What evils can result from an election! (1932, pt. 3 of 5)

Those interested in politics may enjoy this excerpt.  But first, a few interesting items from the blogosphere:

1.  Better luck next time

In my last post I discussed Krugman’s habit of trying to tie free market Republicans to racism.  A commenter took exception, suggesting he doesn’t recall seeing that sort of thing in Krugman’s columns.  Well it didn’t take long for Krugman to provide another example:

And on the other side, here’s what Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House “” a man celebrated by many in his party as an intellectual leader “” had to say: If Democrats pass health reform, “They will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years” by passing civil rights legislation.

.   .   .

Think about what it means to condemn health reform by comparing it to the Civil Rights Act.

This is what the British call “dog whistle politics.”  He doesn’t come right out and call the Republicans racists, but the entire column is filled with that implication.  Unfortunately, there are a few problems with this assertion:

1.  Gingrich never said what Krugman claimed he said, as even the NYT editors were forced to admit.

2.  The 1964 Civil Rights Act had more support from Republicans than Democrats.  In the Senate 21 Democrats voted against the bill, vs. only 6 Republicans.

3.  It is true that in the late 1960s many white racists moved over to the Republicans, but the 1964 Civil Rights Bill wasn’t the key factor.   LBJ won white votes by a landslide in 1964.  The big problems for Democrats were busing, soaring crime rates, and affirmative action.

HT:  Marcus

2.  Like Italy, but with a bad climate, bad architecture, and Puritans.

In defense of Krugman, I think there are two problems with the Republican Party; a tendency toward bigotry, and a disturbing anti-intellectualism.  In contrast, the Democrats have only one big problem; being brain dead on economics.  So why nitpick Krugman’s argument?  So what if he got a quotation wrong?  Because he’s attacking the Republicans for the wrong reason.  The best thing about the Republican Party is that it still has a few small government proponents.  If Krugman got his way, and the Republicans dropped their residual small government ideology, then what would be left?  They’d be a right-wing, corrupt, corporatist, bigoted and anti-intellectual party.  And offsetting this would be a left-wing party that is mostly ineffectual because they don’t understand the importance of incentives, markets, privatisation and decentralization.  In other words, we’d be exactly like Italy.   (It’s worth checking out this NYR of Books article–very funny and very sad.  Unfortunately you must pay.)

3.  A question about health care.

I haven’t had time to follow the health care issue, so I am sure that I have missed something.  But here is my question:  After 2014, why in the world would any healthy person want health insurance?  My understanding is that insurance companies won’t be able to turn people down after they become sick.  Is that right?  If so, why wouldn’t everyone simply pay the $695 fine, and then wait until they got seriously ill before buying insurance?  Especially young people.  What am I missing here?

4.  Some interesting monetary posts:

David Beckworth discusses why NGDP targeting would be superior to raising the inflation target to 4%.  I agree, but would add that it should be level targeting of NGDP.  Thoma also linked to this post.

A while back I mentioned the divisia index for money, which has been advocated by William Barnett, and also Michael Belongia.  Josh Hendrickson found that the divisia index is a better indicator of monetary policy than the real interest rate.  And in this post he argues against the view that monetary policy is ineffectual at the zero bound.

In the previous 1932 post I discussed the promising recovery that began in late July.  Here I discuss a very interesting election, which appears to have aborted the recovery:

6.d  The Election of 1932

On September 2nd, a serious intra-party fight erupted among Democrats in New York and the following day’s NYT headline reported “Roosevelt Chance Hurt” and “Carrying of State Held in Doubt, Endangering Hope of Presidency”.  The Dow rose 4.2 percent on the day the story broke, and commodity prices also increased.  Given the subsequent Roosevelt landslide it may seem odd that the markets would have viewed the outcome as uncertain, but there are several reasons why the situation in September was less clear-cut than it appears in hindsight.  First, although the economic situation was still very poor, it did look much more promising in mid-September than it did on November 8th.  And despite the subsequent deterioration in the economy, Hoover actually carried important industrial states such as Pennsylvania and Connecticut, and came close in several others.  The popular vote landslide was partly due to Roosevelt margins of up to 50-1 in states such as South Carolina, but Hoover did not need any southern states to with the election.

On September 12 there was an important set of state elections in Maine and the Dow fell 5.5 percent on that day (commodity prices also declined.)  The following day the NYT reported “All Eyes on Maine” and although they were unaware of the outcome, noted a “fear of Democratic success, or near-success”.  The Dow fell another 3.4 percent on September 13, although the election of a new Democratic governor was not assured until well after the markets closed.  The Dow dropped another 5.7 percent on September 14th and that day’s NYT called the election an upset of “vast significance”.  The CFC noted that this Democratic victory in a traditionally Republican state did not bode well for the Hoover campaign:

          “The overshadowing event of the week has been the Maine election on Monday and portents which it is supposed to carry.  On the Stock Exchange the outcome has been viewed with no little concern, and both stock and bond prices have suffered serious declines as the result, though there have been other contributing causes for the weakness”  (9/17/32, p. 1859)

Immediately after the Maine election, Hoover changed his strategy and took to the stump.

The following Tuesday saw another key state election in Wisconsin, but this time conservative Republicans upset LaFollette’s Progressives.  The Dow rose 3.7 percent during the afternoon of the 20th (election day), and then soared 11.4 percent on the following day (although other economic news undoubtedly contributed to this extraordinary gain.)  A September 22nd NYT headline reported “Republicans Hail LaFollette Defeat As Trend To Hoover.”

Given how poorly stocks had done under the Hoover administration, it might seem odd that the market apparently rooted for his re-election.  As we will see, however, his defeat triggered 5 months of additional uncertainty about the dollar, which further depressed the economy.  Some of Roosevelt’s policies, such as dollar devaluation, would eventually boost stock prices.  But in October 1932 there was no guarantee that Roosevelt would devalue the dollar, and many of his other policies would prove to have a negative impact on stock prices.  And finally, it can be argued that while deflationary monetary policies were the biggest mistake of the Hoover administration, the market understood that the real value of gold had already exceeded its prewar levels, and that prices were unlikely to fall much lower regardless of who was elected in November.

A set of news stories during early October provides a fascinating picture of how the “news” to which markets respond consists of not simply events, but also changing perceptions of those events.  In a speech given on the evening of October 4th Hoover mentioned the fact that at one time during the previous winter the U.S. had been only two weeks away from being forced to abandon the gold standard.  The implication was that his adroit leadership had prevented this “disaster.”  Of course during this period the administration had consistently assured both the public and foreign investors that there was no possibility of the U.S. leaving the gold standard.  Although the Dow plunged 7.2 percent on the day after the speech,[1] there is no indication in the financial press, or in the movements of other markets, that the drop was attributable to Hoover’s statement.  Instead, the decline was attributed to investor disappointment with a lack of “fresh proposals” for economic recovery.[2]

On October 7th Carter Glass publicly contradicted Hoover’s statement (his rebuttal was apparently delayed by illness), and on the same day the Dow declined an additional 5.4 percent as the dollar fell sharply against the gold bloc currencies.  The next day the (pro-Hoover) NYT (p. 25) reluctantly reported that “In some quarters the movement was ascribed to a misunderstanding of Mr. Hoover’s recent statement that at one time this country had been within two weeks of going off the gold standard unless remedial measures were taken” and indicated that there was a “belated reaction abroad” to the statement.

On October 8th the Dow fell another 2.4 percent and the following day the tempest was headline news in the NYT: “No Danger To Dollar From Foreign Raids Seen Now In Capital”, “Hoover Blamed In Paris” and “Papers Lay Decline To His Speech – The Dollar Takes Sharp Drop, Along With Sterling”.  The NYT also quoted some of the foreign reaction:

          “What evils can result from an election! . . . Now President Hoover, to recover votes which seemed on the point of escaping, is willing to sacrifice the dollar.  For the dollar again has become feeble and delicate . . . following the declarations of President Hoover, who in order to get business started again, has indicated the possibility of inflation.”  (La Liberte)

“Everyone is saying that if the dollar is vulnerable, so must be most European moneys.”  (Agence Economique et Financiere)

“The President, seeking to restore confidence, seems somehow to accomplish the opposite result.” (Paris Midi)

On the financial page (F1) of the same issue, the NYT indicated that the continued decline in the dollar and the stock market on the morning of the 8th was widely assumed to be due to the President’s remarks and that “Business men are reported now to be apprehensive of the effects of a falling stock market on trade.”

The following day the NYT carried several more stories on the negative impact of Hoover’s statement on the European markets and observed “That stocks should fall and foreign exchange should move against New York because it has been disclosed that the ‘gold position’ was difficult, six months or a year ago, is in its way an odd incident of finance.”[3]  Hoover’s gaffe had to be seen as a serious blow to his only campaign strengths, experience and competence, and with his chances of re-election slipping away it is not surprising that the Dow declined another 4.4 percent on Monday, October 10th, despite the fact that the dollar had steadied.[4]

As the likelihood of a Roosevelt victory increased, the markets focused more heavily on Roosevelt’s policy statements.  On October 14th the Dow rose 6.8 percent, and the following day the NYT (p. 23) reported that “No one on Wall Street pretended that the advance was based on anything but the expectation of a positive [i.e. “responsible”] declaration by Governor Roosevelt on the bonus issue.”  By November 8th, there was a strong likelihood that Roosevelt would win, and the stock market showed little reaction to the actual election results.[5]

If the stock market performance leading up to the election was based on expectations of a difficult interregnum, then the market was remarkable prescient.  Hoover received little cooperation from Roosevelt, who preferred to preserve a free hand and remain unencumbered by Hoover’s failures.  This meant that Hoover had little credibility in dealing with difficult issues such as the war debts controversy which flared up in December.  And when fears of dollar devaluation resurfaced during the winter (partly due to Roosevelt’s refusal to pre-commit on policy questions) the Fed again tightened monetary policy in order to preserve the gold standard.

There was a brief period of optimism just after the election.  Although the prospect of a Hoover loss seemed to worry Wall Street during September, by early November Hoover was so discredited that FDR found “moral and vocal support [among] some of the respected financial and industrial chieftons.”[6]  Furthermore, investors were beginning to focus on the prospects for prohibition repeal under a Democratic administration, an event that “would be interpreted as bullish, because it would imply the gradual reduction of corporation taxes, individual income taxes and inheritance taxes.”[7]  Stocks fell 4.5 percent on the day following the election, but actually traded higher during the morning.  Then, over the following several days stocks and commodities rose strongly in what was termed a “Roosevelt market.”  The financial press reported expectations of political “cooperation,” particularly in the prickly war debts issue.  The pound also rallied on expectations of a debt moratorium.

