November 26, 2002
Daniel J. Mitchell Is an Idiot

You know, between 1980 and 2000 Paul Krugman spent, as best as I can estimate, 40% of the time he spent weighing in on U.S. economic policy attacking Republican supply-siders, and 60% of the time attacking dirigiste market-unfriendly Democrats. His more academic, less immediately policy-relevant work seems, in my view at least, typically to teach us both that market failures are more prevalent than we had previously thought and that government policies to repair them are extremely difficult to design and next to impossible to implement.

Yet the Heritage Foundation's Daniel J. Mitchell is sufficiently clueless about Krugman's work--both on economic policy and on less immediately policy-relevant economic questions--that all he can say is that Krugman is a "doctrinaire, left-wing, big-government" type.

People I know at places like Heritage and Cato think that it's academic snobbery that keeps their work from having much weight in the broad intellectual debate about what policy should be (as opposed to the inside-Washington task of providing cover for legislators to vote the way they wanted to vote anyway). It's not that. It's not academic snobbery--it's demonstrations like this of breathtaking ignorance of the work that people have done.


'E&P' Names Features Of the Year: ...Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior analyst at the Heritage Foundation conservative think tank in Washington, is less admiring of [Paul] Krugman: "He's sort of a doctrinaire, left-wing, big-government type..."

Posted by DeLong at November 26, 2002 10:29 AM | Trackback

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It's almost enough to make you hit your head against the wall...

Posted by: Amit Dubey on November 26, 2002 11:02 AM

I see he also tried to revive that old canard about Krugman's Enron connection.

On the bright side, if that's the best that a leading conservative think tank can do to besmirch Krugman...

Posted by: qed on November 26, 2002 12:09 PM

Friends tell me that they have learned not to mention a Paul Krugman column in the office. Conservatism is in, and Paul Krugman is taken as an intellectual threat to conservatism. So, villify villify. Indeed, Paul Krugman is an intellectual threat to conservatism and we had best pay attention to the arguments.

Posted by: on November 26, 2002 12:43 PM

The only other commentary I can think of that is of such quality is Thomas Friedman or Bill Moyers. Bill Moyers "Now" is a superb PBS program.

Posted by: on November 26, 2002 12:52 PM

All the attacks against Krugman are hilarious, really. As I keep saying - Krugman is the only columnist who seems to think the critiqueing the Party In Power, as opposed to shadowboxing imaginary leftists or discussing Al Gore's beard, is a reasonable use of space in the paper of record.

Posted by: Atrios on November 26, 2002 01:00 PM

I'm sorry but Krugman invites the scorn of those he disagrees with because of his dishonest arguments, the obvious partisanship he demonstrates and the way he has abandoned the responsible sophistication of his earlier popular writings.

Posted by: JT on November 26, 2002 01:19 PM

Precisely. Paul Krugman is happily among the last of the true "critics." Any objective reading of PK will show how independent and incisive and essential the arguments are. A gem of gems.

We do need more women's voices here....

Ann

Posted by: on November 26, 2002 01:25 PM

JT's reference to PK's allegedly past "sophistication" reminds me of how that term has generally been used to describe the better class of people turning a blind eye to ugly facts. Sophisticated people don't acknowledge that the hostess is drunk, or that the host is upstairs with the help.
Apparently, they also don't mention when the President lies about his own policies. How gauche!

Posted by: JRoth on November 26, 2002 01:36 PM

Regarding this criticism of Krugman's "partisanship" you often hear, does it never occur to these people to take the same logical template, replace Krugman's name with any of a dozen high-profile conservative columnists, and see if you can read it through without laughing, or at least giggling?

As for dishonesty, the really hip conservative pundits have moved beyond trying to pretend their side is honest and have taken the position that a little lying is okay and even admirable if it serves to promote the greater good, as defined of course by them.

Posted by: qed on November 26, 2002 01:38 PM

I'm a big Krugman fan from his pre-NYT phase. Unfortunately he has become shrill at the NYT, leaning on prefabricated arguments about Republican policy being uniformly mendacious, cynical and dumb. Tom Friedman is more like the 'old' Krugman - objective, insightful, and keeps his partisan leanings out of his analysis.

Posted by: Peter vM on November 26, 2002 01:52 PM

JR

Properly toned.
Amen.

