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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

End this depression I

I'm going to take a slightly different approach to reviewing Paul Krugman's latest book, End This Depression Now!.  Ever since writing TIA, I have found it frustrating to read a book, accurately summarize the arguments it contains, critique those arguments, and then find myself addressing various complaints about my summaries and critiques from those who readily admit they have not read the book.  This is particularly annoying because the percentage of people who actually bother to read a book appears to be a small fraction of those who are interested in discussing its contents and its implications.

So, instead of writing a general review and critiquing the summarized arguments, what I'm going to with this book is systematically highlight the 16 sections that I bookmarked and identify the specific claims being made as well as any fundamental flaws I believe are thereby revealed.  This approach should make it easier for people to understand exactly what Krugman has written and reduce any derailing of the discussion on the basis of the supposed inaccuracy of my summaries.  One could, if one liked, also consider this a 101 level course on Krugmanomics.

In Chapter Two, Depression Economics, Krugman explains his thesis:
"The central message of all this work is that this doesn’t have to be happening. In that same essay Keynes declared that the economy was suffering from “magneto trouble,” an old-­fashioned term for problems with a car’s electrical system. A more modern and arguably more accurate analogy might be that we’ve suffered a software crash. Either way, the point is that the problem isn’t with the economic engine, which is as powerful as ever. Instead, we’re talking about what is basically a technical problem, a problem of organization and coordination—a “colossal muddle,” as Keynes put it. Solve this technical problem, and the economy will roar back to life.

Now, many people find this message fundamentally implausible, even offensive. It seems only natural to suppose that large problems must have large causes, that mass unemployment must be the result of something deeper than a mere muddle. That’s why Keynes used his magneto analogy. We all know that sometimes a $100 battery replacement is all it takes to get a stalled $30,000 car back on the road, and he hoped to convince readers that a similar disproportion between cause and effect can apply to depressions. But this point was and is hard for many people, including those who believe themselves well-informed, to accept....

What I hope to do in this chapter is convince you that we do, in fact, have magneto trouble. The sources of our suffering are relatively trivial in the scheme of things, and could be fixed quickly and fairly easily if enough people in positions of power understood the realities. Moreover, for the great majority of people the process of fixing the economy would not be painful and involve sacrifices; on the contrary, ending this depression would be a feel-good experience for almost everyone except those who are politically, emotionally, and professionally invested in wrongheaded economic doctrines....

Think of it this way: suppose that your husband has, for whatever reason, refused to maintain the family car’s electrical system over the years. Now the car won’t start, but he refuses even to consider replacing the battery, in part because that would mean admitting that he was wrong before, and he insists instead that the family must learn to walk and take buses. Clearly, you have a problem, and it may even be an insoluble problem as far as you are concerned. But it’s a problem with your husband, not with the family car, which could and should be easily fixed."
In summary, Krugman is aggressively asserting that the problems with the U.S. economy are trivial, technical, and easily solved by the economic equivalent of changing a car battery by people in positions of power.  He sees no serious structural economic problems stemming from the trade deficit, the demographic changes in the population, the educational system, the financial system, the shift to a service economy, or the record levels of public and private debt.  He also expects that the process of fixing it will be close to painless for nearly everyone in the country.  He does not, however, claim that it will be politically easy to solve the problem, in fact, the solution is a political one and primarily concerns overcoming those who are "invested in wrongheaded economic doctrines."

Is everyone clear on this?  Does anyone see any reason to take exception to this summary or claim I am erecting a strawman?  I'll also be interested to know your opinion of whether this approach is effective or not.

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117 Comments:

Anonymous Heh November 20, 2012 6:31 AM  

ending this depression would be a feel-good experience for almost everyone except those who are politically, emotionally, and professionally invested in wrongheaded economic doctrines....

People like... Paul Krugman!

Anonymous Krul November 20, 2012 6:44 AM  

He sees no serious structural economic problems stemming from the trade deficit, the demographic changes in the population, the educational system, the financial system, the shift to a service economy, or the record levels of public and private debt.

If the quoted passage is all I have to go on, then I cannot say for sure that this sentence is true; to do that I would have to see what specifically Paul Krugman means when he says "magneto-problems".

However, I can say based on prior (admittedly limited) knowledge of Mr Krugman's work that he doesn't see a serious problem with "the trade deficit, the demographic changes in the population, the educational system,... the shift to a service economy, or the record levels of public and private debt" (not sure about the financial system although I seem to remember him criticising rich bankers).

All in all, I give it a B+.

