Krugman vs. Friedman

Here’s Paul Krugman:

Some have asked if there aren’t conservative sites I read regularly. Well, no. I will read anything I’ve been informed about that’s either interesting or revealing; but I don’t know of any economics or politics sites on that side that regularly provide analysis or information I need to take seriously. I know we’re supposed to pretend that both sides always have a point; but the truth is that most of the time they don’t.

And here’s Milton Friedman, from a book edited by Lanny Ebenstein:

In 1964–to the disgust and dismay of most of my academic friends–I served as an economic adviser to Barry Goldwater during his quest for the Presidency. That year also, I was a Visiting Professor at Columbia University. The two together gave me a rare entree into the New York intellectual community. I talked to and argued with groups from academia, from the media, from the financial community, from the foundation world, from you name it. I was appalled at what I found. There was an unbelievable degree of intellectual homogeneity, of acceptance of a standard set of views complete with cliche answers to every objection, of smug self-satisfaction at belonging to an in-group. The closest similar experience I have ever had was at Cambridge, England, and even that was a distant second.

The homogeneity and provincialism of the New York intellectual community made them pushovers in discussions about Goldwater’s views. They had cliche answers but only to their self-created straw-men. To exaggerate only slightly, they had never talked to anyone who really believed, and had thought deeply about, views drastically different from their own. As a result, when they heard real arguments instead of caricatures, they had no answers, only amazement that such views could be expressed by someone who had the external characteristics of being a member of the intellectual community, and that such views could be defended with apparent cogency. Never have I been more impressed with the advice I once received: “You cannot be sure that you are right unless you understand the arguments against your views better than your opponents do.

HT:  David Henderson.


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62 Responses to “Krugman vs. Friedman”

  1. Gravatar of JCE JCE
    19. October 2012 at 06:48

    why the ‘versus’?? i think they’re talking about the exact same thing: groupthink, and the constant reversion to ideology when confronted with arguments

  2. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    19. October 2012 at 07:07

    The quotes aren’t at odds.

    To take this to the extreme, I don’t need to constantly visit white-power websites to confirm my conclusion that it is nonsense.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. October 2012 at 07:16

    JCE, No they are talking about opposite things. Only someone blinded by ideology coulds possibly think they are tlaking about the same thing.

    Mark, You realize he’s talking about websites like Marginal Revolution, don’t you? Enjoy life in your bubble.

  4. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    19. October 2012 at 07:16

    Worse than Cambridge ….

  5. Gravatar of Cthorm Cthorm
    19. October 2012 at 07:17

    @JCE

    One is contemptuous of those he disagrees with, the other welcomes discourse with others. Friedman has the right of it, even if your only goal is to sharpen your blade.

  6. Gravatar of Cedric Cedric
    19. October 2012 at 07:18

    ^^^ These first two comments don’t get it at all. JCE, the “versus” is because one of these guys is making a real effort to understand and engage with his intellectual opponents, and the other is comfortable to ignore them. Mark, jesus dude, talk about false equivalence — the viability of racism is not on the same level as disagreements about academic ideas.

    Milton v. Krugman . . . the greatest public intellectual of all time v. the worst public intellectual of all time.

  7. Gravatar of david david
    19. October 2012 at 07:21

    You might gain the certainty that you, individually, are right, and only be able to watch in horror as the world of policy – not academia! – uses your sophistication against you: hence Krugman’s road to Damascus during the Bush administration.

  8. Gravatar of Kevin Donoghue Kevin Donoghue
    19. October 2012 at 07:26

    Well, what “conservative” sites regularly provide analysis or information that deserves to be taken seriously? No doubt blind squirrels find nuts now and then, but where do I go for right-wing writing comparable to that at, say, Crooked Timber? This is not a rhetorical question. I doubt that such sites exist, but if they do I’d really like to know about them. So would John Holbo I’m sure. In the meantime, if I want to read good, genuinely conservative writing I’ll go to Edmund Burke.

