The frustrations of Paul Krugman

Mr Grey Ghost, formerly a (very) occasional writer on the old site, and the proprietor of Politik Ditto, pointed out this article to your Editor:


Krug attacks!


The nation’s most dangerous economist, Paul Krugman, releases another book with his only idea for Dems — spend more money
Last Updated: 8:53 AM, May 27, 2012 | By Kyle Smith

When Paul Krugman dies, he’ll be primarily remembered for three things: He won the 2008 Nobel Prize in economics; he has been one of the world’s most-read and most-influential political pundits; and he said with total seriousness (watch the video) that a way to fix America’s economy would be for the government to spend a ton of money preparing for a nonexistent alien invasion because at least that would get people working.

I’ll save you the trouble of writing in with the riposte, “Where’s your Nobel Prize?” The Nobel committee is not infallible (the guy who invented the lobotomy and declared it “always safe” got a Nobel), but even if it was, Krugman’s award was not for political philosophy but for an arcane point of technical analysis, and even if it were for political philosophy, many economists with the opposite philosophy (Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, Friedrich Hayek) have also won the Nobel.

Other august winners include Le Duc Tho and Yassir Arafat.

As for the esteemed Dr Krugman’s suggestion that a way to fix our economy would be to prepare for an invasion by aliens from outer space, your Editor tried, but failed, to find an article with Dr Krugman’s position on President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.

Mr Smith’s article continues to note Dr Krugman’s combative and less-than-professionally-courteous style:

Krugman “writes with more vitriol than I find attractive,” writes Harvard economist and fellow Times columnist Greg Mankiw. He treats anyone who disagrees as “a mendacious idiot,” writes George Mason University economist Alex Tabarrok. “Krugman should stop bullying people,” wrote columnist Michael Kinsley.

Perhaps one can understand Dr Krugman’s vitriol: he believes that he knows the way out of our economic problems, but nobody in a position of authority is listening to him. The New York Times provides him with the greatest of public platforms, but responsible policy-makers are not putting his theories into practice. President Obama sort of tried to, with the ineffective 2009 stimulus plan, and the reaction of the public to the soaring debt was to kick out Democratic officeholders in the 2010 elections. But, given Dr Krugman’s very personal criticism of Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Boad of Governors and the man who hired Dr Krugman at Princeton, comparing him to the Borg, it seems rather improbable that the Chairman will be particularly disposed to giving the columnist’s positions much respect; Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People is obviously not among the many books Dr Krugman has read.

In a way, Dr Krugman is calling for a return to World War II. After a decade of President Franklin Roosevelt trying to end the Depression, the two men who really helped us get out of it were Adolf Hitler and Hideki Tojo. Other countries were at war, while we had an untouched and virtually untouchable industrial plant, capable of turning out war materiél at a prodigious rate. We were only half-started when the Japanese decided to up the ante and attacked Pearl Harbor.

However, there are several rather significant differences between now and the 1940s:

  • During the 1940s, the United States was an oil exporter, producing much more than we needed for ourselves; today, we must import petroleum;
  • During the 1940s, the United States was the world’s largest steel producer, and exporter; today, we are a net importer of steel;
  • The war materiél produced for World War II was rapidly expended, and had to be constantly replaced; production to ward off an invasion from outer space would quickly come to a halt unless the aliens really did attack;
  • By the end of the war, the United States had 45% of the world’s industrial capacity, because our European competitors so obligingly blown up each other’s; today, industrial capacity is spread across the world; and
  • Our huge deficits in the 1940s were produced by borrowing from ourselves, and in 1946, only 1% of our national debt was owed to foreigners; in January of 2011, 47% of the debt held by the public was held by foreigners, and we cannot borrow the kind of additional money Dr Krugman would like to see us borrow solely from within.

We remained the world’s premier exporter for several years after the war, and that balance of trade surplus enabled us to get our debt down to more manageable levels. But in 1975 we ceased being a net exporter, and have been a net importer ever since. Whatever stimulus Dr Krugman sees as occurring from preparing to fight the little green men would quickly be eaten up by the staggering debt repayments which would leave this country to repay foreign debt holders, as well as the dollars that would leave to continue to buy foreign goods.

