Krugman Strikes Out

I have come to expect wooly-headed partisanship from Paul Krugman instead of economic analysis, and that is one reason I started this blog. The other reason was that I want to have another source that attacks and exposes the Keynesian fallacies for what they are: dangerous nonsense.

Nonetheless, even Krugman has managed to go where few economists have gone before: into total partisan fantasyland. I figured he would be crowing in his Monday column, and I am correct. Krugman’s utterings in the aftermath of the passage of the health care nationalization legislation are not worthy of anyone who has a doctorate from one of the most prestigious economics programs in the world. He has given talking points that I would expect to read on the Daily Kos or in one of the ubiquitous emails I receive from the Democratic Party.

Krugman has entitled his column, “Fear Strikes Out,” but in reality, Krugman has struck out, demonstrating not only his outright partisanship, but also his dishonesty. Let me begin.

He begins the column with a long quote from President Obama. Now, I generally don’t like to begin any of my articles with quotes from politicians unless I am taking the scalpel to their words, as we can figure that however lofty the rhetoric might be, there is an iron fist inside a velvet glove, and this is no exception.

However, after quoting Obama, he then turns to Newt Gingrich:

And on the other side, here’s what Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House — a man celebrated by many in his party as an intellectual leader — had to say: If Democrats pass health reform, “They will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years” by passing civil rights legislation.

Notice that “passing civil rights legislation” was not what Gingrich said. No, Krugman inserted those words to imply that anyone who opposed the legislation was a racist.

Now, I don’t like to defend the loathsome Gingrich, and I don’t forget that for all of his lofty “limited government” rhetoric, he was just another politician grabbing what he could from the till. However, one has to understand the tactics that Krugman is using, and they are absolutely despicable.

He points out that someone from the Tea Party protests called John Lewis the “N-word,” which is “proof” that opposition to the medical care legislation was undergirded with racism. While I also condemn the use of such language, nonetheless, Krugman uses the incident in a way that promotes a non sequitur. Do you have difficulties with the legislation? Do you think that it is going to pile on trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities on our present and future generations at a time when the government of this country is essentially bankrupt?

Well, if you believe that, or even think it, then you also are a racist. Lest you think I am exaggerating, read on:

Instead, I want you to consider the contrast: on one side, the closing argument was an appeal to our better angels, urging politicians to do what is right, even if it hurts their careers; on the other side, callous cynicism. Think about what it means to condemn health reform by comparing it to the Civil Rights Act. Who in modern America would say that L.B.J. did the wrong thing by pushing for racial equality? (Actually, we know who: the people at the Tea Party protest who hurled racial epithets at Democratic members of Congress on the eve of the vote.

However, what if you are someone who says that the Law of Scarcity was not repealed, no matter what Krugman says? Well, you, too, are a cynical racist. Why? The Congressional Budget Office has declared this legislation to be fiscally sound, and we know that the CBO always gets it right, and that it is “nonpartisan” and never affected by politics:

Yes, a few conservative policy intellectuals, after making a show of thinking hard about the issues, claimed to be disturbed by reform’s fiscal implications (but were strangely unmoved by the clean bill of fiscal health from the Congressional Budget Office) or to want stronger action on costs (even though this reform does more to tackle health care costs than any previous legislation). For the most part, however, opponents of reform didn’t even pretend to engage with the reality either of the existing health care system or of the moderate, centrist plan — very close in outline to the reform Mitt Romney introduced in Massachusetts — that Democrats were proposing.

Ah! We have proof! Mitt Romney pushed what Krugman claims is a similar plan in Massachusetts, and Romney is a Republican, so any opposition to the government’s newest edict can only be made on the basis of racism! Don’t you see the logic? It is all there!

Krugman, however, is not done. He finishes with this benediction:

This is, of course, a political victory for President Obama, and a triumph for Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. But it is also a victory for America’s soul. In the end, a vicious, unprincipled fear offensive failed to block reform. This time, fear struck out.

Yes, if you think that legislation that essentially nationalizes medical care, promises price controls, has new provisions that will criminalize actions that once fell into the category of voluntary, peaceful trade, and imposes coercive measures along with empowering the Internal Revenue Service, then you are on the side of the demons. You are a vicious, lying racist who wants everyone to get sick and not have health care.

Am I exaggerating? Read the column and see for yourself. You cannot both take a hard look at the fiscal provisions of this legislation and ask questions about it, for if you do, then you are a vicious racist.

There is more in this column and I will take a future look at some other points he makes, but for now, I leave readers with this sobering thought: The 2008 Nobel laureate in economics has declared that questioning this legislation through the lens of the simple laws of economics is an act of racism.

About William L. Anderson 48 Articles

Affiliation: Frostburg State University

William L. Anderson is an author and an associate professor of economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland. He is also an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy as well as for the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama.

Anderson was formerly a professor of economics at North Greenville College in Tigerville, South Carolina.

Visit: William Anderson's Blog

3 Comments on Krugman Strikes Out

  1. I’ve read Dr. Krugman’s column, and then I read yours. I don’t think you’ve paid much attention to the debate – or rather, the screaming – that’s been going on in your country for the last few months. But Dr. Krugman has, and we – the rest of the developed world – has, in mounting astonishment at the meanspiritedness of the American right. It has been appalling to read the things the Republicans and their supporters have said and the persistent lies they have told. Dr. Krugman gets it right.

  2. @Laurel

    Ah, the old fake-but-accurate argument. It doesn’t matter that Gingrich’s comment wasn’t racist, since he’s “racist” then necessarily “Krugman gets it right.” Such is what passes for logic in some areas of the developed world these days.

    As for the meanspiritedness, it’s not one-sided. In fact, the violence comes mostly from the left. With the hundreds of Tea Parties held in the country last year, every act of documented violence was perpetrated by union members or assorted leftists. Yes, there was a lot of shouting. So what? Have your fine sensibilities never recoiled at the activities during the G8 meetings, or the world trade meetings? Or how about Greece? Those are totally in a class of their own. We conservative Americans never left our streets littered nor vandalized the town even when thousands of us are demonstrating. Can’t say the same thing about the left. Or Europeans for that matter.

    Oh, and by the way, stay in your side of the developed world and leave us Americans alone. We can take care of our own affairs, thank you very much. As Churchill said, we Americans will invariably do the right thing, after we’ve tried all other alternatives.

    In November, we’d be there.

  3. Talk about non sequitur? I’ve read Krugman’s views in full and aside from the reference to Newt Gingrich’s statement (which has been corrected by the NYT), Krugman does accuse opposition of the health bill as being racist at all. What he says is that very few has been arguing against the bill with economic rationality, most are garbed in fear mongering and emotive misleading nonsense such as abortion and socialism (to name the mildest). Anderson saying that Krugman commits non sequitur logic is like the pot calling the kettle black! Well done Mr Anderson!

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