Megan McArdle

Megan McArdle

Megan McArdle (born January 29, 1973) is a journalist and blogger based in Washington, D.C.. She writes mostly about economics, finance and government policy from a libertarian perspective.[1]

She began her writing career with a blog, "Live From The WTC", started in November 2001. In 2003 The Economist hired her to write for their website, and since then she has worked full-time as a journalist and editor, both online and in print. Publications she has worked for include The Economist, The Atlantic, Newsweek/The Daily Beast and Bloomberg View. She was a Bernard L. Schwartz fellow at The New America Foundation.[2] She has also published book reviews and opinion pieces in the New York Post, The New York Sun, Reason, The Guardian[3] and[4]

Early life and education

McArdle was born and raised in New York City. Her father, Francis X. McArdle, was former managing director of the GCA (General Contractors Association of New York)[5] during the Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani administrations. Her mother, Joan McArdle, was a real estate broker for Prudential Douglas Elliman.[6]

McArdle attended high school at Riverdale Country School.[7] Afterwards, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a B.A. in English literature. She then earned an MBA from University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.[8]

During her junior year of college, she worked as a canvasser for the Public Interest Research Groups, the nonprofit founded by Ralph Nader. Her experience there hurried along her “transition from ultraliberal to libertarian.” The organization was, she later wrote, “the most deceptive, evil place I've ever worked.”[9]


Alan Miller, McArdle and Christopher Hayes at a NY Salon discussion

McArdle began blogging in November 2001; her blog was originally called "Live From The WTC", because she was working at the time for a construction firm doing cleanup at the World Trade Center site following the September 11 attacks. She wrote under the pen name "Jane Galt". The name was a play on "John Galt", the name of a central character in Ayn Rand's Objectivist novel Atlas Shrugged; though her political perspective could best be described not as Objectivist but as moderate libertarian or classical liberal. In November 2002 she renamed the site "Asymmetrical Information", a reference to the economics term of the same name. That blog had two other occasional contributors, Zimran Ahmed (writing under the pen name "Winterspeak"), and the pseudonymous "Mindles H. Dreck".

McArdle achieved some online fame in May 2003 for coining what she termed "Jane's Law", in a blog post.[10] The law, written with regard to the two main U.S. political parties, Republicans and Democrats, reads: "The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane." Another well-known post of hers, from April, 2005, discusses why she takes no position on the issue of same-sex marriage; she wrote, "All I'm asking for is for people to think more deeply than a quick consultation of their imaginations to make that decision... This humility is what I want from liberals when approaching market changes; now I'm asking it from my side [libertarians], in approaching social ones."[11]

In 2003 McArdle was hired by The Economist to write for their website, in the "Countries" and news sections, and in October 2006 she founded the Economist's then-new "Free Exchange" blog.

In August 2007 McArdle left The Economist and moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a full-time blogger for The Atlantic, keeping "Asymmetrical Information" as her blog's name.[12]

In 2009, she criticized an article in Playboy by eXiled Online editors Mark Ames and Yasha Levine, detailing the influence of the Koch brothers in American and Tea Party politics. Playboy took down the article in response to the flak.[13][14]

By 2010, McArdle had also become The Atlantic's business and economics editor. In February 2010, her blog lost the title "Asymmetrical Information", as The Atlantic switched to having every blog (except Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish) be identified solely by its author.[15]

In June 2012, McArdle left The Atlantic, and started writing for Newsweek/The Daily Beast.[16]

In June 2013, McArdle announced that she was departing Newsweek to join Bloomberg View as a columnist.[17]

McArdle is an occasional television and radio commentator, having appeared on The Kudlow Report,[18] Fareed Zakaria GPS,[19][20] and American Public Media's Marketplace.[21]

Dave Weigel called McArdle "the original blogger-turned-MSM journo".[22]

In 2012, David Brooks called McArdle one of the most influential bloggers on the right, writing that she is among those who "start from broadly libertarian premises but do not apply them in a doctrinaire way."[23]


