Paul Krugman: Intellectually Inadequate, Dishonest

Paul Krugman – who is to Nobel Prizes what John Kerry was to Vietnam – wants to prove that Ronald Reagan never did anything useful for the economy, and he doesn’t care how sharply he has to shave the facts and the historical context to do it:

Reagan did not start an era of unprecedented growth by any measure: employment, GDP, productivity, whatever. But maybe the easiest way to see what didn’t happen is to look at median family income in constant dollars:

The NYTimes helpfully provided a graph:


 A spectacular increase during the high-tax, strong-union postwar generation; fitful improvement since, with the only sustained rise during the Clinton years. That’s the story; it’s amazing how many people don’t know it.

“That’s the story” Krugman says; high taxes (and unions, he adds in a non-sequitur) cause prosperity.

Like household income exists in a vacuum, affected only by taxes (and union membership).

I’m tempted to drive to New York, collar Krugman, and ask “what else happened during this timeline?”

What else happened between 1947 and 1971, besides unfettered taxes and government growth?  Like, the German and Japanese economies starting the period in ruins, and spending the entire period rebuilding?  China and India starting as third-world countries, enduring forty years of socialist governments that couldn’t feed their own people?  And,  respectively, a mass-murdering socialist dictatorship and civil wars?

Did Germany and Japan only get their economies rebuilt, and start to seriously compete with the US, in the late sixties and early seventies – about the time America’s rise in income leveled off?

Did America’s unions develop their high-salary, high-benefit, often low-skill paradigm perhaps because America’s economy had no competition?  The whole world was America’s market for those 25 years!

(And when Germany and Japan’s economies took off, they adopted high-tax, high-“service”, strong-union systems.  And when did their performance start levelling off?

That’s right, it shot up like a rocket from reconstruction until 1990…

…until China and India and Taiwan and the Republic of Korea started performing.

But don’t mind that.  According to “nobel-prize-winning” economist Paul Krugman, none of that matters.  Just taxes.

Media academics:  Distrust, then verify. Then, usually, distrust some more.

UPDATE:  I almost missed this:  Krugman also noted that the US prospered during the relatively high-tax Clinton era, and had troubles during the relatively low-tax Bush administration.

Right.  And Clinton benefitted from cashing the “peace dividend” won during the low-tax, high-prosperity Reagan administration.  And while Bush presided over prosperity from 2003-2007, he suffered from the deflation of the tech bubble early in his administration (exacerbated by a terrorist attack some of you may remember, but which Krugman clearly does not) and, of course, the housing crash, neither of which had anything to do with Bush’s tax cuts.

16 thoughts on “Paul Krugman: Intellectually Inadequate, Dishonest

  1. It’s vintage Krugman: construct a straw man, set him on fire and run around the flames, screaming and pointing. It’s amazing that the health of the US economy can be reduced to a single graph. I’m sure glad I didn’t waste my time taking economics in college when all I had to do was read Chairman Krugman’s blog!

  2. Watch the Krugster create a trendline from a single point!
    The “europes-gap” single-point-trendline did not result from incompetence, but by the the desire to deceive. If he had shown you the previous quarterly data that produced the trend line it would have been clear that the trendline was a joke — he ran it from the top of the peak in European GDP just before the real estate crash.
    The infamous Krugman Single Point Trendline was the result of Krugman’s trying to justify his opinion that the European economy would catch up to that of the US and surpass it:
    It was a false notion. The European economy grows slower than the US economy long term for well understood reasons. The European economy is more mature, it’s workforce is aging and is unionized to a greater degree than the US economy. This means that marginal gains in GDP are smaller than in the US.
    Eventually Krugman abandoned his fool’s errand and wrote a column about how people should ignore the statistics that show the median income in France is equal to the median income in Nebraska, and instead think about the wonderful museums and sidewalk cafes!

