Here's Mud in Your Eye, Mankiw

A recap of our stupendous and successful Super Fun Superfund Variety Show soon, but first: here's my very first letter-to-the-editor, written to the NYT in response to the tooth-gratingly frustrating op-ed piece "Know What You're Protesting," by Harvard econ professor Greg Mankiw (whose intro text I relied upon, and valued, in Econ100 at Oberlin). The NYT didn't publish the letter, so here it is in all its glory:

Professor Mankiw, you comment that "as with much of the Occupy movement across the country, their complaints seemed to me to be a grab bag of anti-establishment platitudes without much hard-headed analysis or clear policy prescriptions."

It’s hypocritical to malign your students for their lack of investigative acumen when your conclusions proceed from such lazy, uninformed reporting about the "complaints" of "much of the Occupy movement." Go sit in on a Facilitation meeting or GA, ask Sustainability or Trans-Equality groups, your local UAW, or someone recently foreclosed upon, why *they* Occupy. Right now your missive reads "Those Fools Rock the Boat Without Even Understanding the Physics Behind Sinking.” But the U.S.S. Status-Quo is undeniably sinking, into a future of defunded public services, engorged class disparities, and multifarious environmental catastrophes. Occupiers are trying to build an ark out of that broken ship’s spars; you’re telling them to ignore the water already reaching their necks.

Suck it, Mista Harvard! I emailed the man himself a slightly longer version of this letter, too, that included this post-script:
You are, clearly, a sensible, knowledgeable, perceptive economist, and I respect and admire your work. So: seek better data before putting out irresponsible writing like this. Investigate why your opinions look the way they do. Get to the bottom of the suppositions you use to underpin your conclusions--in this case, the opinions held by a massive, diverse group of motivated people, a movement--before you allow yourself to publish findings that proceed from those suppositions--in this case, the cursory lambasting of that movement. We have a world to save here, after all, and it's going to take a lot of us to do it. Your help would damn well help.
His response? "Thank you for your comments."

(For another "WTF, Mankiw?" point of view, this time from an actual economist, check out Chris Bertram's post on the Crooked Timber blog.)