Should-Read: The Washington Post these days is a really bad neighborhood. Bad actors. Bad actions: David Brady: We… would be delighted by… lift[ing] all single mothers out of poverty…. Making a substantial fraction of people not poor would reduce poverty. Duh: “In @washingtonpost, Robert Samuelson has written a ‘critique’ of our NY Times piece…
…It isn’t clear he understands our arguments or whether his arguments actually contradict our arguments. His main grievance seems to be vaguely about what he says “the impression that the Times leaves its readers.” His biggest error is attributing to us: “eliminating poverty among single mothers wouldn’t have much effect on overall poverty.” Actually, we say eliminating single MOTHERHOOD–not single mother POVERTY–wouldn’t really reduce poverty…. Samuelson calculates what would happen if all single parent (not single mother) families were not (officially) poor. We simulate what would happen to overall poverty if all single mothers were not single mothers.
From a public policy perspective, we actually would be delighted by his suggestion to simply lift all single mothers out of poverty. We agree that making a substantial fraction of people not poor would reduce poverty. Duh. This is true for ANY random group of poor people.
He chastises us for not explain our poverty measure, which we explain in AJS but not the NYT piece. Okay. But, then, he uses the terrible official U.S. measure. I also don’t understand why he includes single fathers in his calculations. Samuelson alludes to “several acrimonious exchanges” with me, but we talked only once on the phone. It was a very strange conversation. I’ll admit I didn’t like when he condescendingly told me that social science wasn’t real science. Samuelson first asked me to send all published critiques of our piece and how we responded to them. It wasn’t clear to me why I should do his job for him. He said he was too old to read twitter himself. After Samuelson read text to me, he didn’t like it when I read him part of our piece that unambiguously contradicted his claims. Then, he said elsewhere in the piece gave reasonable readers a different impression (funny that part didn’t make it into his piece).
Then, Samuelson wanted me to compose a reply to what he had read to me over the phone. I said I needed to be quoted verbatim (as I didn’t trust his paraphrasing). He said “No. We simply cannot cede editorial responsibility to outsiders.”
I don’t have much experience with columnists like Samuelson, and it isn’t clear to me if this is how columnists normally operate. In the end, I’d be happy if his piece directs even more readers to our work. I’m happy to let readers decide for themselves.