Blogger Tracy Coyle November 20, 2012 6:53 AM  

I just started reading Krugman's Conscience of a Liberal and if it is any indication, the pain and suffering you are likely to endure from the effort (a necessary one to ensure Krugman's idiocy is not left unchallenged) might cause permanent damage to your cortex. Thread carefully.

(As my goal with his book is different, I can't recommend your attempt - I was shouting at him in the first paragraph of the introduction and it hasn't stopped...)

Anonymous PeppermintPanda November 20, 2012 7:03 AM  

I would argue that he is right in a way in that the problem in the economy is easy to understand and fix. Unfortunately, I suspect he doesn't see the same problem in the economy that I see ...

Using a vehicle analogy the economy is like a truck pulling a trailer, the truck represents the productive portion of the economy (people who produce goods and services that people willingly purchase) and the trailer represents the unproductive economy (government services, dependents on the state, rent-seeking industries).

In the 1950s we had a big truck and a small trailer so the economy cruised at highway speeds with little difficulty, but today we have a tiny truck (Ford Ranger) pulling a gigantic trailer and in 2008 our rear axel broke. The federal reserve has glued together the axel and the truck is slowly moving again and economists like Krugman are arguing to increasing the size of the trailer.

Anonymous Rosalys November 20, 2012 7:07 AM  

The cure for this economy apparently is to right books with huge colorful words on the cover just telling everybody to STOP!!!!!

Blogger tz November 20, 2012 7:15 AM  

Sounds good. I assume he could find no case in history where his thesis worked.

The depression can be ended in 1 year. Let everyone declare bankruptcy on everything destroying the zombies. It happened in 1920-21, or more specifically they didn't create zombies. Japan has been a zombie economy since 1990.

It is not like a computer that crashed, but one that is damaged and unstable, so if you reboot you will lose your work.

Depressions end when the last debt has been defaulted on, written down, or paid off. Usually some bubble - going back to 1720.

I'm assuming he is recommending MMT. I used to read "naked capitalism" until She had too many MMT articles and they would not debate (e.g. just outlaw bond vigilanties). If so the fundamental flaw is they think products come from the magical transmutation of bills of credit, like 'food comes from the grocery store". No one has to produce anything, we can all just consume, as long as the government sends us more credit.

Anonymous daddynichol November 20, 2012 7:18 AM  

Does Krugman really believe that three multi-billion dollar stimulus spending packages are trivial, the equivalent of changing a battery? Just how big of battery does this economic car require?

OpenID simplytimothy November 20, 2012 7:18 AM  

I have serious doubts that the man pictured in the previous post--the one holding the cat--is capable of changing a car battery or identifying a magneto on an engine.

Anonymous DrTorch November 20, 2012 7:22 AM  

I just got stupider for having read four paragraphs from Krugman. Damn you Vox Day.

Anonymous zen0 November 20, 2012 7:41 AM  

Krugman just castrated his own argument. If the problem is in the magneto, it doesn't matter what size or amount of batteries you use, the spark will not be generated.

That is, more money will not fix the problem.

Either way, all he cares about is denigrating the family structure because he is evil.

Be that as it may, I hope Vox's approach works, but I don't have much faith in people's ability to be presented with clarity and not attempt to concoct some cockamamie b.s. to muddy it up.

Anonymous Speaker November 20, 2012 7:41 AM  

I don't see any strawman. This approach does seem to be highly efficient in building a case against krugmanomics from the bottom up rather than criticizing specific points.

Anonymous MendoScot November 20, 2012 7:49 AM  

Alternatively - Daddy was unhappy with the old car's declining performance so he added nitrous injection. Whee!

After a while, there wasn't so much bang for your buck and a little vibration had appeared.

Well, if a little nitrous is good, more must be better, right? Let's ramp that baby up! Just ignore the funny noises coming from under the hood...

Anonymous asdf November 20, 2012 7:51 AM  

When I read Ender's Game I didn't grow up and think I was Ender Wiggin. However, it appears Krugmen read The Foundation Trilogy and grew up thinking he was a "psychohistorian".

Anonymous Tallen November 20, 2012 7:53 AM  

I think there will be just as much confusion, feigned or real, no matter how you go about writing your book. Hooking up a car battery to Krugman's shrunken balls would be more effective.

Anonymous The Great Martini November 20, 2012 7:54 AM  

I will not attempt to say that Krugman is correct, only possibly lodge an objection regarding the direction I think you're taking in opposing it. If the actual problem with the economy is as structural as you seem to be suggesting, how is it that Bush was reelected in 2004 on an apparently strong economy and yet by 2009 the economy was, on the face of things, falling apart? If what Krugman describes isn't fundamentally true that would mean that in the space of four or five years, fully all of the influences you describe would have had to go from inception to full effect. This is why what Krugman describes (the "magneto" effect) has intuitive appeal.