The war debts issue was clearly the dominant financial story from mid-November to the end of 1932, and is the most plausible explanation for the 17.2 percent decline in the Dow between November 12 and the end of the month.  The first price break (on November 14) seems to have been triggered by debt moratorium letters from France and the U.K., as well as from growing indications of a possible Congressional fight on the issue.  The NYT suggested a possible explanation for the market’s concerns:

          “In so far as the “Street” has any apprehension over the impending discussions of the debt question, it relates to the possible attitude of Congress.  Obviously a protracted and acrimonious debate, holding out the imminent threat of a forced default by the greatest creditor nation, next to ourselves, in the world, would put to a severe test the reviving confidence in business and financial circles upon which the recovery from the depression rests.”  (11/16/32, p. 25.)

Both stock and commodity prices fell sharply on November 23 when Hoover failed to get FDR’s support for a debt revision proposal.

On November 27, the NYT noted falling commodity prices: “About 90% of the Recovery Made Up to Sept. 6 Has Now Been Wiped Out. . . . War-Debt Situation With the Drop in Sterling Among General Causes” and over the next several weeks, stock prices zig-zagged up and down in sympathy with the prospects for a war debts settlement.  On December 15, Britain made its $95.55 million payment by earmarking gold at the Bank of England.  Britain could have saved several million dollars by paying with Liberty bonds purchased at a discount from par; by paying in gold they lodged an (implied) protest over the unfairness to debtors of the deflationary environment produced by gold standard.[8]

Just as during the previous interregnum between presidents of different political parties (1920-21), the long wait for FDR’s inauguration proved extremely damaging to the economy.  Indeed the problems caused by the lack of effective presidential leadership were so obvious that that they led to a constitutional amendment allowing the new president to take office in January, rather than March.  However the change came too late to prevent a very grim winter during 1932-33.


[1]  The ninth largest drop in modern times.

[2] See Business Week, 10/19/32, p. 34.

[3] There is an interesting parallel in Brown’s (1940, p. 1232-34) attribution of the June/July currency hoarding to three factors; large gold outflows, banking difficulties, and the lingering effects of an April 1932 speech where Hoover bragged (discussing an earlier run on the dollar) “It had to be fought in silence . . . Happily we won this battle.  There is no longer any danger from disclosure.”  Brown argued (p. 1234) that the speech made the public aware that “the suspension of the gold standard had only a few months before been a distinct possibility”.

[4]  Einzig (1933, p. 64) even suggested that Hoover’s statement may have contributed to future crises: “It was one of the biggest blunders made during the crisis.  Many people remembered that at the time referred to by President Hoover’s remark, official quarters were as emphatic as ever in their denials of any danger whatsoever.  President Hoover’s admission went a long way, therefore, towards discrediting the authorities in the eyes of the public.  When, some months later, the dollar once more became vulnerable, no official reassuring statement was able to restore confidence.”

[5]   Just prior to the election, the betting odds suggested that Roosevelt was heavily favored to win (about 6 to 1), but it also seems likely that he did even better than anticipated. Odds-makers had New Jersey even and Hoover was actually favored in Massachusetts.  Roosevelt won both states.

[6] NYT, 11/5/32, p. 25.

[7] NYT, 11/2/32, p. 27.

[8]And according to Eichengreen (1992, p. 320) it was also a “veiled threat that if the United States attempted to repatriate that gold, the Bank of England would liquidate its dollar balances”.


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71 Responses to “What evils can result from an election! (1932, pt. 3 of 5)”

  1. Gravatar of Blackadder Blackadder
    23. March 2010 at 12:21

    After 2014, why in the world would any healthy person want health insurance? My understanding is that insurance companies won’t be able to turn people down after they become sick. Is that right? If so, why wouldn’t everyone simply pay the $695 fine, and then wait until they got seriously ill before buying insurance?

    I believe the fine is $695 or 2.5% of income, whichever is higher.

    On the other hand, the fine doesn’t fully kick in until 2014, whereas the guaranteed issue provision goes into effect immediately. So the real question is why people wouldn’t drop their insurance at least for the next couple of years.

    I fall into the category of people most likely to drop coverage (young, healthy, not covered by my employer, etc.) Yet I’m not planning on going uninsured, for a couple of reasons:

    1. I currently have an catastrophic plan with an HSA. My premiums are already way below 2.5% of my income, and when you factor in the tax advantages of the HSA, I’m close to paying nothing for coverage.

    2. There is a very small but nontrivial chance that Congress might pass another bill in the future that mucks with the insurance regulations and I don’t want to end up screwed because I was penny wise/pound foolish for a couple years.

    3. I’m still bourgeois enough that I feel there’s something vaguely disreputable about not having health insurance.

    If my premiums go up enough, of course, I’m sure I’d change my tune. But I think these three things (along with the fact that a lot of people get insurance through their employer and thus can’t just drop it on a whim) will offset the incentive to drop coverage somewhat. Whether it will be enough to avoid the ole adverse selection death spiral remains to be seen.

  2. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    23. March 2010 at 14:36

    Scott,

    As a follow up to Blackadder, insurance costs for those most likely to be without health insurance (other than illegal residents) are going to be heavily subsidized.

    http://docs.house.gov/rules/hr4872/111_hr4872_amndsub.pdf (see pg 4 for sliding scale)

    If you’re a young person starting out making $25,000/yr, which will be about 200% of the poverty line mid-decade, then your costs for health insurance are capped at 6.3% of income or $1,575. After considering the penalty of $695, the total benefit of going uninsured will be $880. More importantly, there’s the psychological factor of getting absolutely nothing for your $695 while potentially getting quite a lot for $1,575.

    If you do decide to go uninsured, you have to pay for health care out of your own pocket – a doctor’s visit, x-rays and some crutches can quickly eat up most of your small surplus, and if you need to buy insurance after paying the penalty you’ll be worse off. Add that to what will probably be the stigma of being an uninsured free rider, and a lot of people will probably buy insurance and be done with it.

    On the other hand, if you’re making $65,000 a year and being forced to shell out $5,000/yr for health insurance or face a $1,500 tax penalty, then the math is a little different. However, if you’re under the age of 30 you’re allowed to buy a catastrophic plan (pg 14 of this document http://www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/housesenatebill_final.pdf), and if it is actually a catastrophic plan then I doubt the plan would cost too much more than the tax penalty anyways.

    Also, even if you’re making $65,000, in your early 30s and healthy there’s always the concern Blackadder noted above – Congress changing the rules against you (e.g. Uwe Reinhardt noted that he was in favor of simply allowing insurance companies to penalize pre-existing conditions for those who opt out http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/03/uwe_reinhardt_we_are_not_off_t.html).

    I agree with Blackadder that the insurance market problems are near-term – guaranteed issue with no mandate AND no subsidies until 2014 (from what I can tell, the subsidies start with the exchanges that year http://docs.house.gov/energycommerce/TIMELINE.pdf). Maybe I’m missing something, but that screams death spiral to me.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. March 2010 at 15:54

    Blackadder and Justin, Thanks for the very informative posts. A few comments:

    1. I am a big fan of HSAs, so I can see why Blackadder might want to go that route.

    2. I agree with Blackadder that many people belong to companies, and hence aren’t able to make those decisions. But it’s also true that companies have an incentive to provide compensation in the form that people want. Walmart will drop coverage if employees would prefer a few dollars an hour more in wages. This process would occur gradually, but it would occur if a perception developed that health insurance wasn’t essential, as you could buy it if you get very sick.

    3. The tax deductibility of health insurance pushes people in that direction, so that will solve part of the problem. On the other hand I strongly oppose the tax deductibility, and think that any meaningful reform must eliminate that subsidy to the overconsumption of health care. This system makes it harder to get that reform, as it would lead to more free-riding.

    4. Health insurance makes no sense at all (apart from the tax advanatage) except when health expenditures are very lumpy. When I was in my 20s and 30s I almost never went to the doctor–I think that is pretty typical of young men. Yet the Obama plan can only work if health expenditures aren’t TOO lumpy, otherwise people will game the system. So that’s a dilemma, although from the info provided by Justin I can see that the problem isn’t as severe as I thought.

    5. Justin, You said:

    “If you’re a young person starting out making $25,000/yr, which will be about 200% of the poverty line mid-decade, then your costs for health insurance are capped at 6.3% of income or $1,575.”

    I’m confused, why wouldn’t every low income person buy the most gold-plated Cadillac plan on the market? There must be some sort of price controls, aren’t there?

    6. If you are right that people go into catastrophic plans to avoid the penalty, then that’s fine with me. I prefer catastrophic insurance as a way of holding down costs.

    7. All this talk about penalizing those who were free-riders makes me more convinced than ever that we should have simply adopted Singapore’s forced saving system. It would also be a way of grabbing money from free-riders who don’t buy car insurance, or who don’t repay student loans. I heard the government will take over the student loan market. Do they plan to garnish the wages of deadbeats?

  4. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    23. March 2010 at 17:01

    A Republican — Nixon — introduced Affirmative Action, and a black Republican working for him pulled the lever.

    So the history here is complex.

    Bruce Bartlett has a good book on the GOP, Democrats, racism and race politics in the 1960s and 1970s.

    History is bunk .. as an American once said.

  5. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    23. March 2010 at 17:03

    I have yet to meet the bigots in the GOP — all of the in your home town?

  6. Gravatar of Justin D Justin D
    23. March 2010 at 17:05

    Scott,

    The subsidy values are tied to the second lowest cost silver plan. In addition to premium subsidies, there are cost sharing subsidies, which I believe have the effect of increasing the actuarial value of a silver plan to a gold plan for households with low incomes (although I’m not 100% certain about that).

    I too am a fan of the catastrophic insurance / forced saving model. Unfortunately, given the subsidy structure / age limits of the reconciliation bill, I’d imagine those plans will be taken up by a very small slice of the population.

  7. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    23. March 2010 at 17:21

    It’s well documented that say radio talk show Republicans are much better informed than Democrats in the same demographics.

    Non-college graduate conservative infuencers. like Beck are huge readers — they can tell you more that’s true about Hayek than Paul Krugman, for example. Or about Obama’s biography. Or the progressive movement.

