Paul Krugman Political Hack

Saturday, October 26, AD 2013





Once upon a time Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman actually had some interesting thoughts about economics.  That was before he became a political hack.  Here is Krugman on the deficit in 2004:




PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN, PRINCETON ECONOMIST: Well, basically we have a world-class budget deficit not just as in absolute terms of course – it’s the biggest budget deficit in the history of the world – but it’s a budget deficit that as a share of GDP is right up there.

It’s comparable to the worst we’ve ever seen in this country.

It’s biggest than Argentina in 2001.

Which is not cyclical, there’s only a little bit that’s because the economy is depressed.

Mostly it’s because, fundamentally, the Government isn’t taking in enough money to pay for the programs and we have no strategy of dealing with it.

So, if you take a look, the only thing that sustains the US right now is the fact that people say, “Well America’s a mature, advanced country and mature, advanced countries always, you know, get their financial house in order,” but there’s not a hint that that’s on the political horizon, so I think we’re looking for a collapse of confidence some time in the not-too-distant future.

TONY JONES: When you say the not-too-distant future, what does that mean?

We know there may be a crisis in paying, for example, in social security…

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: What I envision is that at some point, we have about 10 years now until the baby boomers hit the United States.

The US even more than other advanced countries has a welfare state that’s primarily a welfare state for retirees.

We have the huge bulge in the population that starts to collect benefits and earn the next decade.

If there isn’t a clear path towards fiscal sanity well before that, then I think the financial markets are going to say, “Well, gee, where is this going?”


Here is Krugman on the deficit this week:

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3 Responses to Paul Krugman Political Hack

  • And I do mean fantasies. Washington has spent the past three-plus years in terror of a debt crisis that keeps not happening, and, in fact, can’t happen to a country like the United States, which has its own currency and borrows in that currency. Yet the scaremongers can’t bring themselves to let go.

    Yes, people have been warning about deficits and the national debt since I’ve been old enough to vote but Prof Klugman should remember that in the story of the boy who cried “Wolf!” the wolf finally came.

  • Their sole purpose is to advance the narrative and provide continual propaganda for Obama and the progressive nightmare.

    The post-modern academy seamlessly imbeds fabrications into facts. For these varlets all reading is arbitrary and personal. Theory cannot be proved only disproved. They specialize in ignoring the facts.

    They invent their facts, deny/ignore errors, display arrogance and execrate anybody with opposing evidence.

    Faked but accurate. For these liars, truth, facts, realities, and history do not exist. They are clay on their potter’s wheels. They use them to invent factoids, to do good as they see it. And whatever they need to twist or omit is justified by their purity of intentions – and they always have the purest of intentions. False but justified.

    They fall back on hysterics, insults, lies and weeping and gnashing of teeth to advance their horrid ideas and destructive policies. The facts and truth are not susceptible to their calumnies, distortions, distractions, exaggerations, omissions, and outright lies. They eithyer subvert or suppress the truth.

    In conclusion, economics, in particular, and the social sciences, in general, are mind-numbing hokum. No rational person should have any respect for the so-called disciplines.

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Of Trillion Dollar Coins, Prancing Unicorns and Paul Krugman

Tuesday, January 8, AD 2013




I have written before of a truly wacked out nostrum popular among bloggers on the Left in this country to have a coin minted with a trillion dollar value in order to “solve” the debt crisis.  Go here to read my post on the subject.  Now economist Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate and barking mad Leftist moonbat, has endorsed the proposal:

Enter the platinum coin. There’s a legal loophole allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the secretary chooses. Yes, it was intended to allow commemorative collector’s items — but that’s not what the letter of the law says. And by minting a $1 trillion coin, then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling — while doing no economic harm at all.

So why not?

It’s easy to make sententious remarks to the effect that we shouldn’t look for gimmicks, we should sit down like serious people and deal with our problems realistically. That may sound reasonable — if you’ve been living in a cave for the past four years.Given the realities of our political situation, and in particular the mixture of ruthlessness and craziness that now characterizes House Republicans, it’s just ridiculous — far more ridiculous than the notion of the coin.

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32 Responses to Of Trillion Dollar Coins, Prancing Unicorns and Paul Krugman

  • Actually, that authority (set the values of coins) is (Constitution) reserved to Congress.

    Common sense is subversion.

    Out of control class war spending led to ruinous deficits. Democrats and the lying, vile media/propaganda arm are running the country to the ground with ever more humongous government spending that requires ever more ruinous borrowing to fund ever more spending, etc. ad infinitum; and the Federal Reserve aids and abets this insanity as it keeps real interest rates negative and monetizes (prints dollars) the debt. This destroys the people’s wealth.

    Now, they want to coin a trillion dollar platinum piece to repay a part of the gargantuan debt: insane. How does this differ from printing a trillion bill?

    And, they are no better. Last week, the cowardly GOP refused to stop lunatic tax hikes but agreed to keep disastrous borrowing/spending.

    The truth is treason.

  • Pixie dust for everyone!
    If the imposters in Washington go through with this what could loom around the corner?
    Maybe a presidential wand that would transform Republicans into Democrats….wait, that already exists.

  • Oh! Paul krugman is a crazy person with credentials. That he was awarded a Nobel prize tells more about the Nobel prize than about the lunatic.

  • Krugman actually did do some very good academic work on trade and specialization which was the basis for his Nobel price, but he hasn’t done much of any real academic work in 10+ years, now he’s a talking head and an increasingly crazy one. That he is endorsing the trillion dollar coin idea is arguably a new low even for him.

    One of the deeply troubling things is that this line of thinking (that it’s utterly hopeless to try to govern the country in cooperation with the opposing party so it’s better to look for ways to subvert the law in order to govern without dealing with the other half of the country) has become increasingly standard on the left in recent years.

  • “(that it’s utterly hopeless to try to govern the country in cooperation with the opposing party so it’s better to look for ways to subvert the law in order to govern without dealing with the other half of the country) has become increasingly standard on the left in recent years.”

    A similar spirit prevailed in the latter half of the 1850’s Darwin. I trust we will benefit from our history during that cataclysmic time, but considering how widespread historical illiteracy is now I fear that such may not be the case.

  • And yet the US Treasury 10 year yield is 1.87% (1.31% after tax) and the 2-year is at 27 basis points.

    Given inflation at 1.8%, this means that people are prepared to pay for the privilege of lending money tot he US government, when they could buy investment grade corporate stocks at a forward earnings yield of 8%. They could even buy the S & P at a dividend yield of 2.2% (1.87% after tax) and a maximum tax rate of only 15%, against 30% for Treasuries and that does not count the rest of the earnings.

    Too much government debt? Investors obviously do not think so – Not if they are prepared to buy it at those sort of yields.

  • Krugman did some slipshod academic work on trade a few years back, that has been largely overtaken by game theory and microeconomic modeling. His theories revolved around countries erecting trade barriers on an item but never took into account that other countries might respond to those trade barriers. Then he started criticizing Bush in the NYT and won a Nobel prize.

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  • Not defending Krugman here, but what theory of money do you subscribe to Mr. McClarey? What about a trillion dollar coin is like a unicorn?

    I don’t like that it basically enables a way around the Congressional budgeting process, but I do like that it makes plain that the U.S. government, as a currency issuer, is much different than a household or EMU member–currency users.

    You must understand monetary operations of the Fed and Treasury before you compare them to mythical creatures.

    Doing so would also enable you to better guide public policy toward the common good. Instead, you are letting “leftists” use their better understanding of government monetary operations to seek their own purposes.

    It is not so much your philosophy that I quibble with, or your desire for less government, it is your understanding of money and particularly the monetary operations of currency issuers that I find lacking.

  • “What about a trillion dollar coin is like a unicorn?”

    They are both myths Alex. A trillion dollar coin does not create a trillion dollars of value. It merely adversely impacts the currency already in existence, which I believe is about a trillion, seven hundred billion. It puts us firmly on the path of Zimbabwe and Weimar Germany. Money supply cannot be divorced from economic strength, and attempts to do so are usually disastrous.

  • Someone had to be the first commenter that thinks the proposal has validity.

    Who will be paid with the $1,000,000,000,000 coin? China? the Fed? the Social Security Trust fund? And, who will accept it in exchange thereafter and for what amount of value?

    How is that different than printing a $1,000,000,000,000 paper greenback (not a Federal Reserve Note, denominations are not allowed of over a set amount)?

    An ounce of platinum is worth, I don’t know, say $900. BEing a gold bug: gold is about $1,650.

    How does stamping $1,000,000,000,000 on it make an ounce of plat worth/fair value more than $900 to a typically motivated, knowledgeable buyer?

    After WWI, France, et al imposed on Germany $34 billion in war reparations. The onerous debt was payable in gold or foreign currency so that Germany could not play the print paper marks/platinum/unicorn game. The debt led to Weimar inflation which contributed toi the rise of Hitler, the breakdown of German culture and morality, and WWII.

    I spent the past 36 years at high levels in the financial services industry. I know exactly how the banking, fiscal and monetary systems are supposed to work.

    I have no confidence that governments’ acceptance of paper/platinum in payment of taxes gives money value.

    Money (not US fiat) is a store of value which value is determined by typically motivated, knowledgeable/rational players in the economy each acting in his own best interests.

    Once the Federal Reserve Note (a debt instrimnent) loses the people’s confidence, it’s all over.

    Buy gold and silver; and pray that someone, somehow will save us from Obama’s and Bernanke’s sestructive economic policies.

  • That’s a lot to address, and it has been by MMT’ers. Most MMT’ers are progressives, but there are some who stick to descriptions of monetary operations and try to leave out the prescriptions. So please look into it from their perspective. They’ve studied the operations of the Fed and Treasury thoroughly and are quite aware of the potential for inflation and hyper inflation.

    Nothing about monetary operations is mythical. They may not always be the best for the common good, but they are very real. ‘Value’ is a philosophical musing and not one that can be answered exclusively by economic or material thinking. Money does not determine value, it is a measure of value, or rather an attempt at measuring value created by society. Just like inches measure distance, money measures debts and credits that facilitate trade of real things that we regard as having some value. So adding money (a la deficit spending or trillion dollar coins) without adding real goods can be inflationary, but only if that money uses up the real good capacity of the economy and then tries to use more. We will not have demand-pull inflation until then.

