Nation of Beancounters

Cochrane on Krugman’s manners

Posted in Uncategorized by Navin Kumar on January 23, 2012

He writes:

I’m not the first to notice this emptiness of argument, and they’re starting to be defensive. It’s ok to slander and insult, because, as Krugman writes and Delong  Endorses ” This is not a game, and it is also not a dinner party; you have to be clear and forceful to get heard at all.” It’s all necessary because  “Economic policy matters” .

What self-important hogwash! Life is a dinner party — at least if your goal is the truth, and you have a bit of humility to understand our limits and still be searching for it. Didn’t your mothers tell you that? “Because it matters” is precisely why it’s important to acknowledge our limitations and search politely for the answers.

Note to the blogosphere: This is not how real economists discuss things. I’ve had great and productive  interactions with Austan Goolsbee, Mike Woodford, David and Christina Romer among many other serious economists who are favorable to stimulus. Nobody calls anyone else a moron. Normal people behave this way. They can do so even if communicating via the internet.

It’s “self-important hogwash” for a simple reason: it assumes that you have so much impact on real policy that if you pull punches, the damage it does to policy outweighs any gain from the an improvement in the atmosphere surrounding the discussion. Does Krugman have any reason to believe that he has that kind of influence?

A bit of a detour, here is an article in which Krugman decries the climate of hate spread by… the right wing, anytime a Democrat is in power. My alternative theory was that whenever any party (of the two that dominate American politics) comes to power, the supporters of the other party go nuts. Here is (criticism of) a newspaper attacking Jenna Bush (W’s daughter) for not answering a question about Iraq.

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