  9. Gravatar of Kevin Donoghue Kevin Donoghue
    19. October 2012 at 07:28

    Scott to Mark: “he’s talking about websites like Marginal Revolution, don’t you?”

    Wrong I think. Krugman regards Tyler Cowen as a concern-troll, not a conservative.

  10. Gravatar of david david
    19. October 2012 at 07:57

    @Kevin Donoghue – legal and jurisprudence, perhaps.

    Anyway, Slate Krugman was the sophisticated academic, and had more or less zero popular influence. Galbraith in his era was regarded as a lightweight. The monetary work that Friedman is most academically accomplished is where his popular supporters are most likely to despise him.

  11. Gravatar of Jake Jake
    19. October 2012 at 08:00

    Cedric said: “Milton v. Krugman . . . the greatest public intellectual of all time v. the worst public intellectual of all time.”

    Indeed. Even people that agree with PK should be able to see the difference.

  12. Gravatar of johnleemk johnleemk
    19. October 2012 at 08:00

    Kevin:

    National Review Online is pretty decent. Arguably Reason.com and EconLog too, though they are not strictly conservative. Yes, they’re extreme in some ways, but they seem like decent equivalents to Crooked Timber in my view.

  13. Gravatar of johnleemk johnleemk
    19. October 2012 at 08:00

    The Volokh Conspiracy is probably also a good conservative-/libertarian-leaning equivalent to Crooked Timber.

  14. Gravatar of david david
    19. October 2012 at 08:08

    EconLog was better with Kling; Henderson avoids the high academia and Caplan avoids policy-as-might-actually-happen discussion. Kling was willing to openly bite bullets to defend difficult ideas.

    Reason’s and NRO’s quality varies widely, and both have ideological outlooks that conflict with fine detail.

  15. Gravatar of James in London James in London
    19. October 2012 at 08:12

    Kevin Donoghue:
    Most conservatives are “concern trolls” too. Conservatives believe big government knows what’s best for you, just maybe a bit of a different idea about “best” than Krugman and his ilk. This “sides” thing is a bit ludicrous when consensus and centrism rules almost all of the time but still generates remarkable heat, as Jonathan Swift memorably satirised.

  16. Gravatar of Doug M Doug M
    19. October 2012 at 08:15

    JCE, Mark,

    Are you serious? The two quotes could not be more at odds!

    David,

    Freidman created the policy of income tax witholding. He was simultaneously the biggest adovacte of his time for smaller governement and the created the biggest enabler of big goverment.

    Keven Donaghue,

    I would suggest you sart with the Wall Street Journal opinon pages.

  17. Gravatar of Mikael Mikael
    19. October 2012 at 08:19

    Scott, you’re a smart guy, don’t ruin that perception by jumping on the disinformation bandwagon.

    You understand that you said that Krugman disregards Tyler Cowen and Marginal Revolution? Do you believe that? Or are you just saying things that resonates with your audience (e.g. Paul Krugman – the worst public intellectual of all time)?

  18. Gravatar of david david
    19. October 2012 at 08:30

    @James in London

    “Concern troll” has a specific meaning, namely professing shared goals but having some concerns about how it is carried out. It is a rhetorical style that seeks to hide partisan opposition. It is not a generic pejorative relating to the paternalistic.

    @Doug M

    I submit that your notion of what makes government “big” is a little different from what Friedman, or indeed any thinker circa 1970, would have regarded as the most intrusive parts of government.

    And the WSJ opinion pages have a widely varying quality, too, depending on who is submitting opinions.

  19. Gravatar of ChacoKevy ChacoKevy
    19. October 2012 at 08:33

    Thank you, david. I feel like it always needs to be stated anytime there is criticism of Krugman; Bush happened and it radicalized him. He exchanged the academic role for a political one. It would be another thing if PK were actually granted his policy preferences. Market Monetarism, thankfully, appears to be gaining traction even without his vocal endorsement.

