The paranoid style of American politics

Paul Krugman has a good post describing the Captain Queeg-like Wall Street Journal showing their usual paranoia about the left.

All of this follows on yesterday’s editorial asserting that the Minnesota senatorial election was stolen.

All of this is par for the course; the WSJ editorial page has been like this for 35 years. Nonetheless, it got me wondering: what do these people really believe?

He concludes that they don’t really believe this nonsense.  I slightly disagree with Krugman; I think the WSJ really is this paranoid.  This seems to me to be a perfect example of what Richard Hofstadter called “The Paranoid Style of American Politics” way back in the 1960s.”

Mr. Krugman may not realize it, but one can also find similar examples on the Democratic side of the spectrum, after they have lost close elections.  For instance here is the paranoid ranting of an embittered NYT columnist from 2003:

“Inviting Bush supporters to a fund-raiser, the host wrote, “I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.” No surprise there. But Walden O’Dell; who says that he wasn’t talking about his business operations; happens to be the chief executive of Diebold Inc., whose touch-screen voting machines are in increasingly widespread use across the United States.

.  .  .

But there’s nothing paranoid about suggesting that political operatives, given the opportunity, might engage in dirty tricks. Indeed, given the intensity of partisanship these days, one suspects that small dirty tricks are common. For example, Orrin Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently announced that one of his aides had improperly accessed sensitive Democratic computer files that were leaked to the press.”

In an even more egregious example, in 2005 this same reporter claimed that all post-election recounts showed that the 2000 Presidential election was actually won by Al Gore.  This was factually incorrect, and he later had to partially backtrack.

Some good came out of this episode, however, as it led the NYT to tighten up its standards for accuracy on the editorial page, and this highly opinionated reporter has noticeably improved his accuracy since 2005.

(PS.  This was meant to be amusing.  If people on the left and right take me seriously, I soon won’t have any friends at all.  And yes, I have made similar comments on many occasions.)



32 Responses to “The paranoid style of American politics”

  1. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    3. July 2009 at 08:48

    I notice that Krugman forgot to spell out just what facts the WSJ had wrong.

    However, Dennis Miller, who has been a personal friend of Al Franken for years, predicted on his radio program that Franken would find a way to prevail, shortly after the Minnesota election results. Strictly based on Franken’s personality.

  2. Gravatar of Alex Alex
    3. July 2009 at 09:05

    “…I soon won’t have any friends at all…”

    Not only that but your enemies are out to get you.Watch out!

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. July 2009 at 11:18

    Patrick, I made the same prediction, but not because I’m paranoid. I’ve noticed every recount swings slightly toward the Democrats (Florida, Washington State, Minnesota, etc.) I believe this is because Democrats are slightly more klutzy voters (no offense) and that some of their botched ballots get counted the second time around.

    Alex, Now you’re making me paranoid.

  4. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    3. July 2009 at 11:50

    Note well that “argument by genetic fallacy” is the great historic intellectual contribution of the left — found in the work of Marx, the Frankfurt School, and leftist op-ed writers working at the NY Times.

    And it was essentially what Hofstadter was up to, borrowing on a technique of German leftists (do I need to explain what Hofstadter was doing, or who he was borrowing from?)

    Krugman is clearly in this great, historic leftist tradition.

  5. Gravatar of Andrew C Andrew C
    3. July 2009 at 13:09

    I read Hofstadter’s book earlier this year and found it thoroughly fascination. I’m glad to see Mr. Sumner reference it. I agree that this is an excellent example of his thesis in action.

  6. Gravatar of Joe Slattery Joe Slattery
    3. July 2009 at 14:40

    Dr. Sumner,

    I just wanted to encourage you to continue to pursue your blogification. I bumped into one of your posts, which was cross-referenced at another blog, and then was intrigued by the Bentley link, as I am from the class of ’87.

    I sold my healthcare company at the peak (give or take) in 2007. Since then, in retirement I’ve joined the ranks of the many armchair economists by gorging myself on anything I can read on the subject. Thanks for providing your perspective and insights.