Now, to be fair, Dr Krugman’s suggestion was that “we have to get a bunch of scientists to tell us that we’re facing a threatened alien invasion, and in order to be prepared for that alien invasion we have to do things like build high-speed rail,” rather than build war materiél, but that only clarifies the silliness of his proposals. The space aliens part was just a gimmick to make it a national security issue, but the fact is that there is just no real market for high speed rail service, other than in the densely populated northeast corridor, where it already exists! Passenger rail service disappeared from the private market decades ago, because the traveling public chose other methods: automobiles and airplanes. The Congress created Amtrak to take over that market, but despite seemingly annual projections that eventually Amtrak would make a profit, it does not, save on a few heavily-used routes in the northeast corridor.

In a way, it seems that Dr Krugman has bitten hard on the in-fashion liberal idea of high-speed rail — for which there is no real market beyond the imaginations of the urban hipsters like Amanda Marcotte — without considering its other implications. One reason that passenger rail faded is that the American people, with ever-better highways available, chose to travel by automobile rather than rail. It took about the same amount of time, and it was door-to-door travel, without the necessity of separate travel to the train station and renting a car at the destination train station. If high-speed rail really was to make a serious impact on long-distance travel, then government expenditures on highways would decrease, meaning that the stimulus effect Dr Krugman sees in building the high-speed rail system would be countered by the loss of jobs in highway construction and maintenance. One would also assume a decrease in airline traffic, meaning that some of the airlines would go out of business, costing multiple thousands of jobs. Any way you look at it, Dr Krugman’s proposal doesn’t make much sense.

Economically, Dr Krugman’s proposal would be a better one if those space aliens actually did attack! :)

120 Comments

  1. Not at all, Eric. With no cooperation, there is no chance for government, thus no chance for needed democratic principles to be exercised.

    Why should we cooperate with something we see as wrong?

  2. Why should we cooperate with something we see as wrong?

    The art of compromise is to give and take, a principle which has been lost since President Obama took the oath of office, not that he did not try to work with the Repubs.

  3. Perry, what a stinking load of horseshit you’re pushing here. Obama doesn’t compromise, he all but dictates. His first two years were anything but an attempt to compromise.

    He had veto proof majorities in both houses of Congress, and he used those majorities to ram his legislation down the throat of both the GOP and the American public. Democrats went so far as to lock GOP congressmen out of hearing rooms. Compromise my ass!

    You may pretend not to remember, but Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, and especially ObamaCare are examples where Obama abused his position to bribe enough Democrats that he didn’t need a single GOP vote.

    Now, you lie your ass off and whine the GOP won’t roll over and kiss Obama’s ass. Well, we have only 4 more months to go before we rid the nation of this arrogant two-faced despicable bastard.

  4. The art of compromise is to give and take, a principle which has been lost since President Obama took the oath of office, not that he did not try to work with the Repubs.

    Again, this is a complete load of hooey as I demonstrated a few weeks ago. But constant repetition must be the tactic of easily gullible … aka PAP.

  5. Except, Perry, you DON’T believe in compromose. You hate our guts, judging by the foul names you call those on our side (Terrorist, dictator, etc.). Why on Earth would we be stupid enough to “Compromise” (Translation: capitulation) with people who think like you?

  6. Perry wouldn’t be whining about compromise now if the voters in 2010 hadn’t elected a GOP majority in the House of Representatives. It would still be like it or lump it, or some sort of similar high-handed insult.

    Recall the towering arrogance of Nancy Pelosi’s revealing pronouncement that once the Health Care legislation was passed we would find out what was in it. Now, recall the Democrats pledge when they took office in 2008 that all legislation would be available on-line for at least 3 days before a vote would be taken so people would have a chance to read and understand what was being proposed.

    That is a clear example of the disconnect between what Democrats say and what they do. There is no connection. Ignore anything that comes out of the mouth of a Democrat, they’re liars, nothing but liars.

