Tag: paul krugman

Friday Roundup: Guns, Money and Gag Orders

A few stories to close out your week:

  • Following on Alex’s post on the attempt to squash free speech at Reason, the Best Magazine on the Planet has gotten the gag order lifted and broken their silence. What they relate is appalling. Not only did the USA try to get personal information on Reason’s commenters, they got a gag order to try to prevent Reason from notifying those commenters that the government was seeking their information (Reason had already notified them by the time the order came). It’s a must-read on a government that is determined to shred any semblance of privacy.
  • Earlier this week, Treasury announced that the new $10 bill will have a woman on it, although it’s not clear who that will be or how she will “share” the bill with Alexander Hamilton. As someone who favors a radical overhaul of which faces are on our currency, I’m moderately in favor of this. But I much prefer the idea of putting a woman on the $20 for reasons articulated by Jillian Keenan (namely that Jackson was a racist slaveholding genocidal shredder of the Constitution). Still, there are lots of women we could honor: Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sally Ride, Clara Barton. I would take all of these over Jackson. And I wouldn’t mind if we took all the politicians off our currency.
  • How bad was the security at OPM that led to the huge data breach? Really really bad. And they won’t fix it. Change we can believe in!
  • If you’re having trouble finding delicious barbecue, blame government. They are literally outlawing the kind of slow-cooking methods that make for such deliciousness. And it’s not really clear why other than “because they can”.
  • It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that Paul Krugman and the Keynesians are full of it again. They are citing Iceland an example of how expansionary fiscal policy can save an economy. The problem? In this thing called reality, Iceland endorsed a severe austerity, with significant spending cuts and tax hikes.
  • The blamestorming for Charleston has already begun. Here is a quick refresher about the media’s desperation to blame horrific acts of violence on the Right Wing.
  • And finally, Reason has a feature on a college student who was busted with pot, turned informant and was murdered. No one is accountable, as usual. I’ll spare you my usual War on Drugs rant, in favor of my other favorite one: when dealing with cops and prosecutors, always get a lawyer. Never negotiate on your own.

Paul Officially In

Rand Paul has officially thrown his hat into the Presidential ring, unveiling his agenda and opening up a website. I don’t think Paul has much of a chance of the nomination or the Presidency, given some of his unorthodox views. And, for obvious reasons, I’m a little dubious of half-term senators running for President. But I do like having him out there. He’s another voice outside the GOP establishment. He brings to the fore a number of issues — mass incarceration, the War on Drugs, NSA surveillance, aggressive foreign policy — that the GOP needs to confront.

And … he drive the Left Wing absolutely berserk. Today’s stories have alternated headlines of “Paul’s no different from other Republicans” to “Paul is a crazy far out Republican”. They’ve been putting up factually challenged rants about how he wants to return us to the 19th century. They’ve been accusing him of being sexist based on a testy interview with Savannah Guthrie. The Left Wing has a lot invested in the idea that all Republicans are sociopathic, racist, sexist shitlords who only care about rich people. Paul is one of the biggest challenges to that.

But there’s something else I’m picking up on. One of my favorite responses to Paul’s candidacy has been from whichever semi-literate intern wrote Paul Krugman’s column today. He puts up an idiot’s version of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz and then claims, based on no data whatsoever, that there are no libertarians1. Everyone in America is either economically and socially liberal or economically and socially conservative. Because apparently the polls showing a large libertarian center don’t exist.

Why is American politics essentially one-dimensional, so that supporters of gay marriage are also supporters of guaranteed health insurance and vice versa? (And positions on foreign affairs — bomb or talk? — are pretty much perfectly aligned too).

Well, the best story I have is Corey Robin’s: It’s fundamentally about challenging or sustaining traditional hierarchy. The actual lineup of positions on social and economic issues doesn’t make sense if you assume that conservatives are, as they claim, defenders of personal liberty on all fronts. But it makes perfect sense if you suppose that conservatism is instead about preserving traditional forms of authority: employers over workers, patriarchs over families. A strong social safety net undermines the first, because it empowers workers to demand more or quit; permissive social policy undermines the second in obvious ways.

