The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Talking Policy with Columnist Megan McArdle

Megan McArdle is a Washington-based writer focused on the interrelationship of business, economics, and public policy. Her work has appeared in outlets including but not limited to The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, Newsweek, Time, and Businessweek. Her book, The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success, analyzes how failing well may turn out to be a key to success.

McArdle received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. When she graduated from business school in 2001, she had no intention of becoming a journalist. In fact, she had another job lined up in 2001, which ultimately did not work out and led her to an administrative position at the World Trade Center site.

During her tenure in this role, McArdle independently wrote for two years and blogged for five without pay before she began working as a journalist. Her writing included topics ranging from cooking to politics. Shortly after working at the World Trade Center site, she was offered a job at The Economist and she accepted. There, her job included blogging full-time and web editing.

When McArdle decided to move to Washington D.C., she met staff from The Atlantic, who were looking to revamp their web operations. Soon after, she became a columnist for Bloomberg. Both outlets allowed her to write about her two passions: food and politics.

“My readers like it, and it keeps me connected to them as someone who is more than just a political opinion,” says McArdle.

During the student coffee hour, McArdle discussed her libertarian views as well as their origin. Having grown up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, she was not generally exposed to libertarian thinking.

“I read Milton’s Free to Choose in my 20’s, but I felt self-conscious about the people around me judging me,” says McArdle. “That is, until someone who deceivingly fit the Upper West Side stereotype came up to me and said ‘good book’! It was like discovering the only other gay person in your small Iowa town. That’s when I realized something – you never know.”

As McArdle explained, her other watershed moment was when her father sent her Parliament of Horrors – a book she believes remains the best overview of Washington politics ever.

“One of the chilly things about the book is it was written right when George Bush was elected,” says McArdle. “Change a few names in these essays now and the main issues haven’t really changed.”

Hosted by the Rockefeller Center, McArdle spent the day conversing with students and staff on campus during her coffee hour and later at the public lecture.

-Written by Niki Bakhru '17, Student Program Assistant

The views and opinions expressed and any materials presented during a public program are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.

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