    Joe Slattery
    Class of ’87

  7. Gravatar of Libfree Libfree
    3. July 2009 at 15:49

    Krugman is right but I doubt for the right reasons. I don’t remember him defending the 2000 election when democrats cried about the election for 2+ years. Personally I doubt many “clean” elections occur but hopefully two dishonest sides cancel each other out. I’m a big believer in competition!

  8. Gravatar of Phil P Phil P
    3. July 2009 at 17:22

    You’ll still have friends, Scott, among independent thinkers. We happy few.

  9. Gravatar of Jon Jon
    3. July 2009 at 18:32

    Scott did you read the WSJ on the Minnesota recount? They made a very un-paranoid observation about strategy. To wit, they argued that the Republicans lost because they argued continually that the recounts were improper. Conversely the Democrats won because they went to each canvassing board in a Democratic leaning district and urged a recount using a broad acceptance standard. The republican districts toed the Republican line and stood pat. Its clear then how the Democrats swung the vote balance given that the courts were unwilling to override the administrative determinations of the canvassing boards (which isn’t surprising).

    This is about as un-paranoid as it gets. Krugman is dishonest and delusional. Paranoid in his book appears to be comprised of suggesting that the Democrats won not because ‘they were better’ but because they used a better strategy. Oh the horror.

  10. Gravatar of Jim Glass Jim Glass
    3. July 2009 at 18:58

    I don’t get the point.

    Krugman explicitly said: “But there’s nothing paranoid about suggesting …”

    So the paranoia possibility was fairly considered and dismissed. There was nothing paranoid about it.

    Similary, an enjoyable post by another recently spotted elsehwere wrote…

    “The gravity of America’s health care crisis is the moral equivalent of the 19th Century’s bloody conflict over slavery. This is not hyperbole.”

    So it wasn’t hyperbole.

    “Krugman is dishonest and delusional.”

    Well, yeah. But that’s not paranoid!

  11. Gravatar of Bill Stepp Bill Stepp
    4. July 2009 at 03:59

    Speaking of paranoia, if anyone is paranoid, it’s Krugman with his constant harping about the present as a rerun, or potential rerun, of the 30s. It is neither.

    I am no GOoPer, but it looks to me that the election in Minnesota was stolen. To which, I say: Yippee!~
    All elections are financed by at least some theft. After all, voting booths are financed with stolen money. Taxation is theft.

    I just hope that the Frankster adheres to the separation of comedy and state! If he doesn’t, I’ll be pushing for a recall–with stolen money!

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. July 2009 at 05:45

    Greg, Andrew, Joe, Libree, Phil, Bill.

    Thanks for the comments and support. Still the previous post was 100X more important, and has less comments so far, so check that out if you haven’t already.

    Jon, I actually didn’t read the editorial as I gave up on the WSJ editorial page years ago. They are in a cocoon. Having said that, they may well be right. I have no opinion on the Minnesota race. I do know something about the Florida election in 2000, and will do a post someday. Of course my post wasn’t really about the WSJ, it was about the “paper of record,” the NYT.

    Jim Glass, I had to read yours twice. At first I thought it was stupid, and then I realized it was subtle satire. Very good. I was a bit slow, as I often am with jokes.

  13. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    4. July 2009 at 08:47

    It also should be noted that Hofstadter succumbed to paranoia himself in his famous essay. For instance:

    Perhaps the most representative document of the McCarthyist phase was a long indictment of Secretary of State George C. Marshall, delivered in 1951 in the Senate by senator McCarthy, and later published in a somewhat different form. McCarthy pictured Marshall was the focal figure in a betrayal of American interests stretching in time from the strategic plans for World War II to the formulation of the Marshall Plan. Marshal was associated with practically every American failure or defeat, McCarthy insisted, and none of this was either accident or incompetence. There was a “baffling pattern” of Marshall’s interventions in the war, which always conduced to the well-being of the Kremlin. The sharp decline in America’s relative strength from 1945 to 1951 did not “just happen”; it was “brought about, step by step, by will and intention,” the consequence not of mistakes but of a treasonous conspiracy, “a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man.”