  3. Pay no attention to the extreme malaise you are suffering now. Don’t anticipate, reflect. These are not the droids you are looking for…

  4. I found a Nobel Prize in a box of Crackerjack the other day. Alfred Nobel’s invention, dynamite, is still holding its value and performing well. His grand conceit, not so much. If brains were dynamite, the committees that gave prizes to Krugman and Obama would still be throwing rocks. Which, come to think of it, pretty much describes the way the “prizes” have been awarded lately.

  5. I would like to nominate Mitch Berg for the Nobel Prize in blogging, but I know Dog Gone would win it. So I won’t.

  6. Don’t forget that the US under Clinton enjoyed low gas/energy prices, which amounted to a mult-trillion dollar subusidy for our economy.

    And as far as the 1950s analogy, sure, all we have to do is get thousands of B-17 out there and bomb the factories and infrastuctures of our economic rivals.

  7. Also we have a much higher standard of living now than what they had in the 1950s. Quick, how many of you have flown on a short vacation on an impulse in the last year? How many have done that several times?

    Did your parents and grandparents do that in the 1950s?

  8. Chuck,

    Wish I could find the article I saw a few years ago that showed that living at a 1948 standard of living – not quite the same as today, but easily recognizable anyway – costs much less than it did in 1948 in constant dollars. It’s more or less similar to life today, but without a lot of the things that Americans go heavily into debt to float these days – flying on vacations, lots of toys, no-fault divorce, staying less than one degree behind the technological fashion curve, that kind of thing.

  9. Krugman knocked it out of the park again today:

    “The worst thing you can do in these circumstances is slash government spending, since that will depress the economy even further. “

    I’m no economist, but I know of one person (talk host from the “lesser talk station”) who knows a lot more about this stuff than I do, who would vehemently disagree with him. I also know of one other person (a true economist; sadly, no longer with us, and whose birthday was celebrated this past Friday – of whom Krugman was not worthy of wiping said economist’s ass) who would also disagree.

  10. Mitch, compare what the average poor family has today, everything from creature comforts to medical care, with what even an upper class family had in the 40s. I’d rather be poor today than in anything other than the top 0.5% of the 40s (and even that if I had a chronic medical condition).

  11. Well Nerdbert, your desire to be poor is right around the corner! When Harry Reid and Obama get done with us it’s practically guaranteed.

  12. Of course, Krugman is like most other libturd shills that have their millions socked away and can’t be troubled to contribute their “fair share” no matter how much money they have.

  13. Did you actually read the post, or just see the graph, get angry, and go off? I read it when it came out and do not see him making the arguments for which you are attacking him. I don’t see where he said “Reagan never did anything useful for the economy”.Or “high taxes and unions cause prosperity”.
    So in the interest of facts (I assume the reason for your debate is that you wish to have just and effective economic policies which benefit the most number of Americans long-term, and you are not some raging ideologue), may I suggest you read more carefully and objectively. It’s pretty clear from your post that emotion may have clouded your reason.
    Inaccurate hagiography doesn’t get us to our goals. It’s a mathematic fact that Reagan almost tripled the national debt and there was no substantially unusual economic benefit to show for it. I think that was Krugman’s point.

  14. “What else happened between 1947 and 1971, besides unfettered taxes and government growth?… The whole world was America’s market for those 25 years!”

    And our exports perked along well under 6% of GDP until early 70s, when they doubled, then dropped during 80s, eventually recovering to where the decade started. Then they seesawed but stayed above 10% from then on.

    Looks to me like you’re being a bit selective yourself with your party tricks.

    I encourage you to go collar Krugman and ask your questions. Heck, I’d even drive.

    I really encourage you to

  15. Charlie, Krugman, like Al Gore, refuses to debate anyone who disagree with him on their topic because they view it as a waste of time. That just proves their arguments are invalid, any economist to the right of Marx could back Krugman into an intellectual corner.

  16. Ben, read what you just said. Then think hard, you know, intellectually, about how you’ve just supported your own argument. I have to go with Krugman.

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