    Conservative intellectuals like Levin and Sowell sell books of ideas in tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of copies.

    The “anti-intellectual” charge in the context of the brain death of the American left / Democrat party is hard to take.

    What part of the charge isn’t just unthinkink talking points borrowed from bubble world mainstream lefties?

    The only anti-intellectualism you can bank on is the ignorance of the mainsteam left about conservative or free market arguments and ideas.

    The anti-intellectualism in this regard is as big as an ocean.

  8. Gravatar of William William
    23. March 2010 at 19:29

    On 3:

    I had exactly the same question. And like you, I can’t be bothered to take the time to understand what’s in the bill.

    To me the “death spiral” logic seems clear and convincing. But health care stocks are up so far this week. The market doesn’t think insurers are going bankrupt. Clearly I’m missing something, but my best guess for now is that the government is going to give tons of money to the insurers to make this work.

  9. Gravatar of Indy Indy
    24. March 2010 at 04:02

    I’m a “small government” type, and I’ve met and gotten to know lots of Republicans and conservatives, many during my time in the military. Not one harbored the smallest shred of racist ideology, bigotry, or ethnic prejudice. Not a single one. Quite the contrary, actually, since most of these individuals are the staunchest believers in ethnic-irrelevance, individualized judgment, equality and colorblindness that I’ve ever encountered.

    I’m not going to deny that some horrible racism still exists in America, but as far as I have ever experienced or been able to tell, this bigotry is legitimately classified only as an embarrassing and ubiquitously rebuked *fringe*. It is not only incorrect, but simply unfair and unjust to paint a whole population of a particular political disposition as sharing the unrelated extremist views of a crazy minority *on the subject of which the majority vehemently disagrees*.

    And yet, as a rule, those of the left simply and casually take it for granted as true that a large portion of those anywhere to their right are open or closeted racists, or have a “tendency toward bigotry” (~sigh~ what in the world is that supposed to mean?. I’m not a bigot right now, but is it possible that I might still possess a “tendency toward bigotry”? How in the world could I possible disprove that notion to someone to unburden them of their prejudice of me?)

    This widely-held perspective I still hear routinely repeated without any hint of doubt from my liberal friends I’ve met in Law School. I say, “Well, I sometimes vote Republican, and I don’t favor government affirmative action, so, am I a racist? Are you friends with a bigot?” Almost invariably I hear something along the lines of, “Oh come on, Indy, you’re not one of *them*, really, not one of ‘those people'”. Now I’m friends with these people, and they’re decent folks, but I’m still pretty sure I was presumptively one of “those people” before they got to know me.

    My wife, also a veteran of the Iraq war and a law student working on a joint degree in social work, gets to hear professors lecture openly the obvious tautologies about how horribly racist the republicans are and the military is. When she objects that, of all things, the U.S. military is almost a model for the rest of society of what multi-ethnic harmony looks like, her testimony from direct experience is regularly and insouciantly dismissed by her teachers and peers who know no details, but remain convinced that a racist military is simply a big T Truth.

    They are encouraged in this perhaps by their own social echo-chamber and by the hysterical left-friendly portion of the media that does not hesitate for a single moment to resort to raw slander and deem the source of any possible opposition to their favored agenda as originating in the basest of motives.

    But I can tell you, it’s awfully tiring to be incessantly and falsely accused of ethnic prejudice and assumed -guilty until proven innocent fashion- to be a bigot and thought of as a creature driven only by primitive race-hatred urges when I choose to express my political opinions.

    And, let’s not fool ourselves, we’ve all been well-trained to the rhetoric of our age and we all hear the dog whistles just as well as the next guy. It’s not a dog whistle when everyone knows what you’re doing. To someone who thinks racism is an evil sin, to be called one is a vicious, hurtful insult. To be called one routinely, nonchalantly, without even the tiniest doubt or feeling of a need to collect and report substantial evidence on the part of one’s accuser – well, who else can this person be but your enemy? What else would a normal man do but come to despise the person who says such things?

    A big part of the reason that people of different political persuasions are getting to a point where they cannot even long stand being in the same room together is because of this.

    At root, the real damage is that people of the left harm themselves when they successfully use this slimy rhetoric on each other. It’s simply a dodge and an intellectual shortcut to avoid engaging with the ideas of your opponents by labeling everything associated with them with a descriptor so vile that it convinces people that it is not ever worth making the effort to respectfully hear them out because *you know it must be worthless in advance*. Thinking and ideas won’t progress very much in that kind of chilling and incestuous environment.

    Professor Sumner, I love you blog, and none of this is meant to chastise you in any way. And I’m not claiming that you don’t genuinely believe that the republican party has a “tendency towards bigotry”. My position is merely that a. this is untrue and b. because it is such a contemptible accusation, it should not be acceptable to, casually and without qualification or justification, describe people this way. I hope you’ll take that into consideration.

  10. Gravatar of 123 – TheMoneyDemand 123 - TheMoneyDemand
    24. March 2010 at 05:12

    One more (this time left-wing or at least centre-left wing) voice arguing for NGDP in the UK:
    http://www.centreforum.org/assets/pubs/credit-where-its-due.pdf

    “Start targeting nominal growth until the output gap is closed The markets need to know that the Bank will not rest until the economy is growing fast enough to close the output gap. So CentreForum’s first recommendation is for the Bank explicitly to target high growth in nominal GDP (NGDP) for the next five years.
    The Bank could choose the level of the target according to its estimates of the degree of slack in the economy, and the risk of inflationary expectations taking hold. We would recommend 6 per cent nominal growth for 2011, as the economy ought to be still far below its capacity at that point. The target might fall to 5 per cent as the Bank sees the output gap being closed.
    The very fact of such an announcement would have a huge
    effect. As Sir Samuel Brittan wrote in 2004, “One virtue of
    such a nominal target is that when the economy is stagnating
    or in recession, it points decisively to expansionary policies so long as we are starting from a low inflation base”.107 This appearance of decisiveness has been missing. The publication of an NGDP target would signal that the MPC would not vacillate – raising rates, or winding down QE – in its pursuit of significant and sustained growth. This ought to convince banks and investors in general that the Bank is genuinely ‘committed to being irresponsible’ – that easier monetary conditions will not be removed at the first sign of growth.
    There are also practical advantages to targeting NGDP as well
    as consumer prices. In 2003, when still Chief Economist, Mervyn King acknowledged the advantage of pursuing nominal
    targets, pointing out that “it is easier to measure the money value of spending and output in the economy than to split it
    into estimates of ‘real’ output, on the one hand, and price
    indices, on the other”.
    There are two obvious objections to this idea. The first is
    that the Bank already takes adequate notice of growth by
    including the output gap in its deliberations. But if this gives the MPC an orientation towards growth, it is not obvious to the public or markets, and has often been counteracted by nervous talk of exit strategies. Financial markets might anticipate the Bank tightening policy well before rapid nominal GDP growth has been achieved. Forward thinking bankers and finance executives won’t invest if they believe (currently ample) liquidity will be withdrawn in the near future.
    The second objection is that adopting such a target will
    unleash dangerous expectations of inflation. Interfering with
    the inflation target will appear to be a partial reversal of the 1997 settlement, when granting independence to the Bank
    saw gilt yields fall by a large amount. Could such a step cause expectations of inflation to soar out of control?
    There are several answers to this. The first is that, insofar as this causes people to expect higher economic growth, this is a good thing. It should encourage higher demand, which is the current purpose of the Bank’s policy. If it weakens sterling, this may boost exports, which both major parties hope will contribute to growth over the next few years.
    But a NGDP target should not be any more inflationary than
    an inflation target. In the speech cited above, Mervyn King
    acknowledged as much, pointing out how stable the growth
    rate of nominal demand had been during the previous decade
    of quiescent prices. If inflation rises too fast, so too will NGDP.
    This ought to lead to expectations of the Bank tightening rates – just as it does under the current regime.
    If markets are concerned that the government has too large an
    incentive to ‘inflate its troubles away’, there are other ways of demonstrating its resolve, for example by issuing more index-linked debt. Furthermore, as Edmund Conway of the
    Daily Telegraph observes, most of the government’s liabilities are effectively inflation-proofed, as is the case with the state pension. Ministers have less reason to let inflation soar than they did in the 1970s. What they want is growth.
    Finally, the political economy of central bank independence
    provides another reason to support NGDP targeting. The Bank
    needs to maintain popular support if it is to manage long term price expectations. A persistent failure to return the economy to growth may pose a larger risk to Bank independence than a change in targeting methodology. If the economy stays weak and the output gap remains unclosed, the government’s fiscal problems may well get worse, and fears of a truly inflationary solution to the crisis will grow. As former MPC member Sir John Gieve said in February 2009: “The Bank and MPC need to convince [the general public] that the policy we are pursuing is the best way of restoring growth and full employment without reawakening inflation”.
    The architects of Bank of England independence would have
    had little notion of just how ineffective the arrangement would prove in the face of the deflationary crisis conditions of 2009.
    Had they known then what they know now, they may well
    have reshaped the original settlement to take more account
    of growth.”

  11. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    24. March 2010 at 05:33

    Greg, Nixon may have introduced the term ‘affirmative action’, but LBJ introduced the concept. In any case, my point was that the Democratic Party increasingly became associated with AA, whether that was justified or not.

    If you want to hear Republican bigotry, tune in to conservative talk radio when they are discussing issues like immigration. Note I said “white racists.” I would never deny that there are plenty of non-white racists, and that most of them vote Democratic.

    Justin, Thanks for the info. Yes, I am sure that saving is not encouraged. When I argued the Democrats were brain dead on economics, I was thinking especially about saving. Democrats believe that someone who saves a large share of their income should be taxed at a much higher rate than someone with equal resources who spends all their income on current consumption. It is a profoundly anti-saving political party. So I wouldn’t expect anything like the Singapore plan to come out of the current Congress. I believe they have even been hostile to HSAs.

    Greg#3, I never said that there were no conservative intellectuals, I said the party tended to be anti-intellectual. That’s very different from saying Republicans are dumb. I don’t think they are any dumber on average than the typical Democrat. They often pick leaders (Bush, Palin, etc) based on personality, even if they are not well-informed on the issues. Right now the Democrats are the “natural party of government.” In the 1980s the Republicans were ahead on ideas. Ryan’s proposal was an exception–but that’s just one Congressman out of 200.

