October 11, 2003

Arnold Kling Is Unhappy with Paul Krugman

Arnold Kling believes that we members of the ancient and honorable order of Adam Smith have a duty to address substantive arguments and not personalities--to never doubt that our intellectual adversaries are acting in good faith, and to confine ourselves to substantive social-science debate and never attempt to peek at the mixed and bad motives of our intellectual adversaries:

The Bottom Line: Krugman and Limbaugh: Rush Limbaugh was fired at ESPN for making what I call a type M argument--attacking the motives of someone with whom one disagrees. I have that problem with Paul Krugman.

You could express your point of view using type C arguments and still take strong stands for what you believe is right. In fact, you might find that doing so would make you more effective. Even if that is not the case, even if there is a sort of media version of Gresham's Law in which specious reasoning drives out careful analysis, then that is a challenge for all of us who are trained as economists. I believe that we have a professional duty to try to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I'm not so sure. Assuming that liars are making arguments in good faith... going the extra mile... not telling our readers what is really going on... I think that can backfire.

Suppose you run into something like this, from Larry Lindsey the summer before last:

Let's take [the] steel [tariff] first. I am not telling anything here that wasn't public. There were two legitimate economic points.... One argument is that tariffs are never good. I certainly taught that in my economics class. The other argument [represented by Zoellick and Evans] is a little bit more subtle. The world has excess capacity in steel. In any market where that is the case, price is going to be at marginal cost, and marginal cost is going to be below long-run average total cost.... Either you say, "OK, we'll let our firms exit, and we'll let other countries pick up [the business], and we'll just import our steel." Or you say, "Well, that's not a very tenable long-run strategy for any country, because you are effectively letting others pick which industries are going to prevail." Do you unilaterally disarm, or do you use laws that are now on the books?.... There is a sound economic case for doing what we did.

Now Arnold know--I know--Larry knows--that this is unmitigated bulls***.

Now Arnold knows--I know--Larry knows that none of the three of us believe a word of it.

So what is the right response? Is it to stick to making only "C" arguments, and to pretend to take Larry seriously as he momentarily throws off all his analytical commitments and beliefs and channels the mercantilist arguments of early Ira Magaziner? Or is the right response to make the "C" arguments, but also make the "M" argument that Larry is being a sock puppet for Karl Rove because he wants to keep his White House mess privileges?

It's a hard question. But there are clearly times--and I think this steel tariff example is one of them--when sticking to the "C" arguments alone is a way of misleading your readers. All the substantive economic policy guys in the Bush administration were horrified by the steel tariff. And to pretend that they weren't horrified--that they believed what they said in their sock puppet role, and that there was a serious debate between two serious schools of analysis--is so close to lying to your readers that I cannot see the difference.


And damned if I can find the trackback link anywhere...


UPDATE: Arnold Kling writes, "I think that the right response is to make the 'C' arguments. I would explain, for anyone who needs to be taught, why Larry's argument is a crock. I would not make the 'M' argument. I do not care whether Larry knew his argument was a crock or not. Either way, he is not to be trusted in the future. If he makes a statement that is not obviously right or wrong, I will not give him the benefit of the doubt."

Ah. But there is a very important difference between somebody who is trying hard to analyze a situation but who makes a mistake on the one hand, and somebody who is trying very hard to lie to you on the other. In the first case, you want to give them the benefit of the doubt the next time you run into them. In the second case, you don't. Only by making the "M" class arguments can you distinguish the cases.

Arnold has taken a look at Larry Lindsey's arguments and concluded that Lindsey is arguing in bad faith: in the future whenever Arnold reads something by Larry Lindsey that is "not obviously right or wrong," Arnold will presume that it is wrong: "will not give him the benefit of the doubt."

If that ain't an M-class argument itself, I don't know what one is.

Posted by DeLong at October 11, 2003 08:13 AM | TrackBack

Comments

I thought Kling's recent TCS column on Krugman and the difference between C and M arguments was outstanding, a clear articulation of what those of us who don't like Krugman mean when we call Krugman a "hack" or "shrill."

Brad's defense of Krugman here is not convincing. Yes, I agree, there is a body of reliable evidense that various Bush adminsitration economics folks don't really believe in the steel tariffs. We know this from what they did and wrote before becoming a part of the administration. And we know that their (presumably hidden) instincts are correct, and that their current behavior is incorrect, because the fact that tariffs are bad is one of the few almost universally recognized economic truths. And Brad (and Krugman) can authoritatively speak to these matters, because they are thouroughly familiar with the field. So yes Brad, if you want to call into questions the motives of Larry Lindsey, you're well within your right. Shoot away.

But its a leap, a huge mangy leap, to make the same sorts of conclusions about the perfidy of the other side's motives in other policy areas in which:

a) There is no evidence of duplicity
b) There is no settled body of fact and theory upholding one side of the argument to the expense of another
c) The person questioning the motives is not thoroughly familiar with the lay of the land in the field he is addressing

Take for instance an example from the Kling article. Kling quotes Krugman attacking school vouchers because the motives of the people promoting them are so "obviously" impure. Never mind the fact that the people promoting vouchers have always been promoting vouchers. Never mind the fact that, to the extent there is good social science research on school vouchers, it tends to indicate that such programs are a net good. Never mind the fact that Krugman doesn't know the first fucking thing about education policy. No, just point your amen-corner readers to those evil Roves and Delays and you don't need to address the substance of the other side's platform.

So yes Brad, sometimes it is appropriate and good to question the motives of your political opponents. But just because its good politics in some cases doesn't mean that its always helpful, useful, or morally correct.

You may believe in your heart of hearts that every single conservative who backs school vouchers is evil. You may believe that all that talk about helping poor inner city kids is a big lie because those oily Republicans secretly hate black children and want them to suffer. You may believe that when voucher backer Ted Fortsman gave tens of millions of dollars to start a private voucher program in NYC that it was just a clever feint by black-hearted Fox-News watching neanderthals to one day shut down the public schools. But ask yourself if it does your side any good, if it does the body politic any good, to question the motives of the pro-voucher camp when you have no (factual) evidense of what they truly believe, when the issue is so murky that honest differences of opinion are possible, or when you yourself have only a layman's understanding of the relevant issue.

A good rule of thumb is to act as if your opponent's motives are pure unless there is overwhelming evidense to the contrary.

Posted by: sd on October 9, 2003 09:41 PM

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The Steel tariffs are a "what the hell were they thinking" moment. sd is way wrong on this. The steel tariffs were so OUT OF WHACK with any COMPETENT economic theory or the HISTORY of STEEL TARIFF F**CKUPs that go back to the late 60s. There is ZERO justification for the steel tariffs. Lindsay was blowing smoke out his ass.

WHY IS IT WRONG to mentinon that there is NO GOOD ECONOMIC RATIONALE for a STUPID POLICY that SMACKS of PARTISAN POLITICS?? HOW else do you get CRAVEN POLITICIANS to do the RIGHT THING if there is ZERO ACCOUNTABILITY???????

The only way Bush fiscal policy makes any sense at all is if you read Grover Norquist VERY CAREFULLY. Grover tells us that Mr. Bush is enacting tax policy that is bringing us to the Forbes Flat Tax position by incremental changes in the tax code. IMMEDIATELY, we can cut through the BULLS**T about any other reason they can dream to justify their actions. They want to shift tax burden from the wealthy who can afford it to the rest of us who struggle to pay it. THIS IS THE PROGRAM!!! It is only fair that we call them on it and have the debate in public instead of STEALTH POLICY!!!!!

They take POLLS THEY know the RESULTS. Their program is UNPOPULAR, Their policy is UNELECTABLE. THEY KNOW THIS so they TRY TO HIDE IT. This is utterly DISHONEST. THEY can and SHOULD BE CALLED on this. IT is only FAIR that voters KNOW what they are electing.

Posted by: bakho on October 9, 2003 09:55 PM

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sd, do you have a link to the Krugman article opposed to school vouchers? I searched the PKArchive, and turned up with three articles, none of which mentioned what you mentioned regarding the Kling article. I guess it's fairly recent. Thanks.

Posted by: Julian Elson on October 9, 2003 10:58 PM

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sd:
"A good rule of thumb is to act as if your opponent's motives are pure unless there is overwhelming evidense to the contrary."

In regards to the Bush Admin, I have seen more than overwhelming evidence. And at some point, if you don't point out that the emperor has no clothes, you yourself become complicit in their mendacity.

Posted by: Timothy Klein on October 9, 2003 11:21 PM

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So I was guessing a "type C" argument was an argument about "content" but it turns out to be "consequences". And "M" is "motives", as mentioned by Kling in the snippet.

In that case, I am pretty amused that Krugman's column today is in part a defense of type M arguments...of a different kind. Krugman first points out that some on the right and in the administration think that liberals are not being polite and then points out that they still make _ad_hominem_ arguments all the time. He also says that it is not an argument against Bush's motives to note that his military adventurism has damaged our national security. Presumably it would be a type M argument to continue from this to say that because Bush damaged our security it follows that he did so out of treachery of some kind.

But thinking about this made me realize that the usual Krugman "type M" argument is actually a form of modus tollens. Something like:

IF the Bush administration were interested in the long-run fiscal health of the nation THEN they would not propose tax legislation that is guaranteed to increase the debt substantially in coming decades. (if P then Q)

They DID propose tax legislation that is guaranteed to increase the debt substantially in coming decades. (not-Q)

ergo

The Bush administration is NOT interested in the long-run fiscal health of the nation. (not-P)

So this ends up being a statement about motives, but it starts with a conditional statement stating "If X's motives were pure, then X's policies would be demonstrably fair".
So then when you can show the polices are demonstrably UNfair, you can question the motives. I think the "problem" with this line of argument is that there is an implicit premise that X knows what the heck he or she is doing. So Krugman could (and does) sometimes argue:

IF (X is competent AND X has pure motives)
THEN (policies of X would be demonstrably fair).

Policies of X are demonstrably NOT fair.

ergo NOT (X is competent and X has pure motives)

ergo (X is NOT competent) OR (X does NOT have pure motives).

And then the "mean-spirited" part is that Krugman then wants to *prove* both halves of the disjunction when X = Bush, after he has already proven (if you accept his conditional) that the disjunction as a whole is true.

Of something like that.

Posted by: Jonathan King on October 9, 2003 11:48 PM

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"Take for instance an example from the Kling article. Kling quotes Krugman attacking school vouchers because the motives of the people promoting them are so "obviously" impure. Never mind the fact that the people promoting vouchers have always been promoting vouchers. Never mind the fact that, to the extent there is good social science research on school vouchers, it tends to indicate that such programs are a net good. Never mind the fact that Krugman doesn't know the first fucking thing about education policy. No, just point your amen-corner readers to those evil Roves and Delays and you don't need to address the substance of the other side's platform."

Have you not been reading the firebreathing articles by the hardcore that yes, they really do favor vouchers to destroy the evil, socialist, teacher's union-controlled public schools. Not everyone who favors vouchers does it for this reason, but there's enough of them to be worrisome.

Of course, when people are making reasonable arguments and/or mistakes, there's no reason to accuse anyone of type M. But when they're consistently lying and making shit up, year after year, motivations are important.

I like your explanation better, though, Johnathan.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on October 10, 2003 12:36 AM

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In principle, one could have a language-game of actions without having a language-game of intentions. And one could have a language-game of actions and intentions without having a language-game of motives. This is what is wrong with those- e.g. orthodox Freudians- who would leap over actions and intentions, i.e. "normal" agency, to focus exclusively on motives. And I think this captures something of why Aristotle classified the reductio ad hominem among the logical-argumentative fallacies and consigned it to the domain of rhetoric, (though this latter domain for him had a legitimacy of its own.) Elsewhere I have argued that the reductio ad hominem has a legitimate function insofar as it is attached to some larger independently established truth claim, in which case it functions to explain and thereby remove obstacles to understanding. Now, as far as I can tell, accounts of motives tend to take one of two forms: either as some sort of generalized underlying disposition- e.g. anger, greed resentment or envy- or as some sort of ulterior end beyond any professed or direct intention. But this still must have reference to the action-frame or situation in which agency has its place: one focuses on, e.g., anger exclusively as a motive insofar as little, if anything, in the situation can reasonably be judged to have occasioned the anger. This yields the converse case of the above ancillary-obviatory justification of ad hominem argument: one is tempted to fall into the trap of the reductio ad hominem insofar as one can not discern and interpret any rational intention warranting a given action.

