I pointed out how, in some of his recent posts, Krugman was distorting facts in order to score points for his policy prescriptions. I showed how he was pulling sleight-of-hand with the numbers, so as to play on readers’ misconceptions, and thereby make his rather foolish policy prescriptions sound reasonable.
In short, I showed how unreasonable his policy prescriptions really were, capping my read on him as follows: A man who would never tell the truth, when a lie would serve him just as well.
But as I wrote my rebuttal to Krugman’s recent posts, I was surprised to feel a blazing anger towards the man—not towards his policies, or even towards his less-than-honest attempts to fudge facts in order to score points—
—I found that I despised Krugman: With a passion.
A policy disagreement is not enough to get me to despise anyone. I’ve had plenty of big disagreements with plenty of people, including close friends—I never allow intellectual disagreements to come between me and my friends, or even to color my feelings towards my opponents. I’m just not built that way: Ideas, for me, are toys to play with, not flags of opposing enemies.
However, though I have fewer disagreements with Krugman than with some of my close friends, I still despise Krugman—still with a passion.
As you’ve probably noticed, I’m pretty analytical. If I were being eaten alive by a shark, I’d probably stop screaming for a bit and say, “My, that’s interesting: The shark closes his eyes and rolls them up into his skull, as he thrashes my body to death—isn’t that fascinating?”
My visceral reaction to Krugman is something I couldn’t explain, until I got a fan letter about my takedown of him. The fan letter was very kind, but innocuous—I replied off-handedly and very quickly, so quickly that it was almost automatic writing.
Distractedly, as I was watching BBC, smoking a cigarette, drinking coffee, and making sure the toast didn’t burn, I wrote the following two paragraphs, almost without looking at the screen on my computer, or even the keyboard:
I really do despise Krugman—not because I disagree with him: I despise him because I get the vibe that he wants the US to get involved in a war, just like WWII, just so that the economy improves.
Getting involved in a war for economic gain is immoral—it’s no different than killing someone for money. THAT is why I despise Krugman.
I sent off my reply to my dear fan, Kim Kirby, just as the toast was beginning to burn.
Then, as I was buttering the burnt toast, I had one of those mental hiccoughs: Wait—what did I write to that nice lady?
I went back to my computer, re-read the reply I had sent Ms. Kirby—and there was my answer: The reason I despise Paul Krugman.
Getting involved in a war for economic gain is immoral—it’s no different than killing someone for money. THAT is why I despise Krugman
I’m no cyber-babe in the woods: I’ve gotten in public skirmishes with other people before—I got in a row with some loser in Chicago, over deflation versus hyperinflation. The guy committed worse sins than Krugman, vis-à-vis the truth—this Windy City Windbag seriously distorted what I had written, just so he could set me up as his straw man.
But I dismissed the Windy City Windbag, because he was just a loser money-manager, desperately trying to keep his clients docile and happy, as he lost all their money through his incompetence.
But Krugman is different. Krugman matters.
Now that Larry Summers is on the way out, and Tiny Timmy Geitner has been handed his hat, Paul Krugman is clearly positioning himself for a role in the Obama administration—which is fine: Everyone has a right to advance their career. On paper, Krugman would seem like an ideal candidate, for some policy position—right?
Krugman has the résumé for any of the top policy jobs in the administration—but he lacks a moral center of gravity.
It’s not the differences in policy prescriptions that I object to: It’s Krugman’s cavalier belief that a war—a total, full-on war, with all its attendant fiscal spending—is what saved the American economy from the Great Depression.
It’s Krugman’s disturbing, nihilist inference, which he makes over and over, tucked away in his articles, but always there, like a nasty aftertaste of a drink laced with a roofie: So maybe another total war might not be such a bad idea now, so as to get us out of this new Global Depression.
That is what I object to in Paul Krugman: He seems to be offering up another war as the only way to fix the economy.
But World War II was not fought for economic gain—on the contrary: The war was fought at tremendous cost, with tremendous sacrifice by everyone in the population, without any sort of certainty that the end of it would be remotely good.
No one fought the War thinking, “When this is over, we’re gonna make so much money!” The War was fought to defend civilization—and a lot of sober, sane people thought that the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese would likely win: Yet they fought anyway. They fought not because they thought they’d “improve the U.S. economy”—they fought because it was the right and decent thing to do, even if it might be a losing cause.
Krugman doesn’t see this at all. Instead, with perverse rigor, Krugman—implicitly, relentlessly—implies that the War was really just a great way to stimulate the U.S. economy . . . so maybe . . . it might not be a bad idea to, y’know . . . wouldn’t it be great to have a big huge round of fiscal stimulus—just like World War II?
This is what Paul Krugman is saying. And he is saying it over and over and over again—so it’s not some miswritten phrase, or ambiguous sentence: It’s what he believes. It’s what he stands for:
Krugman believes in war, as a means to fix the American economy.
I think having someone in an important policy position in the U.S. Federal government whose moral attitude is so out of kilter is just another nail in the coffin of the American Republic. I think appointing someone who so cavalierly thinks war is an excuse to stimulate the economy is sick.
I contrast Krugman with Robert Reich—a man whom I think is even more wrong about his policy prescriptions.
Yet Reich is someone whom I respect completely. I have no doubts whatsoever as to the moral clarity of his vision. I have no doubts as to his decency. As to practical policy initiatives, I’m on the opposite end of the table from Reich—but as a man, and as a human being, I have no doubts about him, and complete respect for him.
But Krugman? I have no doubts about him either—Krugman is despicable. And he should not be allowed a seat at the table of policy discussions, no matter what.
Someone has to say something: That’s why I’m writing this piece—Paul Krugman is the last person the American Republic needs to help fix the current economic situation. Better a decent man who is completely wrong, than a nihilistic liar like Paul Krugman.