    With the publication relatively recently of Stanton Evans’ ‘Blacklisted by History’

    And, ‘Mao: The Untold Story’ by Jung Chang (using Chinese sources)

    It’s pretty clear that Geo. C. Marshall played a big part in handing China over to Mao. Marshall was probably just naive, but there WERE traitors in the Roosevelt and Truman Admins. McCarthy was factually on solid ground, whatever one thinks of his style.

  14. Gravatar of Jon Jon
    4. July 2009 at 10:36

    Scott: I cannot vouch for the WSJ’s analysis on the Minnesota recount–what do I know? But it does strike me that the argument is plausible, informative, and informed. Certainly this is not what Krugman was insinuating.

    I don’t always agree with the WSJ. I sometimes find their arguments fatuous, but there is a lot of good grist there. Under the Paul Gigot the positions have become more moderate frankly.

  15. Gravatar of Jim Glass Jim Glass
    4. July 2009 at 13:19

    Jim Glass … At first I thought it was stupid, and then I realized it was subtle satire….

    Maybe you were right the first time. Attempted satire sure can be stupid. And is anything on the Internet subtle?

    During my days on usenet I used to attach smileys… 😉 … but that was sort of like hitting someone with a hammer saying, “It’s subtle humor, dummy. Subtle! Humor!” Kind of defeats the intent.

    Back to Krugman. During his early days on the Times I used to keep a collection of his unsubtleties. Sometimes he really separated from reality, as in his lamenting over the loss of the political era of good feelings of Richard Nixon.

    My favorite “paranoia” example isn’t at that link because it wasn’t in the Times but the New Yorker:

    “This is hard for journalists to deal with. They don’t want to sound like crazy conspiracy theorists. But there’s nothing crazy about ferreting out the real goals of the right wing; on the contrary, it’s unrealistic to pretend that there isn’t a sort of conspiracy here, albeit one whose organization and goals are pretty much out in the open.”

    Is any conspiracy more treacherous than one who’s organization and goals are out in the open?

    And it takes some special kind or ferreting to figure out goals that are pretty much out in the open, eh?

    Paranoid enough for us? 😉

    (“It’s not paranoid to indulge this paranoia … this hyperbole is not hyperbole … there’s nothing crazy about this craziness…” As long as they say so!)

  16. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    5. July 2009 at 05:00

    Patrick, I don’t believe McCarthy was on solid ground, as you argue. The vast majority of historians, even conservative historians, say McCarthy was a reckless demagogue. I’m no historian, but unless Evans and Chang are able to convince their fellow conservative historians, I remain unconvinced. It’s my EMH applied to the intellectual world. (On the other hand, by that argument I’m a crackpot too.)

    As to whether the charges against Marshall are true, that is an entirely different question. I doubt his policies turned China over to Mao, because I don’t think the US had that much influence. But I could be wrong. However, even if McCarthy’s charges against Marshall were true, that wouldn’t change my view of McCarthy.

    I do agree with you on one thing, the FDR and Truman administrations had some communist sympathizers. I don’t think there is much doubt about that.

    Jon, You may be right, but I have seen a lot of bad WSJ editorials posted on the internet. Since I no longer read the WSJ everyday, I don’t know how representative those are.

    They just ran an editorial supporting the coup in Honduras. I thought the editorial was very poorly reasoned. (Obviously I know little about Honduras, but the conclusion certainly didn’t follow from the argument.)

    I do agree that Gigot is pretty thoughtful, so perhaps they are better than the limited sample I’ve seen would indicate. But my impression is that have grown less right wing liberal, and more and more conservative (along with much of the Republican party.)

    Jim Glass, I am very poor with names, but now I remember you have your own blog. I will try not to “misunderestimate” you gain.

