As you all know, there is no internet comment more devastating and definitive than saying something is “Economics 101”—thereby proving that you are right, beyond any doubt. Sadly, this important internet commenting device is now threatened.

Scientists working on the cutting edge of statistical research have discovered that there may, against all odds, be a level of economic knowledge that exists beyond Econ 101—a sort of “Econ 102,” if you will. Needless to say, the implications for internet commenters are grave indeed. Writing in Bloomberg View, Noah Smith reveals how recent economic breakthroughs are putting long-established internet commenting FACTS in peril.

For example, Econ 101 theory tells us that minimum wage policies should have a harmful impact on employment... That’s theory. Reality, it turns out, is very different. In the last two decades, empirical economists have looked at a large number of minimum wage hikes, and concluded that in most cases, the immediate effect on employment is very small.


Another example is welfare. Econ 101 theory tells us that welfare gives people an incentive not to work. If you subsidize leisure, simple theory says you will get more of it.

But recent empirical studies have shown that such effects are usually very small.

Look, economists: we, the internet commenters, are going to be honest with you here. We don’t have time to be out there reading “empirical studies” which may or may not prove or disprove various Econ 101 FACTS that we all know to be FACTS from taking or perhaps reading an internet thread about Econ 101.

SOCIALISM Doesn’t WORK because people are lazy—IT’S ECON 101.

UNIONS are DETRIMENTAL to business—IT’S ECON 101.

TAXES are BAD because people EARNED their money—IT’S ECON 101.

REGULATION makes things WORSE because the FREE MARKET is the perfect method of distribution—IT’S ECON 101.

We’re going to just pretend these “empirical studies” never happened.


[Photo: Flickr]