Dave Brat and Deirdre McCloskey

Something rather remarkable has happened in American politics. An incumbent has been ousted in the primaries. What’s more, it’s house majority leader Eric Cantor. A house majority leader lost… in the primaries. A first time for everything. Needless to say, the press has been in a tizzy.

Quoth Tyler the Cowen: “”Brat loves Deirdre McCloskey” is surely worth a blog post from…someone.”

Challenge accepted.

From Brat’s “Protecting Values” page (here)  (emphasis added):

As our congressman, Dave Brat will oppose any efforts to allow those who entered this country illegally to cut in line, violate the rule of law and take jobs and tax dollars away from hard working Americans who have played by the rules.


Dave will protect the rights of the unborn and the sanctity of marriage, and will oppose any governmental intrusion upon the conscience of people of faith.

Dave Brat cites McCloskey approvingly here. Le quote (emphasis added):

“Economic growth is important. Without economic growth, the entire world was trapped at incomes of $500 per year until about 1800. Today, the average American worker is closer to $50,000.

“What caused this massive increase in human welfare? The basic lecture in economics would tell you the answers are capital investment, education and technological advances.

“However, Deidre McCloskey’s work reveals that virtue may in fact be the one major cause of all causes of economic growth.

“About 1800, some countries in northwestern Europe began to socially validate and value and even praise the innovator class — the geeks. We called them morally good.

“Prior to this virtue story, other economists, such as Doug North and Brad DeLong, were  showing us how important property rights, the rule of law and even Protestant institutions were to economic growth in northern Europe.

“The latest in economic research shows that ethical ideas may matter just as much as traditional economic variables in generating long-run economic growth.”

I assume that given Brat’s interpretation of virtue, he’s not inclined to cite Auntie Deirdre’s most moving work (excerpt here) detailing her transition from Donald to Deirdre.

Look people. I’ve said it elsewhere, and I’ll reckon that if Professor McCloskey herself stops by, she might be inclined to endorse this sentiment, the best heuristic for governance we’ve stumbled on in the history of Western Civilization comes to us from Plato via Aristotle, Solon, and Adam Smith himself: the divine maxim to do no more harm to the nation than you would to your own parents. If you’d be willing to throw your own mother in the slammer because she’d dare fall in love with another woman or hire help from overseas, perhaps you’ve abdicated the moral high ground.

Cue Skwire’s First Law.

One thought on “Dave Brat and Deirdre McCloskey

  1. Samuel Hammond

    On the immigration point, I’d bet Bratz hesitated answering the minimum wage question because of the Ron Unz argument (ie it prices out low skill foreign workers)

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