    When I first started reading Krugman’s columns I had the impression that he made factual errors very frequently. When I started this blog I thought I’d have a field day exposing those errors. But my impression is that he has cleaned up his act. Perhaps that is because the NYT editors scolded him at one point. In any case, his blog posts now seem pretty accurate, although I often disagree with his interpretation of events.

    I recall he once wrote a column arguing that neoliberalism was no panacea for Latin America, and he cited some examples. I seem to recall that he said something like “The Mexican economy has not done well under President Fox, who was elected on a free market platform.” It wasn’t those exact words, but something like that. My immediate thought was, “wait, Fox hasn’t implemented any free market policies, as they have all been blocked by the PRI in Congress.” Then I noticed that Krugman never really claimed free market policies were tried in Mexico, he just seemed to claim that. A brilliant move. He can get invited to fashionable left wing cocktail parties as he seems to be bashing neoliberal policies in Latin American. But if anyone calls him on it, he could always claim “well I never said Fox implemented free market policies.”

    Or maybe I’m just being paranoid.

    But think about it, it you had wanted to argue free market policies failed in some country, would you just come out and say it, or use some weird circumlocution about a country not doing well under a president who ran on a certain platform. Why not just say “the reforms failed?” Perhaps because he knew they were never tried.

  17. Gravatar of Rob Rob
    5. July 2009 at 07:21

    “Or maybe I’m just being paranoid.”

    On the other hand, according to the old chestnut, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you….”

  18. Gravatar of Jon Jon
    5. July 2009 at 07:28

    Obviously I know little about Honduras, but the conclusion certainly didn’t follow from the argument.

    There is a bit of pattern where there is some reasonable analysis/insight which is then joined to an editorial position at the end where the steps from beginning to end are incomplete. But I tend to view this as a limitation of the medium.

  19. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    5. July 2009 at 07:50

    Gordon Tullock also confirms that the U.S assisted the Maoists against the Nationalists:

    Freda Utley wrote a famous book about the topic, which you can freely download off the internet.

    To me McCarthy’s vindication came with the disclosure of Venona. J. Edgar Hoover disliked the CIA, particularly some of their communist recruits, so he fed McCarthy secret information to get at his rivals. The CIA had “Operation Mockingbird” go after McCarthy in response. The rest is history.

  20. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    5. July 2009 at 08:22

    I hope you won’t think me rude for what I’m about to say, Scott, but you are very poorly informed about McCarthy. Also, it strikes me as odd that YOU would take the position that one has to convince the majority of a profession in order to be correct in one’s judgment.

    The intellectual marketplace works very differently from the marketplace for goods. I’m sure you’re aware of many instances of bad economics being good politics. Of it being convenient to believe, or be thought to believe, something for business or professional reasons. Hollywood actors who vote Republican often don’t let anyone know it. Or, as Michael Jordan once answered the question of why he doesn’t endorse politicians, ‘Republicans buy underwear too.’

    As to China, Jung Chang’s book (again, using Chinese sources) said that Chiang was about to crush Mao’s forces immediately after WWII ended, but Marshall (iirc, then Ambassador to China) threatened to withhold all aid to him if he did. Mao would have had no chance at that time, as he’d done little if any fighting of the Japanese, hadn’t trained his men and had almost no weaponry.

    Marshall’s order to Chiang gave respite to Stalin, who quickly turned over tons of captured Japanese weapons to Mao and sent his generals to China to train Mao’s forces. Tens of millions of Chinese paid for Marshall’s decision with their lives.

    And, I intentionally used the word traitor to describe those in the FDR and Truman govt. They were way beyond ‘sympathizer’. Sol Adler and Frank Coe, for instance, who worked to induce the horrible inflation in China during the 40s, ended up living out their lives in China. Translating Mao’s speeches into English.