And I suppose that you have to say that modern liberalism is in some sense the obverse — it is about creating a society that is more fluid as well as fairer.

This is mind-bogglingly stupid. 40% of self-described Republicans now support legal same-sex marriage, including 60% of young Republicans. 60-70% of independents support same sex marriage. And despite claims by liberals, actual polls show that a clear majority of independents and the vast majority of Republicans oppose single-payer healthcare. So this “actually very few” people who support same sex marriage and oppose single-payer health is approximately half the electorate.

Mankiw:

Similar to Krugman, I would define a libertarian voter as one who leans left on social issues (such as same-sex marriage) and right on economic issues (such as taxes and regulation). I certainly put myself in that camp, and I don’t think I am as lonely as Krugman suggests. I meet lots of students with similar views (though, admittedly, Harvard students are hardly a representative sample of voters).

I also meet a lot of students with similar views at my big state university. Mankiw also reminds us that far “challenging traditional hierarchies”, the Democrats supported them up until about last week:

Many libertarian voters I know (including those students) often vote for Democratic candidates because they weight the social issues more than the economic ones. I usually vote for Republican candidates because I weight the economic issues more than the social ones.

One reason is that I don’t view the Democratic Party as a leader on social issues. Remember that Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Barack Obama was against same-sex marriage when he ran for President, and then he “evolved” (aka flip-flopped) on the issue. On this social issue and many others, our elected leaders are really followers. The leaders are the American people.

Why are so many liberals freaking out about Rand Paul? Why are so many reduced to sheer hysteria by the prospect of a “libertarian moment”? Because libertarianism and libertarian-conservatism put the lie to the liberal conceit, espoused above by Krugman, that Democrats are mavericks who challenge traditional hierarchies. I couldn’t imagine anything further from the truth. Democrats were the party of slavery. Democrats were the party of segregation and Jim Crowe (especially progressive hero Woodrow Wilson). Democrats support massive government power, including the surveillance state and Obama’s wars. They have only supported social change when forced. They bomb countries, they violate civil liberties, they jail people by the millions and they always, always seek to expand the scope and power of our government. That’s not being a maverick and challenging social hierarchy. That’s being a conformist. It was, in fact, progressive hero Woodrow Wilson who said, “Conformity will be the only virtue. And every man who refuses to conform will have to pay the penalty.”

Rand Paul isn’t a dangerous loon. And he’s not the antichrist. What he is is a heretic, challenging the religion that is Progressivism. We should be grateful they’re not calling for him to be burned at the stake.

Yet.

Paul says he is not a libertarian and his views would be best described as conservative. But he draw enormous support from libertarians and libertarian-conservatives.

A Recovery About Nothing

As you know, there are signs — tentative ones — that our economy is beginning to recover from Great Depression II. It’s about on schedule — I thought we would need about five years to crawl out of the hole we were in. But we had 5% growth in Q3 and unemployment continues to edge down (although the U6 remains high). Projections for 2015 are cautiously optimistic, barring a major war or something (which, with Obama, is always on the cards).

I have noted, however, that this recovery runs against the dogma we’ve been hearing from the Keynesians and pseudo-Keynesians on the Left Wing. According to them, the “austerity” of the last few years (i.e., flat spending) should have caused us to have a double-dip recession. David Harsanyi expands on this:

But if activist policies really have as big an impact on our economic fortunes as Washington operatives claim, I only have one question: What policy did Barack Obama enact to initiate this astonishing turnaround? We should definitely replicate it.

Because those who’ve been paying attention these past few years may have noticed that the predominant agenda of Washington has been to do nothing. It was only when the tinkering and superfluous stimulus spending wound down that fortunes began to turn around. So it’s perplexing how the same pundits who cautioned us about gridlock’s traumatizing effects now ignore its existence.