Now with the Bushies, there is such an air of unreality, such an extreme departure from what one would wish and hope to be regarded as consensual reality, that one is left perplexed as to what their actual intentions and motives are. Indeed, such is the extravagant irreality of some of their actions that one almost wonders whether there are any motives to them at all. And this naturally gives rise to a certain sense of anger, almost as a reflex from the sense of disorientation they induce. But it seems to me that this is a part of their M.O.: to entrap their opposition in a desperate ad hominem search for motives, which they can always piously deny- a sort of inverted ad hominem gambit. Never has such noble purity done so much for so many base interests. However, to fall for this seems to me to be a mistake. No matter how dubious and shady their motives- mean and petty and greedy and self-aggrandizing as they may be- their actual intentions- since it is intentions that imply consequences- are much worse.

Posted by: john c. halasz on October 10, 2003 12:51 AM

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Sometimes the benefit of the doubt is exhausted and people's motives deserve to be attacked, and harshly. Con-men, once identified, need to be unmasked, not just refuted.

Political leaders who lie and embark on reckless policies are dangerous, not just factually incorrect.

There's a lot more at stake here than steel tariffs.

Posted by: Tim B. on October 10, 2003 01:05 AM

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THIS may or may not be "unmitigated bull****":

>"...There is a sound economic case for doing what we did [about steel]..."

Depending on your economic religion, I suppose. But here in the REAL world--on Planet Earth, not so very long ago, as planetary things go, THIS really happened:

>World War II

>In 1931, the Empire of Japan invaded Manchuria, seized land from China in 1937, and occupied the remainder of the French possessions in South East Asia in 1940. These threats hit the home front when Japan threatened United States possessions in Guam, Wake Island and the Philippine Islands.

>In Europe, Fascist parties had taken control of both Germany and Italy. Italy, under the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini, invaded Ethiopia and attempted to start an Italian Empire in Northern Africa. Germany, under Adolph Hitler, defied the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War One. In violation of the treaty, Germany raised an army greater than 100,000, and reestablished its air force and navy. In 1939, Germany invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia.

>World War Two officially began in Europe the day after Germany invaded Poland in September of 1939. At the onset, both American politicians and the public hoped that America would remain neutral in what seemed to be an Asian and European conflict. However, when France fell to Germany in June of 1940, Americans were fearful that Great Britain could not prevent Germany from world domination. To make matters worse, Germany’s U-boats were attacking and sinking both unarmed United States merchant vessels and Naval warships.

>American politicians hoped that Japanese aggression in the Pacific could be controlled by economic sanctions on oil and scrap iron, necessary for their war effort. As a result, Japan focused its attention on the conquest of United States resources in the South and Central Pacific Ocean..."

http://www.il.ngb.army.mil/museum/citizen_soldier/world_war_ii.htm

Posted by: Mike on October 10, 2003 01:11 AM

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Julian,

In the letter, Kling didn't attribute the school voucher comment to Krugman. I think he was just using that particular example to prove the point that analysing a policy that is based on the motives of the proponents but not the merits is not constructive.

Here's the link to the open letter:
http://www.techcentralstation.com/100703B.html

Albert Cheng

Posted by: Albert Cheng on October 10, 2003 02:01 AM

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Julian,

In the letter, Kling didn't attribute the school voucher comment to Krugman. I think he was just using that particular example to prove the point that analysing a policy that is based on the motives of the proponents but not the merits is not constructive.

Here's the link to the open letter:
http://www.techcentralstation.com/100703B.html

Albert Cheng

Posted by: Albert Cheng on October 10, 2003 02:03 AM

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Julian,

In the letter, Kling didn't attribute the school voucher comment to Krugman. I think he was just using that particular example to prove the point that analysing a policy that is based on the motives of the proponents but not the merits is not constructive.

Here's the link to the open letter:
http://www.techcentralstation.com/100703B.html

Albert Cheng

Posted by: Albert Cheng on October 10, 2003 02:06 AM

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Well, all I have to say is this: in real life—say, with a spouse, relative, or close friend—how often is it productive to argue primarily about motives and not actions? People talk about other people's motivations as a way of talking about themselves. There, see? I just did it.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on October 10, 2003 02:19 AM

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As Time Goes By

While I'm on the subject of 'bloody' globalized stuff that "really happened", you might be interested to learn that on Thursday 27 February 2003, William Rivers Pitt really did write THIS:

>Blood Money

>"...The Project for the New American Century seeks to establish what they call 'Pax Americana' across the globe. Essentially, their goal is to transform America, the sole remaining superpower, into a planetary empire by force of arms...They control the White House, the Pentagon and Defense Department, by way of this the armed forces and intelligence communities, and have at their feet a Republican-dominated Congress that will rubber-stamp virtually everything on their wish list.."


http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=1&num=53

Read it and weep.

And while THIS guy (William R. Hawkins) COULDN'T POSSIBLY have been MORE WRONG about just about everything else he said on Friday, February 28, 2003--the very next day--ESPECIALLY with respect to Iraq, Bush AND the aforementioned 'neocon' cabal in D.C.--he WAS right about a couple of things:

>"...Much could be learned of value for American trade and industrial policy-making from South Korea's experience --if the debate here were not also dominated by neoclassical economists...neoclassical economics must be abandoned. If America is to maintain the robust industrial base and sound finances necessary for world leadership in turbulent times, it must reconcile its defense and economic policies to expand domestic manufacturing and high-tech investment while ending the debilitating trade deficits...."

>Neoliberal Globalist Agenda Won't Ensure U.S. National Security

http://www.tradealert.org/view_art.asp?Prod_ID=775

Read it and get the creeps.

Not to put too fine a point on this not so warm and fuzzy geopoliticaleconomic 'tune' boys and girls, but, like it or not, 'the fundamental things' do STILL 'apply':

>"...We must confront the global inequality crisis. For this, we must, in the final analysis, raise real wages in the countries with which our workers compete, expand their markets for our goods, and reduce their pressure on our wage structure....therefore, our economic agenda should really begin a long way from economic policy itself, with the campaign for human rights, democracy, and free unionism around the world....

>...The term "global Keynesianism" means only some system - a mechanism that has not yet been worked out - for managing interdependence to achieve high economic growth and employment, a common rising standard of living, and a minimum of financial instabilities attendant to higher growth.

>The great economic powers -- the United States, Germany, Japan -- must stop thinking in purely national terms and start thinking of the larger community of which they are a part. They must understand that the growth of income in the countries to which they sell eventually determines the growth of income in their own countries.

>We have not faced the responsibilities of interdependence since the end of the earlier Keynesian period and breakdown of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970s, perhaps not since promulgation of the Marshall Plan. We have abandoned governmental power to market forces, particularly to the global capital markets and the large financial institutions that play in them. However, market forces cannot replace governments in the functions of governance -- neither within national boundaries nor in relations between nations.

>We can harbour no illusions about the difficulty of rebuilding a multinational structure dedicated to growth and employment, and of controlling the powerful private forces whose interests would be threatened by our doing so. However, this very difficulty is in one way a virtue. We have suffered because of the short shelf life of the various economic theories put forth over the last 25 years. We try one thing, if it fails to work in a few years, we throw it out.

>But if our current difficulties force us to think our problem through to the end and to adopt a set of ideas that contain a vision to which the public can respond -- a vision that holds out neither pointless sacrifice nor immediate gratification but the serious possibility of positive results in a medium and long terms-- we may be able to free ourselves of the cycle of short-lived economic theories, with their false promises and perceived failures."

James K. Galbraith on Global Keynesianism

http://www.jobsletter.org.nz/art/artg0002.htm

"Remember this" too: These Transnationally Corporate Fundamentalist 'masters' of ours 'play' for keeps.

So should you.

Posted by: Mike on October 10, 2003 02:50 AM

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And What Have Those Transnational Corporate Fundamentalists and Their Washington Consensor Co-Conspirators Wrought For--Ahem--US?

Well, it's a long and depressing list: But just here recently there's this:

>"...Capital Dependency

>The greenback is being weighed down by an unsustainable need for foreign capital. Already dependent on $1.5 billion in capital inflow each day, U.S. needs will only grow as the budget deficit widens and the trade deficit continues at a record pace, economists say..."

>"Dollar Continues Its Slide As Twin U.S. Deficits Swell"; Jed Graham, Oct 8 [2003]

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ibd/20031008/bs_ibd_ibd/2003108feature

And this:

>"WASHINGTON, Oct 8 (Reuters) - U.S. debt owed to foreign governments, central banks, private banks and other investors topped $6 trillion in the quarter ended June 30, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.

>Of that, about $1.270 trillion in principal and another $53.73 billion in interest is due within the next 3 months, according to a new report on the U.S. external debt position issued by Treasury...

>...The report shows the extent to which the United States remains dependent on foreign investment. Even for an economy totaling $10.803 trillion annually, the $6.357 trillion in external debt is a hefty 58.8 percent of gross domestic product.

>By comparison, the U.S. government takes in about $2 trillion annually in taxes and fees, and the anticipated 2003 budget gap of around $400 billion would be about 3.7 percent of the overall economy..."

>"US gross external debt more than $6 trillion-Trsy"; Reuters

http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/031008/economy_treasury_debt_1.html

Then again too, there's this:

>"...Last week the federal government ended the fiscal year with a reported deficit of approximately $400 billion, pushing the federal debt held by the public to nearly $4 trillion...

>...What's missing from the $400 billion figure is an accurate recognition of the mounting obligations of the Social Security system. Under current practices, Social Security reports its financial performance on a cash-flow basis: it compares annual revenues to annual costs and reports a surplus or a deficit. Last year, Social Security enjoyed a surplus of roughly $160 billion. The government used this money to mask what would otherwise have been a $560 billion federal deficit.

>But even if the Social Security surplus were not used to disguise the deficit, the budget would still ignore the substantial growth in commitments to current workers and retirees...

>...Were the federal government to account for its Social Security obligations under the rules of accrual accounting, which govern public companies, its financial outlook would be far worse. By the end of last year, the Social Security system owed retirees and current workers benefits valued at $14 trillion. The system's assets, in contrast, were only $3.5 trillion. These assets include not only the trust funds' current reserves ($1.4 trillion), but also the present value of the taxes that current workers will pay over the remainder of their working lives ($2.1 trillion).

>In other words, the system's current shortfall — its assets minus its liabilities — is $10.5 trillion...

>...Under a system of accrual accounting, Social Security would have had to report a loss of approximately $370 billion. If this figure — and not the trust fund's annual cash-flow surplus — were added to other federal accounts, the federal government would have reported a $930 billion deficit last week. Add in similar adjustments for Medicare and other retiree benefits, and the flow of red ink last year surges even higher..."

>"It's Even Worse Than You Think"; HOWELL E. JACKSON, October 9, 2003

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/09/opinion/09JACK.html

Posted by: Mike on October 10, 2003 03:57 AM

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Mike: I can only speak for myself; but I never, ever read extended quotes of external material in blog comments. I assume that the combination of length and unoriginality indicate a deeply unpleasant conjunction of hubris and laziness. If you *must* be a bore, then at least have the decency to be a bore in your own words. Like me, for example.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on October 10, 2003 04:06 AM

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At my URL I have an example of bad faith in high places on the voucher question. The chairman of the education committee of the Oregon State Senate, a conservative Christian, is on record telling his friends not to send their schools to public schools, and he recommends a book telling parents not to send their kids to secular schools even if they are orderly and the educational quality is good. (I can't remember whether I have it on my site, but ex-Sen. Gramm has also gone on record saying that Southern Methodist University and Baylor are hellholes of secularism and corruption -- think what he would say about Berkeley).

I have concluded that these individuals cannot be trusted on questions regarding education. In the case of Gramm, this is in part because I don't think that we should not take educational advice from the proud representative of a state which brags about public schools which have only recently achieved bare mediocrity.

In Oregon vouchers aren't the question yet. What I believe is happening is that, since the Oregon schools are still not too bad, some people want to weaken them in order to make vouchers seem inevitable. (The conservatives in Oregon also are pro-tobacco, because the liberals tried to increase the tobacco tax. Go figure). The Oregon schools have been under fiscal attack for decades, though the defenders have mostly won so far.

This kind of thing happens in politics, and when you see it happening you have to respond. And part of responding is putting the cards on the table and telling it like it is.

Politics is like law -- you often end up doing business with people even though you know they're lying to you and are trying to harm you. Civility in those cases is really reduced to the bare minimum required to avoid physical confrontation, and mostly consists of points of etiquette. But no one can possibly participate in politics without being aware of the possibility that his opponents might be systematically lying.