    But to try and defend him for a moment, why should Krugman engage conservative academia? I agree, Krugman should be a regular reader of MR and the like, but I don’t think MR is what Krugman is referring to when he thinks of conservative academia. He is probably thinking of Heritage, AEI and Cato. And they aren’t exactly open-minded either (see Frum, David).

  20. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    19. October 2012 at 08:59

    Alright alright, I rescind my comment. I do not agree with the sentiment that ALL conservative sources are a waste of time and should not be read regularly.

    I do say that it is a perfectly defensible comment to say that certain people/groups do very little to improve my utility and I avoid them. I stopped following John Taylor years ago when it became apparent most of his views were centered on supporting Republican politics and were logically challenged. Instead, my exposure to Taylor is limited to commentary sourced from sites like themoneyillusion that proved their merit.

    This is not what Krugman was saying…although maybe it’s what I hoped he was saying…

  21. Gravatar of johnleemk johnleemk
    19. October 2012 at 09:17

    ChacoKevy:

    Liberal think tanks like Brookings regularly engage with Heritage, AEI, and Cato; they host joint conferences and seminars together, openly work on projects together. I have all kinds of problems with the politics of these institutions, but as far as academic content goes, I don’t see a prima facie reason for declaring these institutions academically or intellectually devoid of value.

  22. Gravatar of mb mb
    19. October 2012 at 09:32

    FYI, an old WFB, Jr. quote:

    “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there ARE other views.”

  23. Gravatar of Mike T Mike T
    19. October 2012 at 09:49

    “I stopped following John Taylor years ago when it became apparent most of his views were centered on supporting Republican politics and were logically challenged.”

    >> And Krugman doesn’t fall into this category with his support for Dem politics? And yes, Paul “Broken Window Theory” Krugman can also find himself logically challenged at times.

  24. Gravatar of ChacoKevy ChacoKevy
    19. October 2012 at 09:54

    john,
    My dismissal of the think tanks I listed isn’t prima facie, but rather PRECISELY because of the politics of the institutions. It is clear that I’m more offended by it than you are. For the life of me, I don’t understand why Heritage isn’t parading in the streets declaring victory with the passage of Obamacare. Instead, when conservative ideas like the individual mandate become law, those ideas become disavowed and attacked, not defended.

    That’s what, to me, appears to be special about the Friedman/Goldwater excerpt from Scott’s post. It’s a case where the academic rubber hits the political road. It’s also why we don’t need to bother with Krugman as much as we do. He clearly doesn’t have anywhere near the impact on policy that Scott has.

  25. Gravatar of woupiestek woupiestek
    19. October 2012 at 10:03

    This is an example of salesman mentality. You should quickly convince people that you are on their side; that way you get your patrons/clients in the mood for business. Having a personal opinion that needs explanation will only get in the way. It is better to parrot popular opinion and to avoid debate.

    Who would have guessed New York is better suited to salesmen than to philosophers?

  26. Gravatar of MikeM MikeM
    19. October 2012 at 10:05

    @david

    Krugman has a widely varying quality, depending on whether he’s talking about Democrats or Republicans.

  27. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. October 2012 at 10:10

    Everyone, Krugman only provides two examples of biased conservatives in his post, Glenn Beck and Tyler Cowen.

    Krugman and his friends almost always call people like Tyler Cowen and I “conservatives” even though the label doesn’t really fit. I rarely see us called “classical liberal” or any other term than ‘conservative.’

    Krugman says there aren’t any conservatives worth reading.

    If you can’t connect the dots then you must be living in a bubble.

    I actually find it comical that people who like Krugman can’t take him at his word. His supporters either say “gosh, he can’t really have meant that” or “but that’s because he’s right, all conservative are morons.”

    My commenters are proving Friedman right, which gives me great satisfaction.