Posted by: on November 26, 2002 01:53 PM

Paul Krugman has not become shrill. What you fail to recognize are the essential problems being dealt with.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/26/opinion/26KRUG.html

Posted by: on November 26, 2002 01:56 PM

The whiny "he's shrill now that he doesn't put his tongue down W's trousers" argument is another version of Republican bipartisanship: "If you let us have everything we want, that's bipartisan."

Posted by: Ras_Nesta on November 26, 2002 02:11 PM

"Heritage Foundation" and "clueless" in the same sentence? You don't say.

Posted by: a different chris on November 26, 2002 02:14 PM

Peter, if hypothetically, just for the sake of argument, Republican policy happened to be uniformy mendacious, cynical and dumb, how would you propose a columnist write about it without appearing shrill?

Posted by: qed on November 26, 2002 02:34 PM

>>Tom Friedman is more like the 'old' Krugman - objective, insightful, and keeps his partisan leanings out of his analysis.<<

This is hillarious. All Tom Friedman does to theoreize his own personal anecdotic experience just the way that fits his prior.

I saw him in action at a young economist conference. He asked us 'do you read the news?', and before any of us had a chance to answer anything, he replied 'that's what I thought!' Next thing, a NYT column about how news-illiterate PhD students in economics are.

How objective and insightful! I think most if not all of my colleagues spend _at least_ half an hour a day reading news (on top of hours of other reading.)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on November 26, 2002 02:45 PM


Mickey Kaus leans to a fellow guest and asks "just who invited that ill-tempered boor to this lovely little soiree anyhow?"

Posted by: on November 26, 2002 02:48 PM

Brad DeLong writes, "People I know at places like Heritage and Cato think that it's academic snobbery that keeps their work from having much weight in the broad intellectual debate about what policy should be..."

Interesting! This statement certainly implies that Dr. DeLong thinks that "places like Heritage and Cato" have the same policies. Is Dr. DeLong so economically unaware that he doesn't realize that they do not? If so, some news, hot off the presses: the Cato Institute is libertarian, and the Heritage Foundation is conservative.

Among just a few of their policy agreements:

1) The Heritage Foundation supports the U.S. going to war against Iraq, the Cato Institute does not.

2) The Heritage Foundation supports U.S. membership in NATO (and U.S. troops in Europe), the Cato Institute advocates withdrawl.

3) The Heritage Foundation supports a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients, the Cato Institute does not.

4) The Heritage Foundation supports federal government involvement in education, the Cato Institute does not. (The Cato Institute supports abolishing the Department of Education.)

5) The Heritage Foundation supports federal government spending on energy, the Cato Institute does not. (The Cato Institute supports abolishing the Department of Energy.)

6) The Heritage Foundation supports a moratorium on further federal purchases of land, the Cato Institute advocates selling all federal lands.

7) The Heritage Foundation supports the War on Drugs, the Cato Institute does not.

I'm sure I could easily name at least a dozen more significant differences between the policies of the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. It doesn't argue well for argue Dr. DeLong's economic awareness that he doesn't seem to know the difference between the two.

By the way, these opinion pieces, by various members of the Cato Institute, mention Paul Krugman:

http://www.cato.org/dailys/taylor-022101.html

http://www.socialsecurity.org/dailys/07-03-02.html

http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj16n1-12.html

Lest the fans here of Paul Krugman (a lot of them around here, I reckon ;-)) not make it to the end of the third piece, William Niskanen writes:

"For too long, there seemed to be a negative relation between an economist's writing ability and the quality of his analysis. Galbraith, Heilbroner, and Thurow, for example, are more widely read than most Noble laureates. Krugman is one of the few exceptions to this pattern, a creative writer and a brilliant analyst. He is not always right (see my review of his Peddling Prosperity in the Cato Journal, Vol.14, No. 2), and he can be as arrogant when he is wrong as when he is right. The only hesitant note in this book is a concern that other people may have taken Krugman's own exposition of strategic trade theory too seriously. For the issues addressed in this book, however, Krugman is right where all too many others, including some economists, are wrong."

That seems like a pretty even-handed assessment, to me.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on November 26, 2002 04:07 PM

Krugman's no more shrill than he ever was.

Posted by: Atrios on November 26, 2002 04:49 PM

I think he suffers a bit under the tight time and space constraints he faces at the NYT. While he is both a fine writer and superb economic analyst (tho also, as the Cato piece hinted, insufferably arrogant), I thought his slighlty longer pieces for Slate and others were much more interesting and thoughtful. Yes, most of his points are correct - but his tone has lapsed into shrillness.

