In Case You Were Wondering …

Josh Wright —  5 November 2007

Jesse Jackson has come out against the Sirius / XM Merger …

7 responses to In Case You Were Wondering …

  1. 

    To sum up …

    The position you claim I attribute to you is that Jackson does not have (again, as you say) a “‘right’ to an opinion about the merger.”

    I never attributed this position to you. I stated in my first comment merely that Jackson can have an opinion about anything he wants (pretty uncontroversial and not counter to any perceived position you had taken), and that his perspective was an interesting one.

    In your first comment, you decided to collapse my comment into a claim that I believed you thought Jackson did not have a “‘right'” to have an opinion about the merger. At the same time, you feigned confusion and surprise at this claim – a claim you created in collapsing my first comment.

    This was disingenous. I called you on it. I further added that the reflexively dismissive attitude toward critics of unfettered market ideology in your post is shared by your colleagues.

    You then left little doubt as to your disingenuosness by dismissing Jackson’s public comments as not valuable. After saying, in effect, I am shocked that you might think such a thing!, you then confirmed why I might think such a thing. And, mind you, this confirmation is of the fictitious claim you created in collapsing my first comment.

    Since I promised a summation, I won’t delve into your unsolicited “clarifications” (one of which, your charcterization of yourself as impartial to the merger, is somewhat undermined by the very post you reference in support of your “clarifications”). I also won’t delve into my attempts to steer the conversation to more substantive issues (see comment 5, paragraph 6). Instead, I will yield to your decision that we close this matter. It’s your blog, not mine.

    Best,

    -matt

  2. 

    Matt:
    There is an obvious difference between the position you attribute to me (that Jackson cannot have an opinion on the matter) and the position that I expressed concerning its humorous qualities. The opinion itself may be worthy of criticism or snark without questioning Jackson’s right to make it. This seems trivially obvious to me and so I will remain puzzled as to how you could think my post suggested the former. But you’ve made your disagreement clear. It seems to me that there is little else to discuss and so this will be my last comment on this particular issue.

  3. 

    Josh,

    First, and not to put too fine a point on it: my blog, my snark.

    True enough. What’s a blog without snark?

    Second, of course I think it is funny.

    Then why your claimed puzzlement in your first comment as to “what in [your] post could have possibly suggested to [me] that [you] do not believe that Jesse Jackson has the ‘right’ to have an opinion about the merger”? This claimed puzzlement further appears to be disingenous when you state in your follow-up comment “… let’s not kid ourselves. Jackson’s testimony isn’t an attempt at serious analysis of the impact of the merger.”

    Simply put, you weren’t actually puzzled as to what in your post could have led me to believe you did not think Jackson had (as you say) a “‘right'” to his opinion. You admitted as much in your follow-up comment.

    Third, your comment that I have a dismissive attitude toward anybody who would question the merger has clear and testable implications that we can quickly deal with.

    My use of the word “anybody” was much too broad. I apologize. Perhaps it would have been better for me to write “anybody who is not an economist, a lobbyist, or a law & econ prof.” Your point is well taken.

    Fourth, I should be clear that I’ve never offered a public opinion on the merits of the merger and am not doing so here.

    I intended neither to claim nor to imply that you had taken a position whatsoever on the merits of the Sirius-XM merger. (Still, it’s worth pointing out that the post you cite indicates which arguments you find more persuasive: “My own take on this exchange: advantage Russell.”)

    I am noting that the public interest analysis should be more complex, one would hope, than just making pronouncements unsupported by theory or evidence about certain effects. Further, even if one assumes that Jackson is correct about the diversity point for the sake of argument, a very basic public interest analysis would involve tradeoffs between opposing effects in different dimensions (e.g. prices, quality, innovation, etc.).

    I agree wholeheartedly. Just making pronouncements without the support of theory or evidence gets the policy discussion nowhere. But crucial to the public comment process is an inclusion of community voices. There are plenty of economist-advocates (both pro and con) who will trot out (by definiton) “speculative” cost-benefit analyses before the commission. I suppose these economist-advocates have a certain (and well-deserverd) veneer of “scientific” credibility. But are non-economist advocates (both pro and con) engaging in public comment any more speculative? Probably the non-economists are more speculative, but community perspectives are lost without them.