    William, I think you are right–it will be fixed somehow so that insurers will survive. I would also point out that few people have dropped health insurance in my home state of Massachusetts, even though we have had this system in place for a couple of years. I have pleaded with people at my university that we should drop health insurance and dramatically raise salaries–but I can’t get people to agree with me. So although it looks like people would want to free ride until they got sick, so far they don’t seem to be behaving that way (except me.)

  12. Gravatar of MBP MBP
    24. March 2010 at 05:44

    Scott – Just to correct something written above: the broad guaranteed issue provisions of the reform bill do not kick in until 2014. The bill would create a high risk pool within 6 months for those people with pre-existing conditions who can’t find coverage in the open market. The bill does force insurers to accept children with pre-existing conditions beginning in 2011.

    That said, your overall view is correct. The individual mandate is much too weak of an incentive to cause healthy people to buy insurance. The Dems would counter that the mandate in Mass. is also weak and yet MA has very few people gaming the system.

    What we all may be missing is the potential for the gov’t to prevent gmaing the system administratively. Sure, the financial penalty is small. But they could institute an open enrollment period of, say, 3 months per year, and anyone who doesnt enroll during that time would pay a penalty should they buy coverage later in the year. Of course this wouldn’t be a perfect solution.

  13. Gravatar of MBP MBP
    24. March 2010 at 05:50

    Should anyone care to read more about health care reform. This page has a helpful summary and timeline of “benefits”

    http://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/legislation?id=0361

  14. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    24. March 2010 at 05:59

    Indy, No offense intended. Keep in mind a few points:

    1. My post criticized Krugman for calling Republicans racists. I don’t think that believing in small government makes one racist. So I agree with most of what you say.

    2. I never claimed most Republicans are racists.

    3. I do think that Republicans are more likely to be bigoted against blacks, hispanics, gays, atheists, etc, then the average voter. And I would wager that polls would back me up (Say a poll question of whether you’d we willing to vote for a black, hispanic, gay or atheist for President.) However, I also understand the the issue is very complex, that there are also some serious pockets of bigotry among Democrats. Most people who are bigoted against whites, for instance, vote Democratic. Maybe I never should have raised the issue at all, I probably seemed to insult my Republican readers, which was not my intention. Every group has lots of bad character traits. I am a libertarian, and I think libertarians probably have a lower than average amount of compassion for the underpriviledged. Oops, now I’ve just pissed off an even larger group of my readers.

    This post partly reflected my frustration with the Republican Party, which in my view has gone dramatically downhill since the 1980s. I agree with David Frum’s “Waterloo” column that the Republican opposition to health care reform was beyond stupid. I am also opposed to the Obama plan, it’s just that the arguments raised by Republicans (such that Medicare would be cut) were simply idiotic. The Republicans should be calling for the (gradual) abolition of Medicare!!

    123, Thanks, I agree with that paper. It also suggests to me a possible compromise to get inflation hawks on board. How about switching to an NGDP target, but at a rate that will produce less than 2% long run inflation (such as a 4% NGDP target.) Would the inflation hawks go for that idea? They might, especially if it was pointed out that the government inflation estimates are now so unreliable at to be almost worthless.

  15. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    24. March 2010 at 06:01

    I did a little more follow up on the issue of covering those with pre-existing conditions from now until 2014. The death spiral risk isn’t as bad as it first appeared.

    It looks like you get thrown into a high risk pool with only $5 billion worth of funding instead of getting to buy a community rated plan from an insurance company, although the goal of the high risk pool is to get premiums down closer to the level of those in the regular insurance market. That $5 billion will be used to fund all four years, and in the senate bill the secretary of health/human services would have been empowered to deny applicants if costs become too high (not sure about the bill which was just passed, but I’d imagine similar language is in it).

    http://www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/housesenatebill_final.pdf (pg 18)

    http://healthplans.hcpro.com/content/HEP-245476/Health-Reform-Would-Spend-5B-to-Create-HighRisk-Pools-for-Uninsurable

  16. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    24. March 2010 at 06:02

    MBP, Those are all good points. BTW, it isn’t just Democrats pointing to the Massachusetts example, in one of my previous replies here I also pointed to my home state, where very few have tried to game the system.

  17. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    24. March 2010 at 06:40

    Scott — Nixon introduced the action Federal Action — google “affirmative action” and “Arthur Fletcher”. You seem not to know the history.

    Scott wrotes:

    “Greg, Nixon may have introduced the term ‘affirmative action’,”

  18. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    24. March 2010 at 06:41

    Sorry — google “Philadelphia plan” and “Arthur Fletcher”

  19. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    24. March 2010 at 07:09

    Bush had all kinds of things going for him — the most powerful mailing list in politics, a Repub from the largest Repub state, contacts in the conservative movement going back to when he was a teen, Clinton-like one-on-one skills, a triangulation strategy making him acceptable to most wings of the party, etc.

    AGain, you seem to ape rather brain-dead talking points in the East Coast / mainstream left bubble.

    Scott writes:

    “They often pick leaders (Bush, Palin, etc) based on personality, even if they are not well-informed on the issues.”

  20. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    24. March 2010 at 07:16

    Scott, I’m been around professors and graduate students who did nothing but gas and read philosophy and I’ve been around men with 8th grade educations who have done things in the world and read 4 papers a day — the first group was “intellectual” and I can tell you there were very ignorant about almost anything you want to name. The men with eighth grade educations read history, knew what was going on in the world, and understand all sorts of stuff in the real world. The professors and grad students would call them “anti-intellectual”. I would call most of those professors ignorant boobs living in a tiny bubble world with little understanding of economics, politics or the real world — the farthest things from “anti-intellectual” and also the farthest thing from intelligent ….

  21. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    24. March 2010 at 07:51

    Scott, you seem to have a taste for talk radio hosts that I don’t share. I haven’t seen anything like what you describe on the radio dial, and I live in SoCal. In California the immigration issue turns on taxes and quality of life, i.e. 12-20 billion spent by the state on illegals every year, public schools in collapse (less than a 50% graduation rate), and dozens and dozens of emergency rooms shuttered, gang warfare with hundreds dead involving international organized crime gangs with their homes in Central America and Mexico, etc. And this issues go on and on.

    Again, please name the racist radio hosts you like to listen to.

    Scott writes:

    “If you want to hear Republican bigotry, tune in to conservative talk radio when they are discussing issues like immigration.”

  22. Gravatar of StatsGuy StatsGuy
    24. March 2010 at 15:34

    Greg, others…

    Most Republicans I know are not bigotted, but most bigots I know vote Republican. They also happen to live in the south, be on welfare/disability, be against big government, and blame [insert group here] for their problems. Go figure. Likewise, most Democrats I know who consider themselves well-informed intellectuals are in fact poorly informed and highly opinionated, and get mightily upset when you ask them to defend those positions with facts.

    If you get a hankering, tune into John Gibson or Glenn Beck, or don’t. The discordance that ssumner refers to is well accepted – even by those on the Right.

    For example:

    http://talkradionews.com/2009/03/republicans-biggest-problem-they-ceased-being-the-republican-party/

    vs.

    http://www.frumforum.com/waterloo

  23. Gravatar of StatsGuy StatsGuy
    24. March 2010 at 15:42

    Health insurance… why not wait till you get sick?

    I think the issue is that acquiring insurance may take some time, and I suspect it won’t be retroactive (to date of application). So, if you’re young and have a ski accident and need orthopedic surgery, you could be out 40k in a week. The marginal cost of paying for insurance vs. paying the fine covers this eventuality, and probably decreases out of pocket costs for routine care. The real issue is the chronically ill – and the fact that a massive generation that did not pay in wants to get everything out. It’s no coincidence that the AARP switched positions on this issue vs. 15 years ago.

  24. Gravatar of johnleemk johnleemk
    24. March 2010 at 18:49

    I don’t think anyone’s characterising the majority of Republicans as bigots. But I’m pretty confident that the majority of *white bigots* are Republicans. If there were no correlation between ideology and bigotry, they should be split 50-50 between the major parties and/or have redeployed their allegiance to a new political force (maybe, say, the Tea Party). But most black bigots are with the Democrats (just as most blacks are) and most white bigots are with the Republicans (just as most whites are).

    The most vocal “progressives” around don’t, however, seem particularly racially bigoted, other than their sometimes ridiculous paranoia about Republican racism, etc. But the most vocal conservatives are, if you ask me, unabashedly bigoted. Not anywhere as bad as the KKK or the BNP in Britain, but enough to make one worried. John McCain himself, when running for president, had to calm down town halls where people falsely railed against Obama for being an anti-American Muslim or Arab. Far too many Republican leaders have indulged the ridiculous notion that Obama is not a natural-born American citizen, or the ridiculous notion that he is an Arab or Muslim.

    Speaking of talk radio, this website, despite its obvious biased agenda, has sourced clear instances of Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talking heads accusing Obama of being Arab, as if that’s some sort of slur: http://mediamatters.org/research/200809220015 And has everyone forgotten the “Barack, the Magic Negro” controversy that briefly dominated the 2008 news cycle?

    It boggles my mind how anyone can argue that there aren’t a substantial number of vocal, white bigots affiliated with the conservative cause or the Republican party. Them’s the facts.

  25. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    24. March 2010 at 18:52

    johnleemk — is this purposeful misinformation, or just ignorance?

  26. Gravatar of johnleemk johnleemk
    24. March 2010 at 19:24

    Greg, http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=E97E3C27-18FE-70B2-A88E6B4BF807F5EE

    http://www.seattlepi.com/local/376725_snohomish28.html

    http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_S_buck16.3d67d4a.html

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2008/12/27/gop-official-blasted-distributing-obama-magic-negro-cd/

    To name a few.