CAVEAT: People who do go to my URL will find what I have written sensationalistic. (With a different typeface, less bolding, and different colors, it would seem less so, BTW). But I believe that what I say is justified.

Posted by: Zizka on October 10, 2003 04:40 AM

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I am not an economist. I know Krugman through his political writing, which I admire. For me the fact that he is a first-rank economist is a bonus, in that it gives him credibility. I am especially grateful to Krugman because he is one of the very few in the national media who is saying the things I think need to be said. When I see him under attack by Kaus, Andy Sullivan, the Wall Street Journal, or Kling, to me that justifies what Krugman is doing. It's in the nature of politics to make enemies, and Krugman is making the right enemies. (The seeming desire of some to silence Krugman, however, seems highly sinister, and I cannot be sure that the persons named are exempt from this charge. There are some who want to destroy the Democrats and the center-left entirely, and excluding partisan Democrats from the public dialogue would contribute to that end).

Often on this board, though, I encounter people who don't exactly disagree with Krugman, but who object to his tone. I have been baffled by this point of view. I have gradually come to understand it a little, and I believe that it is one of the major weaknesses of what is often called "the Left" in the US. (I call it "The Center", the Left being extinct if not mythical).

Historically in the modern world ideological and religious disputes have often been translated into solvable technical and scientific questions, and there is a point of view that says this always should be done. American administrative liberalism was like this -- within a weakly egalitarian ideal, the general welfare was pursued by top-down administration by experts.

The liberal spokesman thus became an urbane, ironic, above-the-battle social scientist and administrator -- non-ideological and open-minded. This was fine when liberalism was winning, but a high proportion of Americans hate that kind of liberalism and it has been under massive and mostly successful attack since at least 1980. And liberals have not been able to fight back because they just don't work that way. (Frost: "A liberal is someone who doesn't even believe his own point of view").

So liberalism comes to be defined as talking things to death, "on the one hand and on the other hand", without ever coming to a decision. In reality, of course, you can't talk forever. You have to decide, and then do what's gotta be done. And most Americans have come to believe that liberals can't do that. Someone like Reagan made decisions without being able to explain the reasons very thoroughly. People prefer that to someone who dithers endlessly about arguments but isn't able to decide. Personally, I don't think that choice should have to be made, but in government you need the guy who can make choices.

I've gotten slightly off the track. But someone who has made choices then has to fight for those choices in the political arena, and that involves getting your hands dirty. I admire the way Krugman has done that, and I think that (assuming that things go well, which I doubt) he might end up like Keynes, adding a real political impact to his scientific work and, as far as I'm concerned, jumping him far ahead of the garden-variety Nobel Prizewinners. (In an earlier thread I snarkily pointed out that a couple of Nobel Prize winning economists, Robert Merton being one, got felony convictions in the Long-term Capital Management business. Krugman could find worse ways of getting his hands dirty).

Ultimately the attempt to make government expert, scientific, managerial, objective, etc., etc., involved a misunderstanding and rejection of politics. For liberals it worked for quite awhile but it quit working about 25 years ago. So I guess I'd suggest to the non-conservatives on this board (and even to the conservatives who understand what Bush is doing) that if they rethink the way they think about politics and government they might understand the significance of what Krugman is doing quite a bit better.

Posted by: Zizka on October 10, 2003 05:19 AM

____

The Bush administration destroyed any pretense at justifying their policies with any serious wonky analysis. One does not combat bullshit with wonk.

Posted by: Atrios on October 10, 2003 06:10 AM

____

Zizka, the most concise response I can make to your argument is that your thinking is badly infected with caricatures.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on October 10, 2003 06:14 AM

____

Assignment: use the phrase "Axis of Evil" in a C argument.

Or does Mr. Kling's complaint only apply to non-presidents? Or are assumptions of good intentions to be limited to Americans? And if so, on what basis?

Posted by: Tom Slee on October 10, 2003 06:27 AM

____

Rush was not fired for making a "type M" argument. Rush was fired because he made stupid statements that are both untrue and hurtful. Two factors both go against Rush. First, a lot of people want to be sportscasters. It is a very competitive field with lots of fans that memorize facts. It is not possible to BS these fans. One could argue that the sports media has to have higher credibility than the political media because the fans pay closer attention, the core statistics are published prominently in newspapers and sports magazines and they are understood and memorized by devoted fans. For Rush to say what he did about McNabb has no credibility with fans because the facts speak otherwise and unlike his radio show, these fans know their facts. The NFL promotes meritocracy. It does not matter what the savvy veteran did last year. If he gets beat by the rising new star, he will be cut. Rush argues that McNabb is where he is for reasons other than meritocracy. Fans know his argument is naive and ignorant. By his statements Rush lost credibility. A sports show that is not credible will not be tolerated. ESPN knows this.

Second, Rush brings in a race argument (he has done this more than once) that is at odds with the ideals that sport tries to promote and annoys a sizable portion of the viewers ESPN must attract. The NFL does have race issues and it goes to the top with white owners and increasing percentages of black players. The NFL wants to showcase civic unity, that blacks and whites can work together as a team and cities can take pride in their accomploishments as a team and as individuals. This is a fragile state and requires a lot of promotion to get fans, who for the most part live in segregated neighborhoods, to buy into the idea that we can be one happy family. Rush laid a turd in that punch bowl and at the same time insulted all the black fans and a fair percentage of white fans. Fans are annoyed that they have to explain to their kids why a network would hire someone who makes hurtful and ignorant statements. Fans that confront racisim in so many other aspects of their life want some relief from the racism in their sports that promote meritocracy. Insulting the fans and letting real world problems intrude into TV and sports escapism is not good for ratings.

Posted by: bakho on October 10, 2003 07:20 AM

____

I used genuine Krugman quotes on school vouchers. It was from something that appeared in the magazine "Mother Jones," as I found reprinted on the unoffical Krugman web site. That unofficial site is constructed in a way that defies linking directly to articles. I apologize for making people search--in some cases fruitlessly--for the article, but I could not figure out a way to get past the architecture of the site.

I think in the Lawrence Lindsay example that Brad cites, it would be sufficient to go after his economic arguments. I agree with Brad that the "unilateral disarmament" line is a crock. After you point that out, I don't see that it adds anything to speculate on Lindsay's motivation. Maybe he knows better, maybe he doesn't. Either way, he's shown that I cannot rely on his analysis. In the future, if Lindsay makes a statement that I cannot immediately confirm or disconfirm, I will not give him the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: Arnold Kling on October 10, 2003 07:34 AM

____

What do you do in a world where everything
is spin and there are only arguments from
motive?

Posted by: lower class on October 10, 2003 07:34 AM

____

Keith, concision is often a virtue, but not this time. I'll respond if you elaborate.

One of the weird things about Rush's comment is that Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham have retired with great careers, Doug Williams won a Supoerbowl with a record-breaking performance, and Duante Culpepper was leading the league until he was injured. The "black-quarterback" controversy, like the "black-pitcher" controversy, has been dead as a doornail for a decade or more.

Posted by: Zizka on October 10, 2003 07:38 AM

____

"A good rule of thumb is to act as if your opponent's motives are pure unless there is overwhelming evidense to the contrary."

I think Mr. Kling and some others of this group are acting as if economic discourse in a political setting is on par with economic discourse in an academic setting. But if you take this notion that we should consider c(consequence/content) and not m (motive) as generally applicable, you would easily see this is not as reasonable as Mr. Kling makes it seem. For instance, should we consider the motives behind descriptive statements in physics, chemistry or even (ideally) economics? Unless you are a po-mo, most people would say not. On the other hand, consider such subjects as literary analysis and law. Is it normal to speak about motives as central to action and understanding? You betcha it is. So I guess the question is whether we act as if the m-word is central to politics and any utterances made in political situations. While I really can't answer this question, I would just point out that the reason conservatives hate po-mo and deconstruction is because they are techniques that attempt to turn descriptive argumentation into political argumentation. So conservatives must think there is a difference between the two. Except maybe in economics.

Posted by: Steve on October 10, 2003 07:41 AM

____

Keith, concision is often a virtue, but not this time. I'll respond if you elaborate.

One of the weird things about Rush's comment is that Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham have retired with great careers, Doug Williams won a Supoerbowl with a record-breaking performance, and Duante Culpepper was leading the league until he was injured. The "black-quarterback" controversy, like the "black-pitcher" controversy, has been dead as a doornail for a decade or more.

Posted by: Zizka on October 10, 2003 07:43 AM

____

Bakho:

Perhaps I wasn't clear. I was trying to say that yes, its perfectly acceptable to criticize the motives of the administration on the steel tariffs issues, because:
a) We know from past statements that they are being duplicitous (i.e. that they are putting in place policies they don't really believe are good)
b) There is overwhelming evidense that tariffs are harmful, and thus we can preclude the possibility of a good-faith change of heart
c) The people doing the criticizing generally know what they are talking about

I was not in any way trying to defend the administrtion from criticisms of their motives on the steel tariffs issue. As I said, fire away.

But the voucher issue does not permit this sort of attack because:
a) There's no evidense of duplicitousness (i.e. there is no evidense whatsoever that most voucher proponents believe school vouchers to be anything but a wonderful tool to help improve educational outcomes*)
b) There is certainly no overwhelming evidense that vouchers are harmful - indeed, what evidense there is tends to support the idea that vouchers are a net good (not conclusive, mind you, but the best we have right now)
c) The people doing the criticizing (Krugman, in the Mother Jones article quoted in the Kling column) don't have any particulalr expertise on the issue.


* Yes, I know you can find isolated quotes from fringe figures who support vouchers as a means of destroying public education. So what. You can find quotes from radical queer theorists who say that gay marriage is just a good tool to dismantle traditional family life. Lefties get mad - and rightfully so - when conservatives deploy such quotes to argue against gay marriage, because they know that the vast majority of gay marriage supporters only want to allow gays and lesbians to participate with full dignity in society.

My own support for vouchers has nothing - nothing - to do with dismantling the public schools. I want to see the public schools strengthened. But I look around and see that we have the best public universities in the idustrialized world, the worst public high schools in the industrialized world, and can't help but wonder if maybe - just maybe - the fact that Berkeley and Michigan have to compete for students with Stanford and Northwestern might have something to do with that.

Posted by: sd on October 10, 2003 07:49 AM

____

Does Tom Slee think there are no evil consequences to the policies pursued by North Korea, by the Iranian mullahs, or by Saddam Hussein?

Anyway, as I posted on Arnold's blog, It's not at all difficult to find examples of when an understanding of the motives of actors shed valuable light on a phenomenon. Here's one that regularly occurs in the state of Washington:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/143329_marysville10.html

---------quote-----------
Gov. Gary Locke yesterday called for striking Marysville teachers to return
to their classrooms Monday with or without a contract. But the teachers
union rejected his proposal to end what is now the longest school walkout in
the state's history.

Attorney General Christine Gregoire also weighed in on the dispute, writing
both the Marysville School Board and the union to remind them of their
students' right to a full 180-day school year -- and of the potentially
diminishing opportunity to provide that instruction if the strike, now in
its 39th day, continues.

Neither Locke nor Gregoire threatened legal action to force the teachers
back to work. Nor has the School Board.

Although teachers have argued that the law is vague on whether their strikes
are illegal, courts generally have granted requests by school districts for
back-to-work orders -- and teachers generally have defied them.

Negotiations between the union and the district are scheduled to resume at 2
p.m. today with a state mediator.

"This strike has gone on far too long, and neither side has shown a sense of
urgency to resolve these issues," Locke said after meeting with both sides
in Olympia. "That is unacceptable.

"We think it's important they put the interest of the kids first. We cannot
force them to do anything."
--------endquote---------

Now, why would the governor make such a counterfactual assertion as in the last sentence of the above quote? Why does the AG not use her power to force the teachers back to work?

Is it not relevant that the AG is running for the Democratic nomination for governor? That Locke, a young man, is not without further political ambitions? And that no one who crosses the WEA is going to have a future in the Democratic party in Washington state?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 10, 2003 07:51 AM

____

"The Bush administration destroyed any pretense at justifying their policies with any serious wonky analysis. One does not combat bullshit with wonk."

This is an invaluable point by the esteemed Atrios. In any argument over even remotely specialized issues--hell, in any argument less clear cut than "are child molesters bad or good?"--a substantial percentage of the American people just throw their hands up. They say that both sides make good points, and vote for the guy they like better (or hate less). This is why Republicans WANT a substantive debate--because of their media cannons that have effectively demonized Democrats and canonized Bush and his cronies, they don't need to win. They just have to play for a draw, which, as noted above, isn't that difficult.