    Since we are below capacity and interest rates and inflation are historically low and haven’t budged, there is no reason to suspect hyperinflation any time soon, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the possibility.

    If you want a healthy economy then you need a bigger deficit, you can even get smaller government by lowering spending and taxes and keep the deficit.

    Debt ceilings are arbitrary and useless. Debt-to-GDP ratio or overall level of debt does not matter for inflation, inflation depends on current spending vs. current capacity.

    Currency issuers can spend via trillion dollar coins, they are not mythical.

    Would you rather government spending serve the public purpose from the moral subjectivist point of view or would you rather it serve the public from the Catholic Social Teaching view of the common good?

    T. Shaw–
    The proposal has validity in that the White House can and will use it if necessary. That doesn’t mean it is necessarily a good thing, but it certainly isn’t a myth.

    Much of your claims are leftovers from the gold standard, which no longer exists. I regret that your 36 years of experience has not taught you otherwise.

    I come here and comment, not to trash your views, but to help you understand how monetary operations work, so that you can use that knowledge to better educate and pursue the common good. I feel quite alone as a Catholic in the MMT camp which is composed mostly of atheist, subjectivist, progressives. I share some of their desires, but contrast greatly with their philosophy and world views.

    We must understand money correctly to better make our case to the general public and to fellow Catholics and Christians who may be persuaded by progressives (with a correct understanding of money) because they care about about their own economic situation more than a good and moral society.

    We can have both a good society and a good economy, but only if we understand fiscal and monetary operations in a modern money society. Your understanding of money is outdated and no longer applies. I come in peace to share what I know so that we can work together.

    I engaged Darwin in a debate a little over a year ago over employment policy with the same intention. So please don’t dismiss me as a progressive trolling your blog. I read and comment because I care.

  • T. Shaw-
    “Your understanding of money is outdated and no longer applies.”
    I’ll use those exact words if I decide to stop paying on my loan.
    I’ll tell them Alex sez it’s all good.
    We have the “obamacoin.”

    The old adage applies: “If it sounds to good to be true it probably is.”

  • Alex-
    You sound sincere. How does it help the common good to use a loophole (coin) to wave away real debt. What are we teaching our future responsible citizens?

  • Alex,

    I desire the Virtue of Patience (Fourth Sorrowful Mystery – The Carrying of the Cross).

    The unicorn metaphor is less apt than the “ostrich head in the sand” metaphor.

    The hole they’ve dug is very deep. Some consequences are too horrid to contemplate. There is no easy, painless solution. There will be some sort of “great reset.” It could be apocalyptic.

    At some point the pedal hits the metal. The rubber meets the road.

    Think Zimbabwe.

    Think central planning, central control, and command economy. And, ponder how well that worked everywhere it was imposed.

    They abandoned the gold standard (invented by Isaac Newton: he also invented Calculus) and US inflation went ballistic (think jet fighter climbing near vertical). That’s an exaggeration.

    They replaced the GS with the PhD/idiot politician standard.

    We are going to learn (the hard way) that the delusions of credentialed crazy men and dishonest/idiotic politicians will be far worse for the common good than the GS and free market.

    Obama and his gang have pretty much destroyed everything: the economy, the dollar, the culture, common morals, and tragically the ties that once bound us as a nation.

    Eat, drink and be merry for in the near term the SHTF.

    If Obama (save us!) deigns in his plenipotentiary power, for the common good (the alibi of all tyrants) to coin a trillion dollar coin, will the coin weigh, say, 1,000,000,000 troy ounces, or will the market value of platinium meteorically rise to $1,000,000,000,000 a troy ounce?

    Er, why waste the platinum, just print a trillion-dollar bill. Put Michelle’s face on it.

    How do destroying the private sectior and debauching the currency advance the common good?

    I think your professors are ideologues (use “truth” to advance their opinions) and not scholars (seek the absolute truth).

    Here’s the reason they’re 24/7 talking about gun control and not the coming economic zombie apocalypse. The USA credit rating is AA- (when Egan-Jones dropped it from AA in Sep 2012 when they announced QEternity). That means the likelihood of a US default is about 10,000 times more likely than you will be shot by an assault weapon.

  • philip–
    your debt and the debt of the currency issuer are much different operationally. Currency issuers can always pay their debts denominated in the currency that they issue. Your not an issuer of the dollar, and so you don’t have that same ability. Being financially responsible means different things for currency users and currency issuers.

    There is no necessary financial constraint to a better economy. (Inflation is a real phenomenon not a nominal phenomenon. It comes when there isn’t enough capacity to meet aggregate demand). This isn’t “too good to be true”. Unemployment and low growth because of low demand is unnecessary, or is rather created by the currency issuer taxing too much for how much they spend. This doesn’t mean the end of suffering, or that we can have whatever we want, but it does mean that we don’t have to suffer from a poor economy induced by lack of demand.

    I am not in favor of the coin, but would prefer it to needlessly and voluntarily defaulting on our financial obligations. I would rather Congress repeal the debt ceiling as it serves no (economic) purpose and decide on a budget together. I would rather see lower taxes, especially highly regressive payroll taxes, and lower overall spending, especially in defense, with more spending on what government does best–infrastructure. It is not good to have to unilaterally use a loophole to prevent economic catastrophe, but neither is it good to cause it needlessly because we can’t get along or agree on anything.

    The common good involves both morality and economics, among other things. I find that leftists often care less about morality and conservatives want morally responsible economics but don’t understand just what exactly that means–mostly because of their poor understanding of monetary operations.

  • T. Shaw–

    You use a lot of metaphors and so it can be hard to know exactly just what you are saying. We can see inflation coming before it gets anywhere close to hyperinflation and have the tools to prevent it just as we have the tools to boost aggregate demand when it is low.

    We abandoned the gold standard because of the volatility it caused financial markets and the economy as a whole. The free market is way more unstable with a gold standard and without fiscal stabilizers.

    I, too, think many politicians and phD’s aren’t very bright or have some ulterior motives. Neither are very comforting.

    The coin is platinum because that’s what the loophole allows, at least that’s my understanding of it, but that doesn’t mean it will use $1 trillion dollars worth of platinum. No coin in the US is worth its weight in whatever metal its made out of–nominal value of coin doesn’t have to equal its real value. A trillion dollar platinum coin won’t do anything to the price of platinum.

    My professors may be ideologues, but they do have the monetary system right. Maybe as a scholar you should seriously consider learning it too so that we can pursue truth together and not let ideologues steer the country toward their end.

    I don’t know why you bring guns into this, but the probability of US default is zero, unless they voluntarily declare it (for example, by not minting the coin and not repealing the debt ceiling and thus hitting the ceiling) which I will grant you seems sort of likely, which is quite unfortunate since it is so unnecessary.

    As an aside, I must say that you speak in lots of hyperbole, so it is hard to take you seriously. I don’t know your profession and I know this is just a blog, not a paper, but as a teacher, I penalize my students heavily for speaking/writing in hyperbole. It is a tactic for fear-mongering or hate-mongering, and I do not tolerate it or respect it at all.

  • It is worth bearing in mind that there is no difference in principle between a government’s bond issue and its issue of currency notes, except that the latter are issued in smaller denominations and pay no interest to the holder.

    The central bank’s note issue is wholly or largely backed with government bonds and the more it holds, the more notes it can issue; in other words, it can print the notes necessary to cover the cost of purchasing the bonds.

    Besides, fractional reserve banking means that currency is the small change of commerce; the note issue has very little to do with the money supply.

  • Obama is President because George Bush ran up the debt with two unfunded wars, unfunded Medicare part B, and a tax cut for the wealthy. The “damage” has been surveyed. I think between you and Krugman I will go with the Nobel Prize winner. Some of these comments are funny, “He really hasn’t done much since…”. Can you say arm chair quarter back? There is a reason he writes for the times and you are writing a blog. Haha! The fed has had their boot on our neck since 1913. Only sheeple would hear the coin idea and freak out and sweat their panties wet. The money has ALREADY BEEN SPENT. IT’S ALREADY BEEN SPENT. What they are arguing about is whether or not to write the check to pay the bills that have already been incurred. So the argument that this will increase inflation is RIDICULOUS. Our country did best when we issued our own currency. I think some of you need a serious history brush up lesson.

  • “Obama is President because George Bush ran up the debt with two unfunded wars, unfunded Medicare part B, and a tax cut for the wealthy.”

    The shelf life of blaming Bush for the bad Obama economy ran out last year.

    “I think between you and Krugman I will go with the Nobel Prize winner.”

    A man making an idiotic suggestion who has a Nobel Prize is still a man making an idiotic suggestion.

    “There is a reason he writes for the times and you are writing a blog.”

    His lack of sanity and/or the lack of sanity of the powers that be at the Times?

    “Only sheeple would hear the coin idea and freak out”

    Actually those who have even a cursory knowledge of economic history would view this idea as bizarre and completely destructive tp the economy.

    “So the argument that this will increase inflation is RIDICULOUS.”

    Of course. Creating a trillion dollars out of thin air could not be inflationary because the prancing unicorns radiate an anti-inflationary aura. It all makes logical sense.

    “I think some of you need a serious history brush up lesson.”

    I think you need your first history lesson. You might start with the fate of the Continental Currency, the Confederate Currency and contemporary Zimbabwe.

  • Alex,

    The problem with ideologues masquerading as scholars is they poison young minds. You know what to think, not how to think. If you had that faculty you would disbelieve any validity in a $1,000,000,000,000 platinum coin.

    If you could, think supply and demand.

    The governments you prefer can print fiat money and make the serfs use it. Also, they can line up serfs against walls and shoot. And, fly drone over them and zap. It’s all the same: raw, unlimited power.

    Central planning, central control and command economies are not metaphors, they are actual historical crimes against humanity, which produced massive misery wherever imposed.

