Don't Let Me Stop You

What the heck, you'll do what you want anyway.

The Perfect Krugman Slapdown

Posted by Dan Draney on March 8, 2010

I really can’t imagine how this could be improved upon. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal:

Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman takes note in his New York Times column of what he calls “the incredible gap that has opened up between the parties”:

Today, Democrats and Republicans live in different universes, both intellectually and morally.

“What Democrats believe,” he says “is what textbook economics says”:

But that’s not how Republicans see it. Here’s what Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, had to say when defending Mr. Bunning’s position (although not joining his blockade): unemployment relief “doesn’t create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.”

Krugman scoffs: “To me, that’s a bizarre point of view–but then, I don’t live in Mr. Kyl’s universe.”

What does textbook economics have to say about this question? Here is a passage from a textbook called “Macroeconomics”:

Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. . . . In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of “Eurosclerosis,” the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.

So it turns out that what Krugman calls Sen. Kyl’s “bizarre point of view” is, in fact, textbook economics. The authors of that textbook are Paul Krugman and Robin Wells. Miss Wells is also known as Mrs. Paul Krugman.

It seems Krugman himself lives in two different universes–the universe of the academic economist and the universe of the bitter partisan columnist. Or maybe this is like that episode of “Star Trek” in which crewmen from the Enterprise switched places with their counterparts from a universe in which everyone was the same, only evil.

Like Spock, the evil Krugman is the one with the beard.

If I only read one thing on the internet in a day, it’s Taranto’s Best of the Web. Read the rest of this one at Mirror, Mirror – WSJ.com.

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4 Responses to “The Perfect Krugman Slapdown”

  1. Uncle Wiggily said

    My fantasy of a perfect scenario would be for some giant (with an “I [heart] Sarah Palin” tattoo on his bicep) to use Tom Friedman as a club to beat Paul Krugman senseless, or to a bloody aspic – whichever comes first.

    Sorry … once every while I need to cough up a hairball …

    Uncle Wiggily

    • Dan Draney said

      That would indeed be something to see. I used to find Friedman thought-provoking. Now he’s just provoking. If he knew half as much as he thinks he does, he’d still be twice as smart as he really is.

  2. Mr. T said

    I agree completely that Krugman has been on a clearly leftist, ideological tear after being passed up for a cabinet position with Obama (if that is the inferred assumption). It says more about his ego than anything. Having said that, the Taranto piece is typical cut-and-paste/take-out-of-context bleh that adds nothing.

    From a practical standpoint, it looks like the Keynesians are coming close to declaring a victory of the moment.

    • Dan Draney said

      Mr. T,

      Welcome. Keynesian policies, once considered decisively refuted by the stagflation of Jimmy Carter, are indeed back in vogue. One would have to “credit” Krugman for part of that, although the idea that politicians should spend money like it’s going out of style will always find a receptive audience in the politicians. Perhaps Obama/Pelosi/Reid/Bernanke are on the cusp of destroying the reputation of Keynesian economics once and for all. We can hope.

      From my perspective Krugman went off the deep end long ago. I don’t ever remember him not being crazy, so I hadn’t noticed any change attributable to his lack of a cabinet appointment. Then again it would never have occurred to me that he might have been a candidate for a cabinet post either.

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