What Krugman et al have done is to try to break this paradigm. They'll engage in the substantive debate, but they'll try to argue it in a way that the average person can understand. This necessarily requires using "Type M" arguments.

This is also why the other side is so incredibly hostile to any Democrat that departs from arguing issues on the merits. If they ever lose their "tie goes to the Republicans" advantage, they're toast.

Posted by: Joe on October 10, 2003 08:27 AM

____

Patrick R. Sullivan says "Does Tom Slee think there are no evil consequences to the policies pursued by North Korea, by the Iranian mullahs, or by Saddam Hussein?"

Either you missed my point or I didn't express it well (assuming good motives on your part :-)). In fact, on this I agree with you -- motives are important. My comment was intended only to highlight the double standard: Mr. Kling & others don't like Krugman to impugn bad motives, but have not problem when others (GWB) do.

Posted by: Tom Slee on October 10, 2003 08:49 AM

____

You are right, Bobby's site is impossible to linkto articles. The original PK article is still on the MoJo site.

http://www.motherjones.com/mother_jones/ND96/krugman.html

I do not agree that unions are the primary motive behind vouchers, but they are one of many. Union busting is a long standing goal of the GOP.

I also disagree that vouchers are not harmful. Vouchers are a non-solution to the education problem. Education takes place in an environment. If all the best students are pulled out of the school, that school will suffer. This is partly because it no longer has the top tier students that set the pace and provide modeling and instruction for the other students. The education environment for those remaining students has been degraded.

In our sports minded society, it is axiom that if you want to be the best, you have to play with and against the best. Elite sports programs have become popular because they bring together players with the best skills. If for instance, one compares basketball as it was played in the 1920s with the way it is played today, it is quite clear that todays players posess a repetoire of skills unknown to players of years ago. Players that do not have access to these interactions will not develop as rapidly as those that do. I look at acquisition of sports skills as a form of education, not much different from the acquisition of other skills.

What happens to a sports camp that only attracts mediocre players? The quality of the experience is lowered. To use vouchers to pull the best students out of a school lowers the quality of the educational environment for those students that remain. In a nutshell, this is much of what is wrong with the "failing schools". It is necessary to prevent schools from losing the critical mass of the best students in order to have a healthy educational environment.

Colleges know this and quite clearly recruit the best and the brightest in order to create the best possible educational environment for the rest of the students.

Posted by: bakho on October 10, 2003 09:35 AM

____

Kling says "we shouldn't" in a sort of sweeping, all-in statement of how one should play by the rules if one is an economist. Presumably, the same would hold true for any specialist who best serves the general public by informing debate and taking sides on substance, rather than becoming a political tool. Very big problem. The White House, especially on issues of war and peace, but also on many other issues because presidents are bullies with a pulpit, concentrates an enormous amount of decision-making power on a massive variety of issues. If each specialty sticks to its knitting, commenting on what it knows and never trying to assess motives, that concentration of decision-making power cannot be confronted. No consistent thread will ever appear in the body of criticism. What if, for instance, a group of big fat fibbers with a strong intention to benefit a narrow part of society (let's say rich contributors to its president's campaign) occupies the White House? It is the ability to point out that the White House crowd regularly and consistently bends the truth on a wide variety of issues that allows opponents of the White House agenda to make a strong argument against the fibbers.

Imagine, for a moment, a country in which every family decides it will defend its own home from foreign invaders, but will not cooperate with other families to join in organized resistance to invasion. That is a country I would like to invade. My well organized forces can easily deal with one tiny band of resisters at a time.

If somebody can tell me a good way to create an organized resistance to the Bush administration, which has been wrong on foreign policy, wrong on terrorism, wrong on tax policy, wrong in its approach to restoring demand, wrong on civil rights, wrong on stem cell research, wrong on environmental policy, wrong on Plame, without trying to ascribe motives, then I'd love to hear it. If you can't, I have little recourse by to point out the consistent thread in White House policy making.

I don't want my kids to have to live with the results of Mr Kling's finicky scruples. If the motive is clear from the the overt behavior, then talk about the motive. Will worse people than us slide into talking about motives when motives aren't clear? Will they uss smear tactics to win arguments? Hell, folks, that has always been true and remains true today. How many of you have tacitly been lumped in with a bunch of other traitors, al-Qaeda sympathisers, terrorism-loving dope smoking, womanizing ("manizing"?), haters of the US for simply disagreeing with White House policies?

So let's not be as rotten as the people who seek to shut us up, but by all means call a spade a spade.

Posted by: K Harris on October 10, 2003 09:38 AM

____

WELL, for the record, I'LL never read anything

>Posted by: Keith M Ellis on October 10, 2003 04:06 AM

here or any place else. He's just a waste of space/stime.

----------------------------

Posted by: sd on October 10, 2003 07:49 AM

>"b) There is overwhelming evidense that tariffs are harmful..."

Oh? "Harmful" to WHOM? In what way?

>"Jeffrey D. Sachs is a prominent international economist specializing in Third World issues. He is currently director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and was previously head of Harvard's Institute of International Development. During the global financial crisis of the 1990s, he was a strong critic of the bailouts orchestrated by the International Monetary Fund and backed by the Clinton Administration. In 1997, he declared, "The situation is out of hand. However useful the IMF may be to the world community, it defies logic to believe that the small group of 1,000 economists on 19th Street in Washington should dictate the economic conditions of life to 75 developing countries with around 1.4 billion people."

>This was particularly true when those economists were preaching the "Washington consensu" of neoclassical free trade and domestic austerity. "Without wider professional debate, the IMF has decided to impose a severe macroeconomic contraction on top of the market panic that is already roiling these economies," wrote Sachs disapprovingly, particularly in regard to South Korea.

>In overseeing a collection of case studies for the National Bureau of Economic Research a decade before the 1997 Asian financial collapse, Sachs had praised South Korea for its successful export-oriented growth strategy, noting that "outward orientation is not the same as trade liberalization." Indeed, South Korea's success came as the result of heavy investment in key industries guided by the government, which also kept a tight rein on capital flows and the use of foreign exchange so that domestic growth was not undermined by rival imports or speculative investments. It was a policy based on national advantage, not liberal theory.

>South Korea went off course when it deviated from this approach. As University of Sydney economist Linda Weiss has argued in her book "The Myth of the Powerless State," it was "the rise of a new generation of US-trained neoclassical economists within the bureaucracy" which led Seoul astray.

>In overseeing a collection of case studies for the National Bureau of Economic Research a decade before the 1997 Asian financial collapse, Sachs had praised South Korea for its successful export-oriented growth strategy, noting that "outward orientation is not the same as trade liberalization." Indeed, South Korea's success came as the result of heavy investment in key industries guided by the government, which also kept a tight rein on capital flows and the use of foreign exchange so that domestic growth was not undermined by rival imports or speculative investments. It was a policy based on national advantage, not liberal theory. Much could be learned of value for American trade and industrial policy-making from South Korea's experience -- if the debate here were not also dominated by neoclassical economists...."

Op.Cit.
http://www.tradealert.org/view_art.asp?Prod_ID=775

Posted by: Mike on October 10, 2003 09:57 AM

____

M-type arguments are actually essential in any political strategizing or bargaining. For example, "He's asking for X, but what I really think what he's trying to get is Y". Or, "He's talking about W because he can't openly say Z". Even when it is not a case of distrust or dishonesty, in order to play the game you have to understand the other player's motives. While M-interpretation CAN be used to disparage another player in the game, in the cases I just named it would be crucial information for someone trying to forge a compromise deal.

Posted by: Zizka on October 10, 2003 10:01 AM

____

M-type arguments are actually essential in any political strategizing or bargaining. For example, "He's asking for X, but what I really think what he's trying to get is Y". Or, "He's talking about W because he can't openly say Z". Even when it is not a case of distrust or dishonesty, in order to play the game you have to understand the other player's motives. While M-interpretation CAN be used to disparage another player in the game, in the cases I just named it would be crucial information for someone trying to forge a compromise deal.

Posted by: Zizka on October 10, 2003 10:06 AM

____

Radical rightee Republicans are doing all they can to silence anyone who has the courage to tell the truth about Administration policies. That is why Paul Krugman is a constant target. Arnold Klingee should be ashamed of himself, but radical rightee Republicans have no sense of shame and no sense of decency.

Posted by: Ari on October 10, 2003 10:25 AM

____

Brad and several others have defended type M arguements on the grounds that they may often be factually correct (or at least well grounded in evidence) and that thus they are fair game. While I would conceed this principle, I think the following points still argue that their use should be limited.

1) Someone else's motives are much harder to know for sure, and thus one is more likely to be wrong, and much more likely to be unconvincing. In the case which Brad cites, it is not hard to convince me that Lindsey's statements are false. However, it requires alot more evidence to convince me that Lindsey knows it is false and therefore must be lying. I think that Krugman frequently underestimates how big a step he is making when he goes from "A's stated reason for advocating policy X is wrong" to "A must therefore have a different motive" to "A must have this evil motive." This may be one of the reasons which K is so polarizing is that this may not seem like such a big step for those who are already believe that A has evil motives. However, for those who are favorably inclined (or even neutral) towards A, it seems unreasonable, and thus 'shrill'


2) While the consequences of a policy position remain the same no matter who is taking the position, motives may vary. It may very well be the case that, as Jason says, some of the firebreathing advocates of vouchers seek to destroy a public school system they see as evil. However, there are others who believe that adding competition will improve the public education. Still others may be truely worried about loosing a common educational system, but see existing public schools which are so bad, and which have resisted umpteen reform attempts, that they are willing to accept the downsides of vouchers as a necessary price.

If I hold one of these latter positions, or am actively considering it, stating that voucher advocates believe public education to be evil won't to much to convince me. Instead, it will alienate me, whereas a type C arguement (say reasons why the effect on vouchers on the kids left behind is worse than I had belived) might have an impact.

3) Type M arguements end debate. If you say that my facts are wrong; we can argue evidence. If you say that my arguements are flawed, we can argue theory. If you say that I am putting too much weight on consequence A and ignoring B, we can argue relative significance. In any of these cases, there is room for you to convince me, for me to convince you, or for us to compromise.

However, if you say that I am evil, what can I do other than walk away or end up in a shouting match?

In the end, it comes down to why are we writing. If you are trying to participate in the national debate over policy, to present arguements which will win over the undecided to your side, then I would caution against using many type M arguements. On the other hand, if you are writing to entertain those who already agree with type M arguements are alot more fun.

The issue I think that many center-right / libertarians have with Krugman's NYT column, is that we want him to give the strong, type C arguements for a left-leaning economic policy. It's what we expect from the NYT, a generally serious and high quality paper and Krugman is clearly capable of it, as his longer writings show. The NYT magazine piece he recently wrote was certainly opinionated, but it was much better than most of his columns.


Posted by: marc on October 10, 2003 10:40 AM

____

>"...radical rightee Republicans have no sense of shame and no sense of decency."

True: up to a point, Ari. Many of them probably are simply psychopaths, political opportunists and mercenaries etc., etc.

But THAT faction depends upon the many OTHERS "out there" in the "flock" who are themselves convinced that the VAST majority of people who aren't in Fundamentalistic agreement with THEIR simpletonistic "black and white", "us or them", "eye for an eye", "Old Testament" approach are, BY DEFINITION, "shameful", "indecent" AND, of course, "evil"....

>Religious zealotry and the crisis of American democracy

>Khoren Arisian

>29 - 7 - 2003

>"We cannot understand what is really going on in American politics today without a critical and unblinking examination of its enduring religious basis and the theological presuppositions that support it..."

http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-3-77-1394.jsp

Posted by: Mike on October 10, 2003 10:48 AM

____

Um, bakko, you're making my argument for me. You cite the exceptional gains in skill level among basketball players over the last few decacdes, and concede in doing so that that comes from allowing the most talented players to concentrate in envionments where they can be pushed to their limit. Sounds like a good argument for allowing bright, capable students from bad schools to get out and go someplace where they can be challenged and stimulated. What you don't say, but what is surely true, is that mediocre basketball players today are much more skilled than medicore basketball players of decades past. The average benchwarming sub at a mid tier college program would be an NBA all-star in 1960. That too sounds like a good argument that pushing the envelope of what is possible for the best performers expands the horizons of people who are not so talented.