For instance, Paul Krugman wrote a column titled “The Obama Recovery.” The problem is that the author failed to justify his headline. It begins like this:

“Suppose that for some reason you decided to start hitting yourself in the head, repeatedly, with a baseball bat. You’d feel pretty bad. Correspondingly, you’d probably feel a lot better if and when you finally stopped. What would that improvement in your condition tell you?”

Suppose you tell us what the bat represents, because spending in current dollars has remained steady since 2010, and spending as a percentage of GDP has gone down. In 2009, 125 bills were enacted into law. In 2010, 258. After that, Congress, year by year, became one of the least productive in history. And the more unproductive Washington became the more the economy began to improve.

Krugman argues that the recession lingered because government hadn’t hired enough people to do taxpayer-funded busywork. The baseball bat. But then he undercuts this notion by pointing out that there was an explosion of public-sector hiring under George W. Bush—the man he claims caused the entire mess in the first place. Krugman also ignores the stimulus, because it screws up his imaginary “austerity” timeline. He then spends most of the column debunking austerity’s success in Britain.

Britain’s “austerity”, incidentally, was called austerity when the UK economy was stagnant. When it began to recover, the exact same budgets were described as having abandoned austerity. With the Keynesians, it’s always heads they win, tails we lose.

This recession was not about a lack of demand or a lack of spending. It was about the huge amount of debt that the American people had dug themselves into. That debt has declined — mortgage debt is down and consumer debt is down. Student and public debts have risen but not as sharply. In short, we’re finally getting out from under the 16,000 pound boulder that was the Housing Bubble. And, who knows? Maybe things would be better if we didn’t have the 10,000 pound boulder of federal debt and the 2,000 pound barbell of student loans.

OK, I’m letting that metaphor get away from me.

Anyway, our gridlocked do-nothing Congress has failed to pass a “jobs” bill, has failed to enact “temporary” stimulus and has cut programs to “build the economy”. And the result is the healthiest economic numbers in a decade.

Funny how well we can do when our government stops “helping” us. Now imagine if we could get them to stop giving us “free” healthcare and regulating our every move.

Turkeys and Drumsticks 2014

For seven years running, I have taken advantage of the Thanksgiving Holiday to give out my awards for Turkey of the Year and Golden Drumsticks. The latter are for those who exemplify the best traits in our public sphere. The former are for those who exemplify silliness and stupidity. I rarely give them out to someone who is evil; they are reserved for those who regularly make me shake my head and wonder what they’re thinking. It’s a sort of “thank you” for making blogging easier.

We’ll start with the Turkeys of the Year. For reference, the past winners are:

2007: Alberto Gonzalez, Nancy Pelosi, Hugo Chavez

2008: Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin’s critics, Hillary Clinton, Congress, Joe Biden

2009: Mike Steele, Glen Beck, the State Department, Sarah Palin, Andrew Sullivan.

2010: Janet Napolitano and TSA, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, MSNBC, Lower Merion Schools, California Voters.

2011: Nancy Pelosi, Republican Presidential Field, Occupy Wall Street, Anthony Weiner, the Eurozone.

2012: The Culture Warriors, Unions, The Poll Unskewers, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, MSNBC

2013: Healthcare.gov, the Platinum Coin, the Shutdown Caucus, the National park Service, Fiscal Cliff Panic Mongers.

For this year, I picked:

Jonathan Gruber: #3 was in the lead most of the year. Then #2 took over earlier this month. But the millionaire consultant from MIT has to take the top prize now. The thing about Gruber is not that he made comments that support Halbig. It’s not that he helped create Obamacare. It’s not even that he called the voters stupid. It’s that he revealed the ugly reality that undergirds of much of the progressive movement in this country: the belief that Americans are stupid, that leaders are wise and that the latter must lead the former to good choices through deception, obfuscation and coercion. The most common thing I read on liberal message boards after Grubergate was “Hey, he’s right!” There is a large section of the Left Wing that thinks we need to be ruled by a technocratic elite. Gruber pulled back the veil. And that he looked like a horse’s ass into the bargain was just gravy.

