Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

The Reduced Krugman Company


I don't refer to his physical parameters. I refer to every parameter by which a public intellectual is measured. His recent columns frequently exclude economic argument. When it is included, it's generally as small and pale as a grub. His vision - once fixed on the globe and international trade and finance - ever narrows. His tone, once aspiring to the magisterial pretensions of, say, John Maynard Keynes, is more often emitted as an insinuating whine - as with today's tiny whine from the Hudson.

The new Herr Doktorprofessor Krugman is more convenient and fits on the intellectual shelf once reserved for Redbook or Men's Health articles!

Yes, the new shrunken Herr Doktorprofessor folds up and fits anywhere, since he is without the intellectual structure that retards further shrinkage. For example, today's column goes on for the customary inches. But instead of struggling as of old to compress complex issues to such small space, one senses herr doktorprofessor is struggling to inflate the column to fill the space. But there's no denying that the entire column can be presented as follows:

It is my unsupported view that the Bush Administration gave New York less money than it deserved following 9-11, and lied to everybody about the effects of the 9-11 attacks to support that reduced level of giving, because the Bush Administration doesn't like spending on New Yorkers.

There. Did I leave anything significant out? I want to avoid Dowdification! Of course, the reduction job has been made easier by this column's repeated admissions that nothing in it is supported by actual evidence ("I suspect that there was another reason ..." and "A source told Mr. Tomasky that Mr. Gramm..." and "I can't prove that was what administration officials were thinking ..."). A pure, smear simplicitas! It is true that its admitted unsupported nature does little to distinguish this column from so many others - but we must admire the fact that here a virtue is made from an oft-repeated failing!

Maybe I left out just one little thing, which appears in this confession of the column's inflated state in its author's own hand:

That sums it up: even after 9/11, hard-line conservatives opposed any spending, no matter how justified, that wasn't on weapons or farm subsidies, while some people from America's "red states" just hate big-city folk.

O, my - herr dr. professor is so subtle in his choice of language! What might just hate big-city folk be code for? Gee, if some uberpaleopopulist politician from one of those "red states" were to go around railing that everybody should just hate big-city folk for the pernicious things they are supposedly doing to America, who do you think would probably be his elliptical target? Would one have to have a triple digit IQ to figure out who he meant? I suppose we should be grateful that he saves us the whince and doesn't accuse the Administration and Congressional Republicans of hating cosmopolitans.

Could herr dr. prof.'s entire column today really amount to a smear against of the Bush Administration along the lines of:

I, Paul Krugman, am so filled with hate that I propose seriously and publicly - but in the same deniable code used by loathsome anti-Semites all over the world - that the Bush Administration lied to and under funded New Yorkers following 9-11 because the Administration is influenced by anti-Semites who just hate big-city folk so much that they like lying to them so those hated big-city folk can't protect their health and are cheated out of their appropriate compensation.

Could that be what is doing today?

Is that what Christie Whitman, the EPA chief at the time, is like? Is that what the Administration's Middle East policies and military actions betoken? And there is that awkward, grudging admission: In the end, New York seems to have gotten its $20 billion — barely.

How much smaller can h.d.p. get?

MORE: Paul Krugman leverages his column off the legitimacy of his Princeton academic position and his academic work. But the quality of that academic work (as reflected in his columns which purport to be drawn directly from his central area of academic expertise) also appears to be increasingly questionable and questioned - as in this excellent discussion from Don Luskin's blog regarding an article by Professor Steve H. Hanke reviewing the efforts of various economists who wrote on the Argentine financial crisis. Professor Hanke cites to several columns of Herr Doktorprofessor Krugman, classifed as "faulty literature" in Professor Hanke's first footnote, which also cautions: Not all of the works on the Argentine crisis suffer from these egregious errors.


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