Saturday, July 4, 2009
Sharad Karkhanis, Professor Emeritus of Kingsborough Community College, has forwarded the above link.
I have just been on the Yahoo! Group of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New York State (membership group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RLCNY), and I have been debating with someone who aimed to refute Paul Krguman and the New York Times.
There is a link between what the former KGB agent is saying in the above video and the discussion whether or not to pay attention to the New York Times. As the former KGB agent points out, American liberalism is not a rational or pragmatic belief system but rather a programmed ideology. Because it is not reasonable, it is pointless to attempt to argue rationally with the Times or its ideological acolytes, whether academics who advocate socialism after socialism's repeated dismal failures; Keynesianism; or other forms of state-activist liberalism. As the former KGB agent points out, brainwashed ideologues cannot be convinced through evidence or rational argument.
By attempting to refute the New York Times, we give it credence. Yet it does not deserve credence. I start with my concluding comment and work backward.
Mitchell Langbert: The influence of economists is not so great...The main reason Krugman is well known is the New York Times itself. It is a circular process, so you empower him and it by paying attention. Moverover, the only reason that the New York Times has influence is that Republicans continue to read it and pay attention to what it says. If they stopped, then the Times would become just another partisan voice.
There are lots of economists who publish many articles of whom no one has ever heard. Krugman may have some influence with students, but so did many other economists whose ideas have been forgotten or ignored and whose students forgot them when faced with the realities of the job market and economic events. The repeated failure of the ideas of most (statist) academics has not stopped the current crop from making the same old (failed) arguments. Their chief motivator is power. If the public shows boredom with the Times, et al., and does not pay attention to the nonsensical statist approach that has made inroads this year, the Times will die or change.
Within the past few years there was a takeover attempt by financial interests, but the Ochs Sulzbergers were able to ward them off. The precipitous decline in the newspaper's stock price can be pushed further, and possibly the Times into bankruptcy, which would be a major victory for freedom. Within the past few months the Times has had to obtain a 200 million dollar emergency loan from the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. They can be pushed over the edge. This is not your father's world. The Times can be killed.
I would wager that about 1/4 or more of the Times's readers are from the conservative/small government side. Even if it's only 1/8th, including yourself, a drop in readership from roughly one million to 875 thousand would have a devastating impact on the Times. If conservatives stopped taking them seriously and if Republicans stopped referring to them at all, their influence would be reduced. Partisan sources are not influential. Equally important, they might be subject to a takeover by interests with a different perspective. Even a more moderate perspective would be a major improvement.
The Times is a partisan source, but somehow conservatives and libertarians have been convinced to pay attention to them. There may have been a time when their quality was good enough to warrant the attention, but that time is long past. With the advent of the Internet, the Times is facing a major extinction event that conservatives delay by paying attention to them.
The Times has enjoyed a faux reputation as an accurate newspaper and a representative of mainstream views. It is neither. If a large segment drops it, then its claim to objectivity and to being an influence on mainstream opinion is less credible. And if Republicans scorn it or ignore it, not argue with it as though it has a voice of importance and integrity, but scorn it as the fraud that it is, then its influence will end. Which it, as a fringe voice, deserves.
Let's reverse the situation. Do big government types read each issue of "National Review" or the von Mises website and argue with them? Does the New York Times regularly present the Cato Institute's arguments and dispute them? I don't think so. They simply do not pay attention. They characterize the American liberal view as fringe. They win victory by not acknowledging the alternative views and arguing with them, but disparaging them. That is how the two party system has become two versions of state-activist "liberalism": the Times has defined conservatism as the Rockefeller-T Roosevelt-Straussian view, and "liberalism" as the FDR-Obama view, and has ignored the American view. If the Times ignores us, why should we pay attention to them?
There are thousands of economists who disagree with Krugman yet do not get any coverage. The coverage is what gives him influence. And by paying attention to the coverage, conservatives make the coverage possible. If the conservatives laugh at the Times, it will no longer have authority.