    Stan Evans book is so densely packed with details of the perfidy of the ‘China Hands’ I suspect it to be unreadable to anyone without some prior knowledge of the era’s history. There are several video’s available at Youtube of speeches and interviews of Evans talking about his book. Especially informative, but annoyingly broken up into something like 20 short segments, are the CNSNews ones, starting here:

  21. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    5. July 2009 at 11:07

    Don’t say I don’t go the extra mile, Scott. I’ve now listened to all the Youtube segments from the CNSNews interview. The first 14 barely mention McCarthy. They are concerned with explaining how it came about that Stalin penetrated the US government.

    In segment 15 Evans begins to detail how it came to be that McCarthy is remembered as a demagogue. It began with a speech in Wheeling W. Virginia in 1950 in which he mentioned the names of three prominent State Dept officials who he knew to have been Communists. He added that he had a list of 57 such people.

    Later he gave the same speech in Reno NV, of which there is a recording, which establishes the number as 57. The recording of the speech made in Wheeling, made by a local radio station, was erased.

    Baffled as to why I mention that? Well, it’s hard to believe, but that was quite controversial, because a newspaper reporter in Wheeling mistakenly reported the number as 205. And, when McCarthy read into to Senate record the same speech, the Democrats took the opportunity to charge him with perjury, over the 57 number.

    A controversy in which McCarthy prevailed by the way. Senators Tydings and Benton, who’d led the charge against McCarthy, lost their re-election bids in 1952.

  22. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    5. July 2009 at 19:37

    Before there was Krugman, before there was Hofstadter, there was neo-Marxist Theodor Adorno’s paranoid sociological “examination” of the American mind .. would we have Hofstadter and Krugman without Adorno? Well, not Hofstadter, certainly.

  23. Gravatar of Jim Glass Jim Glass
    5. July 2009 at 21:41

    Jim Glass … I will try not to “misunderestimate” you gain.

    My wife assures that it’s impossible to do, so don’t be concerned.

    When I first started reading Krugman’s columns I had the impression that he made factual errors very frequently. When I started this blog I thought I’d have a field day exposing those errors. But my impression is that he has cleaned up his act …

    He can get invited to fashionable left wing cocktail parties as he seems to be bashing neoliberal policies in Latin American. But if anyone calls him on it, he could always claim “well I never said Fox implemented free market policies.”

    My first career is as a lawyer so I’m a professional at knowing how to get away with lyi^h^h^h … er, evaluating the skill of others to mislead while maintaining ability to technically deny error. And you are exactly right on both points: in his early days Krugman wrote some real whopper howlers, but over nine years he’s learned to subtly weasel his words so that while everyone thinks he’s saying what he wants them to, if called on it he can deny it, “look what I actually said”, your Fox example precisely (only he’ll probably add “you right-wing attack dog liar!”).

    Some of his examples are really amusing. E.g., He often says (and DeLong gleefully repeats him saying) that when some right-winger says something incredibly stupid and gets called on it, the newspapers usually will add some “balancing quote” from somebody else to make the right-winger’s claim sound plausible. Which is true! Who can deny it?

    But then he goes on to say: This proves the right-wing bias of the press. It will give Republicans any kind of extra consideration, no matter how undeserved. Ha! Got ’em! — Just as if it doesn’t do the same thing just as much for Democrats and left-wingers. As if “balancing quote” and “experts may disagree” qualifications about everything aren’t the heroin addiction of newspaper editors and reporters.

    I have a quote from a NY Times story on green economics (5/20/97): “Virtually everyone agrees that without the natural world, the human economy, and indeed human life, could not exist.” Virtually?

    Now if you called Krugman on this I’m sure he’d say, “I never said the press never does the same thing for Democrats, you right-wing attack…”

    But when Krugman and DeLong keep repeating this, are they being knowingly devious, or are they loony enough to actually believe it? PK clearly is very quick to assume evil motives about those he disagrees with and be self-righteous about it (as if it is a virtue) but I never thought about “paranoia” until you mentioned it. Hmmm….