    {I deleted my qualifications. You don’t have a need to know.}

    My advice: never leave the classroom.

    d says:

    “Obama is President because George Bush ran up the debt with two unfunded wars, unfunded Medicare part B, and a tax cut for the wealthy.”

    Points of information:

    In the year before the financial bailouts/crisis, the deficit was reduced to $164 billion. Since then, deficits have been $1 trillion plus for five years (unbeleivably continuing three years after the recession ended in June 2009).

    In fact, Obama pretty much persisted in doing that which did Bush. And, BHO ran against John McCain, not George W. Bush.

    In fact, the two wars were funded by Congressional resolutions.

    In fact, at the time Part B (a liberal wet dream) was imposed, Medicare cash inflows were higher than outflows. In order to fund Part B, Bush would have raised the Medicaid tax. Are you in favor of higher payroll taxes?

    In fact, 85% of the Bush tax cuts benefited lower earners’ tax brackets (percentages). From day one, the shrieks of “Bush tax cuts for the rich” were compete lies fomented by lying, vile scum/journolists and only believed by Obama-worshiping idiots.

  • Flash from Tyler Durden at Zerohedge: The Central Bank of Mars has expressed interest in purchasing 100, $1,000,000,000,000.00 US platinum coins.

    “A small cadre of analysts suspect the Martian Central Bank naively believes the fantasy that the arbitrary creation of assets, either via platinum coins or electronic entries in the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, creates actual value. Though this credulity borders on the fantastic, these analysts point to the many commentators in the U.S. who have bought into the platinum coin fantasy. If Paul Krugman et al. have swallowed the fantasy that something of real value can be created from nothing, then why not the Martian Central Bank?”

  • Interesting “Ace of Spades” read: “Enron and the Trillion Dollar Coin.”

  • Alinsky Rule #5:

    Recent Frank J. Fleming Tweet: “Mint a bunch of trillion$ coins and give 3 to the elven kings, 7 to the dwarf lords, and 9 to mortal men to rule them all!”

    I promise. I’ll stop, now.

  • T. Shaw–
    I do not know why you are so hostile.

    I reject the idea that I know only ‘what to think’, unless you think that my education at well respected Benedictine College taught me nothing.

    I also don’t accept everything my professors teach me–I am not an atheist, I am not a Marxist, and I am not a pragmatist. I am quite critical of all three.

    Despite my professors’ beliefs or ideologies, they are quite good at being open to competing ideas–I am the fourth student in the past 5 years to be writing a dissertation on Catholic Social Teaching at UMKC.

    So you can reject them and me out of hand if you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that you are wrong about money and until you take understanding it more seriously, you will be just an ideologue.

    I care too much to follow your advice. I will teach both in and out of the classroom.

  • It perhaps would take a while to go through all of your links. I find it interesting that the two page brief on CST linked at your site mentions nothing of the rights of people not to be made dependent on the govt., that excessive taxation not be placed on people, that subsidiarity is a function of lower levels of govt. and not of groups of persons and makes no mention that the rights of unions are limited by the common good.

    Another link talks about the errors to the “naturalistic” approach of, what is, Aquinas. Instead citing the integrated approach of De Lubac. Of course there are many, many theologians that think that De Lubac, and the political course that some take on these errors, is fundamentally wrong. In fact it seems that there is much left out that is in CST and that ultimately may be false in Catholic theology.

    Thus it seems that one may find your conclusions on a platinum trillion dollar coin to be only a prudential judgment of CST and perhaps even only marginally supported by Catholic theology.

  • Alex,

    I apologize. But, you commented that I don’t know squat.

    I don’t mean to reject you.

    I reject the Trillion Dollar Coin trope; and, concomitantly, anyone that thinks there is an iota of validity to this outrageous scam.

    Think the United States of Enron.

    Here goes.

    It is a tyrannical/unlimited government executive branch power-grab wherein the Executive, with no check or balance from the Legislative or the Judiciary, creates/prints one trillion in fiat money/Federal Reserve Notes/green confetti; exceeds the Congressionally-enacted legal debt limt, has another trillion to pay for power; etc.

    And, here is how it works to debase the currency and destroy the middle class.

    The President instructs the Secy. of the Treasury to mint a one-ounce platinum coin with $1 trillion stamped thereon. That piece of platinum (worth, say, $900 in the free market) is deposited at the Fed Bank of NY: debit cash, credit UST checking account. That is the same as when you deposit $900 in cash to your checking account, except you actually give your bank $900 in hard-earned cash. Here, again, the FRB credited the Treasury with $1,000,000,000,000 to spend from the Fed UST checking a/c for a deposited $900 piece of platinum. The Treasury then spends/distributes the $1 trillion to Federal agencies which spend it/give it to polkitically connected banks, crony capitalists and dependents. And, a $trillion more confetti is in the economy: almost none goes to the middle class .

    Here is how this destroys the middle class: largely, they don’t get any of the money (the politticially connected, lobbysists, super-rich, banks, and government dependents get the trillions) but if you earn what you eat, drive with or heat your home with prices rise (B.B. median family income declined each year since Obama took over). Each month more middle class families are ruined. They are going to runout of taxpayers.

    POOF! $1 trillion cash in the market place is created out of thin air. The same thing happens when the Fed directly (monetizes the debt) buys UST securities; debit UST security, credit UST checking account. Alternatively, Obama could order the Secy to print a $1 trillion FR Note OR print 1,000,000,000,000 ones. It’s all the same: printing money out of thin air.

    I don’t reject you. But, I can’t help noting your inability to recognize this massive excrement sandwich.

  • T Shaw

    But “monetising the debt” is simply substituting one instrument of debt for another.

    As I said earlier, there is no difference between a government bond and a currency note, except one pays interest and the other does not. Both are equally government liabilities

  • Michael PS:

    Absolutely, agree.

    The issues are inflation and somehow paying government liabilities.

    We do not have a convertible currency/government debt instruments, aka, liabilities, i.e., one that can be exchanged/redeemed by the issuer for something of value like gold or silver; or land.

    When they stopped issuing greenbacks, early in the last century, they exclusively went to Federal Reserve Notes. They also stopped redeeming “dollars” with UST debt instruments (instead of gold).

    So what backs the buck? Pick one or more: the “full faith and credit of the US Government” (power to issue more debt and confiscate/tax); and its power to print/coin and circulate ad infintum: like a trillion dollar ($900) coin.

    In addition, “monetising the debt” is much more than substituting one debt instrument for another. It is also creation of one debt instrument with another that is used as the national medium of exchange. If it” was substitution, there would be no increase in the amount of outstanding debt or dollars in the economy.

    This increase in “government liabilities” (likley soon to be green confetti) that are running about in the economy: adds inflationary pressures, which have been held in check because little of this created money gets into the hands of the middle class, whose median income is declining. Go figure.

    It’s similar to what happened in the recent housing bubble. Say you had a home with a $200,000 mortgage. The RE agent tells you your house is worth $600,000 and you can substitute your $200,000 mortgage note with a $500,000 mortgage note. If you did, you substituted that debt and put $300,000 in your picket to spend on a lake house, a yacht, BMW’s, etc. The probkem arises if you couldn’t afford the payments on $500,000 debt. Only difference from the US is you cannot repay the note with scrip your print.

  • T Shaw

    Nothing shows this more clearly than the Bank Return, issued by the Bank of England, every Thursday

    The more Ways & Means Advances and Bonds & other securities are increased, the more notes can be issued.

    The converse is also true. Notes in circulation can be reduced by selling securities or other assets and holding the proceeds in the Banking Department.

    Also, compare the total note issue of £58bn with, say, the liabilities of Barclay’s Bank alone of £1,498bn – 25 times the whole of the note issue. RBS’s balance sheet is similar.

    That is what I mean by calling the currency (notes and coins) the small change of commerce.

  • Michael PS:

    Best regards,

    You and I cannot affect the decisions taken by unlimited/unchecked governments. We can rationally act in our own best interests.

    I’m overjoyed each day to roll out of bed, say my prayers, and note that the plumbing and etc. are still working.

Paul Krugman and Hatriotism

Monday, September 12, AD 2011


Yesterday while almost all Americans were recalling 9/11 with sadness, mixed with pride for the heroism and self-sacrifice amply displayed by so many of their fellow citizens that dark day, economist Paul Krugman in his blog, hilariously entitled Conscience of a Liberal,  at the, where else, New York Times, posted this:

The Years of Shame

Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.

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17 Responses to Paul Krugman and Hatriotism

  • Krugamn & Co are way too smart for all that old-fashioned “God Bless America” claptrap. They snigger at the hardhats chanting “USA! USA!” and the “God and guns” morons who inhabit who inhabit flyover country.

    Give me Archie Bunker any day.

  • Talk about projection.

    The only thing I am ashamed re: 9/11 of is that Krugman is a countryman of mine.

  • What’s really funny about this is that there was a marked sense of unity immediately following 9/11 as well as an increase in church attendance. GWB was increasing in popularity and was receiving support from many or most on the left. It wasn’t until the Dems realized they can’t win elections by taking the position of “yeah, what Bush said” that they commenced building a wedge and driving it in.

    There’s a reason why Krugman is only respected by the NYT editorial board and one other guy, and it is coherent thought.

  • Charcters like Krugman are demographically unimportant. Unfortunately, they often hold consequential positions in the world of public discourse. How that came to be and what is to be done about it are the interesting questions.

  • Indeed, Art.

    Also, it strikes me, Krugman’s wish for the “unity” that might have been reflects the Orwellian concept of unity which predominates among extreme partisans of all sorts: the idea that “unity” consists of a world completely cleansed of those with whom one disagrees. Krugman could only find the unity which he wishes he could look back on if most of the population of the country ceased to exist.

  • …and it is coherent thought.

    Ugh! ISN’T Duh…

  • I dunno. I’m no fan of Krugman, but he’s putting the blame on the politicians he disagrees with, and only secondarily on the country for letting the politicians get away with (what he thinks are) their misdeeds. Everyone but the most chauvanistic gets frustrated at his country for not following his vision for it.

  • Charcters like Krugman are demographically unimportant. Unfortunately, they often hold consequential positions in the world of public discourse.