  28. Gravatar of Kevin Donoghue Kevin Donoghue
    19. October 2012 at 10:19

    johnleemk et al.,
    Thanks for the suggestions. I should probably visit National Review Online more often. I mostly see it when it becomes a butt of Roy Edroso’s jokes, but obviously that leads to a biased sampling of the content, with Jonah Goldberg getting undue weight. The Volokh Conspiracy of course presents a conservative view, but usually via legal issues. IANAL or even an American so whether the Second Circuit is sound on the Constitution doesn’t mean much to me. So AFAIAC, Volokh is not really a right-wing equivalent to Crooked Timber, which draws contributors from many nationalities and disciplines.

  29. Gravatar of Kevin Donoghue Kevin Donoghue
    19. October 2012 at 10:21

    “Everyone, Krugman only provides two examples of biased conservatives in his post, Glenn Beck and Tyler Cowen.”

    WTF?? Has he edited the post, or are you not reading your own links?

  30. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    19. October 2012 at 10:21

    How about Reynolds v. Piketty and Saez;

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/researchnotes/WorkingPaper-9.pdf

    ————quote————-
    In a 2005 comparison that included both income and payroll taxes among 24 leading countries, the OECD (2008: 104-106) finds, “Taxation is most progressively distributed in the
    United States . . . [and] least progressive in the Nordic countries, France and Switzerland.” The OECD finds the U.S. “collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10% of the population.”

    The top 10 percent in the U.S. received 33.5 percent of cash income in 2005, according to the OECD, but paid 45.1 percent of all income and payroll taxes. No other country in the sample had nearly as high a ratio (1.35) of the share of taxes paid to the share of income earned. Piketty and Saez are citizens of France, a country with one of the least progressive tax systems in the industrial world.

    Even aside from the fact that the U.S. has the most progressive tax system in the OECD, the pretax, pretransfer “facts about growing inequality” from Piketty and Saez, are entirely irrelevant to the topic of tax progressivity − for the obvious reason that they ignore taxes,transfers and refundable tax credits. The highest tax rates could be doubled and/or means-tested transfers to the poor tripled with no direct effect at all on income as Piketty and Saez define it, because their concept of income excludes taxes and transfers. As Brewer, Saez and Shephard point out, however, such policies would have huge indirect effects on reported pretax incomes for two reasons: “First, raising income taxes may weaken the labor supply and entrepreneurship incentives of middle-and high-income individuals who face the taxes. Second, income transfer
    programs may weaken the labor supply incentives of their recipients” (2010:93). Piketty and Saez presumably agree (with Brewer, Saez and Shephard). Perhaps that is why they prefer to dismiss the facts U.S. and European income tax progressivity rather than face the debate about the risks of weakening the “labor supply and entrepreneurship incentives” of high-income individuals with punitive marginal tax rates, or weakening work incentives of low and middleincome individuals by offering excessively attractive transfers from those who work to those who do not.
    ———–endquote———–

  31. Gravatar of Lars Christensen Lars Christensen
    19. October 2012 at 10:54

    Scott, excellent comment and you are very right about the “conservative” label. Tyler is certainly not a conservative. Saying that is just plainly idiotic. Furthermore, Tyler is significantly more open-minded that what Krugman ever was.

  32. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    19. October 2012 at 11:11

    Krugman regularly posts about those who disagree with him and provides arguments about why they are wrong. That’s not really consistent with the notion that he’s living in a bubble and ignoring a vast spectrum of opinion.

  33. Gravatar of ChargerCarl ChargerCarl
    19. October 2012 at 11:24

    When has Krugman ever called you conservative?

  34. Gravatar of Kevin Donoghue Kevin Donoghue
    19. October 2012 at 11:25

    Lars Christensen: “Tyler is certainly not a conservative. Saying that is just plainly idiotic.”

    But in this case it’s Scott Sumner who is describing Tyler as a conservative, no? So who is being idiotic, according to you?

    AFAICR Krugman has never described Tyler Cowen as a conservative, but that’s not to say he hasn’t done so at some time; I’d guess he’s more conservative, on most measures, than Krugman is.