Ron Paul

McArdle has been critical of the libertarian politician Ron Paul, taking him to task for not strongly disavowing racist statements that appeared in his newsletters,[24] arguing against his championing of tax credits, and accusing him of lacking specificity about cutting government spending.[25] McArdle was also quoted as saying that Ron Paul "doesn't understand anything about monetary policy," and that "he wastes all of his time on the House Financial Services Committee ranting crazily."[26]

U.S. automotive bailout

In late 2008, McArdle wrote extensively against a proposed federal bailout of the U.S. auto industry (which ultimately occurred in early 2009). In November 2008, various of McArdle's blog posts on the subject were quoted approvingly by conservative commentators David Brooks,[27] Michael Barone[28] and John Podhoretz,[29] among others.

National health care

Since 2009, McArdle has argued extensively against instituting a system of national health insurance in the United States, and specifically against the federal health care reform bill the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was passed in March 2010. In addition to a number of blog posts on the subject, she also wrote an article on the subject, "Myth Diagnosis", in the March 2010 Atlantic.[30]

In a July 2009 blog post, McArdle listed two reasons that she objected to such a system: first, that it would stifle innovation, because "Monopolies are not innovative, whether they are public or private," and second, that "Once the government gets into the business of providing our health care, the government gets into the business of deciding whose life matters, and how much."[31] Commentator Ezra Klein of the Washington Post criticized this post, writing, "In 1,600 words, she doesn't muster a single link to a study or argument, nor a single number that she didn't make up (what numbers do exist come in the form of thought experiments and assumptions). Megan's argument against national health insurance boils down to a visceral hatred of the government."[32]

In an August 2009 post, McArdle reiterated, "My objection is primarily, as I've said numerous times, that the government will destroy innovation. It will do this by deciding what constitutes an acceptable standard of care, and refusing to fund treatment above that. It will also start controlling prices."[33]

In a comment to that post, McArdle stated, "The United States currently provides something like 80–90% of the profits on new drugs and medical devices. Perhaps you think you can slash profits 80% with no effect on the behavior of the companies that make these products. I don't." In a subsequent Washington Post online chat, a commenter asked her, "You said that medical innovation will be wiped out if we have a type of national health care, because European drug companies get 80% of their revenue from Americans. Where did you get this statistic?" McArdle responded that it was "a hypothetical, not a statistic." This was criticized in a blog post in The New Republic.[34] In response to this criticism, McArdle stated that she had misunderstood the question, and "thought the commenter was referring to the postulated hypothetical destruction of all US profits." She also stated that, though "there are no hard numbers available", she estimated that the U.S. contribution to pharmaceutical profits was at least 60%.[35]

The article "Myth Diagnosis" was quoted approvingly by conservative writer Timothy P. Carney of The San Francisco Examiner.[36]

Heartland Institute document controversy

In 2012 Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute claimed he had received "an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute's climate program strategy" to discredit global warming, and distributed what he claimed to be a Heartland "Strategy Memo"[37] In a series of posts in February 2012, McArdle argued that the alleged Heartland memo circulated by Gleick was faked.[38][39][40]

Personal life

McArdle married Peter Suderman, an associate editor for the libertarian Reason magazine, in 2010.[41] She was a vegan for a year in 2008, which she ended due to a soy allergy caused by Hashimoto's thyroiditis.[42] She has written: "I must stand up for vegan or vegetarian 'chicken' nuggets. They are delicious. Even though I now eat meat again, I still prefer the vegetarian version to the 'real' thing, especially after seeing what chicken nuggets are made from."[43]