    I hope it’s just the squeaky hinge problem, but I fear it isn’t… local radio jocks have been making the same sort of “What happened to our unity, why can’t you horrible nasty people be unified” type arguments, and some of my relatives (Alright, by marriage, and known flakes, but still) are echoing it.

  • Krugman is supposed to be an economist, which is a job for people who tell people why they don’t have jobs. He’s out of his league on most issues, along with Friedman, Dodd & Co.

  • Paul really needs to stop giving his wife free rein to add his byline to her rants. His reputation as a pundit is getting cuckolded.

  • The American Catholic?

    You bring me back to my youth with Brooklyn Tablet.

  • Sir Walter Scott.

    Very good, Don, and very apt.
    Krugman needs some HTFU pills.

  • Krugman was labeled by national Review Online as the Most Dangerous Man in America (this was before Obumbler was elected President).

    Krugman’s writing would get him run out of town in most American cities and towns, but in New York, the epicenter of 9/11, he has his constituency, as well as a lousy, third rate publication with an editorial policy that puts it beneath the National Enquirer that provides him with the means to blather.

    The New York Times is a despicable piece of garbage. I do not know why Carlos Slim puts his money into it – without Slim the paper would have gone out of business.

  • Another thing: he complained about a “subdued” observance of 9/11! What did Krugman want, the country to make like it was the Fourth of July, with fireworks and marching bands? The people at Ground Zero, Shanksville and the Pentagon were solemnly commemorating the anniversary of a mass murder. I don’t know if Krugman was in NY on 9/11, (he seems to reside in a galaxy of his own making), but, gee, Paul, surely someone told you it wasn’t a happy day.

  • Another thing: he complained about a “subdued” observance of 9/11! What did Krugman want, the country to make like it was the Fourth of July, with fireworks and marching bands?

    Well, clearly if it was not subdued it would have featured Obama and Greek columns — not to mention the oceans ceasing to rise.

    It strikes me that to any sane person somber commemorations are quiet natural. Our parish had asked policemen, firemen and military personnel to come in uniform and had a blessing out by the flag pole after mass. Our pastor read our Pope Benedict’s prayer from when he visited Ground Zero.

    Sure, it’s just one small town in Ohio, but there’s not a single other commemoration (including Memorial Day or the 4th of July) which gets that level of attendance and participation for something outside of mass. I think every single person who was at mass came — no one just hurried home.

  • Agreed, Donna V., that “oddly subdued” is a puzzling turn of phrase, considering the gravity of the events being recalled. Reading on, it appears that another ten or eleven phrases in Mr. Krugman’s brief post are also quite beyond my understanding.

    I know a “hatriot” and he is without a doubt the unhappiest person of my acquaintance. And he wants everyone to be just like him.

  • Crunkman. Glugman. Drugman.

    At least I’m a happy drunk. Queued up some of that Gosling’s Black Seal, mates.

A Foundation of Determinism

Monday, July 18, AD 2011

Paul Krugman recently did a Five Books interview with The Browser, talking about his five favorite books. The books are: Asimov’s Foundation series, Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, two books by Lord Keynes, and a book of essays by economist James Tobin, one of Krugman’s old teachers. Of Foundation he says:

This is a very unusual set of novels from Isaac Asimov, but a classic. It’s not about gadgets. Although it’s supposed to be about a galactic civilisation, the technology is virtually invisible and it’s not about space battles or anything like that. The story is about these people, psychohistorians, who are mathematical social scientists and have a theory about how society works. The theory tells them that the galactic empire is failing, and they then use that knowledge to save civilisation. It’s a great image. I was probably 16 when I read it and I thought, “I want to be one of those guys!” Unfortunately we don’t have anything like that and economics is the closest I could get.

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9 Responses to A Foundation of Determinism

  • I read the original Foundation trilogy and found them fascinating. Following the fall and rise of a civilization a la Gibbon was an intellectual treat. The idea of mathematics being able to predict history struck me as complete hokum. The only thing Hari Seldon and his followers couldn’t predict was the appearance on the scene of a mutant nicknamed The Mule. Asimov wrote quite a few histories for a general audience and they weren’t bad reading, but they were all flawed because Asimov the atheist had a tin ear in regard to religion. This was on full display during the “Dark Ages” portion of the Foundation trilogy when Seldon’s followers start up a fake religion to help guide the course of human history.

    “The religion– which the Foundation has fostered and encouraged, mind you– is built on strictly authoritarian lines. The priesthood has sole control of the instruments of science we have given Anacreon, but they’ve learned to handle these tools only empirically. They believe in this religion entirely and in the …oh…spiritual value of the power they handle…The Foundation has fostered this delusion assiduously (pp. 106-107).

    I started that way at first because the barbarians looked upon our science as a sort of magical sorcery, and it was easiest to get them to accept it on that basis. The priesthood built itself and if we help it along we are only following the line of least resistance (p. 86).

    To the people of Anacreon he was high priest, representative of that foundation which, to those ‘barbarians’ was the acme of mystery and the physical center of this religion they had created– with Hardin’s help– in the last three decades (p. 89).”

    When it came to religion Asimov had as much insight as a blind man trying to explain his favorite color.

  • I think of “determinism” in a technical sense, meaning not random. Not having the read the novels, do the psychohistorians have a mastery of probability to the point that their equations can account for outcomes drawn from a probability distribution?

    It sounds like Krugman has not matured beyond the undergrad economics honeymoon stage. A lot of economists exhibit stunted growth in the wisdom department.

  • I did not read the novels.

    Apropos to today’s developing economic/political cataclysms is the blind faith of geniuses in elitist control over everything and everybody.

    Old Druidic (I just made up) proverb:

    “Never misunderestimate the insensibility of congressmen, credentialed eggheads without real world experience, Fed Chairmen, Fed Open Market Ops Committees, and presidents.”

  • Not having the read the novels, do the psychohistorians have a mastery of probability to the point that their equations can account for outcomes drawn from a probability distribution?

    This is where the fact that I knew less about statistics at the time I read the novels and that it’s been a while will come into play, but there was a lot of hand-waving on this. Overall, the idea was that given that the Galactic Empire involved so many people, it was highly subject to statistical predictability, such that the psychohistorians could predict when it would fall, how, where the strongholds would be, where invasions would come from, how things would start to come back, etc.

    To add to the silliness, the “one thing they couldn’t predict” was an interruption in their plans by a warlord of sorts names The Mule, who could not be predicted by their calculation because he was a genetic mutant (somewhat deformed) and thus could not be calculated by their statistical models.

  • Krugman isn’t the only economist to be inspired by the Foundation series. Hal Varien (chief economist for Google) apparently read the book in high school and had exactly the same reaction.

    Personally I found the whole idea of pyschohistory so self-evidently absurd that I couldn’t really get into the book. I’d like to think that if only I’d been a little better at suspending disbelief I’d have become a world famous economist like Krugman or Varian. I’d like to think that.

  • Interesting. I really liked the books too, and went on to get a degree in economics. The connection never occurred to me. I’ll give Krugman this – he’s got to have some real self-awareness to have made that connection.

    But a person won’t get too far in studying economics (shouldn’t get too far…) before noticing the wiggle room built into all the equations. People’s choices are based on their preferences, and while economists can note them, they can’t predict them. There’s a catch-all term that economists sometimes use, “fads and fashions”, which refers to the fact that some element of human behavior is unpredictable. You can aggregate across individuals and get something like a consistent pattern, but there’s always going to be women’s soccer or ciabatta bread or something that wasn’t predicted, not because there was a lack of accurate data, but because human behavior depends on the wills of individuals.

  • I find the idea of Paul Krugman commenting on David Hume disturbing.

  • I enjoyed reading the Foudation! It’s great fiction! Like all science fiction you have to suspend beieif or disbelief in somtiing for the plot to work like the possibilty of realtime intersteller travel with only minor improvements in current technology. The amazing thing about the series, and any thing else Asimov wrote on politcs or econmics, was that real time star travel required much less suspension of belief than the political and economic process of his novels.

  • Krugman’s desire to be “one of those guys” shouldn’t tarnish the idea that a science of “psychohistory” might be possible.

    I prefer Michael F. Flynn’s “Country of the Blind” in which various groups independently invent “cliology”. Some are interventionist, trying to mold events to their ends, others have ceased doing so because their models aree too imprecise and their meddling has caused unforeseen “blowback”.
    Flynn, who is Catholic, goes to some lengths about free-will implications.

A Matter of Perspective

Friday, January 14, AD 2011

So what right-wing columnist said this:

All this fuss about civility . . . is an attempt to bully critics into unilaterally disarming – into being demure and respectful to the president.

Actually, it was Paul Krugman, quoted in a Stephen Miller article titled “Anger Mismanagement,” published in the Wall Street Journal on March 19, 2004.

Hey, at least this can be one time where I totally agree with Paul Krugman.  Oddly enough, apparently I am in fuller accord with Paul Krugman than . . . Paul Krugman.

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12 Responses to A Matter of Perspective

  • “… apparently I am in fuller accord with Paul Krugman than . . . Paul Krugman.”

    It wouldn’t be the first time, and no doubt won’t be the last. Every time that guy says or writes something it blatantly contradicts something he said or wrote 3 years ago. He’s a partisan fraud.

  • The entire relevant quote:

    All this fuss about civility, then, is an attempt to bully critics into unilaterally disarming — into being demure and respectful of the president, even while his campaign chairman declares that the 2004 election will be a choice ”between victory in Iraq and insecurity in America.”

    And even aside from the double standard, how important is civility? I’m all for good manners, but this isn’t a dinner party. The opposing sides in our national debate are far apart on fundamental issues, from fiscal and environmental policies to national security and civil liberties. It’s the duty of pundits and politicians to make those differences clear, not to play them down for fear that someone will be offended.

    Paul Krugman, The Uncivil War, NY Times, Nov. 25, 2003.

  • The fuller quote is even better – and I don’t mean that sarcastically. I wonder if Krugman even remembers writing that – or was that before his wife started writing his op-eds?

  • “It’s the duty of pundits and politicians to make those differences clear, not to play them down for fear that someone will be offended.”