  27. Gravatar of Bonnie Bonnie
    24. March 2010 at 19:57

    What is it about wanting illegal immigration curbed that is bigoted? From my perspective there are all kinds of problems with not controlling the illegal immigration problem we have, not the least of which is how the illegal immigrant is treated while they are being transported here and while they are hiding once they get here. They are exploited from the second they leave their homeland and it never ends. It is, as far as I am concerned a modern form of slavery. You should see some the border towns here in America that are run by human traffickers. I was shocked that a condition such as that could exist here in the US with the state doing absolutely nothing about it. I grew up in the Inland Empire in SoCal, and I remember seeing news reports, at least once per year if not more, about abandoned moving trucks found out in the middle of the desert with the cargo area filled with the bodies of illegals who were locked inside out in the sweltering heat.
    One has to ask what kinds of perverse incentives are provided by our government that perpetuates the suffering these people endure. Contributors to this condition are more than likely too numerous to count but we can probably intellectualize (oh, I’m sorry. I forgot that Republicans are brain dead and my thoughts probably mean nothing) a few: The way we control legal immigration that has no ability meet demand and minimum wage laws. If we’re going to have minimum wage laws and clamp down on legal immigration so some constituencies feel they are being protected, things that are contributing to the profitability of human trafficking, then the logical thing would be to decide if either of these are worth what we’re getting from them or if they are causing far more problems than they are worth. It would seem to me that if we want to do these, then we have to enforce our borders in order to not suffer the unintended consequences that unfortunately victimize the illegals.
    The last question remaining is it unreasonable to have an aversion to individuals who are here illegally receiving public assistance? I can say that I have a problem with the degree of lawlessness that comes with illegal immigration being subsidized with tax dollars and/or public debt. I would rather convert those expenses to border enforcement as long as all other public policies remain the same. It protects both us and them, and I certainly don’t see the bigotry there.

  28. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    24. March 2010 at 19:57

    I’ve met more bigots and racists of various dimensions on the left than on the “right”. That’s my experience. And really I’ve seen very little.

    I just haven’t seen in real life what Scott claims is true. But perhaps Scott moves in very different crowds than I have.

  29. Gravatar of Doc Merlin Doc Merlin
    24. March 2010 at 21:48

    ‘I heard the government will take over the student loan market. Do they plan to garnish the wages of deadbeats?’

    Its more complicated than that, federal student loans bypass bankruptcy protection. So, if someone has 100k of student loans, and they declare bankruptcy, they still have 100k of student loans + any accumulated interest and fees. Anyone who goes to an expensive college and wasn’t wealthy, will be ‘slave of the lender’ to the government with really no recourse.

  30. Gravatar of Doc Merlin Doc Merlin
    24. March 2010 at 21:49

    So, what deadbeats do is just refuse to pay and end up living off their parents or working for cash while more interest accumulates. (Yes I have seen a few examples of this.)

  31. Gravatar of beamish beamish
    25. March 2010 at 03:57

    If Gingrich didn’t have civil rights legislation in mind, then he was saying something obviously false, as a matter of political science. It’s not as if Medicare broke up the solid south.

  32. Gravatar of StatsGuy StatsGuy
    25. March 2010 at 04:54

    Greg –

    Can you kindly point me to the survey/profile/study of talk radio listeners you are referring to? I was unable to source it myself, and the closest data source I could find was a Limbaugh study in 1998 (Limbaugh’s audience has shrunken considerably in size and aged substantially since then, in spite of general population growth). I would like to compare conservative talk radio listeners to a comparably committed liberal audience (say, Daily Kos readers or Kieth Olbermann watchers).

    Thank you kindly…

  33. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    25. March 2010 at 05:01

    Greg; You said;

    “Scott “” Nixon introduced the action Federal Action “” google “affirmative action” and “Arthur Fletcher”. You seem not to know the history.”

    I certainly do know the history, I lived through it. And what you just said does not conflict with what I said at all. I agreed that LBJ did not use the term ‘affirmative action’. But LBJ certainly advocated affirmative action while still president, there is no doubt about that. The policy began under LBJ, even if Nixon introduced the name, and introduced newer affirmative action programs. In any case, even if you are right, it really doesn’t have anything to do with my argument, which is that the Dems are associated with affirmative action.

    What Bush had going for him was that he was the son of a former President. He never would have been elected governor of Texas on merit alone. And I still say he was an example of the anti-intellectual attitude of the Republicans. And no, I don’t buy into the left wing propaganda machine. For instance, I think Reagan was more intellectual than many of the left will acknowledge.

    You said;

    “I’m been around professors and graduate students who did nothing but gas and read philosophy and I’ve been around men with 8th grade educations who have done things in the world and read 4 papers a day “” the first group was “intellectual” and I can tell you there were very ignorant about almost anything you want to name. The men with eighth grade educations read history, knew what was going on in the world, and understand all sorts of stuff in the real world. The professors and grad students would call them “anti-intellectual”. I would call most of those professors ignorant boobs living in a tiny bubble world with little understanding of economics, politics or the real world “” the farthest things from “anti-intellectual” and also the farthest thing from intelligent ….”

    I have also had this experience, but it in no way conflicts with what I said. I know lots of people who never went to college who are intellectuals, and lots of professors who are not intellectuals. It’s what you know that counts, not your education. As far as I can tell Sarah Palin knew very little in 2008, and yet the Republicans considered her qualified to be President.

    Greg#4, I was mostly referring to the people who call in to talk radio. They tend to be conservatives and are often bigots. Our host in Boston (Jay Severin) used to talk about the life of one US marine being worth more than 1000s of arabs (I forgot the exact number, but it was huge) and also mentioned the option of dropping a nuke on Baghdad if it would help avoid US casualties. Baghdad has 5 million people. You don’t hear that sort of talk on left wing NPR.

    When I hear people use the N-word they are usually conservative on other issues. I do think that liberals have some bigoted attitudes, against Christian fundamentalists for instance, but I’ve never heard a liberal say that Christian fundamentalists shouldn’t be able to serve in the military. But many conservatives feel that way about gays. (In fairness, a good number of Democrats do as well.)

    Statsguy, I thought you’d agree on the bigotry issue.

    Statsgy#2, I disagree on health care. The really expensive health care is almost always very time consuming. I have seen this issue debated by bloggers that know much more than I do, and both sides accept that the incentive problem is there. The other side points to the Massachusetts “success,” despite the incentive problem, which I also mentioned as a counterexample.

    I believe our health plan at Bentley costs more than $20,000 a year. If we went without it for 10 years, we’d earn another $200,000 plus in income. That’s more than enough to pay for 3 ski accidents. I really think health care is a bad deal for the healthy if you can’t be turned down for pre-existing conditions. I don’t say that this will prevent Obama-care from working, but I do think it’s something the government will have to watch, and they may need to raise the penalties, or better yet go with a forced saving plan.

    Bonnie; You said;

    “What is it about wanting illegal immigration curbed that is bigoted?”

    Nothing at all. I hope you are referring to another commenter, because I certainly don’t regard that as a bigoted position. Indeed I think both Dems and Republicans oppose illegal immigration.

    You said;

    “The last question remaining is it unreasonable to have an aversion to individuals who are here illegally receiving public assistance?”

    No it is not unreasonable, although I favor giving illegals some kinds of assistance (schooling) but not other kinds (welfare, etc.)

    Greg, Yes, we move in different circles. I find both left liberals and classical liberals to be less racist than other groups.

    beamish, I agree that Medicare didn’t break up the solid south, but I doubt that’s what Gingrich said. But also note that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was supported by more Republicans than Democrats—the idea that this would suddenly cause people to switch to the Republicans is a bit far-fetched. Again, I remember the late 60s and the 1970s, and it was busing, crime and affirmative action that led the the white racist backlash associated with George Wallace. In 1968 there was a lively debate among political scientists about whether Wallace hurt Humphrey more or Nixon more. So even in 1968 the realignment was far from complete. BTW, Wallace was also opposed to big government spending programs. One reason that many racists oppose the welfare state is that they perceive the benefits going disproportionately to minorities. (Just to be clear, I don’t think that is the case, but I think that is what they often believe.)

  34. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    25. March 2010 at 06:49

    Well, the East Coast does seem to be very different that the West Coast:

    “Greg#4, I was mostly referring to the people who call in to talk radio. They tend to be conservatives and are often bigots. Our host in Boston (Jay Severin) used to talk about the life of one US marine being worth more than 1000s of arabs (I forgot the exact number, but it was huge) and also mentioned the option of dropping a nuke on Baghdad if it would help avoid US casualties. Baghdad has 5 million people. You don’t hear that sort of talk on left wing NPR.

    When I hear people use the N-word they are usually conservative on other issues. “

  35. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    25. March 2010 at 07:15

    In the prisons in California you see racists — group vs group division on race lines, hispanic vs black — and whites outside that major division.

  36. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    25. March 2010 at 07:16

    You wouldn’t identify the prison population as “conservatives”, unless you were a leftist really making a stretch …

  37. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    25. March 2010 at 07:26

    Note well that half a dozen racists ex-cons moved from out of state to Idaho 25-30 years ago — and the NY Times and NBC and CBS have branded the whole state Idaho as racists ever since.

    I’ve known lots of people from Idaho, and never met one who was a racist …

    This gives you some indication of the nature of the “conservatives are racist” meme in the leftist / mainstream bubble chamber.

  38. Gravatar of 123 – TheMoneyDemand 123 - TheMoneyDemand
    25. March 2010 at 07:38

    “Thanks, I agree with that paper. It also suggests to me a possible compromise to get inflation hawks on board. How about switching to an NGDP target, but at a rate that will produce less than 2% long run inflation (such as a 4% NGDP target.) Would the inflation hawks go for that idea? They might, especially if it was pointed out that the government inflation estimates are now so unreliable at to be almost worthless.”

    Scott, I’m not so sure about this after reading the latest nonsense from Donald Kohn:
    “Another approach to this problem is for central banks to target a gradually rising price level rather than a constant inflation rate. Imagine a plot of the consumer price index (CPI) from today onward increasing 2 percent each year. Central banks would commit to adjusting policy to keep the CPI near that line.

    The advantage of this approach, in theory at least, is that when a negative shock drives prices below the target level, people will automatically expect the central bank to increase inflation for a while to get back to trend. In principle, that expectation would lower real interest rates without the central bank changing its inflation commitment, even if nominal interest rates were pinned at zero. It could also make it easier for people to make long-term economic decisions because they could anticipate that inflation misses would be reversed over time, reducing uncertainty about the future price level.

    While I appreciate the elegance of this price-level-targeting idea, I have serious doubts that it would work in practice. Central to the idea is that the Federal Reserve would be committing to hit a price level that was growing at a constant rate from a fixed point in the past. The specific inflation rate that could be expected in the future would change over time, depending on the inflation that had been realized up to that point. You could know what inflation rate to expect only if you knew both the current consumer price index and the Fed’s target for the index in the future. In addition, the inflation rate that you could expect would be different for different horizons. Moreover, central banks are able to control inflation only with a considerable lag and even then only imprecisely, so the process of hitting a target would likely involve frequent overshooting and correction and consequently frequently shifting inflation objectives.

