Economics made Paul Krugman famous. Punditry has made him a celebrity, famous for being famous. But Krugman aspires to be long remembered, and, in this respect, John Maynard Keynes is the gold standard. Keynes left his mark in three distinct ways: through the power of ideas, through the art of public persuasion, and through the shaping of historic changes.
The entire article is a fascinating and even-handed, even sympathetic, overview of Krugman's career, but they did quote one subtle dig at his punditry that's worth passing along...
One of his former teachers, Jagdish Bhagwati, tells F&D, "We were all pleasantly surprised that Krugman has been able to play the Mike Moore of the economics profession."
I'm just gonna guess that calling Krugman the Michael Moore of Economics is not what you might call a compliment. calling Krugman the Michael Moore of Economics is not what you might call a compliment. I've spent quite a lot of time in the past few years criticizing Paul Krugman, and I think there are some solid examples of factually incorrect claims, or what might charitably be called willfully bent data. But I'll stop short of saying that Krugman (the pundit) is intentionally dishonest. In part, because I don't believe very many people are intentionally dishonest, and in part because I think there is a simpler explanation.
Go back over his punditry from the past 5 years or so. How many non-trivial criticisms of the Democrats can you find from Krugman? Not criticisms of insufficiently-partisan Democrats like Lieberman, but actual criticisms of Democrats qua Democrats — of Democratic policy, rhetoric or ideology?
I can think of one time he came close. In February of '04, Kerry and Edwards made strong overtures to protectionism. Edwards said he should have voted against NAFTA and disapproved of China's entry into the WTO; Kerry said "he would crack down on corporations that sent jobs overseas" and that he and Edwards "have the same policy on trade". In response, Paul Krugman made some noise about the need to pacify the proles and then offered to "spare you the usual economist's sermon on the virtues of free trade".
Think about that. The premiere trade theory economist in the world — the guy who won the John Bates Clark medal and made his reputation "largely on work in international trade and finance" — couldn't muster a single substantive criticism of Kerry or Edwards, both of whom ran on significant protectionist rhetoric.
Shame the New York Times didn't have somebody on staff who could have explained that stuff to us. Some sort of, I don't know, economist or something. Instead, we were spared any substantive criticism of protectionism. So long as Bush is in office, Paul Krugman will be a dedicated apparatchik of the Democratic Party. In any event, the simpler explanation for Krugman's punditry is something Krugman told Kevin Drum in an interview a few years ago. He said that during "the 2000 campaign I was inspired to get radicalized". At that point, Krugman seems to have decided that his role was not to be an economic commentator or objective pundit; his role was not to criticise those who deserved criticism and praise those who deserved praise. Instead, his role was to be The Opposition — an uber-partisan.
Paul Krugman was a more fairminded critic in the 90s, and I believe he may be again when Democrats are ascendent. But so long as Bush is in office, Paul Krugman will be a dedicated apparatchik of the Democratic Party. Not because they are right, but because Paul Krugman is on an anti-Bush mission. I see no reason to believe [Krugman will] forsake the war just because the facts sometimes don't fit the mission Now, I happen to think that Bush is a pretty bad President for a variety of reasons and I'm not shy about criticizing him on those grounds. But when I know, going in, that a pundit is a priori dedicated to opposing a person, it's a bit difficult to accept each new criticism as an objectively arrived-upon, dispassionate analysis of the facts. It's entirely too easy to believe that Krugman knows his goal going into each article, and finds the facts to fit it — or, on occassion, molds "facts" of his own.
Academic Krugman may be right or wrong, but he is not on a pre-determined mission. Pundit Krugman has his marching orders, and I see no reason to believe he'll forsake the war just because the facts sometimes don't fit the mission. In that sense, perhaps Krugman and Bush and not entirely dissimilar.
But I’ll stop short of saying that Krugman (the pundit) is intentionally dishonest. In part, because I don’t believe very many people are intentionally dishonest,
I think Harry Frankfurt’s distinction between lying and bullsh!tting is helpful. A liar is engaged in a conscious effort to decieve, but a bullsh!tter is characterized by a cavalier attitude toward the truth. We have to be agnostic on whether or not we could class Krugman as a liar, but he’s most definitely a bullsh!tter. You can’t chalk this up entirely to BDS, either, because of incidents like this and this and this. The man just doesn’t care. It’s painful to see a mind like that be put to such awful use.
W and the Right and the Republican party have many apologists in all media, including this site.
Krugman is alone in being given a forum at the NY Times to attack the lies of W’s gov’t, especially the numbers produced to back his policies that do not make sense.
I know all of you profess that the lies of W are truths. Here are two.
One, many here agree with Thomas Woods in Politically Incorrect History:
"The ways in which labor unions impoverish the economy are legion, from distortions in the labor market to work rules that discourage efficiency. In a study published ... in late 2002 ... economists Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway of Ohio University calculated that labor unions have cost the American economy a whopping $50 trillion over the past fifty years alone." (p. 150, emphasis in original)
Note this claim — praised by the American Enterprize Institute, the Rockwell Institute and many others on the the Right — asserts that labor unions have reduced the total wealth of the United States by more than the total value of all our housing stock.
Krugman sees such figures to be nonsense and calls W to account.
Have you called W to account?
Two, the original cost of our escapade in Iraq was to be $1.7 Billion — that was the figure quoted by members of the Project for the New American Century. The cost is now estimated to be over $1 Trillion, $1000 Billion.
Have you called W to account for being off by $998.3 Billion or more — $3000+ per capita for each person in the United States.
Have you called W to account?
Or have you praised W’s numbers and policies, irrespective of reality?