    Well good thing the left will stop demonizing Palin and others for remarks that are only intended to make those differences clear.

  • or was that before his wife started writing his op-eds?

    If you compare the product of his first decade or so writing for general audiences with that of his second decade, you would have to conclude that the change in authorship occurred somewhere around 2000 or 2001.

  • Krugman’s wife/ghost writer, Robin Wells, sounds like a real piece of work:

    “On the rare occasion when they disagree about something, she will be the one urging him to be more outraged or recalcitrant. She pushed him to denounce the filibuster. She wanted him to be more stubborn in holding out for the public option in the health-care bill.”

    Here is her advice to Obama in 2009:

    “In the end, for better or for worse, whether he likes it or not, Obama is joined in a battle against the forces of anger, hate and grievance. A choice not to engage them on a moral level is an abdication. They will not go away, and they will stalk him the rest of his presidency unless he faces them and conquers them. President Obama, you need to go down into your soul and find those keys.”

    Translation: You just don’t hate those wingnuts enough!

    Married to a bitter left-wing shrew. For the first time in my life I actually feel sympathy for Krugman!

  • That’s right on the money. It’s really been frustrating to watch conservatives (even Pat Buchanan) giving Obama credit for doing exactly what Krugman says here. It’s all about the timeline:

    * Crazy guy in Arizona shoots some people.
    * Left-wing politicians and media have a field day, slandering everyone on the right for basically putting the gun in his hand and the idea in his head, hoping for a repeat of the political advantage they got from doing the same thing after the OK City bombings, only this time they’re even nastier about it.
    * Their leader sits quietly by the sidelines.
    * After a few days, word starts to get out that the guy actually had none of the conservative connections that were reported, and may have been fairly left-wing if anything, but was mostly just nuts.
    * Some die-hards like the New York Times keep pushing the party line, but you can see it starting to crack, and a backlash is building against the outrageousness of the lies and slander.
    * The leader of the culprits now comes out and gives a “let’s all rise above this speech,” where he implies that we all need to settle down and stop placing blame.

    Well, if we were all placing blame, that’d be fair, but it was only his own people who were doing that, and he didn’t have a problem with it until it wasn’t working very well anymore. That’s not statesmanship; that’s quitting while you’re ahead.

  • That article is disconcerting for what it recounts, but it appears to be true that his wife’s influence has been decisive. I would think a 47 year old man employed as a professor in social research would have acquired a fairly stable worldview, not to mention some sense of the frailty of others and himself. I guess not.

  • Mac, Maybe her father owns a liquor store, or she has a bass boat . . . Every dark cloud has a silver lining.

  • It would have to be either a very big bass boat or a huge liquor store indeed T. Shaw.

  • [SIGH]

    I feel his pain.

    She’ll be in a real snit when she sees this. Quinnipiac poll: About 15% of Americans believe that heated rhetoric had anything to do with the shootings Saturday by an addled brained leftish pothead that killed a GOP Federal Justice and five innocent people in Tucson.

He Leadeth Me and Paul Krugman

Tuesday, October 5, AD 2010

I suppose it may be a symptom of an unbalanced intellectual life, but one question that occurred to me while reading He Leadeth Me (an excellent and moving account of a Catholic priest who was  imprisoned for over two decades in the Soviet Union) several months ago was a question about the failure of the Soviet economic system. In the book, Fr. Ciszek recounts year after year of back-breaking labor for 12-14 hours a day in Siberian labor camps. He and his fellow prisoners lived in squalid conditions, and were provided with hardly enough food to keep them alive. This is all horrible, of course, and I’d recommend Fr. Ciszek’s work to anyone who has a tendency to complain about the difficulties of pursuing sanctification in their jobs.

But it seemed to me that, unless the prisoners were basically digging ditches and filling them back up again,  this type of coercion would increase economic efficiency, given that the inputs required to organize the prisoners were minimal and the workers were producing a great deal. Certainly, Soviet workers in these mines were producing more than unionized U.S. workers of the time. As it turns out, I am not the only who thought this way. As Paul Krugman helpfully explains, claims about the economic superiority of the Soviet Union were commonplace in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and many prominent economists reluctantly concluded that centrally planned economies had unique efficiency advantages:

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3 Responses to He Leadeth Me and Paul Krugman

  • Glad I’m not the only one who gets off on these odd economic digressions when reading some unrelated piece.

    One other item of interest on how planned economies tended not to work as well as might otherwise be imagined — centralized planning also tended to be very good at meeting needs well understood by the planners. However, if the planning was imperfect, so, often, the production. Thus, the USSR might achieve some feat like assuring that every collective farm had an automatic wheat harvesting machine, yet miss the detail of which collectives actually produced wheat. (That being an example I remember reading about at one point.) Obviously, at that point, the accomplishment of producing all the harvesters is semi-wasted effort.

  • I just remember what some anonymous Russian was quoted as saying “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.” Slave labor is never really productive.

  • The Soviets simply recreated state serfdom with the added horrors of mass executions, mass imprisonment and man-made famine. Western useful idiots eagerly swallowed make-believe Soviet statistics, and ignored the fact that, at a much higher human cost, the Soviets were simply continuing the industrialization process that already had been well under way during the reign of the Tsars. Russia and its subject states were and are immensely rich in natural resources and manpower, and it took a truly pathological system to achieve simple industrialization in the 20th century through the type of unending misery imposed on their subjects by the Soviet Nomenklatura.

What the Left Cannot Supply, the Right Will Not Demand

Tuesday, June 15, AD 2010

Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a series of posts looking at the recent survey purporting to know a lack of economic knowledge on the Left, with one post for each of the eight questions on the survey. As I look at the list of questions, however, a clear theme emerges, namely that liberals tend to think that the price of a good or service isn’t much affected by the supply of that good or service or visa versa. According to the survey, liberals tend to think that restricting the supply of housing doesn’t increase the price of housing (question 1), that restricting the supply of doctors (through licensing) doesn’t increase the price of doctors (question 2), and that price floors won’t decrease the supply of either rental space (question 4) or jobs (question 8).

Coincidentally, I’m currently reading a (surprisingly good) book by Paul Krugman, in which he argues that conservatives tend to minimize or dismiss the part changes in demand have on getting us into or out of recessions. Naturally this got me thinking whether one of the things separating left from right in this country is a difference in the importance of supply and demand in economic phenomenon. For the above issues, at least, liberals seem to be ready to discount the importance of supply, whereas conservatives underestimate the importance of demand.

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0 Responses to What the Left Cannot Supply, the Right Will Not Demand

  • I realize there is a standard argument that licensing restricts supply. Does it though? I think it is akin to arguing the ACT artificially restricts the supply of college students. (Admittedly, most colleges don’t require the ACT, but work with me here.) In both cases, there is a nominal fee and a background requirement, either explicit or implicit. While it is certainly true that there are people capable of going to college that don’t don’t take the ACT, there are also people capable of becoming doctors that don’t complete the formal requirements to do so. But is it truly the case that the ACT or licensing is restricting supply?

    In the case of supply, I think an example would be airline regulation. By essentially setting a price floor, money was able to be spent on R&D resulting in better aircraft over time. I think a lot of the interurban rail arguments are similar as well, where you have to have a sufficient base of supply before demand will truly kick in.

  • It’s true liberals tend to be Keynesian demand-siders and conservatives tend to be Say’s supply-siders. But you can be a Keynesian like Krugman and still get those questions right. Our political divide on economic issues seems to be primarily driven not by Keynesians and supply-siders but illiterate Keynesians and supply-siders. I bet if you get Krugman and Gary Becker in a room, they’d come out with pretty sensible economic policy roadmap.

  • The best lecture on supply and demand is

  • But is it truly the case that the ACT or licensing is restricting supply?

    Does it render the supply of providers smaller than it would otherwise be? If so (and there would not be much point to licensure if it did not) then it restricts supply and affects price.

    A more telling example than that of physicians would be certification requirements for school teachers and librarians, which are often a parody of vocational training.

  • I would imagine that the degree to which licensing restricts supply is directly proportional to how much of an obstacle the licensing is.

    If a license was as easy to procure as the ACT, it seems unlikely that it would restrict supply much — though it would do so slightly at the margins. (Arguably, the sort of college student who fails to go to college because he doesn’t get around to taking the ACT isn’t that much of a loss, academically.)

    However, when licensing requirements become steep, they restrict supply more. Librarian work is probably a decent example. My mom works as a library aide. The work she does is essentially the same as that which the librarians do (a bit more shelving and less answering questions), but the city she lives in only hires people with masters degrees in library science. Since a lot of the sort of people who want to work part time at a library are not going to go sink $30k+ and two years into getting a masters degree for it, the librarians are in comparatively short supply and highly paid (while there are lots of aides, and they’re low paid.)

    I find it hard to imagine that the masters requirement is not inflating the salary (by decreasing the supply) of librarians relative to the actual skills required.

  • The President’s speech tonight was a classic example of the utter economic ignorance that dominates the left.

    “Lets all stand in a circle, hold hands, and embrace a new “green economy”, because the time is now. Here it is, I think its coming. There, we did it, a brand new green economy.”

    Mr President, stop the BS, our country has been ripped off by false promises and promoters of junk science for years now. FOSSIL FUELS ARE BY FAR THE CHEAPEST SOURCE OF THE ENERGY AVAILABLE. If you have to subsidize something to get it to compete with fossil fuels, then its less economic. The money to subsidize it has to come from somewhere, and that means a net loss of productivity and jobs.

    A green economy is a less productive economy because our economy is more productive when energy is cheaper. He’s gonna make some green jobs, but what he isn’t telling everyone is that for each green job we’ll lose many regular jobs as even more manufacturers and businesses go somewhere else where the energy is cheaper.

  • Yes We Can!! Gulf D-Day 58, or is it 59?

    It’s tragic. Quis Ut Deus could have declared war on the Gulf. That could be very good for the Gulf.

    Kumbaya, my Lord! Kumbaya!!!!

