When Kshama Sawant first ran for the Seattle Council in 2013, her background as a community college economics teacher was prominent enough that it gained national attention, though as something of a joke.
Well, Sawant is now trying to take her economic education in a new direction, to bully actual economics professors about their work on her pet issue, the $15 minimum wage. As reported by the Seattle Times, “Sawant is raising concerns about city-commissioned research into Seattle’s landmark minimum-wage law and about public comments by one of the University of Washington professors leading the effort.”
It seems that Sawant is a bit upset not so much that the research on Seattle’s misguided minimum wage law might be wrong, but it could blunt her efforts for national attention, saying “I’m not only concerned that we’re in danger of drawing erroneous conclusions about Seattle’s minimum-wage increase — I’m concerned about the consequences that could have on the nationwide fight for $15 (per hour).”
In typical Sawant fashion, she not only attacked the message, but the messenger. “In a letter addressed to Vigdor on Tuesday, Sawant questioned the study’s methodology and Vigdor’s objectivity.”
The UW professors refused to take Sawant’s attacks without a same-day response. According to the Times, “a letter replying to Sawant on Tuesday, Vigdor and 10 other UW researchers, including several professors, said their work is a collective project.
“ ‘The research products generated by the minimum-wage study team are the work of all team members and not one member,’ they wrote. ‘The entire team has participated in discussion around research design, analysis, interpretation and presentation of results. We have taken great care to discuss where we find the evidence most compelling and where we are most uncertain. We believe our report reflects this care and caution.’”
Of course, Sawant has rarely been as concerned with “care and caution” as she has been with getting media attention. Whether it’s being arrested and comparing herself to “all the best activists in the past and in the present”, or going on a field trip to a police station so she could take pictures for her web site, Sawant is always putting herself in front of the cameras.
And in this case, putting her “academic” approach – which is ideologically driven – ahead of a team that is actually willing to let the data speak for itself.