I would ask opponents of school vouchers this quesion: If you truly belive that giving public money to children/parents so they can attend private school is morally wrong, pragmatically unwise, or legally impermissable, would you then be willing to end the practice of awarding Stafford Loans and Pell Grants to college students attending private colleges and universities? Would you end the practice of awarding NIH and NSF research grants to faculty at private colleges and universities. Would you end the practice of allowing donations to private colleges and universities to be deducted from one's taxes. All of these tings involve subsidies of private education by public money.

I could make the same arguments about these things that voucher opponents make: "Giving scholarships for super-smart kids to attend Harvard only pulls the best talent out of UMASS"; "Giving research money to faculty at Notre Dame only makes it harder for Purdue to attract top research talent"; "Allowing tax-deductable donations to private colleges only starves the treasury of money it needs to fund public colleges." But each of these arguments would appear silly because we know from pragmatic experience that the public good is served by allowing super-smart poor kids to attend great colleges, by funding the scholarship of academics who happen to prefer to teach at private universities, and by providing an incentive for people to make charitable contributions to colleges they know and love.

I don't want vouchers because I (in the words of Mr. Krugman) "want privatization of schools, of public sanitation -- of anything else they can think of -- because they know such privatization undermines what remaining opposition exists to their program." I want vouchers because I want secondary education to look more like post-secondary education; because I don't think that being unlucky enough to be born of the womb of a poor mother means a kid ought to suffer through a bad education; because I think competition improves outcomes.

Posted by: sd on October 10, 2003 11:08 AM

____

But sd -- we don't have vouchers to cover tuition at private universities, do we? I'll grant you that there are a variety of government (and private) programs at different levels to assist people unable to pay full tuition; but these seem to me nothing like any voucher proposal I have ever seen. For one thing they don't "come out of" financing for state schools. Please elaborate on any parallels you see.

I think the main difference between secondary and post-secondary education is the universality of the first; I think an expansion of options in public education (trade schools, etc.) is probably the answer -- Scott Martens had some very interesting posts along these lines a few months ago.

Posted by: Jeremy Osner on October 10, 2003 11:26 AM

____

Folks like to think they are C like Spock, but in reality, we are all M like Jim and necessarily so.

"Would you like a lollipop little girl?"

How do you explain to your child how to respond to this without mixing M and C and demonstrating that M is C?

(And Spock analyzes from M many many times himself.)

I myself think that everyone is biased. That is it almost impossible for anyone to present a C argument because of their M arguments.

Though folks want to present C, they present C'.

I don't get C, I get C' where C' = f(C,B).

Where B is the presenter's bias.

I hope without proof, that over time, if I listen to enough C' and M', where B is held constant, I can better determine C and M.

Given that what is important is not for Krugman to stop any sequence of M arguments but for Kling to make his M arguments and in general his bias known.

In short, my understand of Arnold Kling's B is is that Kling is simply a meme-repeater, and the meme o' the day is that liberals should unilaterally disarm.

(As usual, most things can be answered by referring to ST:TOS)

Posted by: jerry on October 10, 2003 11:27 AM

____

King says "Rush Limbaugh was fired at ESPN for making...."


Wait a sec folks.

Rush wasn't fired. He just weanied out and QUIT when the going got hot. Apparently he found that on ESPN he wasn't surrounded by mindless ditto-heads, and people actually listened to and thought about what he was saying. But I never read a single news report that indicated he was FIRED.

Krugman must get a huge amount of shit on a daily basis from the Right as a result of his OPINION column. But I don't see him quitting any time soon because his column might cause an uproar or offend somone.

Far as I'm concerned, Krugman can write any damn thing he wants so long as it not libel and the Times is willing to print it. It's an OPINION column folks, not a peer-reviewed economics article.

Likewise, Limbaugh is free to say any damn thing he pleases on his TV show or on ESPN as long as its not slander and as long as his employers are willing to broadcast it.

The First Amendment is a simple as that. I don't see any nonsense about Type C or Type M arguments in the Constitution.

Posted by: Kent Lind on October 10, 2003 11:29 AM

____

Bahko's point above about Rush is something that I think get's missed in a lot of this discussion. Comparing Krugman to Rush? I'm sorry, but that right there could be called a "BS type" argument. Rush got fired for making M-type arguments? Uh, no. He got fired for making racially-charged comments that he can't back up. He can claim all he want that his comment wasn't racist, and that it was directed at "the Media" and not at McNabb or black players in general, but let's review, shall we? He says that McNabb is overrated because the media wants a black quarterback to do well. Had Rush just said he thinks McNabb is overrated and left it at that, fine, because that's his opinion about the media's motivations. But he has to bring race into the argument. He's making a blanket accusation against the nameless and faceless devil known as "the Media" for practicing reverse racism. Yet, he doesn't name names or give examples of how these PC Fascists of the Media overrate McNabb because they want to see a black quarterback do well. He doesn't explain any motive for his supposed M-type argument, he just says it's race that motivates this nameless faceless Media beast.

Krugman on the other hand cites evidence to back up his arguments for motive. When he calls the current administration a bunch of radicals, he usually cites Grover Nordquist's drowning the baby in the bathtub quote or Karl Rove's admiration of William McKinley. These seem like pretty strong M-type arguments to me. He doesn't say Bush is overrated because the Media has a soft spot for the rich, white, spoiled, dissolute failures who get by through connections.

Comparing Krugman to Rush? Poor and stupid indeed.

Posted by: Chibi on October 10, 2003 11:32 AM

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http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/10/opinion/10KRUG.html

Lessons in Civility
By PAUL KRUGMAN

It's the season of the angry liberal. Books like Al Franken's "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them," Joe Conason's "Big Lies" and Molly Ivins's "Bushwhacked" have become best sellers. (Yes, I've got one out there, too.) But conservatives are distressed because those liberals are so angry and rude. O.K., they admit, they themselves were a bit rude during the Clinton years — that seven-year, $70 million investigation of a tiny money-losing land deal, all that fuss about the president's private life — but they're sorry, and now it's time for everyone to be civil.

Indeed, angry liberals can take some lessons in civility from today's right.

Consider, for example, Fox News's genteel response to Christiane Amanpour, the CNN correspondent. Ms. Amanpour recently expressed some regret over CNN's prewar reporting: "Perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News." A Fox spokeswoman replied, "It's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than as a spokeswoman for Al Qaeda." ...

Posted by: lise on October 10, 2003 11:34 AM

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http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/10/opinion/10KRUG.html

All this fuss about the rudeness of the Bush administration's critics is an attempt to preclude serious discussion of that administration's policies. For there is no way to be both honest and polite about what has happened in these past three years.

On the fiscal front, this administration has used deceptive accounting to ram through repeated long-run tax cuts in the face of mounting deficits. And it continues to push for more tax cuts, when even the most sober observers now talk starkly about the risk to our solvency. It's impolite to say that George W. Bush is the most fiscally irresponsible president in American history, but it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise.

On the foreign policy front, this administration hyped the threat from Iraq, ignoring warnings from military professionals that a prolonged postwar occupation would tie down much of our Army and undermine our military readiness. (Joseph Galloway, co-author of "We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young," says that "we have perhaps the finest Army in history," but that "Donald H. Rumsfeld and his civilian aides have done just about everything they could to destroy that Army.") It's impolite to say that Mr. Bush has damaged our national security with his military adventurism, but it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise.

Still, some would say that criticism should focus only on Mr. Bush's policies, not on his person. But no administration in memory has made paeans to the president's character — his "honor and integrity" — so central to its political strategy. Nor has any previous administration been so determined to portray the president as a hero, going so far as to pose him in line with the heads on Mount Rushmore, or arrange that landing on the aircraft carrier. Surely, then, Mr. Bush's critics have the right to point out that the life story of the man inside the flight suit isn't particularly heroic — that he has never taken a risk or made a sacrifice for the sake of his country, and that his business career is a story of murky deals and insider privilege.

In the months after 9/11, a shocked nation wanted to believe the best of its leader, and Mr. Bush was treated with reverence. But he abused the trust placed in him, pushing a partisan agenda that has left the nation weakened and divided. Yes, I know that's a rude thing to say. But it's also the truth.

Posted by: lise on October 10, 2003 11:35 AM

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Folks like to think they are C like Spock, but in reality, we are all M like Jim and necessarily so.

"Would you like a lollipop little girl?"

How do you explain to your child how to respond to this without mixing M and C and demonstrating that M is C?

(And Spock analyzes from M many many times himself.)

I myself think that everyone is biased. That is it almost impossible for anyone to present a C argument because of their M arguments.

Though folks want to present C, they present C'.

I don't get C, I get C' where C' = f(C,B).

Where B is the presenter's bias.

I hope without proof, that over time, if I listen to enough C' and M', where B is held constant, I can better determine C and M.

Given that what is important is not for Krugman to stop any sequence of M arguments but for Kling to make his M arguments and in general his bias known.

In short, my understand of Arnold Kling's B is is that Kling is simply a meme-repeater, and the meme o' the day is that liberals should unilaterally disarm.

(As usual, most things can be answered by referring to ST:TOS)

Posted by: jerry on October 10, 2003 11:35 AM

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Hickory Hackery Klingery Klackery.
- Doh.

Posted by: lise on October 10, 2003 11:37 AM

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One of the things about vouchers is that almost everyone arguing for them show an intense, passionate concern for inner-city (= black) kids.

In some cases, notably when the voucher advocates are the parents of inner-city black kids (but not only then), this is completely as it should be.

In other cases (e.g. Rush Limbaugh and his dittoheads) this expressed passionate concern for inner-city kids comes from people who, the rest of the time, seem to have a real scorn and contempt for inner city kids and black people in general. An M-argument seems highly, highly indicated in this second case. There's something fishy going on. (For the record, I think that Limbaugh is racist and not merely conservative).

There's a second way of liberating black kids from failing inner city schools -- open enrollment in public schools. Just allow them (and all other students) to register in any school anywhere in the city or in the surrounding suburbs. This allows school choice within a healthy public school system.

You don't see a lot of people arguing for this solution (a version of which is in effect in Minnesota, IIRC), because it would dilute the effects of voluntary class residential segregation by class and race. (In fact, some voucher advocates are the same people who set up segregated private academies in the south as soon as black kids started being allowed to attend better, previously all-white schools).

My bet is that vouchers would most benefit those who were not quite able to afford to send their kids to private or religious schools. I doubt that the voucher amount would ever be set high enough to pay for quality education. And the remaining public schools would lose most of their constituency, and would decline, while trying to teach the problem students and the students from poor or problem families.

Posted by: Zizka on October 10, 2003 11:51 AM

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"Kling is simply a meme-repeater, and the meme o' the day is that liberals should unilaterally disarm."

"Hickory Hackery Klingery Klackery."

I love it....

Radical right good, all else bad. Especially bad a Professor of Economics at Princeton who writes for the New York Times in a way that makes clear to all just how deceptive and harmful the Administration's policies are!

Posted by: jd on October 10, 2003 11:51 AM

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SD- I am not making your argument. You are misapplying the analogy. Kids play AAU basketball in the spring/summer, but then they return to their high school basketball teams in the Fall. The mediocre basketball players are better because of their exposure to the better players. It raises the bar for everyone. The analogy to the schools would be to pull the best students out for enhancement programs and then send them back to the schools where others can learn from them.

In the voucher case, good student leaves school and never returns. If private school X took all the best players in town and beat the other schools, 90 to 10 every night, students at the losing school would lose interest and go off to do something else. That is what happens to the worst schools as it now stands. The families that care move to neighborhoods with good schools or send their kids to private schools. These schools are then left with only students that struggle and those kids are off doing something else.

Posted by: bakho on October 10, 2003 11:52 AM

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>Posted by Mike at October 10, 2003 10:48 AM

>"...Many of them probably are simply psychopaths, political opportunists and mercenaries etc., etc.

>But THAT faction depends upon the many OTHERS "out there" in the "flock" who are themselves convinced that the VAST majority of people who aren't in Fundamentalistic agreement with THEIR simpletonistic "black and white", "us or them", "eye for an eye", "Old Testament" approach are, BY DEFINITION, "shameful", "indecent" AND, of course, "evil"...."

Which brings me to MY 'problem' with this whole voucher 'debate'...

If the proponents of vouchers were 'really' interested simply in 'solving the problem' of 'improving public education' through the introduction of 'competition', why wouldn't they be more than willing to exclude religious schools from their proposition right up front?