  35. Gravatar of J Mann J Mann
    19. October 2012 at 11:42

    There’s a bit of a “no true Scotsman” when Krugman says “I don’t know of any economics or politics sites on that side that regularly provide analysis or information I need to take seriously.” Does Krugman think Marginal Revolution or Sumner are conservative? Who knows?

    Here would be my recommendation of sites or authors who might be good for Krugman’s style.

    - Reihan Salam, NRO
    - Ramesh Ponnuru, NRO
    - Pretty much anybody on The American Conservative, especially Larison and Millman
    - Russ Roberts’ EconTalk
    - Keith Hennessy
    - Mickey Kaus (really a neolib, but still . . .)

  36. Gravatar of johnleemk johnleemk
    19. October 2012 at 11:44

    ChacoKevy:

    Think tanks, for better or for worse, produce intellectual material to back up their political priors. That’s their job. I see no reason to get outraged about it, any more than I would be outraged by politicians lying.

    Kevin Donoghue:

    It’s pretty easy to agree on the philosophical definitions of leftism and left liberalism almost anywhere you are in the world. It’s much harder to agree on a universal philosophical definition of conservatism that goes beyond literally conserving institutions. You won’t find American conservatives who deeply care about the House of Lords or the monarchy, just as you won’t find Australian conservatives who deeply care about Jeffersonian democracy.

    Classical liberalism does deserve more attention, and it’s a bit puzzling that a classical liberal equivalent of Crooked Timber hasn’t popped up, but I would venture to say that’s because for all political intents and purposes, classical liberalism is basically dead.

  37. Gravatar of ChacoKevy ChacoKevy
    19. October 2012 at 12:04

    Charger Carl:
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/21/new-developments-in-the-political-business-cycle/

    “Update: Scott Sumner — who is a political conservative, and a neomonetarist — calls it treason.”

  38. Gravatar of Kevin Donoghue Kevin Donoghue
    19. October 2012 at 12:22

    johnleemk,
    I take your point about conservatism, it’s defined mostly by what it’s against: “standing athwart history yelling stop”. As for classical liberalism, I’d say that the problem is that it’s simply too harsh a doctrine to survive universal suffrage. John Stuart Mill could argue that famine relief would only encourage the Irish to continue breeding like rabbits, but 20th century liberals needed to soften their teaching to the point where they became hard to distinguish from social democrats.

  39. Gravatar of jason11 jason11
    19. October 2012 at 12:24

    The two quotes are strikingly similar until you get to Friedmans last line.

    Pretending that these viewpoints are at odds is certainly just a weak troll attempt by Sumner.

  40. Gravatar of wiretap wiretap
    19. October 2012 at 12:28

    But how would Krugman know what Sumner called it? He doesn’t read conservative sites.

  41. Gravatar of wiretap wiretap
    19. October 2012 at 12:45

    “Everyone, Krugman only provides two examples of biased conservatives in his post, Glenn Beck and Tyler Cowen.”

    You need more focus on semantics. Tyler Cowen wasn’t identified as a conservative in that post. Krugman linked to it for his argument that Republicans are more fiscally irresponsible than Democrats. Cowen’s only role was that he didn’t appreciate that fact to Krugman’s satisfaction.

  42. Gravatar of Bloix Bloix
    19. October 2012 at 12:46

    Um, Friedman has been dead for some time now. And he wasn’t much of a blogger.

    If you can find a living conservative blogger who will list the liberal blogs that he reads and profits from, then perhaps you have a point.

    PS- Krugman champions Friedman continuously, and argues that current conservatives have forgotten his teachings. So Krugman has no problem learning from Friedman. It’s the present-day ideologues that don’t interest him.

  43. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    19. October 2012 at 12:58

    Arguments are boring.

    Winning strategies are hot pastrami.