  7. Want another example? Obama told us that his Stimulus Bill was needed in order to keep unemployment under 8%. All those shovel-ready jobs were just out there just waiting to put Americans back to work. Great leadership!

    What he didn’t tell us was he was going to use our money to fund his dirty gang of corrupt campaign contributors so they could squander what was left over after they kicked back most of the money to Obama’s 2012 campaign.

  8. “Except, Perry, you DON’T believe in compromose. You hate our guts, judging by the foul names you call those on our side (Terrorist, dictator, etc.). Why on Earth would we be stupid enough to “Compromise” (Translation: capitulation) with people who think like you?”

    Extension is a marvelous phenomenon, isn’t it Eric? But it does not work! It does not work to extrapolate your feelings towards others. So no, Eric, I do not hate you, although I vigorously oppose your ideology.

  9. “Ignore anything that comes out of the mouth of a Democrat, they’re liars, nothing but liars.”

    That’s a mighty broad generalization from one example given, ropelight, therefore invalid.

    “Want another example? Obama told us that his Stimulus Bill was needed in order to keep unemployment under 8%. All those shovel-ready jobs were just out there just waiting to put Americans back to work. Great leadership!”

    If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were joking, ropelight. The 8% was an estimate, a goal, so sure the President was wrong, but that does not make it a lie, except to a member of the Party which lies as a routine, for example, that we have a serious voter fraud problem which justifies the voter suppression effort being undertaken by Republicans, focused on important battleground states like your own, ropelight. It was indeed voter suppression by your Republicans in your state in 2000 which literally changed the course of history and set the stage for the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 which lingers to this day, with you Republicans lambasting our President and the Dems for not fixing it fast enough.

  10. Perry, it was Black Panthers in front of the polls with clubs intimidating white senior citizen voters, and it was Obama’s Attorney General and his so-called Department of Justice that looked the other way. That was real, not some lie like the ones you regularly spew.

  11. Perry, if the 8% was only an estimate then you’ll be able to provide some contemporaneous statement from Obama identifying it as a general goal and not another one of your wishy washy after-the-fact attempts to explain away another one of Obama’s whoppers.

    Sort of like all those millions of jobs he was going to create, which shortly became jobs he was going to save or create, which have now become largely imaginary.

  12. If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were joking, ropelight. The 8% was an estimate, a goal, so sure the President was wrong, but that does not make it a lie, except to a member of the Party which lies as a routine, for example, that we have a serious voter fraud problem which justifies the voter suppression effort being undertaken by Republicans, focused on important battleground states like your own, ropelight. It was indeed voter suppression by your Republicans in your state in 2000 which literally changed the course of history and set the stage for the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 which lingers to this day, with you Republicans lambasting our President and the Dems for not fixing it fast enough.

    As I wrote earlier, “But constant repetition must be the tactic of easily gullible … aka PAP.”

    And not only is Passive-Aggressive Perry’s idiotic diatribe a repetitous piece of garbage, it is an outright lie. There were no voter suppression efforts by the GOP in FL in 2000. This is the stuff of la-la land …. of Truthers and Birthers and moon landing deniers. (Keep in mind that Passive-Aggressive Perry also believes the GOP “stole” the 2004 election too, somehow by “some” shenanigans in Ohio.) His party needs fraud in order to win. Dead people kept on rolls who somehow manage to “vote.” People with multiple registrations. More people voting than actually live in an area. This is commonplace in big urban areas, classic Democrat strongholds. Just look at 1960. Keenedy had no chance without the fraud that occurred that year.

    That is a why commonplace, everyday measures like showing a photo ID is appalling to numbskulls like Passive-Aggressive Perry. I have to show a photo ID to give blood tomorrow. But don’t DARE ask me to show one to elect the president of the free world, no sirree!! That is “suppression!!” Maybe I’ll ask the blood bank if me having to show ID is “hemotological suppression.”