After all, separating church from state is ONE of the things that made America 'great'--

(Or at any rate, a definite improvement Human Capital Deepening in Nineteenth-Century America

>Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz think about how America became the most formal skill- and education-intensive economy in the world:

>>The "Virtues" of the Past: Education in the First Hundred Years of the New Republic: By the mid-nineteenth century school enrollment rates in the United States exceeded those of any other nation in the world and by the early twentieth century the United States had accomplished mass education at all levels. No country was able to close the gap until the last quarter of the twentieth century. For much of its history U.S. education was spurred by a set of 'virtues,' the most important of which were public provision by small fiscally independent districts, public funding, secular control, gender neutrality, open access, a forgiving system, and an academic curriculum. The outcomes of the virtues were an enormous diffusion of educational institutions and the early spread of mass education. America borrowed its educational institutions from Europe but added to them in ways that served to enhance competition and openness..."

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/002405.html

Posted by: Mike on October 10, 2003 11:53 AM

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Folks like to think they are C like Spock, but in reality, we are all M like Jim and necessarily so.

"Would you like a lollipop little girl?"

How do you explain to your child how to respond to this without mixing M and C and demonstrating that M is C?

(And Spock analyzes from M many many times himself.)

I myself think that everyone is biased. That is it almost impossible for anyone to present a C argument because of their M arguments.

Though folks want to present C, they present C'.

I don't get C, I get C' where C' = f(C,B).

Where B is the presenter's bias.

I hope without proof, that over time, if I listen to enough C' and M', where B is held constant, I can better determine C and M.

Given that what is important is not for Krugman to stop any sequence of M arguments but for Kling to make his M arguments and in general his bias known.

In short, my understand of Arnold Kling's B is is that Kling is simply a meme-repeater, and the meme o' the day is that liberals should unilaterally disarm.

(As usual, most things can be answered by referring to ST:TOS)

Posted by: jerry on October 10, 2003 11:59 AM

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My neighbor who is white writes a letter to the editor of the newspaper once a month in support of vouchers. I think it coincides with the bill he gets from the Catholic school his kids attend.

If proponents of vouchers really cared about kids in poor schools they would look at improving education for all, not just cherry picking the best students and leaving the rest to go down with the Titanic.

Posted by: bakho on October 10, 2003 12:00 PM

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Speak of 'the Devil'...

>"Immediately following this broadcast, I am checking myself into a treatment center...

>At the present time, the authorities are conducting an investigation, and I have been asked to limit my public comments until this investigation is complete. So I will only say that the stories you have read and heard contain inaccuracies and distortions, which I will clear up..."--Rush Limbaugh

>"Rush Limbaugh Statement on Prescription Pain Medication Stories"; OCTOBER 10, 2003

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1010-19.htm


Posted by: Mike on October 10, 2003 12:26 PM

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Jeremy wrote:

"But sd -- we don't have vouchers to cover tuition at private universities, do we? I'll grant you that there are a variety of government (and private) programs at different levels to assist people unable to pay full tuition; but these seem to me nothing like any voucher proposal I have ever seen. For one thing they don't "come out of" financing for state schools. Please elaborate on any parallels you see."

The hell they don't! Money is money, and the last time I checked, highly fungible. The money that the government gives to private college students in the form of subsidized loans and grants (and the differenece between that and paying tuition directly is semantics only) could just as easily be spent by sending it directly into the coffers of public colleges.

The fact that Stafford loans and Pell grants seem natural and good while vouchers seem "radical" is a matter of historical accident only. Personally, I'm all from transferring as many of the practices of our world-class university system to our third-world-class high school system.

Posted by: sd on October 10, 2003 12:27 PM

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" But sd -- we don't have vouchers to cover tuition at private universities, do we?"

Sure we do. Pell Grants and the GI Bill.

But I can't help but note the numerous factually inaccurate assertions about what Rush Limbaugh said (or is). Here's a prominent (NY Times, WSJ) sportswriter admitting that he did just what Limbaugh claimed:

http://slate.msn.com/id/2089193/

"...the truth is that I and a great many other sportswriters have chosen for the past few years to see McNabb as a better player than he has been because we want him to be.

" Rush Limbaugh didn't say Donovan McNabb was a bad quarterback because he is black. He said that the media have overrated McNabb because he is black, and Limbaugh is right. He didn't say anything that he shouldn't have said, and in fact he said things that other commentators should have been saying for some time now. I should have said them myself."

Then there is the hilarious case of the missing scholarly paper from Duke University that supports Limbaugh's case. Here's James Taranto's explanation:

---------quote-----------
BY JAMES TARANTO
Thursday, October 9, 2003 3:14 p.m. EDT

'The Black Quarterback Effect'
Here's an odd twist on the Rush Limbaugh football kerfuffle: It turns out that an academic paper published last October lends support to Limbaugh's comment, which critics denounced as racist, that "social concern" led people in the NFL and the media to hope Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb to do well. The study, by Duke University economists Peter Arcidiacono, Jacob Vigdor and Eric Aldrich, is titled "Race, Football and Television: Examining the Black Quarterback Effect."

The three economists analyzed ratings for ABC-TV's "Monday Night Football" between 1997 and 2001 and found that "Monday Night Football games featuring black quarterbacks have Nielsen ratings 11% higher than otherwise identical games with two white starting quarterbacks." What accounts for this? Here's Vigdor's explanation, in an article posted Tuesday on the Web site of The American Prospect, a left-wing magazine: "The racial tolerance of the American public has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, at least in the world of sports. With this tolerance has come a true preference for diversity."

Now, here's where things get weird. In his article, Vigdor attempts to use his study to discredit Limbaugh's views. "If Limbaugh had done any research on the subject, he would have learned that the media's desire to see black quarterbacks succeed is not rooted in 'a little social concern,' but rather in good old-fashioned attention to the bottom line." Network executives, that is, cater to viewers' "preference for diversity" in an effort to drive up ratings and therefore profits.

Vigdor is setting up a false dichotomy. What is a "preference for diversity" if not a "social concern"? What's more, Limbaugh referring not to executives and programming choices but to the opinions of sportswriters and commentators. Is there any reason to think they don't share the football-viewing public's preference for diversity?

At the same time as he is trying to distance himself from the congruence between his own findings and Limbaugh's views, Vigdor has removed the study itself from his Web site. Click here, where the study used to appear, and you get this message:

The paper "Race, Football and Television: Explaining the Black Quarterback Effect" has been removed from this site. Our contract with Neilsen Media Research requires us to refrain from posting the results of this study online.

Yet the study, published Oct. 29, 2002, apparently was available online, notwithstanding the Nielsen contract, for nearly a year. Yahoo has it cached here, though it's a PDF file rendered as HTML, which makes it hard to read in places. A comment in this blog entry, dated Oct. 4, links to the page where the study appeared. It would appear Vigdor decided to suppress the study only when it was linked to the Limbaugh comments, and he now expects interested parties to rely on his tendentious anti-Limbaugh explanation rather than see for themselves what the study said.
-----------endquote------------

Finally, Donovan McNabb himself seemed to believe, at one time what Rush claimed:

--------quote--------
Black quarterbacks set to lead NFL teams
Anonymous. Jet. Chicago: Sep 11, 2000. Vol. 98, Iss. 14; pg. 51, 4 pgs


Toung, Black and talented; these are words that describe a growing number of
quarterbacks in the National Football League (NFL).

The new millennium welcomes four brilliant, young Black signal-- callers who
are well-equipped to lead their teams to victory-Akili Smith (Cincinnati
Bengals), Daunte Culpepper (Minnesota Vikings), Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia
Eagles), and Shaun King (Tampa Bay Buccaneers). They were all top 1999 draft
picks.

Though it's their second year in the league, this 2000 season marks their
chance to shine.

The pressure is on, but it comes with the territory. They all had impressive
college careers. Smith at Oregon, McNabb at Syracuse, King at Tulane and
Culpepper at Central Florida. Together, they have broken and set numerous
National College Athletic Association (NCAA) records and been placed on
various All-American teams.

Do they feel they have to play better on any given day simply because they
are Black?

"I'm not too concerned with that," Akili Smith tells STET. "I am a
quarterback and I have to worry about going out there and making smart
decisions." Smith, 25, signed a sevenyear contract that could pay him as
much as $56 million if he reaches various performance goals.

McNabb adds,"We're always going to be looked at as Black quarterbacks
because that's what we are."
----------endquote---------

And also:

----------quote-------------
Hard-Hitting Truths To Pass On to Vick

Mike Freeman. New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)).New York, N.Y.: Apr 20, 2001. pg. D.8

This week the small but growing club of black National Football League quarterbacks will add another member, Michael Vick, the explosive player from Virginia Tech. He will be called a potential star, applauded for being a great athlete and hailed as the savior of the San Diego Chargers, the team that holds the first pick in the N.F.L. draft and that is expected, after much internal debate, to select him tomorrow.

But Vick may soon discover what other black quarterbacks have learned, which is that his status as a high-profile professional football player does not immunize him from society's racial pitfalls.

Black quarterbacks, who have some of the highest profiles of African-American athletes, have discussed this privately many times. They are a tight-knit community -- last season eight black players had at least one start at the position among the league's 31 teams -- and it is not uncommon for black quarterbacks to talk about everything, from which coach is best to play for to which city's fans are the most hostile to them.

In some cases, a veteran black quarterback will act as a mentor for a rookie black quarterback, and many times the instructions are the same: Remember that no matter how big a star you become, some people will always view you as a black man first and a quarterback second. That is something, they are told, their white counterparts do not have to concern themselves with.

''I'll always try to help a young black quarterback understand not just what to expect when playing in the N.F.L., but the pressures that come from outside football,'' Donovan McNabb, the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback, said last season.
----------endquote-----------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 10, 2003 12:33 PM

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Part of the trouble with Kling's argument is exposed in his own response to Brad's concrete Lindsey example; it's amplified by marc, who, like most humans, likes to think well of other humans, and so has trouble believing that Lindsey is (in a word) lying. Now Kling acknowledges right off the bat that Lindsey's full of crap here, and so his future statements should be met with doubt. Why? Because Kling is equipped to understand the underlying C fundamentals, and doesn't need PK, Brad, or anyone else to tell him.

But marc doesn't have that. He's willing to accept Brad's argument, but in his mind there's doubt, especially doubt that Lindsey would be so craven. This is what PK has been faced with for 3+ years. His Type-C arguments in the fall of 2000 were effectively ignored - by the electorate, by the pundits, by reporters. In 95% Type C columns, using simple add and subtract math, PK laid out how Bush's budget proposals were BS. Didn't matter. Why? Because people couldn't believe that Bush would be so dishonest - they ignored the explicit Type C evidence in favor of their own, implicit, vague Type M inclinations. Evidently, marc would do the same.

Seeing the impotence of Type C aruments in the arena of opinion and politics (as opposed to academia and policy), PK has gradually adopted a more direct, more aggressive approach in which he confronts people with the Type M arguments that are (frankly) implicit in most Type C arguments (to suggest, for instance, that Lindsey's Motives aren't impugned by the Consequences of his stated policy preference is absurd - Kling just wants the M in his head, not on paper). The marcs of the world may, in fact, be turned off by all the explicit M, and wish for more C. But most of them ignored the C when it mattered, and if the M is sinking in, then the discourse is improving.

Why is it improved? Because a proper understanding of M is, contra Kling, vital in evaluating political and policy decisions. The war in Iraq is a perfect example. Many, many people were convinced of the wisdom of war due to C arguments. The wiser of them considered M, as well, and saw that the Bush admin had mixed motives, which were not publicly stated (not by Bush, anyway), and which were antithetical to proper pursuit of the desirable C. After all, in any policy discussion, everyone may reach consensus on the broad picture C, but there are many, many smaller-scale C, and the only way to predict how those will vbe resolved is to understand the policy-makers' M.

To use the voucher example, even if vouchers worked as advertised (and despite what has been said here, there is _not_ a consensus that they do, and recent results from real school districts do not support them), it would be critical to know the M of their supporters. If their every action pointed to motives of social justice and educatinal improvement for all, then it might be wise to support vouchers. But if a lot of the supporters really are anti-union, anti-public school, anti-secular gov't, then there would be reason to doubt that all the little Cs will be well-resolved. Those little Cs won't be debated in the pages of the NYT, or even Mother Jones. They'll be decided by political appointees, far from the sunlight of press coverage and policy debate. That's not a bad thing - if you can trust the M of the appointers.

Posted by: JRoth on October 10, 2003 12:56 PM

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Come on sd, that's ridiculous -- "they could just as well be" spent on public institutions??? Well then why not create a voucher program funded without touching public school financing, and then say "Well the money we're spending on vouchers would have gone to public schools if we didn't create the voucher program"? We could also "just as well" spend Pell Grant funds on the military, or the department of HHS, etc. There is no relationship between Pell grants/other scholarships, and the funding of public post-secondary education. -- besides that some students who receive such scholarships spend them at public institutions, which is not here or there.