Posted by: derrida derider on November 26, 2002 05:00 PM

Peter vM wrote, "I'm a big Krugman fan from his pre-NYT phase. Unfortunately he has become shrill at the NYT, leaning on prefabricated arguments about Republican policy being uniformly mendacious, cynical and dumb. Tom Friedman is more like the 'old' Krugman - objective, insightful, and keeps his partisan leanings out of his analysis."

Wait---you mean to tell me that Republican policy is NOT "mendacious, cynical and dumb"? LOL!!

Tom Friedman---sometimes he has something good to say, but he's a fool who often doesn't know what he writes about. Like the way he took Y2K so seriously, or equates a growing economy with the number of cell phones in use. He's the quintessential example of the foreign correspondent become a columnist. (A really funny parody of TF, which I recommend to all, even those who are fond of him, can be found at
http://www.prospect.org/print/V11/13/devil5.html
)

Best,

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on November 26, 2002 05:46 PM

Dear Mr Bahner wrote:

"Brad DeLong writes, "People I know at places like Heritage and Cato think that it's academic snobbery that keeps their work from having much weight in the broad intellectual debate about what policy should be..."

Interesting! This statement certainly implies that Dr. DeLong thinks that "places like Heritage and Cato" have the same policies. "

================================

Please go back to the drawing board. Brad's statement at no point implies that the Heritage and Cato advocate the same policies.

of course, that is not your fault, just a slip that might happen to anyone.

Posted by: The Shrill on November 26, 2002 09:04 PM

My 2 questions are:
(1) Who the hell is Daniel Mitchell?
(2) Why would anybody care about anything he has to say.

Posted by: Bobby on November 27, 2002 01:09 AM

It amazes me how many people take Tom Friedman at his own self-evaluation. His level of arrogance easily surpasses Krugman's, though perhaps some people don't notice it because of his pseudo-folksy rhetoric. When you read Friedman on the Middle East, there are apparently only three types of Arabs--

1. Terrorists
2. Fools
3. Educated people who agree with Friedman.

When you read Friedman on globalization, the number of categories shrinks to two--fools and those educated people who agree with Friedman. (They don't necessarily, even when Friedman quotes them favorably. Read Friedman's book and you'd never know that economist Dani Rodrik is a bit more nuanced than Friedman ever is on globalization. ) Several economists seem to have had doubts about IMF policies in the late 90's, but if Friedman has had any changes of mind he has kept them a deep dark secret. As well he should, since anyone as utterly sure of himself as he is can't afford to admit making any mistakes.

Not that Friedman espouses any coherent position . He begins his car and tree book as a Reagan/Thatcherite "there is no alternative" supporter of the "golden straitjacket" who applauds the financial markets for the discipline they impose on governmental policies, and then he turns around and says he is a social democrat.

He isn't always silly, but the problem is that the occasional insights are usually in the same paragraph with a lot of absurdities. It says something about the state of American journalism that this man is so widely respected.

Posted by: Donald Johnson on November 27, 2002 07:05 AM

I gotta beat my dead horse one more time here...

What makes Krugman more partisen than Thomas Sowell? What makes Sowell's popularizations of economic fundamentals for the lay reader less valid than Krugman's?

Both men are columnists with a strong and
admitted bias. Both are degreed economists.
One is easily demonstrated to be a better original worker in their chosen field -- but the competition in question is their SECONDARY field, the over-simplified rhetorically-excessive venue of the newspaper opinion page. Yet Krugman gets so many attacks, and so much praise, that one might think he was the ONLY ECONOMIST IN AMERICA... (tm)

Sometimes he appears to think so, as well.

To troll, I suggest one reason Krugman gets more attention than Sowell is that the former is white,
and the other is -- from Harlem.

What is wrong with the hypothesis?

Posted by: Melcher on November 27, 2002 07:52 AM

Brad DeLong wrote, "People I know at places like Heritage and Cato think that it's academic snobbery that keeps their work from having much weight in the broad intellectual debate about what policy should be..."

I wrote: "Interesting! This statement certainly implies that Dr. DeLong thinks that "places like Heritage and Cato" have the same policies."

The Shrill responded: "Please go back to the drawing board. Brad's statement at no point implies that the Heritage and Cato advocate the same policies."

Dr. DeLong unquestionably implies SOME similarity between Heritage and Cato. Otherwise, why would he write, "like Heritage and Cato"?