Lamenting Democrats: In the wake of yet another electoral shellacking, the professional whining class went into overdrive, trying to find something, anything to blame for their loss. Random articles about science topics would start with lamenting that evil Republicans were taking over the Senate. Robert Reich screamed that Republicans might use reconciliation to do stuff (reconciliation being a legitimate tactic up until November 3). A thousand articles sprang up about “how to talk to your crazy right-wing uncle/parents/cousin/neighbor/imaginary friend at Thanksgiving about Issue X” (hint: don’t).

I’ve been disappointed by elections. But I hope I never get to the point where the results of an election make me gnash my teeth and rend my garments in such hilarious fashion.

Barack Obama: The only reason his approval ratings aren’t at record lows is because of mindless Democrat loyalty. The economy continues to improve despite the Republicans rejecting every “jobs bill” he proposes. His party got crushed in the election. And his response to this was to … implement immigration reform through executive action (polls show Americans support the policy, but oppose the means). His White House is also becoming famous for what are called “bad optics” and would be called scandalous if Bush were doing it: fund-raising while the Ukraine is in turmoil, having a huge dinner while Ferguson is burning, golfing right after a press conference on an ISIS beheading. He has earned the low poll numbers. And earned a place on this list.

Jim Ardis: Earlier this year, Ardis persuaded a judge to launch a raid on a house because one of the inhabitants was … mocking him on Twitter. He apparently still thinks this was a fine idea. Jim Ardis … meet the Streisand Effect.

(One infuriating note: a judge has upheld the drug charges that resulted from the raid finding drugs in the house. Because warrants to arrest parody account holders are apparently just fine.)

Paul Krugman: Another year for Krugman, another set of factually-challenged opinion pieces apparently written by unpaid interns. My favorite was his assertion that Halbig represented “corruption” in the courts, a claim the indispensable Walter Olson demolishes here. As several bloggers noted, Krugman was a big supporter of the Platinum Coin Caper, where he said, essentially, that we should concentrate on the letter of the law, not the spirit, the opposite of what he’s saying now.

Note, also. This year is coming a cropper for things Krugmans believes in. The Picketty analysis of inequality appears to be badly flawed. And Keynesian ideas are failing all over the globe.

Dishonorable Mention: Wendy Davis, whoever is doing PR for the Ferguson Police, the Ferguson rioters, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Secret Service, Mary Landrieu, Everytown USA.

Now the Golden Drumsticks, awarded to those who best exemplified what is right with the world. Here are the past awards, the first round from West Virginia Rebel.

2007: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ron Paul, Barack Obama, David Petraeus, Juan Carlos, Burma’s monks

2008: US Military, Jeff Flake, Ron Paul, Republican Governors, Barack Obama

2009: The American Fighting Man, Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, George W. Bush

2010: The Tea Party, Chris Christie, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the Next Wave of Republicans, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, The American Soldiers

2011: Seal Team Six, Mark Kelly, The Arab Spring (ugh), the Technicians at Fukushima

2012: Down Ballots, The Sandy Responders, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, Mathew Inman

2013: Francis I, Edward Snowden, Rand Paul, The American Military, The Institute for Justice

For this year, I picked:

Ebola Responders: In the face of a colossal healthcare crisis and one of the most terrifying diseases out there, Africa has been flooded with volunteers risking their lives to help. Hundreds of healthcare workers in Africa, including Humarr Khan, have been killed trying to comfort or save the dying. Even in this country, we’ve seen nurses and doctors work hard to care for Ebola victims, including two nurses who were infected in Dallas and mercifully saved by modern medicine.

Here’s a little thing about me: I tend to dislike movies about dystopias. Not because I think a dystopia won’t happen or because I’m ignorant about the dark side of human nature. I dislike them because they usually ignore the flip side of human nature: our capacity to be generous, brave and compassionate.