Posted by: Jeremy Osner on October 10, 2003 12:59 PM

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M is for motive.
M is for model.

Economists make models to predict outcomes. Assigning motives to someone is a form of modeling to predict future behavior. I don't know for sure that the WH wants to flatten the tax rates. I do know that if I assume the WH wants to flatten the tax rates, there is no change they have made in the tax code that contradicts my assumption. The reason I do not know motives is that this administration is VERY secretive about its goals and motives. But I can assign motives that are useful predictors until they are contradicted then modify the model/motives.

This administration invites M arguments because they don't publicly state their motives and the motives they do give do not make sense of their policies. Hiding motives is one way to deflect criticism especially if the motives or goals are generally unpopular. Creationists use stealth to get elected to the school board. Voters only learn they have elected a creationist nut case after the election. In this case, we only learn that the goal of the administration tax policy is X after the components have been implemented. We could end up with a tax/fiscal policy based on very unpopular goals and never have the debate if the M arguments are not made.

Understanding the model (motive) that is used to create the policy allows for proactive critiquing. If we know in advance that the goal or motive is to flatten the tax rates, then we can have a debate about changes in the tax code in the context of a progressive tax system. Without understanding the goals/motives, we are left with debating each tax cut separately and never address the big picture issue of whether our current code is too progressive or regressive. In many ways the big picture issue is the more important to debate, because it can help guide the pieces of legislation that move us in one direction or another.

If one does not know the goals of (motives behind) policy, how is one to judge its efficacy? If the goals are hidden, then they cannot be debated. Corporations are notoriously undemocratic. We see the results of our CEO/MBA government as a unilateralist, command policy system that seeks to eliminate discussion and the democratic process.

Therefore, Kling is absolutely wrong about not debating motives. It is imperative that motives hidden or stated be assigned and debated. Absent the broader goals, debates will not always occur within the proper context and important issues will not be debated. I don’t think he has really considered this issue deeply enough.

Posted by: bakho on October 10, 2003 01:07 PM

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Jeremy,

I don't understand why this isn't clear to you. The government takes in tax dollars. The government decides its in the pubic interest for bright students to go to college, even if they don't have enough money to do so. The government creates a program to transfer tax dollars to those students so they can get an education. The government decides that since many of the best universities in the country are private, and since many students wish to attend private universities, and since students tend to do better when they are at a place they want to be, that its in the public interest for student aid to be usable not only at public universities, but at private ones as well. But the government doesn't get out of the business of running public unversities - far from it. The government still runs universities, indeed, opens many more since it started awarding financial aid to private college students. The government still runs these institutions with excellence in mind, seeking to offer the best possible education and research. And perhaps (maybe I'm crazy here), the competition to attract the best students and the best faculty drives public universities to be better than they would be if there were not Stafford Loans and Pell Grants going to private college students.

Now why can't that same system work for high schools?

Posted by: sd on October 10, 2003 01:19 PM

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sd in his support for vouchers uses the college model. Built into the college model is the high mobility of college students, unlike k-12 studnets who need to live at home with parents for social and economic reasons. This overlooks the significant logistical issues regarding access. There is also the affordability issue. Many of the alternatives to public schools are at greater cost per student. Would additional money to the public schools be a better use of that money than vouchers?

Vouchers could be useful to limited numbers of students, but do nothing for those students that are left behind. I would prefer a more comprehensive solution to education.

My other issue with vouchers is accountability. If my tax dollars are going to a private organization, I want proper oversight to ensure the students are being properly educated, the money is not being wasted, etc. I would want to see minimum standards for currriculum content. I would want rules that prevent discrimination overt or de facto by these tax supported private schools. I would want standards that ensure the health and safety of the students attending those publicly funded private schools.

To have private schools be publicly funded is an open invitation to imposition of government rules and regulations on those institutions. There will be private schools that are nothing more than scam operations that bilk parents, taxpayers and harm children. Because of them, the rest of the schools that accept public funds must eventually be subjected to oversight. Most proponents of private schools like not having the government involved. Well if taxpayers are paying the bills, we, the government will be involved.

Posted by: bakho on October 10, 2003 01:28 PM

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Klingman quotes Krugman "The leaders of the radical right want..." and Krugman goes on about their motives.

Klingman contents that "This argument shuts off any constructive debate. It dehumanizes me to the point where I am not even given credit for knowing what my own motives are."

Klingman is a leader of the radical right? Or did he just fail to pay any attention to what Krugman said?

Posted by: J Edgar on October 10, 2003 02:22 PM

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If you want a really salutary and effective educational reform, how about abolishing the torrents of mass media dreck that inundate the lives of our young'uns, distracting and debasing their developing intelligences and characters, substituting a similacrum of fantasied meaning for the inevitable drabness of life and the painful difficulty of actually expressing an emotion, and commodifying their existences long before they have the chance, let alone the ability, to exercise meaningful choice? If you're going to really learn anything, then you have to be bored; in fact, good boredom tolerance is a mark of a cultivated personality.

Of course, this will never happen. There is too much capital invested in the production of such dreck. So instead let's rely on the miracle of market competition and privatize our public education system entirely. For the rest, we already have a highly efficient, productively expanding public prison system.

Posted by: john c. halasz on October 10, 2003 02:23 PM

____

By the way, "argument" is an ambiguous word. There's a reason for this.

Posted by: john c. halasz on October 10, 2003 02:29 PM

____

Hmm... what about subjecting Kling's and DeLong's positions themselves to a bit of c-analysis?

From an m-viewpoint, I actually don't doubt either of their motives, at least not immediately (I don't read enough Kling to know a lot about his motives, to be honest).

Anyway, from a c-viewpoint, though, there are arguments in both ways. Leaving aside the deontological questions of whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings of outrageous Republicans or to make ad hominem attacks against them, and looking at the consequences, there are two questions:

1. Do m-arguments help liberals in winning against conservatives?
2. If liberals rely on m-arguments, will they be able to maintain their honesty in general (regardless of whether Krugman himself has successfully done so), and, if they do win against conservatives, be a good thing for the country? (see the recent Nightmare Scenario post: http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/002391.html)
3. If liberals rely on m-arguments, and they *don't* win the country back, what will the reliance on m-arguments do to the conservatives who do have power? Will it keep them more honest, for example, since m-arguments are more blunt in pointing out corruption, deceit, etc.?

Posted by: Julian Elson on October 10, 2003 02:51 PM

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Regarding "shutting off constructive debate": effectively, in government choices or any executive choice, debate IS cut off and does not go on forever. Political decisions are made when the relevant body decides the question being debated. Political arguments do not end when everyone is convinced; they end when a decision is put to a vote. So when you decide that someone can be trusted, you decide that you can't persuade him or her, but can only argue against him ore her in order to persuade others. With regard to the untrusted person, you only make efforts to defeat them at the time of decision. And if you don't trust someone, you may or may not try to convince others not to trust them.

The threshold at which mistrust of motives is permissible, and the higher threshold at which publicly impugning others' motives is permissible or useful, can be higher or lower, and to set it too low is to discredit oneself. But someone who renounces that particular tool, as Kling wants liberals to do, cripples him or self. Some do not deserve our goodwill. I would put the Bush administration in that category.

Posted by: Zizka on October 10, 2003 03:30 PM

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Regarding "shutting off constructive debate": effectively, in government choices or any executive choice, debate IS cut off and does not go on forever. Political decisions are made when the relevant body decides the question being debated. Political arguments do not end when everyone is convinced; they end when a decision is put to a vote. So when you decide that someone can be trusted, you decide that you can't persuade him or her, but can only argue against him ore her in order to persuade others. With regard to the untrusted person, you only make efforts to defeat them at the time of decision. And if you don't trust someone, you may or may not try to convince others not to trust them.

The threshold at which mistrust of motives is permissible, and the higher threshold at which publicly impugning others' motives is permissible or useful, can be higher or lower, and to set it too low is to discredit oneself. But someone who renounces that particular tool, as Kling wants liberals to do, cripples him or self. Some do not deserve our goodwill. I would put the Bush administration in that category.

Posted by: Zizka on October 10, 2003 03:36 PM

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Recently, here in Texas, there was a referendum to 'save our doctors' from frivolous lawsuits. It sounded like a good idea to me, and I was going to vote for it, until I saw a piece of direct mail from our Republican governor supporting it.

I knew that there had to be something wrong with it if that asshole (pardon my French) supported it. A little bit of research showed that it was also about protecting large corporations, and some of the main supporters were 'doctors' like Wal-Mart and Exxon.

There's an idealized world where ad hominem attacks are fallacious (as we were taught in philosophy 101) and arguments should be considered on their own merits, regardless of who makes them. This is the world that Kling lives in.

Then there's the real world, where our intelligence is limited, any given person's knowledge of any given subject is likely to be scant, and there isn't time to thoroughly research and consider every garbage argument that some administration lapdog makes. In this world, an argument from M can actually be better than an argument from C, because now a layman who might have been fooled by Lindsey, knows that anything he says deserves to be taken with a boulder of salt. If you refute Lindsey from C, the reader may be fooled by him again later, and even if you refute Lindsey again from C, there's no guarantee the reader will ever see it.

Posted by: rps on October 10, 2003 11:01 PM

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It just occured to me that DeLong and Kling are academics, and their job is to argue in detail about subjects they know well, for knowledgeable audiences. Their world more closely approximates the idealized world where arguments from M are bad practice. That clears up for me why DeLong would even consider Kling's argument to be reasonable, which puzzled me.

Krugman is now a popular writer, limited to a few thousand words twice a week to lay audiences, so he has every reason to wallow in the pigslop of arguments from M like the rest of us.

Posted by: rps on October 10, 2003 11:23 PM

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Stephen Toulmin ("Cosmopolis" is his masterpiece IMHO) and others have written a lot about the difference between contexted arguments in real time (e.g. the Iraq War debate), and timeless, universal theoretical arguments. Economics and, above all, analytic philosophy enable infinitely-long, infinitely-abstruse discussions which procede extremely rigorously but are painfully slow, if not infinitely protracted. This is OK but cannot be a model for discussions which have a time limit for making a decision.

Posted by: Zizka on October 11, 2003 07:32 AM

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So. What have we learned?

Stable, prosperous, free, democratic states--like trees--'grow' from the ground up. But--like fish--they 'rot' from the head down.

Let's Review. Sometimes that helps.*

(*EMPHASIS* Added)

-------------------------------------

THIS:

>"...There is a sound economic case for doing what we did [about steel]..."

May or may not be "unmitigated bull****": Depending on your economic religion, I suppose.

But here in the REAL world--on Planet Earth, not so very long ago, as planetary things go, THIS really happened:

>World War II

>In 1931, the Empire of Japan INVADED Manchuria, seized land from China in 1937, and occupied the remainder of the French possessions in South East Asia in 1940. These threats hit the home front when Japan THREATENED United States possessions in Guam, Wake Island and the Philippine Islands.

>In Europe, FASCIST parties had taken control of both Germany and Italy. Italy, under the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini, INVADED Ethiopia and attempted to start an Italian Empire in Northern Africa. Germany, under Adolph Hitler, defied the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War One. In violation of the treaty, Germany raised an army greater than 100,000, and reestablished its air force and navy. In 1939, Germany INVADED and OCCUPIED Czechoslovakia.

>World War Two officially began in Europe the day after Germany INVADED Poland in September of 1939. At the onset, both American politicians and the public hoped that America would remain neutral in what seemed to be an Asian and European conflict. However, when France fell to Germany in June of 1940, Americans were fearful that Great Britain could not prevent Germany from WORLD DOMINATION. To make matters worse, Germany’s U-boats were attacking and sinking both unarmed United States merchant vessels and Naval warships.

>AMERICAN POLITICIANS HOPED that Japanese aggression in the Pacific could be CONTROLLED by economic sanctions on OIL AND SCRAP IRON, NECESSARY FOR THEIR WAR EFFORT. As a result, Japan focused its attention on the CONQUEST OF United States RESOURCES in the South and Central Pacific Ocean..."

http://www.il.ngb.army.mil/museum/citizen_soldier/world_war_ii.htm

-------------------------------------

>"...The PROJECT FOR THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY seeks to establish what they call 'Pax Americana' across the globe. Essentially, THEIR GOAL IS TO TRANSFORM AMERICA, the sole remaining superpower, INTO A PLANETARY EMPIRE...They control the White House, the Pentagon and Defense Department, by way of this the armed forces and intelligence communities, and have at their feet a Republican-dominated Congress that will rubber-stamp virtually everything on their wish list.."

