Tyler Cowen on the Palin family

Tyler Cowen writes, about the Palin family, and specifically Bristol Palin’s pregnancy (with my comments interspersed):

a) none of the commentators know the actual circumstances behind Bristol’s pregnancy,

Indeed not; expect the obvious one about how she became pregnant.

b) it’s unlikely the father was actually forced to marry Bristol; maybe he thought it was the right thing to do,

If by unlikely you mean the probabilty is less than 0.5, I agree with you. I wouldn’t however rule out coercion given that Sarah Palin is under investigation of abusing her power as Governor to try to get someone sacked who she has a personal grudge against. One can easily imagine a veiled or unspoken threat against Bristol’s boyfriend. One can also imagine Bristol’s boyfriend perceiving a threat where there was none.

c) I am very glad they are having the baby, noting that I do also favor birth control,

I am neither glad nor sad that they are having the baby; that’s a personal decision for them. I do however wish Bristol Palin, her husband and their child happy and prosperous lives.

d) There is and should be a general rule to treat candidates’ children with the utmost respect,

There should be a general rule to treat everyone with respect (but not “utmost respect”; that seems too much like deference to me), at least until they prove by their behaviour that they don’t deserve it.

Whether someone has a parent who is a political candidate (or for that matter a serial killer) oughtn’t to affect how much respect is accorded to that person.

e) I fully understand that John McCain needs to read Adam Smith on the division of labor, overconfidence, and also wise decision-making,


f) when an attractive woman is criticized by less attractive men, large segments of the public respond accordingly,

If someone is attractive they should neither be criticised more harshly for it, nor let off more easily, unless their attractiveness is germaine to the matter in question (which it isn’t for the job of VP).

g) Obama is wise to say nothing about this,


h) Palin should not be required to document every claim she makes about her personal life and it is little short of outrageous to demand gynecological information from her, and, most of all

If someone is a candidate for high elected office, it is reasonable for voters to ask that candidate any questions they like. And it is reasonable for the candidate not to answer, should they not wish to (though that may of course cost them votes). When someone is running for vice-president they know (or at least ought to know) that their life is going to be put under a microscope. It’s arguable that the USA would be better governed if this was not the case, but

i) without families like this our nation would have no chance of affording the social welfare programs proposed by the Democratic Party.

I’m not sure that’s true; it doesn’t seem to be that the Palin family are a particularly wealth-producing lot. Consider Sarah Palin: the only productive jobs she seems to have done are a brief stint as a sports reporter for KTUU-TV, and helping out with her husband’s fishing business.

Todd Palin works in fishing and oil drilling; according to Wikipedia “Financial statements filed in 2007 state that Palin earned $46,000 from his fishing business and $46,790 from BP” which I would say makes him solidly middle-class and a productive member of society.

Their oldest son, Track, is in the army. I have nothing against people choosing a military career — its a perfectly good and respectable career to choose — but armies don’t produce wealth, indeed they use it up.

The middle three children are all in school; so clearly they aren’t producing wealth (though they might be in the future).

The youndest son, Trig, has Downs Syndrome and is likely to be a net recipient of wealth over his lifetime.

Given that Sarah probably earns a good deal of money as Governor of Alaska, I’d be very surprised if the Palin family didn’t take more from the public purse overall than give back to it.

Not that money is everything (or the sole determinant of how much someone should be esteemed) of course.

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5 Responses to Tyler Cowen on the Palin family

  1. Kimmy says:

    Does Levi have a job and Health Insurance? Maybe his mom-in-law can give him a job paid by the tax payers of Alaska.

    Maybe the other members of mommy’s health insurance company can support the new kid until Bristol turns 18.

    Isn’t lying to school officials to keep her daughter out of school a serious offense?
    I know at my school it would be.

  2. cabalamat says:

    Kimmy: Does Levi have a job and Health Insurance?

    I’ve no idea. (Levi is Bristol’s fiance BTW)

    Maybe his mom-in-law can give him a job paid by the tax payers of Alaska.

    But surely, no politician would misuse their power to dish out favours to their family? :-)

  3. Sarah Palin opposes sex education and favors abstinence instead.

    I wonder how that’s working out for you, Sarah!??

    I wonder what is says of her judgment.
    Oh, wait . . . maybe it was an immaculate conception!

  4. dadatroll says:

    Armies don’t produce wealth but rather use it up? That’s like saying the anti theft system does not increase the value of a Mercedes but rather slows it down.

  5. Mooser, Bummertown says:

    I do believe, if you look, you will find that Sarah Palin got some Alaska state Comission jobs, (possibly an energy company liason?) which paid about $122,000
    The fishing is not, by a long shot their main source of income.

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