    Contrast this approach with the communications required of central banks when targeting a specific inflation rate. For example, central banks targeting a 2 percent inflation rate typically put that target prominently on their webpage. If those banks were instead targeting a price level growing at 2 percent, their webpages would have to provide a table of inflation rate targets for a variety of horizons, and the targets would change each month. I fear that rather than anchoring people’s expectations about prices, it could leave them perplexed.

    As you can tell, I see compelling reasons why central banks should stick to their current inflation objectives. Those reasons relate most importantly to the effect of a central bank’s communications and behavior on its credibility and on the public’s expectations. More study leading to a better understanding of the linkage between central bank actions and expectation formation should improve the ability of central banks to achieve society’s inflation and output objectives more effectively under a variety of circumstances, including in a severe negative shock of the type we recently experienced”
    http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/speech/kohn20100324a.htm

  39. Gravatar of beamish beamish
    25. March 2010 at 07:40

    Scott, I find your reply to me confusing. Let’s see what we agree on.
    1) Gingrich said that Johnson shattered the Democratic party for 40 years
    2) Gingrich was pretty much right about that, if he meant that Johnson caused the party to lose its historic base in the south.
    3) The main thing the Johnson did to shatter the Democratic party in that way was support the Civil Rights Act
    4) Gingrich knows this

    Do you believe any of 1, 2, 3, or 4?

  40. Gravatar of Che is dead Che is dead
    25. March 2010 at 08:44

    As a former Democrat, I can say with complete confidence that Democrats are the most racist, bigoted people on Earth. Every white Democrat I’ve met, without exception, looks upon blacks and hispanics as children, unable to navigate the challenges of life without their help and guidance. They work tirelessly to create a culture of dependency in minority communities. Their policies have destroyed minority families and locked minority children into failing unionized schools. Any minority who has the temerity to object or even to question their motivations or policies is attacked in the most vile and racist way. One need only look at the state of minority communities after generations of liberal policies to see the fruits of the Democrats open-mindedness. Democrats rely heavily on minority votes and as a result are constantly churning the pot of racial animus. Many minority Democrats are little better, brandishing a sense of entitlement and grievance that is both unseemly and unwarranted. The very last thing they want is to be “judged by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin.” Many speak openly, in the most racist and bigoted terms, about whites and even other minorities. As for white conservatives supposedly being bigoted for opposing immigration, maybe you should take a poll in the black community and see where they come down on the issue.

    The U.S. takes in more legal immigrants than the rest of the world combined. I rarely here a conservative opposed to legal immigration. And when talking about immigration, I have never heard any say that it should be limited to European countries. The claim that anyone who opposes your position on illegal immigration is a bigot, says far more about you than it does about your opponent. Most Americans feel that we have a generous legal immigration policy and that those wishing to come here should abide by it. We do not believe that American citizenship should be handed out like a party favor to anyone, regardless of their race, who crashes our borders and manages to evade the law until some leftist asshole decides he wants their votes and calls for amnesty. If that makes us “bigots”, so be it.

  41. Gravatar of Che is dead Che is dead
    25. March 2010 at 09:30

    In the 1980s the Republicans were ahead on ideas. Ryan’s proposal was an exception-but that’s just one Congressman out of 200.

    Ah yes, “just one out of 200”, the rest must be stooges. What about Rep. Flake? Pence? Cantor? Are these men “anti-intellectual”? What about Republicans like Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie? And how is it, do you suppose, that Rep. Ryan finds himself front and center in the debate? Could it be that the majority of Republicans share his views? I realize, that to a leftist ideologue, no Republican can hope to match the towering intellect of, say, Barney Frank, Barbara Boxer, Maxine Waters or Patrick Kennedy, but anti-intellectual? Really?

  42. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. March 2010 at 10:03

    Greg, You asked for examples of bigotry on talk radio and I provided them. I don’t know what more I can do for you. I have listened to lots of right and left wing talk radio, and I find far more callers who are bigoted on the right wing side. Bigoted against blacks, hispanics, gays and atheists. I never denied that there wasn’t bigotry on the other side as well. All I can tell you is what I have experienced. I completely discount anything coming out of the left wing propaganda machine, so you are wrong on that count. If you don’t believe me, reread my criticism of Ktrugman and defense of Gingrich.

    123, That’s a pretty depressing quotation from Kohn

    beamish, According to the NYT Gingrich said the Great Society program caused the Dems to lose the South, not the Civil Rights Act. The Great Society program was passed after LBJ’s big victory, the 1964 Civil Rights act was passed before the election.

    I don’t agree with you that the Civil Rights Act hurt the Dems that badly. Yes, it cost them a few votes, but they won an overwhelming victory (61-38 I believe) just a few months later. So how much damage could it have done? I still believe it was the Great Society programs, plus rising crime, that turned a lot of white racists (and white non-racists) away from the Dems.

    Che is dead, You said;

    “The U.S. takes in more legal immigrants than the rest of the world combined. I rarely here a conservative opposed to legal immigration. And when talking about immigration, I have never heard any say that it should be limited to European countries. The claim that anyone who opposes your position on illegal immigration is a bigot, says far more about you than it does about your opponent.”

    I never claimed anyone opposed to illegal immigration is a racist, nor do I believe that. Indeed that kind of argument would pretty pretty stupid, in my view. I really don’t know why people keep claiming that I said something that I didn’t say. I have no problem with people who oppose illegal immigration, that’s a perfectly reasonable opinion. I guess it’s sort of like poor Gingrich, some people assume the worst about those they disagree with.

    Regarding your second point, didn’t the Republican leader in the House recently go out of his way to emphasize that Ryan’s ideas are not the views of the Republican Party?

    Barney Frank is my Congressional rep. I disagree with him on all sorts of issues. But yes, he is a towering intellectual compared to the average Republican Rep, or the average Democratic Rep for that matter.

    BTW, I never claimed that Democrats are, on average, smarter than Republicans. Nor do I believe that. But I do sense a growing anti-intellectual backlash in the Republican Party. I see that as a problem, as competence has to be the Republicans trump card—if they lose that they are sunk. People don’t vote for the Republicans because they think they have soft hearts, but rather because they think they have hard heads. Over the last 30 years the Republicans have generally had better ideas on economics than the Dems. Maybe they still do, but I have seen a real decline since the 1980s. I see Republicans talking about saving Medicare, encouraging home ownership, putting men back on the moon, going back to the gold standard, and other nutty ideas. They need a lot more people like Ryan.

  43. Gravatar of Che is dead Che is dead
    25. March 2010 at 10:41

    Barney Frank is my Congressional rep. … he is a towering intellectual compared to the average Republican Rep, or the average Democratic Rep for that matter.

    Barney Frank’s incompetence is well documented. Perhaps no other single individual is more responsible for the current condition of the economy. Further, everything you offer as evidence that Republicans are dolts – the political promotion of home ownership, demagoguery as it relates to Medicare, etc. – the Democrats in general, and Barney Frank in particular, are guilty of in spades. So, unless your opinion is based solely on rank partisanship, you’ll have to provide evidence of his intellectual torque if you want such a claim to be taken seriously. As far as I can tell, the lights are barely on.

  44. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    25. March 2010 at 11:15

    ‘He never would have been elected governor of Texas on merit alone. And I still say he was an example of the anti-intellectual attitude of the Republicans’

    You don’t know much about George W. Bush. He and Karl Rove used to have reading contests; averaging about a book a week during their time in the White House.

    And, if you want to see full throated white bigotry, ask a liberal what he thinks of Clarence Thomas.

  45. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    25. March 2010 at 12:18

    Scott, you’ve explained that East Coast talk radio is filled with racism, something I don’t see out here on the West Coast or on the national shows, and something hadn’t read about anywhere else. And I pointed out that this was news to me. I didn’t ask for more.

    “You asked for examples of bigotry on talk radio and I provided them. I don’t know what more I can do for you.”

  46. Gravatar of StatsGuy StatsGuy
    25. March 2010 at 12:19

    Patrick – please distinguish between intelligence and intellectualism. Bush may not have been the smartest President, but he wasn’t exceptionally dumb (IQ 125).

    However, his campaign platform was decidedly anti-intellectual and anti-elitist. The image his campaign projected (guy you can drink a beer with) was deliberately conservative/populist, while portraying Gore/Kerry as liberal intellectual elitists.

    BTW, the liberal legal folks I know have exactly the same opinion of Clarence Thomas that they have of Samuel Alito.

    And finally, for those who think that bigotry is uncorrelated with the Republican party, consider the recent reaction to Health Care passage (a measure I have opposed in its current form). While Liberal extremists protested Bush actions irresponsibly, the protests against Obama actions have been more tainted with racism. For example:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/20/AR2010032002556.html

    This doesn’t mean most Republicans are bigots. Certainly not – and those Republicans who denounced those actions deserve credit. For example:

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/politicolive/0310/Steele_Slurhurlers_idiots.html

    However, while most Republicans aren’t bigots, most bigots in the US vote Republican. If you have ANY hard data to dispute this statement, please present it.

    So far, the best ‘counterevidence’ I’ve seen consists of Greg’s stories about his personal acquaintances.

  47. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    25. March 2010 at 12:28

    If you read my old “PrestoPundit” blog you know I was calling Bush “the worst President ever” for just these sorts of reasons — as you well know I anticipated the current train wreck in advance, and Bush’s irresponsibility was a part of the package.

    This doesn’t make anyone anti-intellectual, it makes them skilled entrepreneurs in the business of politics — and enemies of a healthy society.

    Scott wrote:

    “I see Republicans talking about saving Medicare, encouraging home ownership, putting men back on the moon, going back to the gold standard, and other nutty ideas.”

  48. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    25. March 2010 at 12:31

    And note well — the gold thing comes from INTELLECTUALS.

    Intellectuals, of course, gave us socialism, etc. things far worse than the economics of those (TINY minority) talking about the gold standard.

  49. Gravatar of Kevin Donoghue Kevin Donoghue
    25. March 2010 at 15:44

    This debate is really none of my business, but Bruce Bartlett’s comments on the sacking of David Frum by the AEI seem relevant and worth a link.

  50. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. March 2010 at 17:12

    Che is dead, If you spoke with most of the Republicans in Congress they’d probably tell you that Barney Frank is extremely smart and knowledgeable. As I said, he has political views I don’t agree with. But at least when there is new information he changes his mind. He now calls for abolishing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If only the Republicans would take this position. But I’m told many still favor the continuation of these companies. The real estate industry is very powerful.