    This is what happens when liberals, clueless college profs, people with multiple PhD’s in theology, economists of the income-redistribution-is-everything school, community agitators, ex-weather underground terrorists, etc. take over everything. Some dad-gummed fact that adults have lived with since God created us jumps out and bites them in the @$$.

    And, he fired that other gen’l. and put in snake-eater McKrystal as OIC of Afghanistan ‘war.’ Go long on the Taliban. Short US health care and the Gulf.

    It’s okay! They can always blame Bush.

  • I imagine the argument would be that while you may not see librarians and library assistants as distinct goods, those hiring them do see them as such. I’m not sure of the extent economics has seen every man as a potential supplier of goods. I’m well familiar with licensing being a bugaboo for a while.

    Does it render the supply of providers smaller than it would otherwise be? If so (and there would not be much point to licensure if it did not) then it restricts supply and affects price.

    This is of course dependent on what you want to consider supply. For example, I can supply oil changes to your car, but I haven’t increased the supply of car mechanics. Most folks outside economics see licensing as a way of legally certifying duties and providing a means of redress when incompetence occurs. Not only does a plumber who consistently allows sewer gases to enter a home get sanctioned civilly, he can be sanctioned by license loss and prevented from harming other households.

  • I’m not sure of the extent economics has seen every man as a potential supplier of goods.

    I take that back. In Econ 101, there are assumed to be no frictional costs to transitioning.

  • I’m not sure I see the analogy to the ACT. Aside from the fact that you don’t have to take the ACT to get into college, simply taking the ACT doesn’t mean you’ll get into college, whereas getting a license does mean you can work in the given field.

  • perhaps its not the licensing per se, but the entrance costs to the chosen field that does the limiting. The licensing portion, after all, is the least costly of it, unless you include the capital requirements (college and grad school) that go into getting that license. Dropping the licensing requirement for doctors would not likely reduce costs much, since it would still be prohibitively expensive for most to become.

    I suppose you may have several tiers of “doctors”, those that deal with more complicated ailments and conditions, and those treating run of the mill stuff (maybe for $30 you’d be willing to go to someone with a bachelor’s in biology if you had a headache, but willing to pay $8,000 to an M.D. for a C-section).

  • Pingback: Quick Econ Thoughts on Licensing « The American Catholic

Krugman v. Levin on Climate Change

Thursday, April 22, AD 2010

Jim Manzi, a conservative expert on climate change, recently reviewed Mark Levin’s coverage of the subject in his book Liberty and Tyranny. Mr. Manzi was unimpressed:

I’m not expert on many topics the book addresses, so I flipped to its treatment of a subject that I’ve spent some time studying – global warming – in order to see how it treated a controversy for which I’m at least familiar with the various viewpoints and some of the technical detail.

It was awful. It was so bad that it was like the proverbial clock that chimes 13 times – not only is it obviously wrong, but it is so wrong that it leads you to question every other piece of information it has ever provided.

Levin argues that human-caused global warming is nothing to worry about, and merely an excuse for the Enviro-Statist (capitalization in the original) to seize more power. It reads like a bunch of pasted-together quotes and stories based on some quick Google searches by somebody who knows very little about the topic, and can’t be bothered to learn. After pages devoted to talking about prior global cooling fears, and some ridiculous or cynical comments by advocates for emissions restrictions (and one quote from Richard Lindzen, a very serious climate scientist who disputes the estimated magnitude of the greenhouse effect, but not its existence), he gets to the key question on page 184 (eBook edition):

[D]oes carbon dioxide actually affect temperature levels?

Levin does not attempt to answer this question by making a fundamental argument that proceeds from evidence available for common inspection through a defined line of logic to a scientific view. Instead, he argues from authority by citing experts who believe that the answer to this question is pretty much ‘no’. Who are they? – An associate professor of astrophysics, a geologist and an astronaut.

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48 Responses to Krugman v. Levin on Climate Change

  • It’s also worth noting that Manzi wrote his post on Levin in response to Ross Douthat’s point that “conservative domestic policy would be in better shape if conservative magazines and conservative columnists were more willing to call out Republican politicians (and, to a lesser extent, conservative entertainers) for offering bromides instead of substance, and for pandering instead of grappling with real policy questions.”

    Ross is right.

    Good post, John Henry.

  • The breach of trust between the scientific establishment and the public must be healed before any “policy questions” can be addressed.

    This is an opportunity for the scientific establishment to come to grips with living in a democratic society. It’s methods and data must be open to public scrutiny and review, skeptical and opposing points of view must be given a chance to prove themselves, or be disproved based on the evidence and not political intimidation.

    The “scientific consensus” argument is naive at best and dangerous at worst in a supposedly democratic society. Underneath it is the assumption that non-scientific laymen should shut up and blindly accept whatever it is “scientists” tell them. This is why conservatives such as Levin try to point out the skeptics and dissenters – to show that the “consensus” which we are all supposed to bow, never question, and goose-step to is more of an illusion than a reality.

    If “climate change” really is the great problem the majority of of climate scientists claim it is, then they need to change their methods of interacting with the public. Yes, I know – it would be easier, as Thomas Friedman argues, if we were like China, and had had a communist Central Committee to simply issue top-down decrees on climate change and any number of issues.

    Unfortunately we’re stuck here in the good old, bad old USA, where the people theoretically still have a right to a say in the laws they are to live by, and therefore ought to be able to choose between different points of view on the matter. Don’t worry though, I think that whole idea is on its way out the door anyway.

  • Ross Douthat’s point that “conservative domestic policy would be in better shape if conservative magazines and conservative columnists were more willing to call out Republican politicians (and, to a lesser extent, conservative entertainers) for offering bromides instead of substance, and for pandering instead of grappling with real policy questions.”

    Douthat was the author, along with Reihan Salam, of Sam’s Club Republicans. I’ve read a lot of political works in my life, ranging from the more polemical (like Levin) to the more philosophical. Out of all the things I have ever read in my life on politics none, zip, zilch, nada have been as inconsequential and devoid of any meaningful point as Douthat and Salam’s book. I even appreciated books that I strongly disagreed with much more because at least the author had a strong viewpoint and his convictions were clear for all the world to see. Sam’s Club Republicanism was a 200-page plus bit of meandering (and dubious ) history, the “substantive” policy offering essentially being “let’s offer more tax credits to the middle class.”

    The reason I bring this up is that it really strikes me as both aggravating and yet funny that the people who complain the most about the lack of substance in our political discourse are those who are themselves rather substance-less and rather mediocre both intellectually and stylistically.

  • Amen, Joe. Amen, Paul.

    As for Douthat’s point, he’s already admitted that he has a need to be liked by his liberal bosses, peers, and audience, and therefore shapes his writing accordingly to appeal to them:

    “I’m also acutely aware, from my own experience, of the way that peer effects – the desire to be perceived as the “reasonable conservative” by friends and peers, the positive reinforcement from liberal readers, etc. – can subtly influence the topics one chooses to write about and the tone one chooses to take. It’s not a matter of wanting a seat at the table in the Obama Administration, or anything absurd like that; it’s just a matter of being aware of your audience, and wanting to be taken seriously by people who don’t necessarily share your views, but who exert a significant influence over your professional success even so.”

    Attacking fellow conservatives is just what the house conservatives at liberal publications do to gain acceptance and be seen as “reasonable”.

  • That’s not to say that polemical conservatives like Levin and Coulter shouldn’t be called out when they go overboard rhetorically or just plain get their facts wrong or engage in shoddy scholarship.

    It’s just that when folks like Douthat (or David Frum) send out the clarion call for conservatives to take on the Levins of the world, I’m going to take it with a big ol’ fat grain of salt.

  • It is interesting that your first response to the post is an ad hominem against Douthat and Salaam. I, and nearly all of the reviewers as it relates to the history section, disagree with your characterization of the their book on the merits. But what’s striking to me is that you would describe Reihan Salaam – a far more subtle and detailed policy thinker than Mark Levin as any familiarity with his writing suggests– as substance-less. You can say what you want about the positions he takes, but about the only thing that you cannot say is that his writings lack substance. This suggests to me that you are either unfamiliar with his writing, or that you are mistaking ideological agreement for substance.

  • That’s not to say that polemical conservatives like Levin and Coulter shouldn’t be called out

    Yes, in practice, that appears to be exactly what you are saying. You frequently take that one blog post Douthat wrote years ago, and use it as a reason to dismiss everything he’s ever written that criticizes conservatives. It’s all a bit forced. I suppose we can add Ramesh Ponnurru to the list of insubstantial conservatives now? And Jim Manzi?

  • It is interesting that your first response to the post is an ad hominem against Douthat and Salaam.

    Umm, that wasn’t an ad homimen. It was my reaction to the book. And it’s interesting that your first response to my comment was to reflexively defend Douthat.

    I, and nearly all of the reviewers, disagree with your characterization of the their book on the merits. /i>

    Bully for you. What can I say, I guess I’m not as easily impressed by mediocre punditry.

    ut what’s striking to me is that you would describe Reihan Salaam – a far more subtle and detailed policy thinker than Mark Levin as any familiarity with his writing suggests- as substance-less. You can say what you want about the positions he takes, but about the only thing that you cannot say is that his writings lack substance. This suggests to me that you are either unfamiliar with his writing, or that you are mistaking ideological agreement for substance.

    First of all, note that my critique of Salam was centered very specifically on his work with Douthat on Sam’s Club Republicans. I made no general comment about Salam’s overall work, which is admittedly much better than that of Douthat. I was mainly concerned with Douthat, who I consider to be a highly overrated writer.

    I am also amused that here you are, approvingly linking to an article about the need to reject close-mindedness and for conservative writers to be able to freely critique other conservatives, and yet your reaction to my reaction to Douthat is to simply dismiss me as either ignorant or ideological. Not surprising, considering the source.

  • I read the book as well, Paul, and my take on it was completely different than yours. Douthat & Salaam’s point is that we need to address the real concerns of the middle class. You can obviously take issue with their specific policy proposals, but I don’t see how or why conservatives would disagree with the fundamental point of the book.

    Jay, if you’ve followed Ross’s column and blog over the last few weeks, it’s fairly apparent that he isn’t interested in currying favor with his liberal counterparts or the editors at the Times; consider his repeated defenses of the Holy Father.