Francis I: He continues to shake up the religious world while adhering closely to Catholic doctrine. My initial impression of him remains unchanged. He is just a good man.

Rand Paul: Paul gave a speech earlier this year that was a rebuke to the neocons: defining a foreign policy that defends our interests while avoiding senseless overseas debacles. He is pushing the Republicans toward reforms of our criminal justice system, our surveillance state and our War on Drugs. I’m a bit worried whether he’ll hold up to the pressure of special interests, especially if he has Presidential aspirations. But right now, he’s doing good.

David Brat and the Republican Candidates: “A monarch’s neck should always have a noose around it—it keeps him upright.” – Robert A. Heinlein. I’m not sure what to make of Brat at this point, but I think his defeat of Cantor is an important reminder to the Republicans of what will happen if the get stupid again. Among the other Republicans running for office this year, there was barely a gaffe to be heard. In fact, the biggest War on Women complaint was about Mark Udall, criticized by his own supporters for talking too much about the War on Women. In general, they stuck to the bread and butter themes of the economy, Obamacare and big government. Let’s hope they deliver.

The Supreme Court: It’s always a mixed year from the Court, but this year they gave us good decisions in Riley, Hobby Lobby, Harris v. Quinn, McCullen v. Coakley, NLRB v. Noel Canning, Town of Greece v. Galloway, Schuette v. BAMN and McCutcheon. They continued their streak of unanimously rejecting Obama’s power grabs. You can check on this year’s key decisions here. There are a few I had issues with but most were solid.

Honorable Mentions: marijuana decriminalization efforts, Scott Walker, Charlie Baker (anyone who defeat Martha Coakley gets a mention), the American military

Put your nominees in the comments. And I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.

Asymmetric Arrogance

Over at Ezra Klein’s new venture, there is a fascinating piece about how politics make us stupid. Klein details experiments that show that both liberals and conservatives have a tendency to interpret facts so that they reinforce their own pre-existing biases. Or, more accurately, that people tend to interpret even objective scientific evidence in ways that support the ideas of their political tribe. It is worth your time.

Of course, the Left Wing never likes to be reminded that they are people just like the rest of us, not some uber-evolved ultra-enlightened homo superior. So Klein’s piece is being attacked by various left wingers, most notably Paul Krugman:

But here’s the thing: the lived experience is that this effect is not, in fact, symmetric between liberals and conservatives. Yes, liberals are sometimes subject to bouts of wishful thinking. But can anyone point to a liberal equivalent of conservative denial of climate change, or the “unskewing” mania late in the 2012 campaign, or the frantic efforts to deny that Obamacare is in fact covering a lot of previously uninsured Americans? I don’t mean liberals taking positions you personally disagree with — I mean examples of overwhelming rejection of something that shouldn’t even be in dispute.

Off the top of my head? I can think of the entirety of the Cold War, where massive factions of the Left Wing pretended that communism was not the evil oppressive regime that it was, that murderous communist guerrillas were engaged in a noble struggle and that Ronald Reagan was crazy to call a nation that murdered millions of its own people an evil empire. But if you want to go with current things, here is a short list of bullshit that the Left Wing believes. I will stick to thinks that are not really in factual dispute, rather than points of disagreement (e.g., Keynesian economics works).