    As for being partisan–perhaps you don’t know that I am a right wing libertarian.

    Patrick. I am really surprised by how many people forget that I am a right-winger. Yes, I have heard about Bush’s book reading, and I’ve read he got higher grades that Gore. I’ve heard all the conservative talking points. I’ve used many of these myself when debating left-wingers. But I have also seen Bush try to answer questions at press conferences. After a while I found it too painful to watch. McCain used to brag that he knew nothing about economics (I guess it showed he wasn’t a nerd), until he found himself running for President in the midst of the worst banking crisis since 1933. Then he realized it wasn’t something he should brag about.

    By the way, I don’t think Bush was dumb. Here’s another way of making my point. I don’t think conservative politicians should go around mocking the pointy-headed professors who have wacky left wing ideas—rather they should proudly talk about all the pointy-headed professors who contributed ideas to their campaign. For my readers who are old enough to remember him, I see a bit of George Wallace’s populism in the modern GOP. Of course they are nowhere near as bad as Wallace, but it’s still a bit disturbing.

    Statsguy. I agree with most of what ypou say. But here are a few slight disagreements:

    1. Liberals I talk to think Thomas is dumber that Alito. I think liberals underestimate Thomas.

    2. I agree that there is more racism in the wackos going after Obama than those who earlier went after Bush. But the left wing wackos who argued 9/11 was a Bush plot were equally offensive. So I certainly don’t think one political party is morally superior to the other. There’s good and bad in both parties, pretty much as in society at large. It is human nature to think the other party is ethically worse, especially if you have a lot of friends who share your views, and observe others from a distance. I’m not sure any of this contradicts what you said, but I thought I throw it out there for clarification.

    Greg, I’ve often made similar arguments. In an earlier post I mentioned that most European intellectuals supported WWI, and they supported their own country in the war. Socialism is another example, as you mentioned. But I still think that the net effect of intellectuals is positive. In the sciences that’s pretty obvious, but I think it is also true in economics.

    On the gold standard, I think that most supporters are contemptuous of the economics establishment (who obviously oppose the gold standard) and basically go with their gut.

    I don’t want to get into a big global warming debate, but I’d point out that in the 1980s many scientists were doing studies that were basically supportive of the Republican view than the risks of nukes and chemicals were greatly exaggerated by the environmentalists. The green movement tended to be anti-intellectual–refusing to believe studies that showed chemicals in the environment weren’t correlated with cancer. Obviously that has all changed. It doesn’t mean the scientists are right about global warming. But it’s part of a trend. Teaching intelligent design is another example. It might be right, but it’s not really science.

    Kevin, That’s very depressing, but it doesn’t really surprise me. Here’s why it doesn’t surprise me:

    1. The Heritage group supported the Massachusetts reform, and the Obama reform isn’t much different. So it doesn’t surprise me that right wing intellectuals at the AEI would like some aspects of the plan.

    2. Thought control is a problem in all organizations. There have been accusations that Fed economists were pressured not to criticize Bernanke’s policies. Something similar occurred over at the Huffington Post, but I forget the details.

    I appreciate you sending me this example because it supports the point I was trying to make–which is that there is a disturbing anti-intellectual trend in the modern GOP.
    Perhaps this is a backlash against Bush’s activism. I think that a lot of conservatives think (correctly) that Bush’s compassionate conservatism was a big mistake. That the growth of social programs under Bush (NCLB, Medicare, etc)undercut the Republican brand. And the policies weren’t very good on the merits. But sticking your head in the sand is no answer.

    I opposed the Obama plan, but I offered an alternative that would provide universal coverage and subsidies for the poor—at a far lower cost to the government. I didn’t see the Republicans doing that.

    Everyone, If I was debating this issue with Krugman I’d be taking the opposite position, as I think he pushed this meme much too far. It’s a disturbing tendency, but there are still plenty of idiots and smart people in both parties.

  51. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    25. March 2010 at 20:14

    The gold thing came from Kemp and now Ron Paul. Both read economics and met with economists on the issue.

    You may think Kemp and Paul are dim bulbs, but the facts are they gotmthis stuff from “intellectuals”.

    And scientists are the source of the scientific attack on man made global warming hysteria …..

    Where are you getting your information — you say it isn’t from the left mainstream
    media bubble, but I begin to wonder ….

  52. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    25. March 2010 at 20:20

    Scott, do you read InstaPundit or Reason magazine?

    In other words, I’ll ask you the Sarah Palin question — what non-bubble sources do you read or watch (i.e. sources unlike the Boston Globenor NY Times)?

  53. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    26. March 2010 at 10:29

    That Krugman column seems to me to be combining two unsalvagable rhetorical strategies – accusations of bad faith and extrapolating wildly from the actions of a fringe few. I thought these were the highlights:

    “Yes, a few conservative policy intellectuals, after making a show of thinking hard about the issues…”

    Could he possibly labor any harder to be ungenerous? This is positively Dickensian. If only Krugman could assign them names like Mr. Fingercross or Prof. Cheatword.

    “But it is also a victory for America’s soul. In the end, a vicious, unprincipled fear offensive failed to block reform.”

    Wrong in so many ways. The vicious few and the unprincipled politicians show up to every political fight; it is not a “victory for America’s soul” every time we pass a bill. The real problem is not the unprincipledness (what does Krugman think the point of a professional political class is anyway?) but the *principledness* of the bill’s opponents.

    Delong did a million times better just by adducing lots of quotes and using the word “insane” a few times. The argument that Republicans are bad people (not, as he said in the NY article, that they should take it personally) is especially unfortunate because it dilutes the message that Republican arguments and tactics have been so foolish and misguided.

  54. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    26. March 2010 at 12:39

    ‘Patrick – please distinguish between intelligence and intellectualism. Bush may not have been the smartest President, but he wasn’t exceptionally dumb (IQ 125).’

    I’m amazed I’m being asked that…here among us intellectuals, that is.

    Intelligence is about brainpower; how quick and retentive one’s mind is. Plenty of very intelligent people–engineers, CPAs, MDs–aren’t necessarily intellectual. I.e. aren’t interested in abstract ideas for their own sake, and wouldn’t have any interest in chatting with us here (or at many other blog comments sections).

    I’ve also known many people of very ordinary intelligence who were intellectual. And also pathetically ill-informed about ideas that did interest them. But enough about my former girlfriends.

    How intelligent George W. Bush is isn’t on the table. I agree he’s smarter than both Gore and Kerry, and probably Obama too–would Bush ever have said that, ‘profits eat up overhead’?

    I was responding to the claim that he epitomized anti-intellectualism. That is, he’s actively hostile to ideas.
    Clearly he is the opposite of that.

    As for how he answered questions at a press conference or what his campaign stressed, again that’s irrelevant. The audience for those are the masses, not intellectuals. As Adlai Stevenson supposedly recognized in an oft repeated witticism.

    Then there is the ‘intellectual class’, the professional second-hand dealers in ideas. Many of whom are also comparatively stupid.

  55. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. March 2010 at 08:59

    Greg, I have done a lot of my own research on the global warming literature. I have read many of the scientific papers, and I think I have a pretty good idea of what the scientific consensus is. I consider myself a moderate on the issue. I think the science is relatively solid, but not airtight. I think the is a lot of political bias on both sides of the debates, even among scientists. I think something like a carbon tax is desirable, but I am nowhere near as panicked as the Al Gore’s of the world.

    On gold, or anything else, you can always find a few intellectuals to support any view, no matter how wacky. That has no bearing on whether a party is anti-intellectual. In the past week we have been witness to one of the sorriest examples of head in the sand anti-intellectualism that I have ever seen in either political party. David Frum told the truth about Republican hypocrisy, and conservatives stuck their fingers in their ears. Even Republican researchers at think tanks are now being told to hew the party line. But what is the party line? I thought Romney and the Heritage Institute liked the Obama approach. Or did they only like it when it was being proposed by a Republican?

    anon/portly, Great comment. I entirely agree with you.

    greg, I subscribe to three magazines, one libertarian (Reason), one moderate (The Economist), and one left wing (NYRofBooks.) But I also read blogs and newspapers from all points of view–lots of left wing and lots of right wing blogs. Almost every single conservative talking point brought up in my comment section against me is something I’ve already read somewhere, and indeed in some cases it is a talking point that I myself have used in arguments.

    BTW, even though I live in Boston, I rarely read the Globe, except for weather forecasts. It’s a lousy paper.

    Patrick, I agreed with you early in the Bush adminstration. I kept thinking “what they are doing doesn’t make sense to me, but they know more about the foreign policy situation that I do, so who am I to second guess.”

    In 2003 I wondered why they didn’t put Petreaus in charge, after all things clearly weren’t going well except in Mosul. In 2003 I wondered why they did respond to peace overtures from Iran. Later I found out that Bush had no idea what he was doing, and was in way over his head. By the end he was bailing out auto companies. He would defend his tax cuts on demand side grounds, not seeming to realize that he was supposed to be a supply-sider. I don’t care how many books he read or how high his IQ is, at press conferences I saw a guy who had no idea what was going on. BTW, Obama also leaves a lot to be desired. Clinton was smarter than either of them.

    Then there is Sarah Palin . . .

  56. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    27. March 2010 at 09:41

    Scott, the models don’t account for mosture and cloud cover, he models have produced falsified “predictions”, the models deal with non-liner dynamic phenomana whose innitial conditions can’t be calibrated to produce linear rule on the chalk board predictions. The data from stations in Russia, Austrialia, China and elsewhere has been falsified or corruptly manipulated. Over 80% of stations in the U.S. are significantly heat source contaminated. The UEA computer model is fullmofngarbade data and garbage code, as the writers of the code themselves confess within the code itself. Give all that, I find your conclusion here strangely confident in the (mostly phony) consensus of a scientific community you acknowledge operatesmon political criteria (and you ignore the incentive problem in climate science, sort of 101 analysis for an economist — the money corruptionof the headmof the UN climate group is a stunning fact of the whole thing). People can reach different conclusions, of course, but to imply that the scientific critics of the Gore picture are “anti-intellectual” or anti-science remains offensive — particularly in the context of the massive abuse of science among so many in the climate science community, and among the watermelon leftists in the environmental goverment / NGO / and university community.