How about it, Dr. DeLong:

1) Why is Cato "like" Heritage?, and also

2) What other "places" are "like Heritage and Cato"?

Also,

3) Why is it that "keeps their work from having much weight in the broad intellectual debate about what policy should be..."?

"Their work" involves analyses, and policy recommendations. Why don't the analyses and policy recommendations from the Cato Institute "have much weight in the broad intellectual debate about what policy should be?"

Obviously, "what policy should be" is a matter of opinion. But surely analyses are much more matters of fact: a particular analysis is either accurate or not accurate.

For example, Jerry Taylor, director of Resource Studies at the Cato Institute, provided this analysis of electricity matters in California:

http://www.cato.org/dailys/taylor-022101.html

"But here comes the slick two-step; the demand for electricity is so inelastic in the short run that retail prices, according to Krugman, would have had to go through the roof to reduce consumption enough to head off the California disaster. (If you think you're hearing echoes of the argument against decontrolling oil and gas prices in the late 1970s, you're right). Rate hikes of that magnitude, he says, would be politically unacceptable. So complete deregulation was not and is not an option, and free-market types should quit pretending that they were strong-armed by quasi-socialist politicians back in 1996 when they passed "deregulation" in the form of A.B. 1890."

"And so we have an economic assertion (demand is not responsive to anything short of monstrous retail price spikes) and a political assertion (voters would hang politicians who allowed such a thing to happen). Fortunately, we can test both."

"In August, 2000, rate-payers served by San Diego Gas & Electric were left unprotected by A.B. 1890's retail-price controls because their utility had managed to collect its share of stranded costs (long story; don't ask) before the crisis hit. Retail prices indeed skyrocketed, albeit not as high as wholesale prices would demand to balance supply. Electricity consumption, however, immediately dropped by a whopping 9 percent."

"That was particularly impressive given the near certainty that San Diego's electricity rates would be quickly capped by politicians, as they were but a month later in September. Rate-payers for the most part didn't invest in long-term energy efficiency because they believed (correctly) that the rate hikes would prove temporary. Had they been convinced that those high prices would stay high for some time, even greater demand reductions would have been seen."

There are actually two analyses here: one is of Paul Krugman's views, and another is of a particular empirical economic test. Do you think Mr. Taylor's representation of Dr. Krugman's view is correct? What about the empirical economic test?

Mr Taylor further states:

"Moreover, Krugman's attempt to define retail price decontrol out of political existence stumbles to the extent that targeted decontrol is ignored. For instance, if California simply freed prices for the largest 30 or so power consumers in the state, a huge chunk of demand would be freed up without subjecting Granny to the horrors of the free market. Electricity economists such UC Berkeley's Severin Borenstein argues that this alone would halt the meltdown."

Is this a correct representation of Severin Borenstein's position? And is it a valid analysis of the electrical demand in Califoria?

Posted by: Mark Bahner on November 27, 2002 09:16 AM

Heritage and Cato are both perceived as doctrinaire, single-viewpoint institutions. The fact that they each have very different viewpoints is not relevant to this particular conversation. One could put several "leftist" institutions on the same list. The issue is whether it is "academic snobbery" or something else that prevents their research from being taken seriously outisde their own rabid whatever-it-is-ist camp. I'd agree with Prof. DeLong that it's something else--an unhealthy adherence to a single doctrine tends to limit independent thought.

Posted by: Peter MacLeod on November 27, 2002 11:44 AM

Actually, the California energy crisis gives a good example of Brad’s points about both Krugman and Cato.

First of all, the article from a Cato Institute author excerpted above does something of a two step of its own. It takes Krugman to task for claiming that total price decontrol in the electricity market is not feasible. But to back up that claim, it cites examples of partial price decontrol, neither of which have much to do with Krugman’s original point.

Moreover, the events that have happened since that article was written (Feb 2001) pretty much show that Krugman was right.

Back when the energy crisis hit, Krugman noted that the particular conditions created by California’s flawed deregulation scheme turned normal economic logic on its head. He argued that in this case, actual economic theory (as opposed to the ultra free market ideology peddled by Cato and others) predicted that electricity producers might actually be ably to increase their profits by withholding supply. He also noted that there was strong circumstantial evidence that this was in fact what electricity producers were doing. Therefore he argued that the immediate solution to the crisis should be should be the imposition of a price cap, because that would take away the incentive for producers to withhold.
He was also careful to note that this was a special situation and that in most other cases, imposing a price cap would only exacerbate scarcity.