>Blood Money

http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=1&num=53

>"...Much COULD be learned of value for American trade and industrial policy-making from South Korea's experience --if the debate here were not also dominated by neoclassical economists...If AMEIICA IS TO MAINTAIN THE ROBUST INDUSTRIAL BASE AND SOUND FINANCES NECESSARY FOR WORLD LEADERSHIP IN TURBULENT TIMES, IT MUST RECONCILE ITS DEFENSE AND ECONOMIC POLICIES TO EXPAND DOMESTIC MANUFACTURING AND HIGH-TECH INVESTMENT WHILE ENDING THE DEBILITATING TRADE DEFICITS...."

>Neoliberal Globalist Agenda Won't Ensure U.S. National Security

http://www.tradealert.org/view_art.asp?Prod_ID=775

>"...WE MUST CONFRONT THE GLOBAL INEQUALITY CRISIS. For this, WE MUST, in the final analysis, RAISE REAL WAGES IN THE COUNTRIES WITH WHICH OUR WORKERS COMPETE, EXPAND THEIR MARKETS FOR OUR GOODS AND REDUCE THEIR PRESSURE ON OUR WAGE STRUCTURE....therefore, OUR ECONOMIC AGENDA SHOULD REALLY BEGIN a long way from economic policy itself, WITH THE CAMPAIGN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, DEMOCRACY, AND FREE UNIONISM AROUND THE WORLD....

>...The term "GLOBAL KEYNESIANISM" MEANS only SOME SYSTEM - a mechanism that has not yet been worked out - FOR MANAGING INTERDEPENDENCE to achieve HIGH economic growth and EMPLOYMENT, a common RISING STANDARD OF LIVING, and a MINIMUM OF FINANCIAL INSTABILITIES attendant to higher growth.

>THE great economic POWERS -- the United States, Germany, Japan -- MUST stop thinking in purely national terms and START THINKING OF THE LARGER COMMUNITY OF WHICH THEY ARE A PART. They must understand that THE GROWTH OF INCOME IN THE COUNTRIES TO WHICH THEY SELL EVENTUALLY DETERMINES THE GROWTH OF INCOME IN THEIR OWN COUNTRIES.

>WE HAVE NOT FACED THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF INTERDEPENDENCE since the end of the earlier Keynesian period and breakdown of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970s, perhaps not since promulgation of the Marshall Plan. WE HAVE ABANDONED GOVERNMENTAL POWER to market forces, particularly TO THE GLOBAL CAPITAL MARKETS AND THE LARGE FINANCIAL INSTUTIONS that play in them. However, MARKET FORCES CANNOT REPLACE GOVERNMENTS IN THE FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNMENTS--NEITHER WITHIN NATIONAL BOUNDARIES NOR IN RELATIONS BETWEEN NATIONS.

>We can harbour no illusions about the difficulty of rebuilding A MULTINATIONAL STRUCTURE DEDICATED TO GROWTH AND EMPLOYMENT, and of CONTROLLING THE POWERFUL PRIVATE FORCES WHOSE INTERESTS WOULD BE THREATENED by our doing so. However, this very difficulty is in one way a virtue. We have suffered because of the short shelf life of the various economic theories put forth over the last 25 years. We try one thing, if it fails to work in a few years, we throw it out.

>But if our current difficulties force us to think our problem through to the end and to adopt a set of ideas that contain a vision to which the public can respond -- a vision that holds out neither pointless sacrifice nor immediate gratification but the serious possibility of positive results in a medium and long terms-- we may be able to free ourselves of the cycle of short-lived economic theories, with their false promises and perceived failures."

>James K. Galbraith on Global Keynesianism

http://www.jobsletter.org.nz/art/artg0002.htm

-------------------------------------

>"...Capital Dependency

>The greenback is being weighed down by AN UNSUSTAINABLE NEED FOR FOREIGN CAPITAL. Already dependent on $1.5 billion in capital inflow each day, U.S. needs will only grow AS THE BUDGET DEFICIT WIDENS AND THE TRADE DEFICIT CONTINUES AT A RECORD PACE, economists say..."

>"Dollar Continues Its Slide As Twin U.S. Deficits Swell"; Jed Graham, Oct 8 [2003]

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ibd/20031008/bs_ibd_ibd/2003108feature

>"WASHINGTON, Oct 8 (Reuters) - U.S. DEBT OWED TO FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS, CENTRAL BANKS, PRIVATE BANKS AND OTHER INVESTORS TOPPED $6 TRILLION in the quarter ended June 30, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.

>Of that, about $1.270 trillion in principal and another $53.73 billion in interest is due within the next 3 months, according to a new report on the U.S. external debt position issued by Treasury...

>...The report shows the extent to which THE UNITED STATES REMAINS DEPENDENT ON FOREIGN INVESTMENT. Even for an economy totaling $10.803 trillion annually, the $6.357 trillion in EXTERNAL DEBT IS a hefty 58.8 PERCENT OF GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT.

>By comparison, the U.S. government takes in about $2 trillion annually in taxes and fees, and the anticipated 2003 budget gap of around $400 BILLION WOULD BE ABOUT 3.7 PERCENT OF OVERALL ECONOMY..."

>"US gross external debt more than $6 trillion-Trsy"; Reuters

http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/031008/economy_treasury_debt_1.html

>"...Last week THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ended the fiscal year with a REPORTED DEFICIT OF APPROXIMATELY $400 BILLION, PUSHING THE FEDERAL DEBT HELD BY THE PUBLIC TO NEARLY $4 TRILLION...

>...WHAT'S MISSING from the $400 billion figure is an accurate recognition of THE MOUNTING OBLIGATIONS OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM. Under current practices, Social Security reports its financial performance on a cash-flow basis: it compares annual revenues to annual costs and reports a surplus or a deficit. LAST YEAR, SOCIAL SECURITY ENJOYED A SURPLUS OF ROUGHLY $160 BILLION. THE GOVERNMENT USED THIS MONEY TO MASK WHAT WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN A $560 BILLION DEFICIT.

>But EVEN IF THE Social Security SURPLUS WERE NOT USED TO DISGUISE THE DEFICIT, THE BUDGET WOULD STILL IGNORE SUBSTANTIAL GROWTH IN COMMITMENTS TO CURRENT WORKERS AND RETIREES...

>...Were the federal government to account for its Social Security obligations under the rules of accrual accounting, which govern public companies, its financial outlook would be far worse. BY THE END OF LAST YEAR, THE SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM OWED RETIREES AND CURRENT WORKERS BENEFITS VALUED AT $14 TRILLION. THE SYSTEMS'S ASSETS, IN CONTRAST, WERE ONLY $3.5 TRILLION. These assets include not only the trust funds' current reserves ($1.4 trillion), but also the present value of the taxes that current workers will pay over the remainder of their working lives ($2.1 trillion).

>In other words, THE SYSTEM'S CURRENT SHORTFALL — its assets minus its liabilities — IS $10.5 TRILLION...

>...Under a system of accrual accounting, Social Security would have had to report a loss of approximately $370 billion. IF THIS FIGURE — AND NOT THE TRUST FUND'S ANNUAL CASH-FLOW SURPLUS — WERE ADDED TO OTHER FEDERAL ACCOUNTS, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE REPORTED A $930 BILLION DEFICIT LAST WEEK. Add in similar adjustments for Medicare and other retiree benefits, and the flow of red ink last year surges even higher..."

>"It's Even Worse Than You Think"; HOWELL E. JACKSON, October 9, 2003

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/09/opinion/09JACK.html

-------------------------------------

"...'outward orientation is not the same as trade liberalization.' Indeed, SOUTH KOREA'S SUCCESS CAME AS A RESULT OF HEAVY INVESTMENT IN KEY INDUSTRIES GUIDED BY THE GOVERNMENT, WHICH ALSO KEPT A TIGHT REIN ON CAPITAL FLOWS AND THE USE OF FOREIGN EXCHANGE SO THE DOMESTIC GROWTH WAS NOT UNDERMINED BY RIVAL IMPORTS OR SPECULATIVE INVESTMENTS. It was A POLICY BASED ON NATIONAL ADVANTAGE NOT LIBERAL THEORY. Much could be learned of value for American trade and industrial policy-making from South Korea's experience -- if the debate here were not also dominated by neoclassical economists...."

Op.Cit.
http://www.tradealert.org/view_art.asp?Prod_ID=775

-------------------------------------

>Religious zealotry and the crisis of American democracy

Khoren Arisian

29 - 7 - 2003

>"WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON IN AMERICAN POLITICS TODAY WITHOUT A CRITICAL AND UNBLINKING EXAMINATION OF ITS ENDURING RELIGIOUS BASIS AND THE THEOLOGICAL PRESUPPOSITIONS THAT SUPPORT IT..."

http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-3-77-1394.jsp

-------------------------------------

Which brings me to MY 'problem' with this whole voucher 'debate'...

If the proponents of vouchers were 'really' interested simply in 'solving the problem' of 'improving public education' through the introduction of 'competition', why wouldn't they be more than willing to exclude religious schools from their proposition right up front?

After all, separating church from state is ONE of the things that made America 'great'--

(Or at any rate, a definite improvement)

>Human Capital Deepening in Nineteenth-Century America

>Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz think about HOW AMERICA BECAME THE MOST FORMAL SKILL AND EDUCATION-INTENSIVE ECONOMY IN THE WORLD:

>>The "Virtues" of the Past: Education in the First Hundred Years of the New Republic: BY THE MID-NINETEENTH CENTURY SCHOOL ENROLLMENT RATES EXCEEDED THOSE OF ANY OTHER NATION in the world and by the early twentieth century the United States had accomplished mass education at all levels. No country was able to close the gap until the last quarter of the twentieth century. For much of its history U.S. EDUCATION WAS SPURRED BY A SET OF 'VIRTUES', the most important of which were PUBLIC PROVISION BY SMALL FISCALLY INDEPENDENT DISTRICTS, PUBLIC FUNDING, SECULAR CONTROL, GENDER NEUTRALITY, OPEN ACCESS, A FORGIVING SYSTEM, AND AN ACADEMIC CURRICULUM. The outcomes of the virtues were an enormous diffusion of educational institutions and the early spread of mass education. America borrowed its educational institutions from Europe but added to them in ways that served to enhance competition and openness..."

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/002405.html

-------------------------------------

Speaking of "unmitigated bull****"...

>"Immediately following this broadcast, I am checking myself into a treatment center...

>...At the present time, the authorities are conducting an investigation..."--Rush Limbaugh

>"Rush Limbaugh Statement on Prescription Pain Medication Stories"; OCTOBER 10, 2003

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1010-19.htm

-------------------------------------

Posted by: Mike on October 11, 2003 09:02 AM

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Mike, you have enemies.

Posted by: Zizka on October 11, 2003 11:01 AM

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Two quick points:
1) The audience Krugman is addressing are not economists. Most readers of the Times cannot/will not follow highly technical and theoretical arguments. Relying solely on type "C" arguments seems a strategy best suited for academic conferences and journals.

2) Politics uses rhetoric to shape the landscape of the debate. Shaping reality is a key step to political victory (e.g., after Al Gore was labelled "boring" and a "liar", everything he said was deemed boring and suspect). If your opponents are skirting the edges of the truth (or even lying), then one had better point this out in order to shift the terrain of the debate to something that favors you.

A newspaper column is not the proper venue for pursuing a Platonic Truth.

As a side note, if Krugman wants to know about the effect of voucher programs, he merely needs to walk down the hall at Princeton and speak with Alan Krueger. Below is a link to an interesting re-examination of a voucher experiment (it sure looks as if Paul Peterson and his co-authors sliced the data to obtain the desired "answer").
http://www.irs.princeton.edu/pubs/pdfs/470_h.pdf

Posted by: David on October 11, 2003 11:54 AM

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Perhaps Dr. Kling's argument would be better targetted at, say, President Bush's speeches. Perhaps I missed that column.

Posted by: Jack on October 13, 2003 01:43 AM

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Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

Posted by: Ahn Calvin on December 10, 2003 12:10 PM

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I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

Posted by: Friedman Joseph on December 10, 2003 12:10 PM

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Interesting site, is all true ?

Posted by: Deangelis Andrea on January 9, 2004 06:11 AM

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