Richard Epstein, Infuriating Liberals the World Over
"It is nice to have a fan club," Richard Epstein wrote in an e-mail he sent me this afternoon, which included this link to the comments section of his PBS News Hour. Here's a representative sample of the feedback:
NEVER have I been subjected by the Newshour to the equivalent of a "guest" whose words and manner in my view constituted the equivalent of someone firing at me with a machine gun! If you want a diagnosis, I'd call this man a sociopath.
...Honestly, there should have been a warning prior to this segment: "Some viewers my find the following interview upsetting."
Indeed, I am upset! Upset enough that if this is the type of "guest" you plan to "invite" into my living room, I am DONE with the Newshour!
Why oh why can PBS NOT come up with an interviewee who claims that it is great that the Walmart heirs have billions because they won the sperm and uterus sweepstakes and others die for lack of healthcare who is NOT
(1) merely a lawyer. Yep, Epstein is just a layer, a law professor. He is not a sociologist or an economist. He is merely a lawyer who likes to pretned [sic] that he knows about and has had extensive training in economics and social behavior and politics.
(2) someone who has, for over 30 years, expounded rather bizarre theories completely contradicted by reality
I think News Hour should have more interviews with Libertarians like Mr. Epstein, so that the public is aware of just how skewed their thinking is about economics. Interviews like this will continue to give the OWS movement momentum.
Paul Solman's interview with Richard Epstein was infuriating to me. It was particularly insensitive given the Wall St. protests against income inequality. There's simply no justification for the inequality in income in the U.S. today.
Epstein slavishly adheres to a neoclassical view of economics that has been shown false through models of decreasing utility of wealth and imperfect maximization due to bias and heuristics. It is highly improbably that Gates or Jobs would have done anything different because of different tax rates. They were motivated by innovation, not return. Investors are the same way. The marginal difference between a 15% tax on investment and 25% is not enough to stop investment (the 1990's is case in point).
What's more, Richard Epstein received an e-mail from a PBS viewer who demanded to see his credentials. Richard sent the angry viewer a very civil and courteous response, and attached his "short" resume. (And when Richard calls something "short," well, you know he means no such thing.)
Boy am I glad we have Richard Epstein batting on our team!