Explaining Paul Krugman — Pejman Yousefzadeh

 

Greg Mankiw is rightly exasperated with Paul Krugman’s propensity to write columns that “[take] a policy favored by the right, [attribute] the most vile motives to those who advance the policy, and [ignore] all the reasonable arguments in favor of it.” There are two possible reasons why Krugman likes doing this kind of thing:

  1. Krugman actually believes that the most vile motives should be attributed to people who advance policies that he doesn’t like, which indicates that Krugman is epistemically closed off from competing theories and beliefs; or
  2. Krugman knows that he is engaging in rhetorical excess, but does it anyway because rhetorical excess is what his fan base wants, and they love him for providing it on a regular basis.

Neither scenario makes Krugman look good. And neither scenario makes the New York Times look good for giving him a platform and refusing to check his worst impulses.

The latest example of Krugmaniac rhetorical excess can be found here; note Krugman’s almost casual comment that the Koch brothers (seriously, what is with the port-side obsession with these guys?) are supposedly “serious evildoers who use their wealth to push hard-line right-wing, anti-environmental policies that redound very much to their own benefit.” “Serious evildoers!” The rhetoric takes your breath away because it’s . . . well . . . crazy. And because even without the standalone craziness of the statement, it’s more than a little appalling that Krugman doesn’t even entertain the possibility that those who think differently from him may actually be motivated by good intentions, however little Krugman may think of their policy positions and political philosophies.

Do I really need to point out that the Kochs aren’t “serious evildoers” who “aren’t identified with innovation”? Fine; check out this post and the attendant links for an actual, fact/reality-based discussion of the Kochs. I am sure that the crack research staff at the New York Times would have been happy to track all of this information down for Paul Krugman, but either Krugman really does believe the insane-asylum rhetoric he types out or he is willing and eager to cater to the worst prejudices of his audience, so there is no chance whatsoever that he would be willing to be mugged by reality on this issue. (This, of course, doesn’t mean that the rest of us cannot and should not point out the facts, if only to provide a counter-narrative to Krugman’s propaganda.)

While we are on the subject of the Kochs, I guess I have to point out the obvious: If the Democrats are pinning their midterm hopes on making two brothers the vast majority of Americans never heard of into SPECTRE-level villains, that says something about the parlous political position in which the party finds itself. Also, the Democrats’ most enthusiastic Koch-basher—no, not Krugman, though he certainly puts in his best effort to win the prize—is less popular than are the Kochs. Awkward.

Nota bene: Since I am sure that someone is going to cite this post as evidence for the proposition that I am in the pocket of the Kochs, let me respond with the following:

  1. I don’t receive a dime from the Kochs or any Koch-related entities.
  2. I never have received a dime from the Kochs or any Koch-related entities.
  3. I never will receive a dime from the Kochs or any Koch-related entities.
  4. If you somehow find a way to disprove the prediction found in (3) immediately above, I shall be your bestest, bestest buddy.
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  1. user_250947 Inactive
    user_250947
    @lakelylane

    I must start by stating that I have never received any Koch from any one person or company. Seriously, I too, have been curious about the wanton blending of fact and opinion coming from Krugman. Sometimes it is so excessive you would have to think it is deliberate, but why?

    • #1
  2. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Part of the reason he does it is because he’s paid for the attention he gets, both in psychic income–from provoking Conservatives–and by the NYT.

    Why do we do we support him by giving him that attention?  I stopped reading him some time ago because he’s never had anything rational to say since he left his first profession to become a “journalist.”  I almost never comment on his stuff, and now I’ll resume not bothering with him.  And resume denying him my small fraction of his psychic income.

    Eric Hines

    • #2
  3. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Krugman is click-bait, and conservatives are his best source of clicks.

    Conservatives posting links to Krugman articles help his career. It’s how SEO works.

    • #3
  4. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    Krugman is a bitter and mean-spirited man.  Too bad because I have heard that he was once a good ecoonomist.   Making the Kochs into boogeymen is the same tactic as was used against Romney.  I do think some defense of them from somebody is a good idea.  It’s a ridiculous distraction from real problems, but if voters believe they are Voldemort, it will not be good for Republicans.  To be fair, I have heard George Soros similarly demonized by the right.

    • #4
  5. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Eric Hines:

    …I almost never comment on his stuff, and now I’ll resume not bothering with him. And resume denying him my small fraction of his psychic income.
    Eric Hines

     “psychic income”?  I like that phrase.  More, more…

    • #5
  6. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    I never reference Paul Krugman without appending the words “former Enron adviser” in front of his name. It drives the lefties nuts.

    • #6
  7. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    By the way, I don’t particularly care for Powerline, but they’re pointing out some interesting “media coordination” vis-a-vis the Koch Brothers and the Washington Post smear attempting to connect them to Keystone. Read this. The Krugman piece is certainly part of this coordination.

    Today Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman wrote a letter to David Robertson, President and COO of Koch Industries. The Democrats’ letter was premised almost entirely on the Washington Post’s discredited article; it repeatedly footnoted that article and the IFG report on which the Post story was based. The two Democrats concluded by requesting that Koch answer questions and produce a long series of documents relating in various ways to the Keystone pipeline.