    The game is not a level playing field. We are not a parliamentary system. Our Constitution is strong on negative rights and weak on positive ones. States have real power. Democracy is’t assured, at least a Republic is. The Fed is an Independent thing, and hegemony.

    Said another way, we do not approach liberal / conservative tabula rasa.

    So it isn’t just that conservatives are yelling stop. It is that conservatives BUILT and OWN the country, and wrote many of the rules to frustrate liberals all day every day.

    And using this as our natural given home court advantage to work the refs, and have the crowd scream over their play calling, and make everybody stop while we wave the flag etc. etc.

    Well that may not be a “fair” fight, but this ins’t an intellectual exercise.

  44. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. October 2012 at 14:03

    J Mann, Krugman always refers to libertarian-leaning economists as conservatives. I wonder how many people even read Krugman, it seems like people here are denying the obvious.

    Thanks ChacoKevy, I thought I was going crazy for a moment.

    Jason11, ??????????????

    Wiretap, You are obviously wrong. Krugman is complaining about conservative “bloggers” (not Republicans) with a double standard, and cites an example where (supposedly) Cowen is giving the GOP a free pass. It’s plain as day.

    Bloix, You said;

    “If you can find a living conservative blogger who will list the liberal blogs that he reads and profits from, then perhaps you have a point.”

    Please tell me you joking. I know that many American liberals live in a bubble, but surely you are capable of reading the blogroll on the right column of this blog. Or do I have to read it for you.

    Everyone, Never before has the hypothesis in my post been so quickly confirmed in the comment section. Thanks for all the comments.

  45. Gravatar of Kevin Donoghue Kevin Donoghue
    19. October 2012 at 14:38

    “Everyone, Never before has the hypothesis in my post been so quickly confirmed in the comment section.”

    The hypothesis? Let’s see:

    Here’s Paul Krugman…here’s Milton Friedman…HT: David Henderson.

    So that’s your hypothesis? Well I’m glad you’ve confirmed it. You put so much work into it, it would be a shame not to get a result.

  46. Gravatar of Major_Freedom Major_Freedom
    19. October 2012 at 16:29

    I am doing the exact opposite of what Krugman is doing by visiting this site. That makes me someone who is doing what Friedman said one should be doing.

    That’s alright with me.

    Sumner, thanks for agreeing to debate Murphy in January. The promise of me not posting the entire time will be honored.

  47. Gravatar of philemon philemon
    19. October 2012 at 16:49

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned bleedingheartlibertarians.com so far. Not conservative conservative, for sure, but definitely in the “classical liberal” ballpark.

  48. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    19. October 2012 at 17:28

    If the following quote from Friedman describes a virtue:

    “Never have I been more impressed with the advice I once received: “You cannot be sure that you are right unless you understand the arguments against your views better than your opponents do.”

    Who here can accurately summarize a school of thought WAY outside their comfort zone: Steve Keen perhaps, or Antal Fekete? (just for a couple of examples). Or is that a “waste of time” (see the above quote).

  49. Gravatar of W. Peden W. Peden
    19. October 2012 at 18:34

    Tom Brown,

    Thomas Sowell is an example of a conservative writer who can do that* – see his book on Marxism, which is rather sympathetic until the very end, and A Conflict of Visions, which amazed me at the time because I’d never really thought of there being a “conservative philosophy” before or about the philosophical foundations of technocratic optimism.

    However, Sowell has the advantage of being an ex-Marxist. It’s much easier to reflect charitably on one’s own thinking at a different time in one’s own life than to do so for one’s opponents, partly because human beings have a proven tendency to ascribe a higher level of rationality to ourselves personally than to others.

    * Or could- he was a much more subtle and charitable thinker when he was younger; sometime around the LA riots he seems to have just lost all patience with the left. Most of his stuff since then, outside of his introduction-to-economics work, has been talk-show style preaching to the choir.

  50. Gravatar of Nick Ferguson Nick Ferguson
    19. October 2012 at 18:50

    “You cannot be sure that you are right unless you understand the arguments against your views better than your opponents do.”

