Welcome to the first edition of a new On The Economy feature, dedicated to the parting admonition of the great Jon Stewart: when it comes to BS, "smell something, say something!"
To be clear, I'm not trying to emulate the fact checkers out there. Nor am I going to peruse the papers, like Dean does so effectively, to find errant economics reporting. Instead, I'm just going to occasionally pounce on a specific brand of assertion: a stylized, accepted fact that isn't a fact at all.
For example, conservative partisans (as well as many centrist Democrats) consistently assert that teachers' unions are bad for student outcomes, and if we want to improve such outcomes, we must diminish the impact of teachers' unions. Most recently, this negative role of unions was a featured assertion in a Republican primary debate.
That claim smelled bad to me, as in I know of no body of evidence to support it. I know it's a constant refrain, but I figured I'd have seen something from the deep academic community that runs analyses of such issues over the years to support it, and I haven't.
Maybe I missed it. So I asked some experts in this field and they confirmed my intuition.More ...