Paul Krugman is not very far to the left. He is a huge proponent of free trade and the fiscal policies he proposes are straight out of mainstream Keynesianism. I do not know whether he would classify himself as a neoliberal or as a social democrat or as somewhere in the middle. I often don’t agree with his political analysis — he flirted with PUMAism during the 2008 campaign — but his economic analysis is rock solid. I say that not just because he has a Nobel prize but because he argues with numbers and historical examples — his argument against austerity, for example, is that it failed under Hoover and that it’s failing now in Ireland and the UK — rather than folkisms about sacrifice and belt-tightening.
Because he uses facts and data, and because he gives Village idiots no quarter, establishment media hates him and attacks him constantly as if he were a left-wing radical. Sully sneers at Krugman’s numbers and heh-indeeds Malkin’s criticism of him. The Kaplan editorial board regularly slams him (Marcus, Lane) — can you think of any other pundit they have ever criticized by name? David von Drehle — last seen fellating Glenn Beck, pimping a flat tax and insisting income inequality is no problem — writes one of the nastiest, and, yes most smug and condescending anti-Krugman screeds yet:
Even when he writes things that I agree with, which is almost never, he manages to strike tones of smugness and condescension that make my skin crawl. Of course, just because I feel this way doesn’t mean everyone should. It doesn’t even mean that I am correct. Which are two sentences that Paul Krugman would never write in a million years.[…]
I found myself wishing that Krugman could take the next small, but crucial, intellectual step—namely, to see that this truth also applies to important people on the Princeton faculty and The New York Times op-ed page. (And at TIME, in case you’re wondering.) No one knows enough to plan and run a modern economy, and therefore it is entirely reasonable to resist efforts to centralize economic power. The impulse toward smaller government doesn’t stem from “cruelty” or “savagery,” as Krugman likes to assert.
ACA and a larger stimulus are hardly efforts to “centralize economic power”. And von Drehle’s and other Villagers’ “impulse towards small government” stems not only from “cruelty” and “savagery” but also ignorance, careerism, and I-got-mine. Von Drehle is likely a multi-millionaire, based on book sales and a high salary at the Time, he’s not unemployed (so austerity won’t hurt his job prospects) and he will probably do just fine without Medicare, but this goes beyond looking out for number one; you can admit that you want lower taxes because you’re rich without demonizing Nobel prize winners as smug, condescending big gubmit radicals.
Human beings are tribal. Von Drehle’s tribe wants lower taxes for itself, suffering for the middle-class (he doesn’t want to do it, he feels he owes it to them, I’m sure), and a happy, comfortable circle jerk of Andrew Sullivan agreeing that Joe Klein is right to laud David Brooks for recommending that the poor eat their own children to save money.
I’m in the mood for a
Malkin Moore Award today, so I’ll say this: in another time and place, Von Drehle and his ilk might not have been shoving people into ovens, but they’d sure as shit be writing paeans to the virtue of marching native Americans to Oklahoma.