Ultimately social science is a smoke and mirrors scheme. There is no interest in what works, only what increases the power of the ruling group, the military industrial complex and the special interests that the Times and Krugman represent. Their arguments need not be taken seriously. They are ideology and can be safely ignored, with no loss in intellectual rigor. So why bother arguing with frauds?
I should not have limited my last post to the NY Times. The main issue at hand is not the considerable damage that rag has done to our nation, though if anything that is all the more reason to refute rather than ignore it. My father knew in the late 1950’s who the real Castro was from reading Robert Welch; rather than ignore the NY Times as they praised Castro, he was able to point out to friends the stark contrast between the truth and the lies on its pages. By doing so, he did his part to erode its influence.
The main issue is not the exact number of millions of readers the print edition of the NY Times reaches either; the circulation of its print version hardly defines its influence. I skim its headlines daily online, as I am sure millions more do, and as the ideas are digested and influence the thinking of those millions, the effects ripple outward through myriad channels.
The main issue is the original contention that we should not concern ourselves with Paul Krugman. Lets’ assume, merely for arguments sake, that the NY Times is “fringe” and inconsequential. Krugman’s influence is hardly limited to readers of the Times. He is a major economist and perhaps one of our most influential intellectual foes.
Krugman is one of the most widely read and influential economists in the world today. He has written many widely read books and edited even more than he has written. He has written hundreds of papers and articles that are published all over the world. He has written for Fortune, Slate, The Harvard Business Review, Foreign Policy, The Economist, Harper's, and Washington Monthly and had his articles and ideas published, reprinted, or otherwise disseminated in countless others, from the Huffington Post and USA today to Newsweek . And that’s just print media CNN, MSNBC
Students have been infected with Krugman’s economic virus in his classes at MIT, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and the London School of Economics. He won the Nobel Prize for Economics. He is a Fellow or Associate or prominent member of a variety of groups and organizations. He has advised the Federal Reserve. If this thumbnail sketch isn’t enough to deem him worthy of refutation, consider that his influence hardly stops at our borders. He has the ear of the World Bank, the IMF, and the UN, as well as other nations. The Asia Times and The Economist have both noted his influence, and the King of Spain gave him an award. (Speaking of awards, how many has he won, including the Nobel Peace Prize?)
Krugman is a dangerous enemy and, as such, we must keep a close eye on him; he must be met head to head, toe to toe, issue by issue, point-by-point.
Last thought: I don’t consider the Libertarian Party “fringe” because of its tiny influence in elections. Our ideas are exponentially more influential than our total votes. While we may only garner a few precious percent nationally, look at the major strides we made in this last election with Ron Paul carrying the ball. Without that effort, we would never have been able to garner support for auditing the Federal Reserve. We are at war. We must renew our spirits and redouble our efforts now, while words can me our most effective weapon. Fight on compatriots!
Why bother concerning ourselves about Paul Krugman? We're at a point where attention paid to the Times and its writers merely serves to empower them. They don't need to be debunked any more than a writer for the ACORN or AFL-CIO newsletters, or any other partisan group. The best policy toward the Times is to forget its existence and to regard anyone who refers to it as a crank or a flake.
1) Krugman's Intellectual Waterloo
2) Related resources:
One of the links in the von Mises article is to an excellent list of Krugman quotes arguing for the Fed to inflate a housing bubble: Krugman Did Cause the Housing Bubble (url:http://blog.mises.org/archives/010153.asp).
One of the comments under that blog adds another example of Krugman Gnawing on His Foot (NY Times 8/2/02) (url: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/02/opinion/dubya-s-double-dip.html): "To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.
Another comments links to: Reason Magazine: "Dr. Krugman: This Patient Needs More Blood-letting" - Comment by "Ben" (url: http://www.reason.com/blog/show/134131.html#1305886), which is worth the read just for this Vintage Inflation Propaganda Clip (10:00 min) and the comments under it.
While I can't stand Krugman, he is an actual economist and not a journalist. He
won a Nobel prize for something that was sensible on location factors in trade,
not nonsense. As he is influential, it pays to be aware of what he says. He is
not a fringe, marginal figure.
I made a narrow escape from Krugman. I dated his sister-in-law years ago.
Imagine if things had developed and I would have to talk to him.