    While I agree with the criticism of Krugman’s post, I don’t see this Friedman quote as a counterpoint. He’s talking about being “sure” that he’s “right”.

    I don’t find that any less arrogant than Krugman’s position, unless we’re saying that Friedman had correctly solved economics in 1964.

    On the other hand, it seems to me that Steve’s often not at all sure that he’s right, which is one of the reasons I find this blog so engaging — it provides food for thought rather than processed opinions.

  51. Gravatar of Saturos Saturos
    20. October 2012 at 03:16

    Krugman is a great economist.

    (That’s all I’ll say about that.)

  52. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    20. October 2012 at 06:18

    Saturos, No doubt about that.

  53. Gravatar of mbk mbk
    20. October 2012 at 06:25

    Scott,

    I never thought you’d have confirmation of your premise so fast and so thoroughly. I thought some commenters would deny it but many seem to be living so far down that hole themselves that they didn’t even understand your post.

    Also first time I see Major_Freedom making a restrained, self-reflecting, sensible comment and he’s spot on, he really _does_ what many don’t – he reads and debates things outside his own preferred opinion. And that has to be congratulated.

    I’d add add to that Friedman passage “… acceptance of a standard set of views complete with cliche answers to every objection… they had never talked to anyone who really believed, and had thought deeply about, views drastically different from their own. As a result, when they heard real arguments instead of caricatures, they had no answers”:
    I find this to still be true today and especially with many US-based academics. For some weird reason they appear more coccooned than people from other places, less aware of the existence of _reasonable_ people with other opinions than their own.

  54. Gravatar of Kevin Donoghue Kevin Donoghue
    20. October 2012 at 06:54

    While I was trying to recall where I first encountered the meme which Scott is perpetuating here (circa 1969 it turns out), I stumbled on something funny. (Well I thought it was funny.)

  55. Gravatar of Tony Hansen Tony Hansen
    20. October 2012 at 17:22

    Hear hear Saturos. Frightening intellectual stance though… I think you need to remember the type of time constraints Krugman would face, but no-one should blithely ignore opposing positions.
    Friedman though, I find it impossible to imagine a superior economist. When they sort out time-travel, he’ll be the first person I stalk, I can’t imagine a better use of such a device. No-one has ever more closely synthesised an understanding of how the economy would operate under ideal conditions.

  56. Gravatar of UART UART
    20. October 2012 at 23:21

    Bloix:

    “Krugman champions Friedman continuously…”

    Really? He “champions Friedman continuously”? Just off the top of my head:

    http://goo.gl/qNG4Z (bonus Sumner-bait from early 2009: the Fed has been “very aggressive”)
    http://goo.gl/1y9z8
    http://goo.gl/Bt4us
    http://goo.gl/AWSk

    “… and argues that current conservatives have forgotten his teachings”

    You’re right insofar as he mostly cites Friedman positively when he’s talking to hard-money conservatives and libertarians who insist that hyperinflation is imminent if Bernanke isn’t stopped, as in “even one of YOUR guys would agree with me on this.” The rest of the time, he seems to be engaged in an ongoing effort to undermine Friedman’s work and legacy, up to and including specious accusations of intellectual dishonesty, starting literally as soon as his corpse was cold. Given posts like “Friedman and Schwartz were wrong” above, it must be a little galling for him to watch the econosphere gradually come around to the conclusion that 2008 was a 24-karat Friedman event.

    And on the subject of Scott’s post, cliche objections and self-created strawmen, that last link above has one of the highest ignorance-to-word ratios of anything I’ve ever read from someone worth reading.

