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-- Brad Delong

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Second Thoughts

I'm starting to regret the comment I left at Beckworth's Place re: Russ Roberts - or at least the last part of it.

Update: Roberts engages me in comments at Beckworth's.

Although this is marginally off-topic, I have to point out that Roberts is misleading with his WW II demobilzation post. His cheery-picked quotes are without merit. Samuelson was wrong, three years earlier. So what? Does Roberts have a perfect crystal ball? And Truman's economic report was overly-rosy political hype. Go figure.

Truth is, the troops demobilized over several years - the draft continued well into 1947. Further, the GI bill sent many vets into school, not the workforce. Rosie the riveter went home and had babies - like me, frex, opening up a job or two. Wartime shortages, rationing and high savings rate caused a huge pent-up demand, so growth was pretty much inevitable, since it had-been supply constrained, and that was relieved.

It's no coincidence that Hayekians and Libertarians focus on the post WW periods to validate their claims. These periods are aberrations. And then they have to misrepresent reality to make their points.


Not that I regret saying it - I just regret saying it there. I shouldn't use up David's band width for my rants.  So I'll continue here.  While engaging in this chicanery, and with the typical right-wing tone-deafness to irony, Roberts obliquely accuses Krugman of intellectual dishonesty - a charge echoed explicitly in his readers' comments: "Unfortunately, Krugman doesn’t provide a link to those “many studies” of the historical record. Maybe he was busy or simply didn’t have room to provide them."

It is particularly ironic - and unfortunate - that this phrase in Roberts' Post - and, I guess, my favorite bit of his polemicism - is this linked phrase:  "Yet despite the release of 10 million people into the labor market with demobilization private sector employment boomed and the economy thrived."   Not only is this quasi-example pretty much irrelevant to Krugman's point, it doesn't link to anything even remotely resembling facts or data.  It links to one of his own posts where he drags out the two quotes I dismissed above.

Update:  I should also point out that Beckworth puts the lie to Roberts' point by providing the links he seems so desperately to crave: "e.g. here, here, and here" (PDF files.)  Roberts is an economics professor at George Mason University, and ought not to need having the literature searched for him. 

Besides, I've actually looked at the thriving post WW II economy, here and here, and found it to be rather weak tea.

This is why I have no patience with Hayekians and Libertarians.  They live in an isolated world of their own creation, consuming only what meager fare cherry-picking provides for them.  It's no wonder they are intellectually starved.

I've crossed paths with Roberts before - he even paid a very gracious visit to this humble blog after I ripped up one of his earlier posts - and in a far less gracious way.  I have no personal animus towards Roberts, and respect him as a gentleman.  But the mental games that he and all Libertarians play to preserve their skewed view of the world seriously makes me crazy.

Cafe Hayek - come for the epistemic closure, stay for the (unintentionally) irony-laden intellectual dishonesty.

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