Anonymous VD November 20, 2012 7:57 AM  

If the actual problem with the economy is as structural as you seem to be suggesting, how is it that Bush was reelected in 2004 on an apparently strong economy and yet by 2009 the economy was, on the face of things, falling apart?

Wait and see. Or if you prefer the TL;DR version, you're incorrect in the direction I'm taking it. The economy wasn't strong in 2004. After all, how could I have been on record warning about a complete structural failure back in 2002 if I believed it was?

Anonymous tdm November 20, 2012 8:05 AM  

"Is everyone clear on this?"

Yes. As for this approach working, I don't think it will. It seems everyone already has their mind made up, not on the reality of things but for a variety of reasons I'm not able to identify. This is one of the reasons I read this site.

Anonymous scoobius dubious November 20, 2012 8:17 AM  

"how is it that Bush was reelected in 2004 on an apparently strong economy and yet by 2009 the economy was, on the face of things, falling apart?"

I don't think Bush was re-elected on the basis of the economy (which even in 2004 was all smoke and mirrors to anyone paying attention.) I think he was re-elected because there was a war on, people are reluctant to change war-leaders if they can avoid it, and his opponent was a gigantic douchebag. It's a paradox: Bush in my view was the most evil, incompetent, ignorant, despicable and destructive president in American history; but Kerry was a plain ol' douchebag, and that is an easier thing for people to see, so they voted on that.

Anonymous Krul November 20, 2012 8:17 AM  

In any case, this approach is a very good idea. Anyone who takes exception to your summation will have the source prose right in front of them, and will have to provide their own interpretation.

The only alternative would be for the objector to provide their own quotes from another part of the book, which would require actually reading it.

Anonymous 691 November 20, 2012 8:20 AM  

He sees no serious structural economic problems stemming from the trade deficit, the demographic changes in the population, the educational system, the financial system, the shift to a service economy, or the record levels of public and private debt.

At least in this passage, he makes no mention of any of these topics. And I don't think his argument necessarily implies that he sees no serious structural economic problems. Just that any serious structural problems would not prevent a recovery in the short term. There could be other long term issues with the car but nothing that prevents it running right now.

Anonymous Bob Ramar November 20, 2012 8:31 AM  

Mr. Krugman wrote the book for a couple of reasons, in my opinion, some of them having to do with economics.
1. He needs money and a publisher was foolish enough to agree to a contract with an advance.
2. He needs to buttress his reputation as a cutting edge economist. He is, after all, a Nobel prize winner (sigh).
3. He 'really' believes this stuff and/or is willfully ignorant of the greater forces at work in the economy, both macro and micro.
We have three potential paths forward for the US economy I believe. We continue to muddle through with just enough improvement in the government spending/debt side of things to avoid debacle (as described next); we buck up, cut spending drastically and raise taxes to pay down the debt (public and private) and clean up balance sheets (which I think is about as unlikely as discovering palm trees growing in Labrador); or the fed eliminates or fouls up whatever is keeping monetary inflationary forces at bay triggering a hyperinflation in the US which will be quickly followed by a whole bunch of people finding their way to Washington with torches and pitchforks looking for the culprits.

Anonymous aero November 20, 2012 8:31 AM  

In aviation It is well known that when you have a compound problems occur well flying your chances of surviving are slim.
What Krugman fails to understand that a depression is not caused by one thing going wrong but many thing going wrong.
What causes an aircraft to have compound failures is a poor maintenance system. The same thing can be said about an economy that is always having recessions and depressions. The economic system he follows is a failure

Krugman is driving his old car through gangland Chicago when the magneto fails and pulls his junker off to the side of the road. While sitting there the residents not only stripe his car they strip him and ate his pussy. Then the police arrest him for indecent exposure and find him for leaving his junk on the side of the road. While in jail he is probed by many wannabe TSA agents. This all happen because the government took 91% of his money which kept him from maintaining his car or buying a new car.

Krugman now has to take public transportation which is never on time because of maintenance problems and government union strikes. While waiting he is robbed,striped and probed by the TSA agents running security.

Krugman no longer has his car but he still thinks he should buy a new magneto for it.

Anonymous onejohn512 November 20, 2012 8:34 AM  

By Krugman's logic the relative cost of an alternator $150. (modern equivalent of a magneto) to the cost of a car $22k is ~ .7% or .007 as a factor. This would mean we'll need about a 98 Billion dollar stimulus to get a 14.7 Trillion dollar economy going again.

