When arguments turn to economics, most of us (a) flee, (b) fall asleep,
or (c) give up and figure it’s just too hard to understand.
But you can stand your ground, even if you have never taken an economics course. What it takes is being curious and willing to ask questions and challenge claims. It also helps to know that most of the pundits of Right-Wing Think Tanks (RWTTs) who fall back on economic claims base them on economics-lite. They use a few facile
and sterile ideas and stretch them to fit all situations. These ideas
are mere theories (in the pejorative sense of the word), and, unlike scientific theories, they have no evidence to support them. Indeed, when put to the test, these ideas tend
to be falsified. That is, the evidence does not support them (more on
that below). When your common sense tells you that they seem to be
over-simplifying, you are probably right, er, correct.
All this should give you confidence that you can take on proponents of
right-wing ideas, even when they resort to using economics-lite.
It helps to have some information in a battle against RWTTs’ economics-lite, but it is not hard to get the
basics. Here is a brief survey of basic arguments and information on the
Most neoclassical (i.e. conservative) economists claim that increasing
the minimum wage causes unemployment. They claim this conclusion is
supported by many studies. You may think this means actual experiments
where data are gathered. That is not the case. When they refer to tests
or studies, most often