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  1. "A Susbidy By Any Other Name Still Smells Rotteny " by Megan McArdle, The Atlantic, Sep 17 2009
  2. Megan McArdle Profile
  3. Megan McArdle "Profile" page on "Comment is Free" in Guardian, UK.
  4. Atlantic Wire Launches With (Media) Star-Studded Fete, FishBowlNY, September 23, 2009
  5. GCA is an advocacy group for the construction and concrete industry of New York City, describing itself on its website as dedicated "to promoting infrastructure investment, private development, fair contract provisions, enhanced bidding opportunities, and a safe work environment" for the industry.
  6. "Megan McArdle, Peter Suderman", Weddings and Fashion: NY Times (June 11, 20100.
  8. "The NormblogProfile 195: an interview with Megan McArdle", NormBlog, June 15, 2007
  9. "AFF Doublethink Online » What's Your Story?". 2013-01-29. Archived from the original on 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  10. McArdle, Megan (May 21, 2003). "Untitled". Asymmetrical Information. Archived from the original on May 23, 2003. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  11. McArdle, Megan (April 2, 2005). "A really, really, really long post about gay marriage that does not, in the end, support one side or the other". Asymmetrical Information. Archived from the original on April 6, 2005. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  12. McArdle Leaves The Economist For The Atlantic FishBowlDC
  13. "Dylan Ratigan Makes It Official: Mark Ames & Yasha Levine Broke The Koch Brothers’ Takeover Of America", March 24, 2011
  14. "Playboy dips a toe into investigative journalism", Mar 2 2009
  15. "Housekeeping Note", February 25, 2010
  16. "Farewell", June 10, 2012
  17. Bloomgarden-Smoke, Karen (17 June 2013). "Megan McArdle Leaves Newsweek for Bloomberg View". The New York Observer. Retrieved 1 July 2013. Megan McArdle is leaving Newsweek for Bloomberg View, where she will cover the economy, business, politics and national affairs as a columnist.
  18. End of the Recession?, The Kudlow Report, October 29, 2009
  19. Sunday Show Preview FishbowlDC
  20. Fareed Zakaria GPS Transcript, CNN, March 22, 2009
  21. Weekly Wrap: Another bubble?, Marketplace, Friday, November 13, 2009.
  22. Twitter / daveweigel: One odd thing about that NYT
  23. Brooks, David (2012-11-19). "The Conservative Future". New York Times. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  24. Ron Paul roundup, Megan McArdle, January 8, 2010
  25. Ron Paul on taxes, Megan McArdle, December 28, 2007
  26. Weigel, David (2010-12-10) Congratulations! Now Shut Up.: Why Ron Paul's newfound power both pleases and worries libertarians., Slate
  27. Bailout to Nowhere, David Brooks, The New York Times, November 18, 2008
  28. Detroit Automakers a Relic of the Past, Michael Barone, Human Events, November 15, 2008
  29. Bailouts Necessary and Unnecessary, John Podhoretz, Contentions, November 11, 2008
  30. Myth Diagnosis, Megan McArdle, The Atlantic, March 2010
  31. A Long, Long Post About My Reasons For Opposing National Health Care, Megan McArdle, The Atlantic, July 28, 2009
  32. "Megan McArdle's Case Against National Health Insurance. Sort of". The Washington Post.
  33. What Does It Mean To Have a Private Health Care System, Megan McArdle, August 13, 2009, The Atlantic
  34. Megan McArdle's Word Games | The New Republic
  35. Does the US Really Account for So Much Pharma Profit?, Megan McArdle, The Atlantic, September 2, 2009
  36. Turns out ObamaCare might not save hundreds of thousands of lives, Timothy P. Carney, The San Francisco ExaminerBeltway Confidential (blog), February 28, 2011
  37. Gleick, P.H., "The Origin of the Heartland Documents", 2012-02-20, Huffington Post.
  38. McArdle, Megan (2012-02-16). "Leaked Docs From Heartland Institute Cause a Stir—but Is One a Fake?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  39. McArdle, Megan (2012-02-17). "Heartland Memo Looking Faker by the Minute". The Atlantic. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  40. McArdle, Megan (2012-02-21). "Peter Gleick Confesses to Obtaining Heartland Documents Under False Pretenses". The Atlantic. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  41. "Megan McArdle, Peter Suderman". The New York Times. June 11, 2010.
  42. McArdle, Megan (31 July 2008). "The end of an era". The Atlantic.
  43. McArdle, Megan (2011-02-09) In Praise of Cheap Food, The Atlantic

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