Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hoisted from Comments: Omar al-Ubaydli Replies

Here is Omar's response to my blog/letter addressed to him. I will have a follow up post either tomorrow or over the weekend but I just want to say I think this is a genuine breakthrough, facilitated by the Rapoport ethical debate prescription. There is a lot of additional context but the immediate context can be gleaned from the series of posts commencing with Pain for Profit on June 6 and including As Common as Ditchwater and the aforementioned Dear Omar al-Ubaydli. See also my posts back in April on game theory and Rapoport.
Dear Tom 
Thank you for taking the time to provide a comprehensive response, and your position is much clearer to me than before. Here are some of my thoughts. 
1) In retrospect it was sloppy of me to imply that all the proponents hold a certain position when the reality is clearly that only some of them do. 
2) Your summary of my position is satisfactory but it omits the most important part, which is what the data from Europe show. 
I was asked to take a position on the expected effect of shorter work weeks on unemployment as part of a point counterpoint. My position is primarily based on what the data show, which is mixed effects, but never a substantial decrease in unemployment. 
Given the position of the other contributor it made sense to cast me in the "more unemployment" role. While many of the other outcome variables that you consider are important they are not part of the brief, and one can only consider so much in 750 words. Also in the EU unemployment is unquestionably the overriding impetus behind work sharing schemes, assuming that one takes politicians at face value. 
I then use economic theory to explain these empirical findings, and to explain why simple models may underlie the position of some proponents. 
3) The goal of my contribution was not to provide, or claim to provide, the final word on the issues at hand. Point-counterpoints are supposed to engender constructive discourse. I think that your contributions are valuable, but they seem to regard my contribution as verging on the conspiratorial, or reeking of ignorance. I think that you should lower the bar on what you expect to be delivered by such pieces, and refrain from accusing contributors of lying, especially since you are clearly not just a troll, but that's a minor point. 
4) If I was to repeat the exercise, it would have been useful for the brief given to the authors to be disclosed openly to minimize confusion over the goals of the contributors. 

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