    One of his first huge whopper howlers at the Times was to claim revenue lost to the Bush tax cuts was enough to fund Social Secirity and Medicare in full, “top them off”, for the coming 75 years(!). But he didn’t stop there of course — he went on to say the whole myth of entitlement spending creating a future fiscal problem was just another case of the press and all its pundits trying to sound “reasonable” and “balanced” — yet more damned balancing quotes! “There’s only one problem with this reasonable, balanced, non-shrill position: it’s completely wrong.” [Read him yourself]. Except, of course, it wasn’t.

    Gak!!! I looked it up. Krugman was wrong by only about $12 trillion present value then in 2003. Which would’ve been a lot for Molly Ivins! What he’d apparently done is grab an abstract or PR release for a CBPP paper that talked only of Medicare Part A — not including the more expensive Part B — and read it as “Medicare”, and in his big rush to bash Bush and refute all common knowledge the rest followed … a 14-digit counting error. [smiley omitted]

    Amazingly to me, somehow no other pundit and none of the Krugman watchers on the web picked this up. So I made a comment about it on DeLong’s blog, which started a little kerfuffle, which Krugman saw. Of course he printed no correction in the Times. On his web page he denied making a mistake through this wonderful exercise in rationalization which went through: “The only issue one could raise is Medicare Part B” (and what’s was a mere $12 trillion, versus GDP of $11 trillion?) … “anyone who accused me of dishonesty on this subject owes me an abject apology … Dishonesty, dishonesty everywhere…”

    All of which seemed to give us another glimpse of his character — Okrent was right, he doesn’t like to admit mistakes!

    Nobody accused him of “dishonesty” as far as I saw, but just as he assumes other peoples’ mistakes = dishonesty, he seems to take it as if anyone who points out a mistake by him is accusing him of dishonesty — it looks from this.

    “Paranoia” … hmmm … is that getting closer? And you made me think of this: What does it take psychologically to quickly assume that all other pundits and authorities in the world on the fiscal situation (GAO, CBO, Concord Coalition and other independent analysts, academic economists and fiscal mavens, etc.) are wrong — as he claimed in his column — and have been for years, while you have the truth? If you respected other experts, wouldn’t you think: Occam’s Razor, if all their numbers say one thing and mine say the opposite, maybe I should check the footnotes to mine?

    But you are right, he’s learned to be much more careful about objective claims like that these days, maintaining his technical escapes.

    Though as to subjective claims he’s getting more outlandish than ever! Did you see his damning last week of all those evil people committing “treason against the planet”? (What the heck does that even mean in English? Did they sell secrets to the Venusians?)

    Legal disclaimer: For any who might mistakenly take it that I implied anywhere above that Krugman really is paranoid, it was only jest. 😉

    His personality speaks for itself.

  24. Gravatar of Current Current
    6. July 2009 at 01:58

    FWIW I don’t really understand this thread. National politics is really complicated for the outsider. Especially when it involves subtle sarcasm.

  25. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    6. July 2009 at 04:38

    Rob, Good point.

    Jon, A agree.

    Thanks TGGP.

    Patrick, It’s never rude to disagree with me, but you need to read what I say more carefully. I never said:

    “I hope you won’t think me rude for what I’m about to say, Scott, but you are very poorly informed about McCarthy. Also, it strikes me as odd that YOU would take the position that one has to convince the majority of a profession in order to be correct in one’s judgment.”

    How could I believe such a thing given my posts on Wilson and Harding? I do think that conservative historians would like nothing better than to believe Evans, and thus it is not a good sign when that small segment of historians is not convinced.

    I also never said Marshall didn’t try to help Mao. I took no position on the issue as I don’t know anything about it. So you might be right there. I seem to recall one US official gave or sold nuclear secrets to Stalin, so I’d never deny that there were some traitors in the government.

    I have the same reaction as I do to cold fusion enthusiasts. Don’t waste time trying to convince me. Convince someone I trust and then I’ll look at the evidence. I don’t have time to become an expert on all these historical debates right now. Sorry if this sounds closed-minded, but it is more a question of priorities. I can’t do everything at once.

    But thanks for providing the evidence, there may be other commenters who become interested and will follow up.