    Finally, I do agree that explaining jokes often make them less funny. But not always.

    Best,

    -matt

  4. 

    Matt:

    Not to drag this on any longer than it needs to be, but lets clarify a few things.

    First, and not to put too fine a point on it: my blog, my snark. Your desire that I put an end to it is duly noted.

    Second, of course I think it is funny. Here’s why. It is funny because I would think that nobody who spends a lot of time seriously thinking about the effects and implications of mergers (whether interventionist or whether the “bow to the altar of the market”) is particularly interested in Jackson’s glib pronouncements that the merger will have some speculative impact on diversity and therefore not in the public interest. There are plenty of folks who have taken the time and effort to offer analysis on the impact of the merger and have come out both ways. I find many of these analyses interesting. I find none of them to be humorous. I have no problem with Jackson testifying. He has his own expertise to share. But let’s not kid ourselves. Jackson’s testimony isn’t an attempt at serious analysis of the impact of the merger. Wow, explaining why something is funny really does kill the joke, no?

    Third, your comment that I have a dismissive attitude toward anybody who would question the merger has clear and testable implications that we can quickly deal with. You can start here if you like:

    http://www.truthonthemarket.com/2007/03/02/the-sirius-xm-merger-in-the-court-of-public-opinion/

    Or just search for “Sirius” on the blog posts. You may find a few opinions. That comes with blogging, I hope. But I don’t think you will find any “ignorant dismissiveness”.

    Fourth, I should be clear that I’ve never offered a public opinion on the merits of the merger and am not doing so here. Nor do have an opinion about what the specific merger’s impact will be on diversity, whether it should meet the FCC’s review standard, of the DOJ’s for that matter.

    I am noting that the public interest analysis should be more complex, one would hope, than just making pronouncements unsupported by theory or evidence about certain effects. Further, even if one assumes that Jackson is correct about the diversity point for the sake of argument, a very basic public interest analysis would involve tradeoffs between opposing effects in different dimensions (e.g. prices, quality, innovation, etc.).

  5. 

    Josh,

    No offense taken.

    Likewise, no offense intended, but I think you’re being a tad disingenuous.

    You snarkily titled the post “In Case You Were Wondering …”. The message of your post title is that, we propably weren’t wondering about Jackson’s opinion on the matter, because he’s not qualified to have an opinion on the matter.

    Your later response to my comment betrays your snark, as well as your dismissive attitude toward anyone with the temerity to question such a merger. You commented that you linked to Jackson’s take because it is “interesting, entertaining, or maybe funny.” Funny why?

    This particular post isn’t as bad as some of your colleagues’ previous posts. Still, this post surely is in the spirit of this blog’s tendency to engage in sophomoric ridicule or thinly-veiled visceral contempt for anyone vocal in their concerns about unfettered market ideology. Anyone not willing to genuflect in wonder before the altar of the market is, at best, hysterical or “slipping”, and at worst, “borderline racist”.

    I love visiting this site in order to get a market-oriented take on the law & econ issues of the day. I just wish that, when you and your colleagues engage in “critiques of the critiquers,” you didn’t resort to juvenile snark and ignorant dismissiveness.

    Best,

    -matt

  6. 

    Matthew: No offense intended, but I cannot figure out what in my post could have possibly suggested to you that I do not believe that Jesse Jackson has the “right” to have an opinion about the merger, its impact on diversity, the public interest, or just about anything else.

    Since you brought it up, I might add that I think you are quite right that several readers of this blog might find Jackson’s take interesting, entertaining, or maybe funny — which is why I linked to the article.

  7. 

    First, Jesse Jackson can have an opinion about anything he wants to have an opinion about.

    Second, from the article:

    Jackson said that as currently structured, the merger would “have the real potential of eliminating diversity.” He called it a bad deal and not in the public interest.

    As a lifelong advocate for civil rights and diversity, Jackson has a certain take on this issue that several people could find interesting.

    Then again, Jackson’s not a law professor with a blog, so maybe I’m all wrong about this.