the cause is dishonest (I leave the logical proof-by-contrapositive to the reader).

    Here is Milton Friedman’s honest, conservative argument for illegal immigration:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eyJIbSgdSE

    Summary: It gives rich people the right (liberty) to hire cheaper labor AND (double bonus): It destroys the “welfare state.”

    Here is Paul Krugman’s conflicted analysis of illegal immigration:

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/26/the-curious-politics-of-immigration/

    Summary: You can feel sympathetic for people who wish to come here, but they will depress incomes and destroy the social safety net.

    Ideally, ideological disputes between economists should not be about how the economy works. Those issues should be non-ideological. Ideological disputes should be about the goals of economic policy. It is bad when those different disputes are conflated.

    But Friedman and Krugman are in perfect agreement (on this issue, at least) about the how the economy works: Immigration will depress wages and destroy the welfare state/social safety net.

    That is how menschen should be discussing immigration. Besides being menschen, we should also be civil. But those two things are not necessarily synonymous, although a mensch should always try.

    PS (no sucking up: sincerely meant), The fact that you encourage disagreement even with you, is a sign of a true mensch!


  2. Tom Cantlon says:

    I’m glad you do that kind of subjective filtering. I’ve tried to talk my editor into it, but of course it’s more time consuming. But without that kind of filtering the mud slinging creeps in and almost instantly all the substantive commenters are turned off and leave. It’s hard to find anyplace worth reading that this doesn’t happen.


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