It’s become very fashionable in certain circles to prove your intellectual and critical thinking bona fides by changing your mind about ideas in the face of evidence or arguments to the contrary. In that spirit journalist David Leonhardt wrote this summer challenge in the New York Times, and I’m perfectly game. Now I just need some suggestions.
There are some obvious caveats. I’m not going to change my mind about whether women should have control over their reproductive choices because I’m not a lunatic (full disclosure: I also don’t think men should be forced by the state to undergo dangerous medical procedures). I’m not going to entertain the suggestion that #actually the GULAG was good.
Maybe restricting housing density in vibrant cities is good?
Personally, I love cities, and wish they’d get a lot denser so I, and others like me, could afford to live in more of them. But maybe I’m wrong! I recently heard Tyler Cowen make what seemed to me a very strange argument that the utter unaffordability of housing in Silicon Valley is a kind of subsidy for the very most creative and industrious people in society.
That seems nuts to me right now, but maybe I’m wrong, and housing density is actually bad in economically vibrant cities!
Maybe publicly-funded vouchers for private schools are good?
I went to a public elementary, middle, and high school. It was fine. We had some pretty bad teachers, but it seems to have worked out. That informs my view that public schools are fine and taking money away from them to pay tuition at private schools is a bad idea.
Further, it does not seem to me to be factually true that actual human beings at public schools are engaged in cutthroat competition with private schools. Instead, those people just run their schools and try to do the best job they can, like everybody else on Earth.
But maybe I’m wrong and #actually it would be good for public school teachers to be constantly worrying about losing their jobs if they can’t force their students to learn as much as the parochial school across town does.
I have a lot of strongly-held opinions! Maybe they’re wrong:
- maybe self-employment is #actually bad and more people should be employed in traditional full-time jobs by large firms;
- maybe unions are #actually bad and people are better off when they don’t have the ability to collectively bargain over wages and work conditions;
- maybe the complexity of the tax code is #actually good and the vast tax-preparation, tax-avoidance, and tax-evasion industries are a net positive for America or the world;
- maybe widespread police violence and violations of civil liberties are #actually the only thing standing between civilization and anarchy and we should stop struggling against it.
These are views that appear to me to be widely held by huge numbers of Americans. Maybe they’re right and I’m wrong!
So, what should I change my mind about?