  • Many believe that GMO crops are dangerous and should be banned despite overwhelming evidence that they are safe.
  • Many believe that vaccines cause autism despite overwhelming evidence that they are safe and the research that linked the two was fraudulent. Yes, some right wingers believes this. But it has for more respect and attention from the Left Wing.
  • It is almost universally believed on the Left that gun violence is worse than ever and mass shootings are on the rise despite massive drops in overall violence. I’ve done a series of pieces disputing Mother Jones’ completely bogus analysis of gun data. Mother Jones is not a fringe publication; it is one of the main voices of the Left.
  • Many lefties believe that the United States has been taken over by “rape culture” despite an 85% drop in sexual violence over the last 40 years.
  • Paul Krugman specifically claims that governments have cut spending, when spending has, in fact, increased. He has since claimed that the German government eschewed austerity despite their enacting more “austerity” than the supposedly skinflint UK. Krugman also used to push the idea that Herbert Hoover cut spending. For the record, Hoover jacked up spending so far that FDR denounced him as a socialist.
  • Many Left Wingers still believe that overpopulation is a problem. Almost no scientist believes this anymore. Yet Paul Ehrlich is still respected. Many also believe we are running out of landfill space and that recycling/composting are objectively good for the Earth. The evidence on this is mixed, at best.
  • On the subject of global warming, liberals might accept the science. But they are more than happy to engage in pseudo-scientific feel-good solutions to the problem that often do no good and sometimes make things worse. Examples: food miles, carbon offsets, “organic” farming, hybrid cars. All of those have been objectively shown either do little for the environment or even harm it, in the case of food miles. But a real solution to the problem, like nuclear power? Lefties claim it is a menace despite the astounding safety record of the nuclear industry, even if you include Fukushima and Three Mile Island.
  • And on the subject of Obamacare? I’ve spent the last week besieged by liberals claiming that Obamacare enrolled seven million uninsured (it enrolled seven million total; maybe two million were uninsured). Or that it has now covered thirty million people (ten million at best, possibly significantly fewer) or that it will decrease the deficit (the CBO now disputes this).
  • While we’re on the subject of the CBO, it analysis is praised when it supports liberal policy, condemned when it doesn’t. Krugman himself has done this.
  • Liberals spent years claiming that Bush as “gutting” spending, despite the most massive spending increases in American history. They spent years claiming Bush was “deregulating” despite Bush passing more regulations and more invasive regulations than any prior administration. This is not a matter of opinion. These are facts.
  • Lefties, like many Right Wingers, believe the United States has a massive sex slave trafficking industry despite a complete absence of any evidence to that effect.
  • The most popular Left Wing documentarian — Michael Moore — was so famous for his inaccuracies, distortions and outright lies that entire websites sprang up to dispute them. You may have heard of one.
  • And speaking of “unskewed polls”, many Left Wingers floated conspiracy theories about the 2000 and 2004 elections, which they lost. Many still claim that Al Gore would have won the recount, despite most studies concluding Bush would have won anyway.
  • That’s just off the top of my head. And not a single one of those is a judgement call. In all cases, liberals are refusing to accept facts — falling gun violence, falling sexual violence, the uselessness of food miles, the fiscal and regulatory record of George Bush, the safety record of nuclear power, the safety of GMO’s, the fiscal policies of European countries.

    I might be willing to concede that the Right Wing is a little crazier right now. But that’s mostly a manifestation of Jane’s Law (“The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.”). Eight years ago, it was far different and far uglier. And, frankly, the Left Wing has recently starting to sound a little bit crazy even when they are still in power. The obsession with the Koch Brothers, the increasing calls to silence global warming skeptics, the wild claims about Obama’s economic and healthcare record. I can only imagine how bad it will be if the GOP has the reigns of power again in 2016.

    Anyway, Krugman’s piece is pathetic: a desperate attempt to convince himself that his political tribe is better than everyone else’s. We all have our biases and we all tend to find ways to reinforce those biases. Changing someone’s mind is hard; changing your own mind is even harder. It does happen. But it does not happen when someone, like Krugman, thinks they are magically immune to human nature.

    What Spitzer Wants

    It seemed odd to me that Eliot “courtesans are for royalty, not plebs” Spitzer chose comptroller as his avenue back into politics. Paul Krugman, in probably the most Krugman column ever, opines that comptroller would give him a chance to tangle with the Wall Street fat cats. Of course, Krugman spent the previous column bashing “Libertarian populism” without ever mentioning that a core tenet of libertarian populism is breaking up the big banks and reigning in Wall Street. Apparently, Wall Street can only be attacked by rich hypocritical aristocratic friends of Paul Krugman.