    Thanks Greg. I am afraid we are getting into an area that I don’t know much about. I would say this, however, my impression is that most “foreign minds” are even more paranoid than Americans. I have been to Latin American countries where almost everything that happens is thought to be a CIA plot. Many American take umbrage at this, arguing we’d never do anything so perfidious. My reaction is: when has the CIA ever shown that much competence? Anyone seen their studies of the Soviet economy?

    I think we are among the least paranoid people on earth–although we obviously have other weaknesses.

    Jim Glass, Good post. I actually think conservatives are being foolish always railing against press bias (not that I don’t do the same.) But at least they can point to the fact that 90% of reporters vote Democratic. When Krugman complains about the right wing bias of the press, all one can do is roll one’s eyes. They’ve been so much tougher on Obama than Bush, haven’t they?

    I wish I was good at satire, as the “Batman and Robin” of the Keynesian blogosphere would be easy targets. But I’ll leave that to someone else.

    Seriously, I can see why those on the left look up to Krugman; despite his personality quirks he strikes me as one of the most talented economists bloggers, and among macroeconomists he’s clearly number one. I much prefer reading all the George Mason bloggers, but Krugman is formidable. Not always wise, but always very smart.

    If you don’t want to rush into a multi-trillion dollar boondoggle because of legitimate concern about the economy, Krugman seems to think you are a traitor against the planet. Then what would he think of a Massachusetts senator who opposes a very clean windmill farm, which produces no carbon emissions, because it would slightly affect the view from his palatial estate on Cape Cod?

    Current, I’m not sure I understand it either. Every country has historical issues that are very important to insiders, but outsiders don’t care about. I opened up more of a can of worms than I intended.

  26. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    6. July 2009 at 05:01

    I thought Krugman’s forte was microeconomics.

  27. Gravatar of Current Current
    6. July 2009 at 05:10

    It’s certainly true that politics in other countries is very paranoid. Ideas about the US are paranoid too. One of my friends recently lost his bet that Obama would be assassinated in his first 6 months.

    (He went on to tell me how Obama was planning to abolish the Federal Reserve and how this certainly get him assassinated. I set him right on that.)

    I’m not concerned about this paranoia though. As Jeffrey Friedman once wrote:
    “The moment a libertarian leaves libertarianism behind, reality loses its threatening aspect; his intellectual marginality becomes a precious source of fresh insight into every aspect of politics and culture. It seems paradoxical but true that high seriousness can be enjoyable, and that political disengagement can produce genuine insights into politics. The paradoxes may be dispelled, however, by realizing that disengagement is equivalent to alienation. Alienation plants the seeds of doubt, doubt nourishes serious thinking, and serious thought is the only alternative to an intellectual complacency that must always be shadowed by fear of its own simplifications.”

  28. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    7. July 2009 at 05:24

    TGGP, Yes, he is a microeconomist, but he is also the closest thing we have to a modern-day Keynes. BTW, does anyone seriously doubt that if the internet was around in 1939, Keynes would have easily been the world’s best blogger?

    Current, Thanks, that’s a great quotation–love it!

    I wish I had the ability to write like that, heck, I wish I had the ability to THINK like that.

    Ironically, I just downloaded a Jeffery Friedman paper on the current crisis–now I am even more anxious to read the paper.

  29. Gravatar of Adam P Adam P
    7. July 2009 at 05:38

    Krugman is not microeconomist.

  30. Gravatar of Current Current
    7. July 2009 at 05:45

    That quote was from the end of “What’s Wrong with Libertarianism?”

    Looking at the current issues contents I should subscribe to Critical Review, but I don’t.

  31. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. July 2009 at 05:51

    Adam, I should have said he is both. He does macro, trade, geography, etc.

    Thanks Current.

  32. Gravatar of Rodnik Rodnik
    12. September 2009 at 03:45

    По тематике блога информация подобрана совсем не плохо, хорошая работа, интересно почитать.

Leave a Reply