    It boggles the rational mind. Perhaps that is why Passive-Aggressive Perry is in a distinct (yet whiny vocal) minority on this issue. He is one of the mere 25% or so who believe showing a photo ID at a polling place is evil incarnate. That is a good thing.

  13. It was indeed voter suppression by your Republicans in your state in 2000 which literally changed the course of history and set the stage for the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 which lingers to this day

    This is more proof that you’re a left wing extremist who believes in bizarre conspiracy theories. Left wing extremists like yourself are notably unwilling to compromise, and invariably see their political opponents as enemies, as you clearly do.

  14. That is a why commonplace, everyday measures like showing a photo ID is appalling to numbskulls like Passive-Aggressive Perry. I have to show a photo ID to give blood tomorrow. But don’t DARE ask me to show one to elect the president of the free world, no sirree!! That is “suppression!!” Maybe I’ll ask the blood bank if me having to show ID is “hemotological suppression.”

    It should be noted that people opposed to voter ID are using essentially racist arguments, in that they apparently believe blacks and other minorities are too stupid and lazy to get an ID whereas whites apparently are not.

  15. [Personal threat deleted; please refer to Comments & Conduct Policy. -- Editor]

    Keep it up, koolo, all the more reason that I must stay on here to push back at you and your extremist, obnoxious colleagues; so look forward to much more as long as you continue your outrageous and childish behavior.

    “Unreal. Still further evidence of the sort of … “person” Passive-Aggressive Perry is. Calling the man who graciously offered up his own bandwidth for PAP to set up his own blog “chickensh**” That’s class, alright. That’s gratitude, alright.”

    That was in reference to a specific behavior, not a general statement. Besides, it is no business of yours whatsoever what our Editor decides to do, or decides not to do. I do understand your tactic very well, however, an underhanded move for sure. Have you no confidence in our Editor, koolo? Seems you don’t!

    “Guess what — I wasn’t suspended for threatening others, scumbag.”

    You should have been, for disobeying our Editor’s request for civil behavior, instead disgorging an unlimited barrage of personal attacks, as if that’s all you know how to do. What a failure and a loser you are for that behavior!

    [The Editor should have been more diligent in policing this thread, because the name calling has gotten out of hand. However, threats to someone else's job are completely intolerable. I am aware that there are some people who really do not like each other here, but threats, even "Just sayin’, not threaten’n!!!" are wholly unacceptable. -- Editor]

    Perry, the Editor said it was a threat. The Editor said it is wholly unacceptable.

    It was a threat. It was wholly unaccepable.

    Period.

  16. “The Editor should have been more diligent in policing this thread, because the name calling has gotten out of hand.”

    John, our Editor said this has “gotten out of hand”. It is wholly unacceptable. Your language is included. Own up to it and decease. Period.

    Pot…..kettle, John!

    I happen to disagree with our editor on what is and what is not a threat. No matter, it is his blog, his rules, period. I’ll honor that on here, how about you doing the same, John?

  17. We see the same sick dog returning to his vomit yet again. Perry, you continue to besoil yourself, you’ve been called out, denounced, suspended, and yet you misbehave again.

    I don’t know how many transgressions the Editor will tolerate before he puts you down, but he’s already had cause enough, twice over.

  18. That was on John Hitchcock’s most recent post, ropelight did you notice that?

    Nevertheless, you are one of the worst offenders on here, like your post directly above. Moreover, you have yet to call out one of your ideological colleague’s misbehaving even once. Why is that, ropelight?

    So what is one to make of your continuingly nasty critiques? Nothing, because they are useless and worthless, considering the source, that’s what!

  19. What’s that, have I mistakenly attributed a comment to Perry which wasn’t his? Perry, I apologize. It was my mistake and I should have noticed, or double checked. Again, my sincere apologies. I’ll try not to do it again.

    Please delete my comment. I’ve abused Perry in error and for a transgression not his.

  20. Indeed, be careful rope, else Passive-Aggressive Perry will put you in his crosshairs next. That’s precisely the type of “person” he is.

Comments are closed.