I just cannot kick the Krugman habit. Yes, his column is awful, and, yes, I read it every Monday and Friday, just as the editors of the New York Times want me to do. (Of course, they would like for me to believe that Krugman is the Great Prophet of Economics, but they will have to settle for the fact that I read Krugman precisely because he is so bad.)
As I read yet another column lavishing praise upon John Edwards, I realized that Krugman is nothing less than a hard-core 1930s fascist. No, he does not wear the black shirt (or I don’t think he wears a black shirt), and I doubt he has a flag with a swastika hanging in his closet, but nonetheless his economic doctrines are pure and unadulterated fascism.
In a recent column, he claimed that the entire sub-prime mortgage meltdown was due to free market ideology. That’s right, a financial bubble that was created by a socialist entity called the Federal Reserve System and backed up by government-created corporations called (how cute) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac really was an exercise in free markets. Yeah, and Princeton University (Krugman’s other employer) is offering me a job on the faculty.
As always, I will let Krugman’s words speak for themselves, as I do not want to put words in his mouth, given his own words are awful enough. Thus, I begin with his view of politics:
Broadly speaking, the serious contenders for the Democratic nomination are offering similar policy proposals — the dispute over health care mandates notwithstanding. But there are large differences among the candidates in their beliefs about what it will take to turn a progressive agenda into reality.
At one extreme, Barack Obama insists that the problem with America is that our politics are so "bitter and partisan," and insists that he can get things done by ushering in a "different kind of politics."
At the opposite extreme, John Edwards blames the power of the wealthy and corporate interests for our problems, and says, in effect, that America needs another F.D.R. — a polarizing figure, the object of much hatred from the right, who nonetheless succeeded in making big changes.
Krugman, not surprisingly, wants the guy who will confiscate property, imprison business executives, and generally destroy private enterprise. (Don’t forget, Krugman holds that the Great Depression really was a Golden Age of the U.S. economy because income inequality lessened during that time. In other words, he believes a world in which everyone is poor is better than a world in which some are poor and others are not.)
As the point man on socialist medical care, Krugman declares:
O.K., more seriously, it’s actually Mr. Obama who’s being unrealistic here, believing that the insurance and drug industries — which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems — will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform. The fact is that there’s no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste.
As a result, drug and insurance companies — backed by the conservative movement as a whole — will be implacably opposed to any significant reforms. And what would Mr. Obama do then? "I’ll get on television and say Harry and Louise are lying," he says. I’m sure the lobbyists are terrified.
As health care goes, so goes the rest of the progressive agenda. Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world.
Yes, as health care goes, so goes the rest of the progressive agenda. While I and many other libertarians have been critical of the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries, Krugman is going into the netherworld of fascism in which the government directs everything these companies do — if they even are permitted to exist. Krugman has written elsewhere that perhaps all of these private firms must be destroyed or "cut out of the picture altogether" (same thing as destruction, since they would not be permitted to sell products and services).
You see, Krugman really believes (1) central government planning is what this world needs most, (2) people like him — because they can do funky mathematical modeling for journal articles — are the most qualified to do central planning, and (3) that private enterprise and especially profits are the source of all ills in the economy. Anyone who truly believes that the New Deal "ended" the Great Depression and thinks that John Edwards’ "populism" is an intelligent discussion of economics should be shown the back door of any competent economics department. (I forgot. He is on the Princeton faculty. "Elite" universities don’t have to be competent, just arrogant.)
For all of the talk of confiscating property, imprisoning executives, and just trashing anyone who supposedly is rich, I find it interesting to see Krugman — a millionaire himself — shilling for John Edwards. Edwards is a former trial lawyer who raked in millions suing doctors and hospitals, and who recently built the largest house in Orange County, North Carolina, a 29,000-square-foot behemoth. Here is a guy who lives a life of sartorial splendor, yet he claims that rich people are screwing up the economy. Rich people other than himself and Krugman.
My sense is that Edwards would find a way to exempt the Paul Krugmans of the world from onerous taxation and regulation. After all, Krugman has a doctorate from M.I.T., which means he really is more intelligent than we are, and intelligent socialists really should not have to deal with the consequences of the policies they demand for others. Thus, I guess an Edwards presidency would find a way for Krugman to keep his millions — as well as Edwards’ own mansion.
As Robert Higgs has pointed out, the New Deal did not bring back prosperity. Instead, prosperity came back only after Franklin Roosevelt had died and the New Deal took a back seat to private enterprise. Writes Higgs:
Evidence from public opinion polls and corporate bond markets shows that FDR’s policies prevented a robust recovery of long-term private investment by significantly reducing investors’ confidence in the durability of private property rights. Not until the New Deal/war economy ended and resources became available for peacetime production did private investment — and the nation’s economic health — fully recover.
That is not what Krugman would like us to believe, but nonetheless for all of the accolades Krugman receives (and the big income that accompanies his fame), the man is little different than the black-shirted hoods who marched in the streets of Rome in support of Benito Mussolini (who did not make the trains run on time). Writes Krugman:
There’s a strong populist tide running in America right now. For example, a recent Democracy Corps survey of voter discontent found that the most commonly chosen phrase explaining what’s wrong with the country was "Big businesses get whatever they want in Washington."
And there’s every reason to believe that the Democrats can win big next year if they run with that populist tide. The latest evidence came from focus groups run by both Fox News and CNN during last week’s Democratic debate: both declared Mr. Edwards the clear winner.
But the news media recoil from populist appeals. The Des Moines Register, which endorsed Mr. Edwards in 2004, rejected him this time on the grounds that his "harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change."
Yes, yes, it is that dastardly right-wing, free-enterprising news media. Oh, if only people would listen to Paul Krugman and the man for whom he shills in every other column, John Edwards. Oh, yes, Edwards would shut down those businesses and the government would make everyone do the right thing — or else.
As one who grew up during the Cold War and attended college at a time when professors believed that Mao’s Great Leap Forward was the economic model for all of us to follow, I have had my fill of socialist Ph.D.s in economics who would not be able to explain a price system any better than a two-year-old can explain the origin of babies.