For writing this, Krugman was roundly criticized. Here’s another quote from the same Cato article:

“Thanks to insinuations by economists who ought to know better, polls show that most Californians think that the price spike is entirely attributable to the rapacious avarice of Western power generators.”

But guess what? When price caps finally were imposed, the shortages disappeared instead of getting worse. And later investigations unearthed memos showing that Krugman’s suspicions were right: electricity generators had been intentionally withholding supply.

This was an occasion when Krugman was practically the only person in the pundit universe who understood and could cogently explain what was going on. That’s why he’s important, shrillness aside.

Posted by: RC on November 27, 2002 01:27 PM

"Heritage and Cato are both perceived as doctrinaire, single-viewpoint institutions. The fact that they each have very different viewpoints is not relevant to this particular conversation."

Well, that's interesting. Because if the subject is the "broad intellectual debate about what policy should be"...and very different policy recommendations are "irrelevant"...then I'd say the debate isn't very "broad" or "intellectual"! How can one have a "broad intellectual debate about what policy should be" if two completely different viewpoints and/or recommendations are "irrelevant"?

"One could put several "leftist" institutions on the same list."

One could, could one? Does one care to name any "leftist" institutions that belong on "the same list?"

"The issue is whether it is "academic snobbery" or something else that prevents their research from being taken seriously outisde their own rabid whatever-it-is-ist camp."

So, in this "broad intellectual debate about what policy should be"...certain institutions' analyses "aren't taken seriously" regardless of what the analyses are, or what is recommended? Again, this doesn't seem like a very "broad intellectual discussion about what policy should be" to me!

"I'd agree with Prof. DeLong that it's something else--an unhealthy adherence to a single doctrine tends to limit independent thought."

That sounds like a perfect description of those who mindlessly disregard research and policy recommendations (even if those policy recommendations are completely opposite!) on the basis of *who* is doing the research.

I'm not an economist. And I'm not a scientist. (I'm better...I'm an engineer! ;-)) But I know enough about science to know that, if the study of economics has any claim to being "science," then economists should be totally disregarding *who* is doing the research. Who it is that is making a claim is irrelevent in true science. In true science, all that matters is The Truth.

For example, the fact that Jerry Taylor doesn't have a PhD in economics is irrelevant to whether his various analyses of the electricity situation in California were correct. Mr. Taylor's analyses are either right or wrong, completely independent of his background or point of view.

Just as it made no difference in physics that a patent clerk published three seminal physics papers...including one on the photoelectric effect (for which he won the Nobel Prize), and another developing the Special Theory of Relativity.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on November 27, 2002 02:17 PM

'Dr. DeLong unquestionably implies SOME similarity between Heritage and Cato. Otherwise, why would he write, "like Heritage and Cato"?'

Yes, he did: both 'think that it's academic snobbery that keeps their work from having much weight.' Note this is not equivalent to "Heritage and Cato have similar economic views."

Thank you for contributing such an err, illuminating data point to the discussion.

'Who it is that is making a claim is irrelevent in true science.'

This assumes the transaction costs for acquiring and evaluating information are zero; they certainly aren't. There's a good reason people filter out those who have a history of misrepresentation, lots of incorrect predictions, or, to a lesser extent, a lack of qualifications.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on November 27, 2002 02:47 PM

Energy crisis, Argentine Currency Peg, Japanese Deflation, Social Security Privitazation, Tax Cuts for the Wealthiest....

"These were among the occasions when Paul Krugman was practically the only person in the pundit universe who both understood and could cogently explain what was going on. That’s why he’s important, shrillness aside."

What a truly wonderful social-economist and writer.

Posted by: on November 28, 2002 12:47 PM

Mark,

Your arguments are well-made, but Jason's trump them. Further, if you look at the "evidence" Heritage uses (I can't speak with any authority on Cato) in their writings on NMD, for example, you'll find that they footnote themselves an awful lot, and that they tend to say the same thing no matter what.

Fortunately, I know from firsthand experience that at least some Republican senators' staffs toss out Heritage mailings without reading them...

Posted by: Paul on November 28, 2002 10:53 PM

From a UK perspective, Paul Krugman's Peddling Prosperity, published in 1995, was regarded as verging on right-wing by leftist colleagues due to its sceptical take down of national industrial policies and trade management strategies.

