The Dissertation v. CMR

Dear Group,

Lisa Brown earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and economics from the University of Illinois in 1978 at the age of twenty-two, and a Masters in economics from the University of Colorado in 1981. In 1986, at the age of thirty, Lisa Brown submitted her doctoral dissertation “in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy” in the Department of Economics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Submitting a doctoral dissertation is a remarkable achievement. Writing one requires months of preparative reading, critical thought, organization, and consideration of the chosen topic from all angles. Once written and submitted the doctoral candidate must demonstrate a command of the topic in an oral “defense,” a exercise in thinking on one’s feet. A dissertation grows out of years of academic preparation. 

Lisa Brown’s dissertation is entitled “Science and Ideology: Neoclassical Economics and Women’s Labor Supply.” It is one hundred and seventy-three typewritten pages long followed by twelve pages of bibliography. It is not easy reading for someone not immersed in the study of economics, but the gist is clear after a little study. Brown lays out the underlying gender assumptions (ideology) of “neoclassical economics” and presents a reasoned critique of those assumptions in light of gender work roles. The dissertation shines some light on where then current economic models might fall short on account of the unconsciously embedded point of view of economists who constructed the models.

I know too little about the state of economic modeling today, thirty years later, to know if Lisa Brown’s dissertation is often cited in the economics literature. An internet search for the title yields only one hit, a pair of apparent Spokanites discussing it briefly on Reddit in the context of the current election. Like many theses and dissertations, Lisa Brown’s work serves largely as a demonstration of the intelligence and diligence necessary to deeply understand a topic, analyze it, and draw reasoned conclusions, certainly the sort of ability I want my Representative to possess.  

Kip Hill wrote an article for the Spokesman on September 6 entitled (in the on line version), “Lisa Brown thesis from 1986 prompts new GOP attacks.” In it, Mr. Hill links to an article in the Washington Examiner (a right-leaning mostly internet newspaper in D.C.) entitled, “Democrat running against Cathy McMorris Rodgers inspired by socialists, communists, anarchists.” The article posts the dissertation in its entirety (apparently disregarding fact it has a copyright, but never mind…)  I doubt the Washington Examiner writer, Katelyn Caralle, (previously associated with the Heritage Foundations and the Washington Free Beacon) bothered to read the dissertation and she certainly did not expect anyone else would either. The best condemnation she could come up with was based on one sentence in the acknowledgements that mentions inspiration from (among others) two women activists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Emma Goldman, both feminist thinkers with lengthy bibliographies, both of whom were dead before Lisa Brown was ten years old. Caralle’s breathless piece cherrypicks the juiciest bits of the lives of these two woman to come up with the smear buzzwords, “socialists, communists, anarchists.” For any thinking person this should be a stretch too far.

I want a Representative who is intelligent, reads voraciously, listens, and is able to command detailed material. Lisa Brown’s thesis, written more than thirty years ago, (as well as all her subsequent legislative work) well demonstrates those abilities. 

Where are the writings actually authored by McMorris Rodgers? What is her command of economics beyond her thin talking points? What is her intellectual depth? There are clues in statements on climate change and healthcare economics,

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. A very similar story to the one that appeared in the Washington Examiner appeared Thursday, September 12 in the Washington Free Beacon another right biased conservative website with the title “Dem Congressional Candidate Repeated Her Admiration for Radical Labor Leader in 2017.” No surprise there, considering the link with the other author and the conservative media ecosystem. Expect to hear more of this from their echo chamber.