Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Of Krugman and Cows


Back in the 1970s, my father was visiting a Florida feedlot that was promoting its innovative new methods for feeding cattle. Scrutinizing their data, Dad noticed something amiss: there were no dead cows.

This was, to put it mildly, unusual. Any time you have a large herd, there will be cattle that randomly die. It’s not necessarily a sign of any systemic problem, just a result of the large numbers of animals involved. You’ll always lose a few for miscellaneous reasons. When he asked about the aberration in the statistics, he was given a simple response: “We just don’t count those.”

That practice of looking only for data that confirms preconceptions — and discounts anything to the contrary — is intellectually sloppy and undermines the validity of any claims it produces. It probably shouldn’t surprise us, then, that that’s exactly the approach being used by Paul Krugman in today’s New York Times.

Perhaps there was a time when Krugman actually deserved to be referred to as an economist, but he now seems oblivious to the direct costs of regulation, as well as the very real opportunity costs they impose. In the Times column, Krugman essentially argues that it’s a myth that anyone has been hurt by Obamacare:

Even supporters of health reform are somewhat surprised by the right’s apparent inability to come up with real cases of hardship. Surely there must be some people somewhere actually being hurt by a reform that affects millions of Americans. Why can’t the right find these people and exploit them?

The most likely answer is that the true losers from Obamacare generally aren’t very sympathetic. For the most part, they’re either very affluent people affected by the special taxes that help finance reform, or at least moderately well-off young men in very good health who can no longer buy cheap, minimalist plans. Neither group would play well in tear-jerker ads.

Unfortunately for Krugman, his column appears the exact same day that the Wall Street Journal’s opinion section features Ralston College President Stephen Blackwood’s column about his mother’s fight with cancer:

 … [I]n November, along with millions of other Americans, she lost her health insurance. She’d had a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan for nearly 20 years. It was expensive, but given that it covered her very expensive treatment, it was a terrific plan. It gave her access to any specialist or surgeon, and to the Sandostatin and other medications that were keeping her alive.

And then, because our lawmakers and president thought they could do better, she had nothing. Her old plan, now considered illegal under the new health law, had been canceled.

 As a result, Blackwood’s mother had to sign up for a new policy, which the enrollment agents told her would cover the cost of her cancer medications. They were fuzzy on the details, however, and told her that she’d have to enroll in the plan to actually find out what was in it (irony alert). Prior to going into surgery earlier this month, she found that the plan wouldn’t actually cover her medication — including a drug that cost $14,000.

Blackwood’s situation is not unique. Ricochet members have read about how Obamacare contributed to the death of Melanie Graham’s sister. They may also have heard how it cost Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who’s currently fighting cancer, coverage for his oncologist. Krugman, for the record, referred to the Coburn story as “garbage.”

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Paul Krugman doesn’t think there are any Obamacare horror stories. He just doesn’t count those.

There are 12 comments.

  1. Richard Fulmer Member

    What about the people who are now working fewer than 30 hours a week because of Obamacare? And the people who have lost their jobs altogether? Do they not exist? Or does Krugman simply not count them as “horror” stories?

    • #1
    • February 25, 2014, at 3:43 AM PST
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  2. M. T. S. Member

    James Taranto at the WSJ OpinionJournal has demonstrated Krugman doing almost this exact thing before:

    as former Enron adviser Paul Krugman points out: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”

    • #2
    • February 25, 2014, at 4:25 AM PST
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  3. Retail Lawyer Member

    Hello . . . . I’m here, and hurt to the tune of $400 per month that I really cannot afford, for a drastically inferior product. I will almost certainly remain one of the newly uninsured. Yet Krugman is right about my usefullness as a tear-jerker. I’m white, I’m a man, I’m a lawyer, and I’m healthy. The latter factor is why pre Bufoon-Care insurance was $400 a month cheaper for me. If I were a more usual consumer of healthcare services, maybe the pre Liar-Care cost would have been higher. See, its really just Social Justice! No fair being healthy, paying for the risks you present to the insurer.

    • #3
    • February 25, 2014, at 5:12 AM PST
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  4. Brian Clendinen Member

    Sounds like what the flordia legislation lets county property appraisers due. not count bank owned sale forclusures and auctions in property evaluations even though they are half the sales.

    • #4
    • February 25, 2014, at 5:24 AM PST
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  5. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Does this mean Krugman is an “Obamacare denier”?

    • #5
    • February 25, 2014, at 6:13 AM PST
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  6. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Of course, maybe we should just defer to the expertise on this topic that he has exhibited on so many occasions.

    • #6
    • February 25, 2014, at 6:16 AM PST
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  7. James Gawron Thatcher


    Very good post. This is critical. We are talking about life and death. This is not politics as usual. This is a form of criminal negligence.

    The woman in the WSJ article not only had a doctor for a husband but had been the medical office manager for his practice for twenty years. A medical office manager knows exactly the interface between the reality of treatment and the reality of payment.

    That this woman with this level of expertise was lied to and defrauded by the ACA and now risks death or bankruptcy is evidence of the criminal negligence of the ACA. What chance do the rest of us have if she could be manipulated so ruthlessly.

    Krugman should consider that there is plenty of room in Hell for his kind of expertise.



    • #7
    • February 25, 2014, at 7:20 AM PST
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  8. Songwriter Member

    It would seem Krugman is doing all he can to earn the Walter Duranty Award at the NY Times.

    • #8
    • February 25, 2014, at 7:31 AM PST
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  9. Joseph Eagar Member

    Is anyone else wondering if Krugman really believes this crap?

    • #9
    • February 26, 2014, at 9:54 AM PST
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  10. Fred Houstan Member

    M.T.S. James Taranto relentlessly exposes Krugman’s flawed logic and even the then-departing NY Times department ombudsman noted; “Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults.” YET, when I challenge a Krugman article informally, I’m shamed on how dare I attack his inscrutable — even Nobel — credentials.

    People only see what they want to see — though I suspect the left is far more parochial in this regard than the right (Covered well by Jonathon Haidt and discussed here:

    • #10
    • March 1, 2014, at 8:19 AM PST
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  11. Profile Photo Member
    Fred Houstan:” YET, when I challenge a Krugman article informally, I’m shamed on how dare I attack his inscrutable — even Nobel — credentials.”

    In those situations I like to remind (inform?) those Krugman sycophants that Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek also had Nobel prizes in economics and would have laughed Krugman out of the room, much like this audience .

    • #11
    • March 2, 2014, at 2:27 AM PST
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  12. Fred Houstan Member

    Capt Grandpa: that video is a riot. I love how the interrupter doesn’t start with “Paul Krugman” but rather “a nobel-prize winning economist” and then says his name. Even the common man laughs at Krugman’s oeuvre. Switch to another debate, I was assured how Rachael Maddow was no mere profitter-provocateur. No siree, she’s a DOCTOR! He then switched to referring to her as “Dr. Maddow.” I was about to offer “Dr. Mengele” as exhibit “B” but Godwin’s Law had me biting my typing fingers.

    • #12
    • March 9, 2014, at 1:31 AM PST
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