A collection of essays by academics and industrialists sympathetic to Tony Blair and New Labour, published here under the title: Promoting Prosperity, was intended as something of an undeclared riposte. In the event, after some early wobbling, the industry policy of Blair's government has become conspicuously non-interventionist in terms of proping up ailing industries or promoting national champions. When subject to mounting vocal criticism over the strength of the Pound in relation to the Euro, the government explicitly stated it had no intention of intervening in the foreign exchange market to manage a depreciation. Tony Blair is now more likely to be condemned by the vociferous left for being Thatcherite. Indeed, comparison with the record of substantial financial aids channelled into Britain's auto and mining industries by Mrs Tatcher's governments, Tony Blair's government is hugely less interventionist than hers was. Methinks Paul Krugman made some covert converts to his cause over here.

If we are now to believe he was really a subversive crypto doctrinaire leftist all along, I can only wonder just what sort of political label to append to activist trade policies such as the recent increase in subsidies for agriculture and the hike in tariffs on US steel imports which had been declining anyway.

Posted by: Bob Briant on November 30, 2002 06:02 AM

Jason writes, "Your arguments are well-made, but Jason's trump them."

Jason's arguments only trump mine, if the deck is stacked. ;-) Jason's arguments are completely specious (throw in a clever phrase like "transaction costs" and..."Whoa! Good point!"). His arguments are specious for at least the following 4 reasons:

1) There is no "transaction" occurring, in the sense that money will be exchanged, if someone is right or wrong. For example, if the Cato Institute (or Jason, or Brad DeLong) offered $100 to prove that their position was invalid, THEN there would truly be a transaction occurring. And if Jason or Brad DeLong (or Cato Institute) thought it would take 100's of hours to get that $100, they could reasonably make a case that "The transaction costs are too high to get that $100." But since no money is being offered (by Cato, OR by those who disagree with Cato) ANY effort (even 5 minutes) would produce a result where the "transaction cost" exceeded the monetary gain (since the monetary gain is zero).

2) To a TRUE scientist, The Truth is such a huge non-monetary benefit, that the TRUE scientist is willing to engage in transaction costs that far exceed any monetary benefit. I recall (though not clearly) the case of a physicist who made a $10 bet (or maybe it was $5, or $20) with Steven Hawking, about some obscure question of physics (or astronomy, or cosmology). They went back and forth for 10 years (or 5, or 15)...and then, finally, Steven Hawking sent the guy a $10 bill, with a note agreeing that the other guy was right. The physicist (whose name escaped me) then FRAMED the $10 bill, and the note from Steven Hawking. In other words, the effective reward for 10 years work was ZERO dollars, because the physicist framed the bill. That demonstrates that, to the TRUE scientist, acknowledgement that they are *right* far exceeds even extensive transaction costs. TRUE scientists live to be *right,* (to know The Truth), not to be wealthy.

3) Once again, there must be SOME cases where the Cato Institute and Brad DeLong (and Jason McCullough) are in complete agreement. In that case, there would be no "transaction cost" necessary. Brad DeLong (or Jason McCullough) wouldn't spend hours and hours trying to find fault with the Cato Institute's positions, if they already agreed with those positions.

4) There must also be SOME cases where Brad DeLong (or Jason McCullough) could identify mistakes in the Cato Institute's arguments without any real effort. For example, Paul Krugman recently wrote an editorial on New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), as well as general Bush Administration policy on the environment. Well, that's something *I* know a little about (being an environmental engineer). One thing Dr. Krugman said was that the Bush Adminstration should have issued CO2 (carbon dioxide, a "greenhouse" gas) regulations for utilities. *I* know that such regulations would have been unconstitutional, because the Clean Air Act does NOT authorize the executive branch to issue regulations on CO2. (CO2 is not considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, as presently written.) My ability to address that error (maybe it wasn't an error...it's possible that Dr. Krugman doesn't care whether the Executive Branch follows the Constitution) to no time (i.e., involved no "transaction cost").

Those are 4 reasons (I'm sure I could come up with more) why Jason McCullough is wrong. Once again, TRUE scientists will "pay any cost, bear any burden" to establish that THEY are right. (Or to find out that they are wrong. Because that's what matters to a TRUE scientist...The Truth.)

