Monday, January 26, 2009

Krugman, a brilliant mind in action
Tom Smith

Here's Herr Doktor-Professor Krugman's argument today regarding those who dare criticize the idea of spending a trillion "stimulating" the economy at a time when it's hard to figure out how the US will maintain its ability to sell bonds in years to come:

Next, write off anyone who asserts that it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money. 

Here’s how to think about this argument: it implies that we should shut down the air traffic control system. After all, that system is paid for with fees on air tickets — and surely it would be better to let the flying public keep its money rather than hand it over to government bureaucrats. If that would mean lots of midair collisions, hey, stuff happens.  

I would point out that this is a straw man argument, but that would be an injustice to all the straw men in the world.  Krugman is actually lowering the standard of argument that prevails in the blogosphere, which is hard to do, since you can say whatever you want so long as it is not transparently stupid.  Is the idea that as long as you are not talking to other professional economists, you can say whatever ridulous thing pops into your head?  Ascribe whatever motives you imagine to whomever disagrees with you?  I cannot speak to Krugman's economics, but this guy has some serious character flaws. Well, I can speak some to his economics.  It isn't much of an argument to say fiscal stimulus is the only tool left in the bag.  Just because all you have left is a hammer doesn't mean you should start pounding on things.  Even in hard times, one would think spending a trillion bucks of other people's money would require something of a justification, beyond mere hope.  My guess is we will get a big stimulus, that it will not work but make things worse, and that the reputation of the macro-economists who told us to spend all this money will be much diminished, except of course in their own minds which for scientists are curiously impermiable to evidence.  I just wish we could start at the end and spare ourselves the pain.

Nobody's saying all government spending should be eliminated.  If you say to the 500 pound guy at your local McDonalds, maybe you shouldn't stuff that tenth Big Mac in your face, and he replies hysterically, "you're telling me I should starve myself!", well then, you have exactly the flavor of Krugman's argument.  No, Paul, nobody is saying we should eliminate air traffic control, though I must say, it works a lot better since the Gipper crushed its union, wouldn't you say?  And me, I like those yellow lines down the middle of roads and wish drivers out here in East County would pay more attention to them.  But that doesn't mean I think it's a good idea to throw a trillion dollars out the window at every porky project that hasn't been able to get through Congress for the last 8 or 14 years.  Even the Washington Post was embarrassed by the House bill.  Many of the projects in it are an insult to the hardworking pigs of America. It's not even fair to call them pork.  And Nancy Pelosi saying spending money on birth control will stimulate the economy?  Oh yeah, that's convincing.  I guess anyone who disagrees with that must be a right wing crank for sure.  My view is maybe less subsidized birth control would lead to more time working and less time in the sack.  

Krugman is making a strong argument that he is the one who should be ignored.  It is beyond ironic that he is accusing others of bad faith.  His style of argumentation is the very model of bad faith.  His faith is so bad he doesn't even recognize what he is doing.  Even the CBO has dared to point out the Act would not spend a lot of its stimulation until two years hence.  Are they idiots operating in bad faith too?

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Krugman, a brilliant mind in action
Tom Smith


"in the blogosphere . . . you can say whatever you want so long as it is not transparently stupid."

When was this rule adopted?

Posted by: Floridan | Jan 28, 2009 4:49:03 AM