    Joe, I’m sympathetic to your point regarding the scientific consensus argument… certainly there have been times that the consensus is wrong. And I agree that their communications methods need improving. But neither means that Levin’s approach is valid or appropriate, does it? The mere fact that there are dissenters doesn’t invalidate the hypothesis of AGW. (For the record, my point here isn’t to defend that hypothesis; I simply agree with Manzi’s critique of Levin’s approach.)

  • Whatever, John Henry. I don’t expect you to read my blog, but if you did, you’d know just how full of crap that last comment is. I criticize conservatives on at least a weekly, if not daily, basis (probably, in terms of frequency, a lot more than you do).

    And I don’t even like Levin or Coulter. Or Limbaugh. Or Beck. Or countless other ideological polemicists. I don’t watch them or listen to them. I’ve criticized them on my blog and others’ blogs. I think Levin and Coulter (especially Coulter) are detrimental to conservatism. But when I criticize them, its not a matter of self-aggrandizement the way it is for some.

    Yes, Douthat gets under my skin. So what? I think he revealed something about himself in that piece (which is actually only about a year-and-a-half old). I’ve said it before, substantively, on the issues, he’s probably one of the columnists who most closely fits my own ideology. But there’s something about him – this need to seem more “reasonable” than all those other conservatives – that makes me dislike his style.

    It’s one of my pet peaves, so, yes, I write about it fairly often. But this comment of yours …

    “It infrequently amazes me how little criticism conservatives deserve on your accounting.”

    … is an outright falsehood. Read my blog and you’ll see that I frequently criticize conservatives, including, most recently, a post on Arizona’s immigration law. Better yet, don’t read my blog. Just keep on with the pretense that I never, ever criticize conservatives or the ideology that often masquerades as conservatism in the GOP. I mean, my comments on this don’t have anything to do with my belief that Douthat is a poseur. No, it’s just that I’m a blind ideologue.

    I’m going to stop now before this turns into a flame war.

  • “conservative domestic policy would be in better shape if conservative magazines and conservative columnists were more willing to call out Republican politicians (and, to a lesser extent, conservative entertainers) for offering bromides instead of substance, and for pandering instead of grappling with real policy questions.” Ross is right.

    ‘Conservative’ domestic policy would be in better shape if the trustees and administrators of the American Enterprise Institute and other such agencies were very sparing about hiring anyone without a completed dissertation or years of professional experience in the field of endeavour about which they are expected to write and research. It would also be in better shape if Republican elected officials understood themselves to be in the midst of an interlude in their life between engagements in business or the professions, and if they had convictions to begin with. It would in addition be in better shape if there were employed academic talent to tap. Cloning messrs. Dreher and Friedersdorf is not likely to improve much.

  • Chris,

    “But neither means that Levin’s approach is valid or appropriate, does it?”

    Not necessarily.

    However, I think it bears reminding that for YEARS we were told that the sky was falling. First Gore tried to scare us all – a man who isn’t a scientist – with his video, which was declared by a British court to be full of inaccuracies. Then when the scare tactics weren’t having the desired political effect, they decided to run roughshod over the democratic process.

    The mere fact that there are dissenters that aren’t being given equal time before the public and who the supposedly mainstream scientists will not face in a public forum is enough to warrant some kind of serious response. I don’t know if Levin provides it (I don’t really like what I know about him), but someone has to. Someone like Lord Monckton. And preferably without the stupid, discredited lie of an ad homoniem that anyone who doubts AGW is “paid by the oil industry.” At this point, I wouldn’t even care if they were, since the IPCC and its work through the UN is supported by population reduction fanatics.

  • Joe, I *completely* agree that the apocalyptic tone of Gore et al. is wrong, period. First it was overpopulation, now it’s global warming; every decade there’s a new crisis which threatens to destroy us all. My concern is that we might throw the baby out with the bathwater and erroneously reject AGW because of the hysteria of some of its advocates and their proposed solutions.

  • Jay,

    But there’s something about him – this need to seem more “reasonable” than all those other conservatives – that makes me dislike his style.

    AS you note, it seems to come down to a question of Ross’s style and one’s preference (or not) for it. In my case, I happen to like it, but I certainly grant that it may not be to everyone’s liking.

  • Thanks, Chris.

    As for Douthat’s defense of the Holy Father that you mentioned in an earlier comment, I thought he was too equivocal even in that:

    Perhaps we can ask your co-blogger if my criticism of Douthat’s piece on Pope Benedict is just more evidence of my blindly ideological defense of yet another “conservative”.

  • Right below the excerpt Jay posted from Douthat’s article is this:

    Now of course similar incentives are also at work for people who make their living writing and talking to a more partisan audience: If you run, say, a right-wing talk radio show, or work for an explicitly conservative magazine, stoking partisan fervor is almost always in your professional interest

    It’s in the interests of conservatives to self-police. (And it’s true: some bloggers here like Jay do that.) No one has cornered the market on substance. There’s always the possibility that these “urbanite” conservatives are tempering their opinions not because they’re craven or sycophantic, but because they’re around people making strong counterarguments, and their moderation reflects that influence. Lord knows, I don’t like a lot of what the NY/DC corridor conservatives write, but I’d rather read their measured criticisms than the ravings of some moonbat.

  • O no, if global warming’s real, we are going to face the first natural paradoxical disaster in the history of man. The seas are going to rise, and the seas are going to fall, they’ll be monsoons, and they’ll be drought, it’s going to get very cold, and very hot at the same time! I’m very afraid of having to wear a heavy coat and clothes that are as light as possible at the same time; imagine handling a flood while dying from drought. We all have to take the threat more seriously, and stop making fun of it.

  • Jay, I’ve been away from my computer for the last hour or so. I agree that you criticize conservatives. But I don’t understand your criticism of Douthat. Douthat’s point was fairly innocuous – conservative intellectuals should call out the entertainers and politicians when they’re pandering. In response, you’ve (again) linked to a blog post that was an honest exploration of the pressures on conservatives in the MSM. It seems to me that you’re taking a post that show-cases introspection and intellectual honesty and saying that it proves a lack of both – and this in response to a point you claim to agree with. As Chris said, above, this may just be a matter of style. But I found your reaction to Douthat’s comments odd. It seems to me that you’re basing your criticism more on who makes the statement than the substance – and that’s what I meant by saying in practice you don’t approve of criticism of conservatives. You don’t mind making criticisms yourself, but if the non-approved people make them, you attack them even if you agree with the substance of what they’re saying. That is what I find off-putting, although I appologize for the sloppy and inaccurate way that was phrased above.

  • Yes,

    Lets all be good little boys and girls, always eat with the proper fork, and treat politics as if it we were all at Gollatz Cotillion.

    Some things are worth “raving” about. Some things are worth the slightest infusion of passion and emotion. Some things require more than the functions of an indifferent calculating machine. Some things are worth fighting for.

    I’ll rant and rave ’till the day I die, dag nabbit! ::whips out his dueling pistols and fires randomly into the air::

  • Joe,

    Yes, raving can be necessary. *But*, if the context is a discussion in which we are trying to *persuade* others that our course is the best, raving can often be counterproductive.

    If we’re trying to rally the troops or “speak truth to power”, raving is often appropriate. If I’m trying to *convince* someone that my way is the best way, it’s less effective. The context matters.

    An elementary point, obviously, but one worth making nonetheless.

  • I am not an art history major, but it would seem that the master artists of their time catered to the ruling houses of Europe. My bride, who has a degree in art history is one of those who can usually spot the family member or patron in the sacred art paintings of the masters. So the artists, though proud, matter-of-factly bent their art to flatter their benefactor’s good profile.

    Although supposedly the high priests of objective observation and reporting of facts, modern researchers are no less dependant today on reliable funding streams from foundations and other sources than their artistic forebears were on stipends and largesse of the great families.

    I am no more inclined to grant, without checking, the integrity of a scientist than I am to believe that the guy in the front rank kneeling before Jesus (or Peter, or an Angel) only coincidentally looks like a Medici.

  • That’s fine Chris – I’m just sick of the people who don’t make the subtle distinctions you do, and try to insist that any form of struggle in itself is some kind of insanity that ought to be replaced with servility.

  • Suffice it to say that I’m all for self-policing our own, but have issues with those who are “professional self-policers” like Douthat, Dreher, and Frum. They’re the conservative media equivalent of tattle-tales.

  • I agree Jay. They are lukewarm, and they will be spit out.

  • Jay,

    Yes. I love your way of dealing with the problems — hide it from view, and if anyone exposes it, call them “tattle-tales.” Why am I not surprised? Didn’t you learn from the child abuse crisis we are facing that a culture of secrecy is NOT what is needed?

  • Jay, given that the views of at least Douthat & Dreher aren’t exactly mainstream conservatism (no one would mistaken their brand of conservatism for Rush’s or Sarah’s), I’m not sure why you’d consider *them* “professional self-policers”.

  • Paul,
    I am also amused that here you are, approvingly linking to an article about the need to reject close-mindedness and for conservative writers to be able to freely critique other conservatives, and yet your reaction to my reaction to Douthat is to simply dismiss me as either ignorant or ideological. Not surprising, considering the source.

    Heh. Let’s clarify, here. The ignorant or ideological line was in response to your claim that Reihan Salaam’s writings lacked substance. You’ve clarified that you were not criticizing his writings as a whole, only his book. Ok, then we just disagree about the book.

    As to your criticism of my criticism of your criticism of the critique that conservatives need to criticize each other, I’m not sure what your point is. It seems to me that there is plenty of criticism going on, and my criticism of you was linked to a very specific point – namely, that characterizing Reihan as nonsubstantive is laughably, obviously wrong. You’ve conceded that point, more or less, so we’re left with disagreement about their book. But since you’ve acknowledged that the criticism of the book doesn’t necessarily apply to all of the writings of the authors, I don’t really know what to say. You don’t like Douthat. You tried to link the criticism of his book to all of his writings, but would not do the same for Salaam. Ok, that’s fine. Is Douthat right or not about the lack of and need for more debates (a la Manzi) in conservatism or not?