Mark Bahner

P.S. Shameless plug: My personal website is http://pages.prodigy.net/mark.bahner. So far, it contains an almost-complete discussion of global warming. More environmental issues will follow.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 1, 2002 09:41 AM

Oh, and one more thing ;-) :

This whole conversation got started because:

1) Daniel Mitchell of the Heritage Foundation characterized Paul Krugman as, "sort of a doctrinaire, left-wing, big-government type."

2) This apparently annoyed and offended Dr. DeLong, and he characterized Mitchell as an "idiot." Then Dr. DeLong wrote, "People I know at places like Heritage and Cato think..."

3) Which annoyed and offended *me.* (Though I apologize that my expression of annoyance and offense may have itself been offensive.)

4) I'm still annoyed that Dr. DeLong included the Cato Institute in his "like Heritage" criticism. Why did Dr. DeLong include the Cato Institute? Has Daniel Mitchell ever worked at the Cato Institute? Alternately, what has the Cato Institute ever said about Paul Krugman (or Brad DeLong) that would cause the Cato Institute to be grouped with Daniel Mitchell and the Heritage Foundation?

5) Once again, the Cato Institute is a LIBERTARIAN organization, not a conservative organization. Brad DeLong defends Paul Krugman by noting that Paul Krugman has attacked "market-unfriendly Democrats." But, that is certainly no more true of Paul Krugman versus Democrats, as the Cato Institute versus anti-free-market (and anti-free-trade, and anti-free-immigration, and anti-social-freedom) Republicans. In fact, I challenge anyone to go to the Cato Institute website, and to count the opinion pieces where the Cato Institute has supported Bush Administration policies, versus opposed them. Like I mentioned previously, the Cato Institute has very clearly: 1) opposed going to war with Iraq, 2) opposed steel quotas, 3) opposed agricultural subsidies, and 4) opposed the War on Some Drugs. They have also: 5) opposed the "Patriot Act", 6) opposed "Total Information Awareness", 7) opposed federal involvement in abortion (such as a federal ban on partial birth abortion), etc. etc. etc.

The Cato Institute, since its founding 25+ years ago, has unwaveringly been committed to, in their words, "advancing liberty." "Advancing liberty" ought to be something every "liberal" supports. The fact that modern (faux) "liberals" generally do NOT support "advancing liberty" is a flaw in modern "liberals." (Perhaps, "bizarro-liberals" would be a better term?)

Mark Bahner (REAL liberal)

P.S. No one should assume, based on this, that I agree with everything the Cato Institute says. They make mistakes, just like everyone. And I completely support people who point those mistakes out. I do NOT support simply ignoring what they write, if one is truly committed to a "broad intellectual debate of what policy should be."

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 1, 2002 12:21 PM

Oops. That "steel quotas" should have been "steel tariffs"...as in the punitive steel tariffs that were approved by the Bush Adminstration.

Note: I happened to watch C-Span right before the Bush Adminstration approved those tariffs. There was a large pro-tariff demonstration outside the White House, at which various members of Congress demanded that the Bush Administration support those steel tariffs. I remember one Republican spoke, and all the rest--maybe 4 or 5--that I saw were Democrats.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 1, 2002 12:27 PM

'There is no "transaction" occurring, in the sense that money will be exchanged, if someone is right or wrong.'

Is your time worth $0/hour? Mine isn't.

Congratulations on not getting the point, though. Just because you agree with someone doesn't make them a reliable source, either.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 1, 2002 05:10 PM

I'm still annoyed that Dr. DeLong included the Cato Institute in his "like Heritage" criticism.

You should be more annoyed with your inability to parse the sentence, actually. Prof DeLong could have quite legitimately replaced either 'Heritage' or 'Cato' with 'Brookings', were he to believe that it's to be classed among those institutions that 'think that it's academic snobbery that keeps their work from having much weight in the broad intellectual debate about what policy should be.' The ideological posture matters not a jot; the shared persecution complex is the agent of 'likeness'.

You've ridden your libertarian hobby-horse into the ground, sir, like many of your ilk. Alas, you may need to saddle your grammarian waltzer, once you've grown out of Atlas Shrugged.

Posted by: nick sweeney on December 2, 2002 01:31 PM

"Prof DeLong could have quite legitimately replaced either 'Heritage' or 'Cato' with 'Brookings', were he to believe that it's to be classed among those institutions that 'think that it's academic snobbery that keeps their work from having much weight in the broad intellectual debate about what policy should be.'"

He could have, if he wasn't a "liberal." But since he's a "liberal," he wouldn't put Brookings in with Heritage.