  57. Gravatar of UART UART
    20. October 2012 at 23:56

    Incidentally, the link to Nick Rowe I posted above (http://goo.gl/Bt4us) contains a Krugman quote that may give some insight into *why* he seems eager to reduce Friedman’s standing:

    “I’ve always considered monetarism to be, in effect, an attempt to assuage conservative political prejudices without denying macroeconomic realities. What Friedman was saying was, in effect, yes, we need policy to stabilize the economy – but we can make that policy technical and largely mechanical, we can cordon it off from everything else. Just tell the central bank to stabilize M2, and aside from that, let freedom ring!”

    So, in effect, proving Friedman wrong would have the salutary effect of stripping conservatives of the intellectual facade behind which they conceal their prejudices, thereby reopening the door to an “uncordoned” and more activist role for government. Which is not at all consonant with progressive political prejudices. At all.

    And, again incidentally, score N+1 for Krugman referring to libertarians as conservatives.

  58. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. October 2012 at 06:04

    UART, Indeed, and let’s not forget that Krugman was about the only major liberal economist to trash Friedman in a piece written right after he died. Krugman said Friedman was intellectually dishonest.

    Even DeLong was full of praise for Friedman.

  59. Gravatar of Kevin Donoghue Kevin Donoghue
    21. October 2012 at 06:25

    Krugman trashes Friedman:

    “In the long run, great men are remembered for their strengths, not their weaknesses, and Milton Friedman was a very great man indeed — a man of intellectual courage who was one of the most important economic thinkers of all time, and possibly the most brilliant communicator of economic ideas to the general public that ever lived.”

    Hey, that’s some trashing.

  60. Gravatar of Martin Martin
    21. October 2012 at 09:49

    OMG, Krugman said something some years ago, OMG, let’s talk about it, now. Krugman! I mean, Krugman said it, like – Krugman! – can you imagine?? Why, let’s look for some other Krugman quotes of this Krugman guy from some years ago!

    And Friedman, he is so good – I mean, soooo important, let’s emphasize this once more here by contrasting him to Krugman. And, Krugman, let’s further talk about Friedman’s importance by looking for texts and quotes where Krugman said something mean and unjust about Friedman. Ha! Look how much better Friedman was than Krugman! And how unfair Krugman was to Friedman! Sure – Friedman is so friggin imortant for this crisis that we should spend every other post talking about what Krugman said – let’s go meta on Krugman, for god’s sake, if there is nothing else. And if Krugman mentions Friedman, then, sure, we should talk about what Krugman said there, though perhaps not about Friedman. I mean, Krugman, basically. Oh, how I really don’t like this guy! Look at Friedman: you think Krugman is anywhere as important? Sucker! It can only be you ideological bias if you really believe that Krugman… and Krugman… and Krugman, too. And Delong was mean, too. It can only be your ideological bias if you think otherwise.

    Just to be clear: I’d really be interested in reading more about Friedman – especially how his contributions are imortant pertaining to the actual crisis. But there is never more than vague allusions that he is the greatest and that he would somehow have gotten it right this time around, too. That might well be right, but it isn’t really convincing in an of itself. Especially if the whole discussion is centered around Krugman again – the alleged topic regardless.

    The only ones more obsessed about Krugman than his fans are thos who are not his fans. This isn’t even a discussion about topics any more, it’s a pure obsession with Krugman’s persona.

  61. Gravatar of J Mann J Mann
    22. October 2012 at 04:44

    Scott,

    You’re right of course, but I was trying to anticipate Krugman. Whenever you make a defensible inference on what he is trying to communicate, Krugman (or more likely DeLong) says “Hey, nothing in the literal text says THAT.”

    So obviously nobody like you or Tyler shows up on Krugman’s list of frequently read sites (although Yglesias is at least presenting some of your ideas to him), and I’m sure that he considers you conservative, but I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest a few clearly conservative writers he might enjoy.

  62. Gravatar of You cannot be sure that you are right unless you understand the arguments against your views better than your opponents do « Nation of Beancounters You cannot be sure that you are right unless you understand the arguments against your views better than your opponents do « Nation of Beancounters
    26. October 2012 at 12:40

    [...] Advice passed on by Milton Friedman. Like this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

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