    It’s worth repeating what I said in an earlier column: Spitzer went to enormous effort to jail guys looking to get laid and women trying to make some money while he ran around with a high-priced courtesan; Spitzer structured his payments to avoid triggering bank reporting laws; Spitzer used his money and legal friends to avoid any prosecution for his acts. Spitzer is everything liberals claim to hate.

    “Conscience of a Liberal”, my ass.

    Then agan, maybe Krugman is hoping that electing Spitzer would be so idiotic that it would provoke that economy-stimulating alien invasion he’s always on about.

    Walter Olson has a much more likely explanation:

    Strong-arming gun makers to act against their perceived business interests, as well as those of their customers:

    …in retrospect, there were a few clues that Spitzer was eying a job whose duties include managing the city’s pension funds…

    In December, after the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., Spitzer wrote a column in the online publication Slate arguing that pension funds should use their investing clout to pressure corporations such as gunmakers to act in the public interest.

    New York City’s comptroller, Spitzer said in the interview, is “a significant player in terms of the pension funds and how those shares are voted. And when I speak with folks about corporate governance, the missing link in all of this has been ownership.”

    Eliot Spitzer has long been a key player in efforts to intimidate lawful gun manufacturers through both strained litigation theories and hamhanded attempts at economic pressure. The NYC comptroller’s office, with its sway over billions in pension fund money, would present him with a large sandbox indeed.

    This sound very likely to me: that Eliot Spitzer is seeking to politicize a pension fund and gain unaccountable unrestrained power to bully, intimidate and harass any business that he doesn’t like. Indeed, it’s for these reasons that I oppose most Social Security privatization plans: because of the power that trillions in investment money would potentially give the government.

    But … as shown by Krugman … liberals love Eliot Spitzer. They love him because he may be a pompous, power-hungry, hypocritical, Constitution-shredding horse’s ass; but he’s a pompous power-hungry, hypocritical, Constitution-shredding horse’s ass against people they don’t like (i.e, bankers). So the idea of using NYC’s pensions to bash lawful businesses into obeying their whims sounds great.

    The problem is that sleazy tyrants like Spitzer are never satisfied with just going after one enemy. It won’t be long until Spitzer is trying to blackmail newspapers that run escort ads. Or those that run gun advertisements. Or those that are insufficiently groveling. New York may soon elect a comptroller who sees his job not as managing finances but advancing an agenda. Just don’t whine when that agenda turns on you.

    Krugman v. Stewart

    Jon Stewart responds to Paul Krugman’s criticism:

    I think this exchange perfectly illustrates the debate over the Magic Coin Trick. Krugman wanted to get into nuance and detail and talk about this like it was a classroom exercise without real world consequences. But the value of money is entirely arbitrary, determined by how much “full faith and credit” people place in it. It doesn’t really matter if you’re right in some long-haired technical sense if the market decides you are full of shit. As Krugman, a Nobel Prize winning economist, should know, the market is always has the final word. It doesn’t matter how good your idea is if the market doesn’t agree.

    Stewart, for all his flaws, cuts to the chase: even if technically legal, the Coin was a stupid idea. And it’s a good illustration of how unserious Krugman really is.

    Argentina and Japan

    Wasn’t it just like a week ago that Paul “Wrong Way” Krugman was praising Argentina? And wasn’t it this week that he gushed over Japan’s growth, stimulated by tsunami reconstruction?

    Oops:

    Recently, two more countries have felt the bite of Keynesianism. Today, the credit ratings agency Fitch downgraded Japan’s economy and the AP reported that the Argentinian economy is likely to decline sharply. While Japan and Argentina might be different kinds of economies performing differently in different markets, their recent bad news can be attributed in part to a fondness for government spending.