Since he hasn't ever responded to my question of why he threw in the Cato Institute, I assume it was completely reflexive on his part. Heritage and Cato, Cato and Heritage. They're both the "same," to him.

A guy from Heritage criticized Paul Krugman in a way that Dr. DeLong thought inappropriate, so Dr. DeLong struck back...but reflexively threw in the Cato Institute. Even though, as I've shown from many posts, they aren't the "same" in that, 1) Cato's positions are sometimes 100% opposite to Heritage's positions, and 2) perhaps more importantly, writers at Cato have commented with respect about Paul Krugman...even when they completely disagree with him.

"The ideological posture matters not a jot;..."

Yeah, right! What a joke! I'll bet you also think Dan Rather shows no bias in his reporting.

"You've ridden your libertarian hobby-horse into the ground, sir, like many of your ilk. Alas, you may need to saddle your grammarian waltzer, once you've grown out of Atlas Shrugged."

Never read the book. (Well, a couple of paragraphs. I thought she badly needed an editor.) I'll wait for the movie. :-)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 3, 2002 03:54 PM

I wrote, 'There is no "transaction" occurring, in the sense that money will be exchanged, if someone is right or wrong.'

To which Jason McCullough "responded," "Is your time worth $0/hour? Mine isn't."

That's not even a logical response to my original statement. My point was that no "transaction" was occurring...not that no costs were involved.

If an economist is a REAL scientist, he doesn't think of what his time is worth, if there is a question of "What is The Truth?" involved. That was demonstrated by Steven Hawking and the physicist whose name escapes me. They didn't care how much time it took to find The Truth, or how little monetary reward was involved. The only cared about The Truth.

"Congratulations on not getting the point, though."

You ought not be sarcastic...especially when YOU are the one not getting the points. I understand you perfectly.

"Just because you agree with someone doesn't make them a reliable source, either."

I never said it did. What I *did* say was that it takes essentially no time to rebut a point of view, if one agrees with it in the first place. And it takes essentially no time to evaluate an analysis, if the analysis is merely saying things one already knows to be either true or false.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 3, 2002 04:04 PM

I'll bet you also think Dan Rather shows no bias in his reporting.

That's utterly beside the point; the issue is your continued problem with parsing the English language.

Posted by: nick sweeney on December 4, 2002 05:58 PM

Why does the post begin by limiting the timeframe?

>>You know, between 1980 and 2000 Paul Krugman spent...<<

It's Krugman's NYT columns, post-2000, that have caused him to be criticized as a "doctrinaire, left-wing, big-government type." Maybe the critics should also add "but he did interesting work in the past." But that doesn't mean the criticism is wrong.

Posted by: Ken Silber on December 9, 2002 11:41 AM

I wrote, "I'll bet you also think Dan Rather shows no bias in his reporting."

Nick Sweeney replied, "That's utterly beside the point; the issue is your continued problem with parsing the English language."

I can parse the English language just fine, thank you. The problem is the hypocrisy of "liberals"--faux liberals, ala Dan Rather...and Paul Krugman, and Brad DeLong--who pretend that they are alone are unbiased and "broadly intellectual," while those whose opinions they don't share are not.

Mr. Sweeney writes that Brad DeLong could have "could have quite legitimately replaced either 'Heritage' or 'Cato' with 'Brookings',..."

But Mr. Sweeney doesn't acknowledge that Dr. DeLong wouldn't include Brookings in with Heritage and Cato, for the simple fact that Brookings agrees with Dr. DeLong's worldview much more than Heritage or Cato.

Dr. DeLong makes a big deal about how Paul Krugman has opposed Democratic policies almost as much as he has opposed Republican policies...while obviously discounting that the Cato Institute has been equally, if not more, even-handed in opposition to Republican and Democratic policies.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 9, 2002 02:25 PM

Yes Brad that is the Krugman I know. His International and Macro econ was seminal to shucking my leftish view of world economics. Ignorance is bliss for the anti-globalisers and Krugman will lead you from that darkness if you take the time to understand what he is saying. Reading him I never once thought "left" or "right", just that it made such perfect sense.

Posted by: Drew Yallop on December 9, 2002 09:27 PM

"Reading him I never once thought "left" or "right", just that it made such perfect sense."

I don't see how one could read his opinions on Social Security, or income distribution in the U.S., without thinking "left."

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/20/magazine/20INEQUALITY.html?pagewanted=print&position=top

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 10, 2002 09:37 AM
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