Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Deep Stupid #23: How to Debte Paul Krugman

On Saturday Mish wrote an almost unbelievably stupid article with those words in it's title.

The article borrows these words and includes a quote from an even more unbelievably stupid article by Austrian school economist and author Detlev Schlichter.  Part of that quote is presented here.

What makes him [PK] so annoying is his unquestioning, reflexive and almost childlike enthusiasm for state intervention, even in the face of its obvious failure, and his apparent unwillingness to probe any deeper into the real causes of our present economic problems or to show any willingness to investigate the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of his particular medicine.

Wow!  Does that sound anything like the Paul Krugman who puts his ideas out there for the world to see on a daily basis?  When the opportunities smack me in the face like this, I put on my Krugman Truth Squad hat.  You have to wonder if Herr Schlichter has ever bothered to read anything that Krugman has written.  His article - which I cannot recommend highly enough - is an impressive exercise in half-truths, distortions, make believe, and straw man stuffing, seasoned with more than a soupcon of bovine excrement.  [As an ironic aside, when I was an impressionable youth, it was the fuzzy-headed liberals - aka commie-sympathizing leftist pinko radicals, who were alleged to operate in that manner -- but that was the 60's and I digress.]

Though this statement [emphasis added], "Krugman is the one who should be made to explain his policy recommendations and who has to answer the criticism that policies like the ones he is recommending got us into this mess in the first place and that his policy ideas have been implemented for years to no effect, at least no positive effect." is hard to beat for sheer negation of reality, the real capper is this: "Krugman is practicing Keynesianism as a religion."

It is because of statements like this that I lose patience with people who use words like "disingenuous."  Schlichter is either bloviating from a state of abysmal ignorance, spouting nonsense that exists only in some delusion-based distortion of reality, or simply lying.  The proof is in Krugman's Op-Eds and blog posts, where he repeatedly demonstrates reality with graphs and tables, shows how austerity is failing right now with real-world examples, and admits it when he gets something wrong.  When is the last time you saw a Krugman-hater do that?

I guess I should also mention that, in my most humble opinion, the ever-so-devout Herr Schlichter is projecting.

Mish, to his eternal discredit, says of this nonsense: " Moreover, it appears to be 100% accurate."

But, Mish continues, the real way to debate Krugman is demonstrated by Economist Hans Hermann-Hoppe in this one minute video.

This is genuinely awesome.   That an economist can be so thoroughly wrong - wrong in general and wrong in every particular - about what Keynesianism is and does, leaves me speechless, and that's saying something.

OK - almost speechless.  Forget the trivially unimportant technical details and ask simple-minded, allegedly probing questions that are totally unrelated not only to the policies Keynes and Krugman propose, but to anything else in the real world, and then point and stare when these questions cannot be answered - by anyone, while your minions nod approvingly.

But would it work?  Mish concludes this way:

Krugman would respond with incomprehensible gibberish "for wonks only" as well as typical Keynesian nonsense about how paying people to dig holes and other people to fill them up would start a chain reaction of growth.
A child would see the answer was preposterous, but not a trained economist, politician, or brainwashed academic. Paul Krugman, keynesian economists in general, politicians wanting a free lunch, and most academics are all incurable.
Nonetheless, Hans Hermann-Hoppe's answer is indeed the correct one. By asking questions a child will understand, some non-brainwashed people will see Keynesian and Monetary stimulus for what they really are: economic stupidity.

Setting aside for the nonce Mish's apparent inability to distinguish between monetary and fiscal stimulus*, at this point it looks as if he - with his straw man army and blatant intellectual nihilism -  and I have devolved into a schoolyard game of calling each other stupid.  But I'm quite sure Mish is not stupid, and I'm fairly certain I'm not either.  The real questions are these: who is paying attention to reality, whose policies make things better or worse in a given situation [absolutism, anyone?] and whose concepts have had some predictive power over the last several years.  [Here's a hint: it's not the Austerians.]

So, maybe a better way to phrase it is, "Who is practicing their economics as a religion?"

* Update: In a follow up article [with a 5 point list that includes 2 naked assertion and 3 irrelevancies {seriously - Zimbabwe?!?}] Mish indicates that monetary and fiscal stimulus are BOTH stupid.  The confusion was mine.

1 comment:

Suzan said...

They are truly getting worried about what folks are noticing in Europe.

And the lies come faster and harder.

I really enjoy (NOT) how they rely on the current paradigm of poorly educated U.S. citizens who will absorb this nonsense unquestionably.

And nonsense was not my first word choice.

I quit following Mish some time ago. Money dispels intelligence is all I could come up with.

It's today's plague.

Love ya,