    The Democrats’ letter raises an obvious question: did the Washington Post publish its article attempting to link Koch to Keystone at the request of Whitehouse and/or Waxman, or at the request of other Democrats who were coordinating with Whitehouse and Waxman? Given the blatantly political purpose to which the Post’s article has now been put, it is reasonable to inquire into its genesis: was it a Democratic Party plant from the start?

    • #7
  8. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    The entire Left, as far as I can tell, has figured out that lying works, and they do it with vim and vigour.  Since Conservatives seem to be too polite to point out that this is what they’re doing, they get away with it.

    Pointing that out does work, btw. 

    From college on, I’ve had success at changing minds by pointing out that lies are being told, and documenting how. It’s hard work and it takes time.

    A recent example: after criticizing town officials in a public meeting for letting a property willed to the town fall into disrepair, I was told by our top two elected officials that it was not in disrepair. 

    In front of my wife.

    We promptly drove to the property, and I let her inspect the structure herself.  You can see from the street that it’s literally falling down, a close inspection reveals that it’s rotting.

    She was horrified that they’d lie so blatantly.

    It works.

    But at least my observation that they’d mismanaged their existing properties got into the local paper.

    They were both Democrats, of course.

    • #8
  9. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    Nate Silver got in a lovely little dig at Krugman here. The Times-worthy headline was a nice touch.

    • #9
  10. user_2505 Contributor
    user_2505
    @GaryMcVey

    Good article, Pejman.

    • #10
  11. SParker Member
    SParker
    @SParker

    I subscribe to the “Paul is dead” theory and believe that the Nobel was awarded posthumously (not kosher).  If you play any utterance of Robert Reich longer than 20 seconds (and they pretty much all are), you will hear something that sounds like John Lennon (also dead) saying, “I buried Paul.”  Some believe it’s “unveritable” (an obsolete term) or “unbearable,” being said, but they are wrong.  Some are persuaded that, as a bonus, the utterance makes much more sense played backwards, but they are probably thinking of Country Western music, which played backwards causes you to sober up, get your job back, and have your wife return.

    re: item 4.  Due the amoral nature of capitalism (you don’t know where that dollar in your pocket has been or where it’s going)  you may well have received money from the Kochs, howsoever indirectly.  Rather than calculate the probability, let’s just cite the trace amount of cocaine on every piece of folding money in circulation.  Which is probably either an urban legend or a function of the ability to measure 1 part in 10 billion of anything.

    • #11
  12. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Pej, I am sorry Pej but there simply is no good explanation for Krugman.  In fact there is no good excuse for Krugman.  Perhaps it’s time we all realized that he is an evil guy with vile motives that will shill for Obama policies no matter how much chaos and destruction they bring. As for the Koch Brothers I have an important comparative analysis to share with you. 

    Koch Brothers:  
    World Economy Up => Koch Brothers Make Money
    World Ecomomy Down => Koch Brothers Make Less Money

    Soros:
    World Economy Up => Soros Makes Money
    World Economy Down => Soros Makes Even More Money

    I would suggest everyone grasp the significant difference and the danger to the world involved.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #12
  13. flownover Inactive
    flownover
    @flownover

    As for being on the receiving of the Koch Brothers largesse, don’t you go to museums, or the performing arts ? Had any relatives that might have benefited from a visit to one of their funded research centers to help cure cancer ? Maybe one of the public television shows they might have (mistakenly) financed ?

    • #13
  14. Vald the Misspeller Member
    Vald the Misspeller
    @

    SParker:

    …Country Western music, which played backwards causes you to sober up, get your job back, and have your wife return.

    Sober is overrated and the old lady can stay wherever she’s staggered off to. I would like my job back though.

    • #14
  15. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Krugman is inexplicable. If Krugman didn’t exist, it would certainly not have been necessary to invent him.

    • #15
  16. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    flownover: Maybe one of the public television shows they might have (mistakenly) financed ?

     I actually laughed out loud when I saw that the episode of Nova I was watching was funded by the David H. Koch Foundation.

    • #16
  17. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    James Gawron:   Koch Brothers: World Economy Up => Koch Brothers Make Money World Ecomomy Down => Koch Brothers Make Less Money Soros: World Economy Up => Soros Makes Money World Economy Down => Soros Makes Even More Money I would suggest everyone grasp the significant difference and the danger to the world involved.

    This is just dead-on. Terrible. if I could type, I’d go into all of the awful implications.  We have a government / Fed rent seeking – speculation economy. What we need is an honest money / production / opportunity economy. We are all doomed, I’m afraid.

    • #17
  18. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    One of the big things that is going on is, we are in the last days of the Neo Keynesian Endpoint. It’s a gigantic scam and way too many academics, rent seekers, the already wealthy, and political whores are very invested in it. So they deny reality, act out, and and are dismissive. They are all more or less very mean Bagdad Bob’s now, because they lack options. 

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-02/guest-post-why-keynesian-political-economy-theft

    They are going to whip the lower classes into a frenzy about what’s wrong with everything when it’s THEIR FAULT in reality. 

    See the documentary  “Inside Job” if you can. 

    • #18
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