    These countries have used two different approaches to Keynesianism, but it amounts to the same thing: gushers of debt, oceans of spending and rivers of “stimulus” producing … bad economies. And that’s ignoring, for the moment, the recent downgrades of all the other economies trying to spend their way into prosperity (the US) or raising taxes and calling it “austerity” (most of Europe). They have not acted as dramatically as Japan and Argentina have, which is probably they aren’t hurting as much. Yet.

    Is Keynesianism ever wrong? Really, it’s only a matter of time until they drag out the Phillips Curve again.

    The Deception of a Liberal

    Read this. Then read this. The first is Paul Krugman praising Argentina’s “economic model” of plundering, theft and deception, claiming its performance has been comparable to Brazil’s. The second is Juan Carlos Hidalgo’s response pointing out that Krugman (1) uses Argentina’s official inflation numbers, which economic journals have stopped using because they are transparent lies; (2) starts his analysis two years after Argentina’s recession began; (3) compares Argentina with a relatively poorly-performing country (10 South American countries have done better); and (4) ignores that Argentina’s growth, such at is, is about to blow up in their face.

    A bit more about that last point, since it’s relavent to the “spend yourself to prosperity” policies that Krugman and the Left are embracing for America and the Euro Zone. Inflating economies can give the illusion of prosperity. But it always end the same way — with a massive hangover. In the 1960’s and 70’s, the US deliberately inflated its currency because of a Keynsian piece of bullshit called the Phillips curve. It blew up in our face under Carter and we had to endure a brutal hangover once Volker got things under control. Argentina’s economy is already cracking: I noted earlier their nationalization of a Spanish oil company and their saber-rattling on what Obama calls “the Maldives”. These are not the actions of a country experiencing real economic growth.

    Back to Krugman. This is not an isolated incident. He is frequently factually challenged. He asserts the Euro-zone is “slashing spending” when spending is flat (and rising outside the PIIGS). He claims Hoover slashed spending when Hoover increase spending 80% in response to the Depression and was denounced by FDR for being a socialist. As we saw in the debate with Ron Paul, he ignores the post-War prosperity that followed Truman’s massive spending cuts.

    And he’s one of the most influential liberals in the country. It just goes to show that fact don’t matter when you’re telling people what they want to hear.

    Paul vs. Paul

    Ron Paul and Paul Krugman had a debate about economics (apologies for the link, which auto-plays). You can read Tyler Cowen’s commentary here. I agree with his final take:

    There were too many times when RP simply piled polemic points on top of each other and stopped making a sequential argument. He overrates the costs of inflation, including in the long term, and for a believer in the market finds it remarkably non-robust in response to bad monetary policy. Still, given that Krugman is a Nobel Laureate in economics, and Paul a gynecologist, the score could have been more lopsided than in fact it was.

    I have disagreements with Ron Paul on monetary policy and the Federal reserve. But I think Cowen understates Paul’s performance. There were several times where he got in points that Krugman had no response to (except to later whine with dubious factual accuracy on his blog). The fact is that the Keynesians really don’t have an explanation of how a 60% cut in federal spending after World War II produced an economic boom, other than to wave the “we owe the debt to ourselves” mantra. The fact is that they predicted Truman’s budget cuts would wreck the economy and they didn’t.

    I think Krugman also, like most Keynesians, underestimates the potential danger of inflation. It is true that a moderate inflation can ease a financial crisis. But it’s very hard to manage a “moderate” inflation because the temptation to inflate away debts is strong and it is very easy to get into an inflation-interest rate spiral like we did in the 70’s. This is why the Federal Reserve has been keen to keep that beast in its cage for three decades.

    Still, it tells you something about the intellectual weakness of the Left when they are preening/whining about, as Cowen said, a Nobel Laureate debating a 76-year-old Republican who is regarded as a crackpot by all “thinking people”. I suspect Krugman will next debate Milton Friedman. This may actually be an even match since Friedman is dead at the present time.