    “Greg, I have done a lot of my own research on the global warming literature. I have read many of the scientific papers, and I think I have a pretty good idea of what the scientific consensus is. I consider myself a moderate on the issue. I think the science is relatively solid, but not airtight. I think the is a lot of political bias on both sides of the debates, even among scientists. I think something like a carbon tax is desirable, but I am nowhere near as panicked as the Al Gore’s of the world.”

  57. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    27. March 2010 at 10:20

    Scott, I haven’t the scientific papers you mention.

    I have read _Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years_ by S. Fred Singer & Dennis T. Avery, and I do read many of the items linked at climatedebatedaily.com and at InstaPundit.com .

    As a philosopher of science I find the corruption and conflict of interest and political hardball within climate science of great interest.

  58. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. March 2010 at 06:36

    Greg, all those points you raise have been addressed:

    Even GW sceptics now agree the Earth is warming, we have lots of independent evidence from sources not affected by urban heat islands. That part of the issue is really beyond dispute. The skeptics have a fall back position that maybe warming will increase cloud cover, and that this will be like a thermstat preventing further warming. The models try to account for this, and the best estimates we have are that it won’t stop warming. Are we certain? Of course not, but the science is much stronger than you imply. Most of the scientists doing research in this area are not corrupt.

    Science is very much like economics. It’s not likely that political pressure would cause 95% of economists to suddenly adopt a view they didn’t agree with. There’s a reason most economists spout Keyneisan nonsense–they really believe the Keynesian nonsense. Corruption is a very overrated problem.

    Just as Keynesian econ is wrong, the GW theory may also be wrong. But the best evidence we have right now suggests that it is correct.

  59. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    28. March 2010 at 08:06

    The direct corruption in climate science is a very unusual form — most of how science gets biases by incentives and certification structure and founder effects (read some biology) are not cases direct conscoliously dishonest mechanisms.

    Larry White has documented the massive role the Fed plays in the macroeconomics profession, with publication outlets, job opportunities, prestige opportunities, Fed sponsorred conferences, etc.

    But the prinicples biasing / corrupting factor in econ has been th certification procedure which privileges manipulation of math constructs and data set — all of this backed up by a false picture of “real science”.

    I grew up I a place with more science PhDs per capita than anyplace else in the world. I deeply admire hard science and scientific inquiry, but I am nomlonger naive about group think in the non-hard sciences, and the various biasing factors in those sciences. Climate science studies essentially complex phenomena — it is not simple phenome of the type modeled in hard science.

    With what we know about the U of EA code and about the corruption of the faculty there, and about the various falsifications of the “predictions” of these models, and questions about the role of the ocean and the sun and moisture and
    clowd cover, etc., and about the warming period 1,000 years ago, and the recent cessation of warming in the current period, etc. we have more than enough justification for not relying upon a “consensus” in a community with
    massive peer pressure, overwhelming founder effects, huge dollars on the line, professional status, fame, and even publication opportunities on the line, etc.

    Scientists are human beings and the scientific world is a compromised political human social structure like any others.

    Bottom line is that we haven’t established what is causing the warming, we have significant counter evidence to the CO2 causal story, we have strong rivals to that story, and we have evidence of massive group think and massive corruption in the proCO2 community.

    And we have reason to not simply “trust science”, due to ourunderstanding of the limitations of essentially complex phenomana, our understanding of the social structure of this scientific community, and our knowledge of the less
    than solid “scientific” case of the CO2 scientists.

  60. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    28. March 2010 at 09:15

    Scott, the significant thing is causal pathways (see the work of David Hull).

    The gold thing passed from intellectuals to Kemp and Paul — the intellectuals were the causal source or their position.

  61. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    28. March 2010 at 09:16

    Scott, it turns out this is all a lie, well documented now.

    Another “fail” on the part of the bubble mainstream.

    “avid Frum told the truth about Republican hypocrisy, and conservatives stuck their fingers in their ears. Even Republican researchers at think tanks are now being told to hew the party line.”

  62. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    28. March 2010 at 09:24

    This is misdirection. The central issue is causal role of various factors, and the interconnection between multiple causal pathways. And the historical record of global warming over the past 2,000 years is in dispute in ways that centrally implicate the validity of the CO2 story — and just where you find CO@ scientist corruption.

    Beyond that, the CO@ predictions have been falsified in multiple ways.

    And at the center of the climategate scandal is the corruption of the “independent evidence” data — crucial to the whole thing. I’m guessing you are aware of this.

    And the scandal of the Russia, China and Australia data has not yet been taken account of in the peer review literature — these facts are largely newly identified. And these sources were suppose to be the non-contaminated ones …

    Scott writes:

    “Even GW sceptics now agree the Earth is warming, we have lots of independent evidence from sources not affected by urban heat islands. That part of the issue is really beyond dispute.”

  63. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    28. March 2010 at 09:30

    Bottom line is that faith without inquiry in “science” would be the anti-intellectual position, and active engagement in understanding the weaknesses and pathologies in C02 theory assertions and approach, and in the organization and behavior of the scientific community itself (including the UN & the government & money interests) is the more intellectual stance.

    Let me say that again.

    It’s more intellectual. It’s not less intellectual.

  64. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    29. March 2010 at 07:38

    Peter Wallison on the AEI and the Frum/Barlett smear:

    http://blog.american.com/?p=11898

  65. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    29. March 2010 at 11:38

    Greg, You said;

    “This is misdirection. The central issue is causal role of various factors, and the interconnection between multiple causal pathways. And the historical record of global warming over the past 2,000 years is in dispute in ways that centrally implicate the validity of the CO2 story “” and just where you find CO@ scientist corruption.”

    It’s very relevant to the point you made about world temps not rising, or at least the evidence that world temps were rising being unreliable. I was responding to that assertion.

    Your link to the presumably unbiased AEI doesn’t provide a shred of evidence that it is a lie. I still think Frum was fired for his views, and I still believe that staffers told him they were pressured not to say good things about Obamacare. If those staffers come forward and say they didn’t make those comments to Frum, and that Frum is lying, then I’ll retract that part of my accusation. But they haven’t, at least so far. But I won’t retract the charge that Frum was fired for his views, which is a separate issue.

    I think when I referred to the charge I said something like “if true” as I knew it would be contested.

    One final comment on global warming. I do not believe that Republicans are looking at the science, and forming an unbiased view of how likely it is to be true. I think they approach the subject with strong priors, and that this distorts their judgment. The same level of scientific support for a conservative position, say that chemicals in food don’t cause cancer, is enthusiastically embraced by the WSJ. In the past I criticzed the Dems for being anti-science on that very issue of chemicals in food.

  66. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    29. March 2010 at 21:58

    I nowhere said temps weren’t rising. In fact, since 1998 they may not have risen. Who knows. The data certainly is problematic, as the revelations about China, Russia, Australia and the U.S. in the last year make plain.

    You write:

    “It’s very relevant to the point you made about world temps not rising, or at least the evidence that world temps were rising being unreliable.”

    In any case, whether and when temps have risen or fallen, the issue remains getting the causal mechanisms and historical explanations right, and figuring out whether this complex dynamic non-linear system can yield simple linear “Newtonian” math relations across time linking just two variables of special interest to environmentalist out of dozens if not hundreds or variables, many of them very likely more significant as causal variables to the functioning of the system.

    On Frum.

    Frum _himself_ denies that anyone told him this:

    “I still believe that staffers told him they were pressured not to say good things about Obamacare. If those staffers come forward and say they didn’t make those comments to Frum, and that Frum is lying”

    Frum is up front in saying that this is his own conclusion — there’s massive evidence against his conclusion, which is part of why the AEI folks are outraged.

    Frum says he said something different from what Barlett reported he said. It’s all on the web.

    It could be that Frum was fired for his view — or it could be he was fired for never pulling his weight at the AEI, which is what all sorts of AEI people are saying, giving examples.

  67. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    30. March 2010 at 05:49

    Greg, You said:

    “Over 80% of stations in the U.S. are significantly heat source contaminated.”

    I responded by talking about other temperature evidence. Then you suggested I was out of order for responding, because you’d never claimed temps weren’t rising. That quotation is what I was responding to.

    If you are right about Frum, then I’ll withdraw the charge about the staffers–in a new post. But where is the link–you said it was all over the web. And don’t send a right wing link, send something from a mainstream paper.

  68. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    30. March 2010 at 07:09

    Scott, see Frum’s web site.

    I haven’t seen any reliable source contradicting the heat contamination problem in the U.S. — what they do is attempt statistical work arounds, etc.

    I didn’t say you were out of order talking about other temperature evidence — this is important. The problem is, much of it doesn’t support the CO2 theory — it falsifies it.

    The CO2 causal story is not equivalent to the claim that there has been global warming between 1920 and 1998.

  69. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    30. March 2010 at 07:17

    Here’s Frum:

    “Did AEI muzzle healthcare scholars? I fear that in reproducing in print a private conversation from some months ago, Bruce Bartlett made a transmission error. I did not report as fact that scholars were laboring under any restrictions. What I did say was that AEI was punching way below its weight in the healthcare debate. I wondered, not alleged, wondered, whether AEI scholars were constrained by fear of saying something that might get them into trouble. To repeat: this was something I asked many months ago in private conversation, not something I allege today in public debate.”

    But don’t take Frum’s word for it. All sorts of AEI and non-AEI folks have pointed out that a mass of evidence runs counter to Frum’s claim, and no one can find any evidence supporting it.

    Here’s an AEI critic (I have no idea whether he is left or right) who looked into Frum’s claims, and found them contradicted by fact:

    http://trueslant.com/conorfriedersdorf/2010/03/26/actually-aei-folks-have-been-weighing-in-on-health-care/

    Facts have little purchase in today’s world of the “narrative”.

    I’m guessing we’ll be hearing about the corruption scholars at AEI ever after now.

  70. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    30. March 2010 at 19:52

    NASA — our data is in even worse shape than the CRU data:

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/03/30/nasa-data-worse-than-climategate-data/

  71. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    31. March 2010 at 06:07

    Greg, Thanks for the Frum info. I also see a lot of problems with specific climate studies and data, but when I look at the overall picture I see:

    1. The best evidence is that the Earth has warmed about one degree in 100 years.

    2. The best models predict CO2, methane, etc, should cause a greenhouse effect.

    3. We are virtually certain that CO2 levels are steadily rising (this part of the theory is uncontroversial.)

    I think these three propositions are well enough established, despite problems here and there, that there is a strong likelihood in favor of the overall hypothesis. I do agree that there is great uncertainty about how much worse it will get.

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