  • I hear you, Jay. Of the three “professional self-policers” on your list, Douthat is the only one I tend to like. So maybe it’s a stylistic approach.

    And Joe, I hope it wasn’t my comment about “raving” that set you off. I meant that I’d rather have someone *in the family* say “This is a bad argument of ours” rather than have some lefty nut screaming it at me. Again, style.

    (But feel free to shoot up the place, Yosemite Sam! It wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t!)

  • J,

    It’s all good. I understand now what you meant, and the point is taken.

  • I’m not sure why you’d consider *them* “professional self-policers”.

    That is what I find odd also. The assumption is that Douthat doesn’t really believe what he’s saying, but rather is just catering to his audience. That assumption just doesn’t bear much scrutiny; I’ve been reading he and Reihan since they were completely unknown independent bloggers (well before the Atlantic), and they have been remarkably consistent over time. To me (and this is just my impression – I may be wrong), it seems to me that Jay is confusing stylistic and occasional substantive differences with insincerity. Dreher I think is sincere, but overwrought. Frum I have no use for whatsoever.

  • I agree that self-appointed self-policers can get very annoying at times — though Douthat almost never bothers me in that respect. Dreher and Frum, on the other hand, I didn’t like even before the apostatized in their different ways, religious and political respectively.

    Looping back to the original point, however, I certainly understand and share Manzi’s frustration with a fair amount of science coverage from explicitly conservative authors. It’s not as if there aren’t important points to be made on scientific issues from a conservative point of view. Whether it’s new atheists trying to make expansive theological and socialogical claims based on mis-applying evolutionary history, or enviro-hucksters like Gore massively distorting real climate science, there are important rebuttals to be made. But unfortunately magazines like National Review don’t seem to have very good instincts in sorting real, solid criticism from polemics which fail to address the real evidence and issues.

    Some science coverage they run is good, but others is just execrable.

  • Right-liberalism (i.e. Mark Levin) is not properly conservative. It should be heavily criticized, especially when it tends towards the hackish and populist. Douthat does this effectively, as do Dreher and Frum. I support them (although Frum can be a real piece of work, as in his absurd “Unpatriotic Conservatives” NR piece).

    This is not to say that within the rightist coalitions (infused with the “freedom” of right-liberalism) that Levin et al. cannot be valuable. But “K-Lo’s” defense (the Corner last night) was hugely weak, and we need many more Jim Manzi’s.

  • Yes. I love your way of dealing with the problems — hide it from view, and if anyone exposes it, call them “tattle-tales.” Why am I not surprised? Didn’t you learn from the child abuse crisis we are facing that a culture of secrecy is NOT what is needed?

    Henry, I have a very open comment policy and so I approved this comment, but I think this attack by analogy is completely unfair; and, to compound the irony, you’ve managed an Anderson’s Law violation… while criticizing Jay Anderson! Please keep your future comments more civil.

  • John Henry: Anyone who uses “Godwin’s Law” or a variation of it is already falling for a modern, anti-analogical sensibility, and does not win anything just because they claim a win. So I don’t care if I “violated” Anderson’s law or not.

    The analogy IS apt. If someone complains about “those who are policing us” because “they are tattle tales” (though not necessarily so, could be an ad hominem if we want to play name that fallacy), this kind of mentality is juvenile and is used by people who have things they want to hide. And with the culture of secrecy within the Church, so it is within any political group. They benefit from, are not harmed by, such revelations; they help, not hinder, because they allow for metanoia. To hide error, to hide falsehood, to hide sin because it is not comfortable to expose it just the continuation of Adam’s error.

  • But unfortunately magazines like National Review don’t seem to have very good instincts in sorting real, solid criticism from polemics which fail to address the real evidence and issues. Some science coverage they run is good, but others is just execrable.

    Exactly right. The link post appeared at the Corner, but Manzi obviously knew when he wrote it that he would get completely unsubstantial comments like this in response. Conservatives need to raise their game.

  • Thanks, John Henry.

    And I apologize for the intemperate nature of my previous remarks (seems that I’m always having to do that when we have this discussion 😉 ). I think it is correct to conclude that my problem with 2 of the 3 individuals I mentioned is one of style; in the case of Frum, however, it is also about substance.

    As I said, I do think it is important for conservatives to police their own, and I hope that I have done so when the circumstances merit it (ironically, one of the instances where I did call out someone was when Frum questioned the patriotism of those conservatives who opposed the Iraq War).

    And, of course, Henry completely missed the point of the “tattle-tale” remark. The point was that no one likes the kid who goes around pointing fingers and tattling on his schoolmates, and I was likening those who are self-appointed policers to the tattle-tale. It’s a subtle point: self-policing is important; but those who are too dogmatic about it tend to be overbearing snots. We can agree to disagree on whether that description is applicable to Douthat.

  • Glad to see we are somewhat in agreement, Jay. And apologies again for the double-offense of being intemperate and unclear.

  • HK – I will be away from the blog for a while, so your comments may not get through, unless Darwin or someone else approves them. I think comparing cover-up of the sexual abuse of children with political disagreements is unwise and unnecessarily inflammatory if your purpose is to encourage discussion rather than a flame war. Or would it strike you as a good starting point for discussion, if I compared the moderation of comment threads at a certain blog with the abuse scandal cover-up? I would not do such a thing because it’s obvious it would offend you more than it would help resolve the disagreement. But a similar thing could be said about your comment.

  • “Henry completely missed the point”

    I heard the sun rose in the east this morning too.


  • “They are overbearing snots.” Or maybe they are the ones who call attention to a problem which no one wants to be made known. It is very common for bullies to denounce “tattle telling.” And that is exactly the issue. “They are snots.” That’s rich. Jay proves my point. This is exactly the attitude which is wrong, which trains people to ignore conscience, and indeed, helps keep evil in power.

  • John Henry

    If the political parties are doing evil, and the ones who expose the evil are called “tattle tales” it is quite similar to the way many people attack the media for exposing cover-ups against children. As long as the “don’t be a tattle tale” mentality prevails, metanoia will not.

  • If the political parties are doing evil, and the ones who expose the evil are called “tattle tales” it is quite similar to the way many people attack the media for exposing cover-ups against children. As long as the “don’t be a tattle tale” mentality prevails, metanoia will not.

    Jay didn’t say that if “the political parties are doing evil” people should not expose them, nor that those who did expose them would be “tattle tales”. What he did complain about is the phenomenon of people who consistently point out the faults of their own group (be it political, cultural, religious, etc.) in what appears to be an attempt to fit in with or curry favor with some other antagonistic group. Or simply in an attempt to seem “above it all”.

    This is, in fact, a real tendency which some people display, and it is one which causes unnecessary hurt and division. That doesn’t mean that no one should ever say anything negative about groups to which they belong, nor would Jay ever say such a thing.

    While it’s important to recognize, acknowledge, and repair the faults of one’s own “side”, constant harping on the faults of one’s own group (especially in a way which seems callibrated more to one’s own aggrandizement than to correcting faults) does not create metanoia, it just labels one as an annoy-a.

    Stretching someone’s statements beyond recognition in order to try to accuse them of being of the same mentality of those who covered up sexual abuse committed by priests falls much more in the annoy-a than the metanoia category.

  • “Stretching someone’s statements beyond recognition in order to try to accuse them of being of the same mentality of those who covered up sexual abuse committed by priests falls much more in the annoy-a than the metanoia category.”


  • DC

    In other words, “don’t be a voice of conscience.” I get it. I always got it. I was accused of being the “tattle tale” when I was young, too. Yes. Better to let abuse continue.

  • Ok, I’m going to ask that we not continue this line of conversation. It’s dull for anyone not involved, and it’s not going anywhere productive. Henry believes he is a voice of conscience. Others believe he is reading uncharitably, then making an inapposite and needlessly inflammatory analogy. I don’t think there’s much room for resolution of differences on the point, and I did not write this post with such a conversation in mind. Everyone has had their say.

  • You can mark me down as being on the Manzi/Douthat side of this dispute. I’ll confess I’ve not read the section on global warming in Levin’s book (or any other part of it). But I read his response to Manzi, as well as the responses of K-LO and Andy McCarthy on the Corner, and I’m somewhat familiar with Levin’s style of argument more generally. Needless to say I was not impressed. For what it’s worth, I’ll add that I thought Douthat’s book (which is actually titled Grand New Party; not Sam’s Club Republicans) was quite good.

    There is a natural tendency for political movements to grow lazy in their argumentation, which ultimately impairs their ability to be successful. Subjecting fellow conservatives to criticism when they are not living up to standards is one way to stave off this sort of deterioration, and I think Manzi’s post was a good example of that.

  • John Henry

    Yes, it is “dull” to people with a dull conscience to consider how our socialization with “don’t be a tattle tale” is actually the kind of practice needed to keep sin and evil from being exposed into the light and repented. The fact of the matter is — it’s not dull, it is to the point. The mob boss, the union boss, an institution with a culture of secrecy, political parties who are harboring evil, etc — all will call the “rat fink” out in one fashion or another. They are always the one no one likes. Why is it?

    [Ed. Note: Henry, I was serious. As I said, I very rarely delete comments, but I would ask – again – that you not submit any more comments in this vein. You have expressed your opinion, repeatedly. If this is a topic you wish to discuss, there are venues for that at your disposal. As a courtesy, I would ask that you not continue trying to change the topic of this thread. Best, JH]

  • Levin responds on The Corner here, and it seems to me at any rate basically reveals that the scientific cards are all on Manzi’s side on this one, while the noise is on Levin’s.

    I suspect one of the dynamics here is that most people are willing to give those on “their side” a pass when they figure their heart is in the right place and the issue doesn’t seem all that important. Since most conservatives are not in favor of taking drastic and expensive action to reduce carbon emmissions, there’s not necessarily a lot of practical pressure to sort good arguments from bad arguments.

    And yet, the fact remains that some arguments present very valid reasons why we shouldn’t rush to pass certain kinds of regulations in the name of “saving the planet”, while other arguments are very poor indeed.