Anonymous scoobius dubious November 20, 2012 8:35 AM  

"This is particularly annoying because the percentage of people who actually bother to read a book appears to be a small fraction of those who are interested in discussing its contents and its implications."

See, I find that I am with the great J.L. Borges on this topic --- why bother to read a book, or indeed why bother even to write a book, when you can just do an imaginary summary and get all the relevant information from an imaginary review of an imaginary book?

Granted if you're talking about a topic which requires painstaking details in order to establish an argument (which rules out a great deal of modern humanities), then you're probably out of luck. But for fuck's sake, we're talking about _economics_ here --- it's practically Harry Potter territory, you can pretty much spout off anything at all (and Krugman always does) and who can gainsay you?

Krugman I'm afraid can be dismissed prima facie -- I don't need to know what he thinks about anything, any more than I need to know what Harry Stephen Keeler is going to tell me about The Curse of the Revolving Porcelain Clown, or whatever the hell he was babbling about. In fact if anybody ever took the time (dear God I pray they don't) to explore Harry Stephen Keeler with care, they'd probably find much better economic theories embedded there than in Krugman.

Gojira, please!! when are you finally going to visit us for good?!?!

Anonymous onejohn512 November 20, 2012 8:44 AM  

Vox, should have said first that your approach is good. And thank you again for all your work.

Blogger W.LindsayWheeler November 20, 2012 8:52 AM  

VD, your quote of Krugman was too long! I know, I know, more biased critique! (sarcasm). I got it with the first paragraph. Yes, the man is a bloody idiot. He is trying to give cover to the globalist play scheme. Free Trade, the liberal welfare state, He can't face those. He must find "another solution" to protect these leftist policies that ARE the source of our economic malaise.

Anonymous VD November 20, 2012 8:52 AM  

At least in this passage, he makes no mention of any of these topics. And I don't think his argument necessarily implies that he sees no serious structural economic problems. Just that any serious structural problems would not prevent a recovery in the short term.

Really? Did you miss this bit? "[T]he point is that the problem isn’t with the economic engine, which is as powerful as ever."

Anonymous Vic November 20, 2012 8:53 AM  

" We all know that sometimes a $100 battery replacement is all it takes to get a stalled $30,000 car back on the road"

It is unlikely that the battery can cause a car to stall. It is much more likely that the stall was caused by low system voltage resulting in a dead battery. A running car with a functioning alternator/voltage regulator needs no battery after start up. You can take the battery out of the car while it is running.

It will stall when a bad alternator/regulator fails to keep the system voltage up to spec. You wind up with a spark too weak to light the fire under compression.

Replacing the battery will fix the car for a little while, but the ignition system will eventually drain the new battery if the alternator/voltage problem is not addressed.

You wasted your money on a new battery in this case.

Anonymous ridip November 20, 2012 8:54 AM  

If that excerpt is exemplary, and I have no reason to suspect it is not, his argument appears to be entirely rhetorical.

We have more than one Appeal to Emotion/Ego, "well living in the Information Age and understanding how computers fail, we are already far ahead of Keynes himself with his antiquated 'magneto' metaphors" coupled with "ladies, you wouldn't really marry a stupid man that couldn't see, act and fix the problem, would you? Don't worry your little Scalziite fixer is here. I'm in your corner. Just let me service you, I mean your debt, and all will be well."

*shakes head* only a stream of profanity comes to mind for this man.

Anonymous Paul Sacramento November 20, 2012 9:03 AM  

Maybe he is right, maybe the problem is the people in power that have no freaking clue HOW to fix the problems.
Maybe, in his own way, he is correct that what is the problem isn't the economy per say but those in charge of maintaining a healthy economy.

Anonymous pdimov November 20, 2012 9:07 AM  

Think of it this way: suppose that your husband has, for whatever reason, refused to maintain the family car’s electrical system over the years. Now the car won’t start, but he refuses even to consider replacing the battery, in part because that would mean admitting that he was wrong before, and he insists instead that the family must learn to walk and take buses.

Interesting. Krugman writes for women. I suspect that his wife has helped, if not directed.

Anonymous ridip November 20, 2012 9:08 AM  

And of course there was his false appeal to American Exceptionalism stating that things are as strong as they ever were.

No they are not. You've skimmed off the cream and high-temp pasturized the rest. All you have is a pale-white non-fat milk-colored liquid with little nutritive value left. If you've ever tasted the real thing down on the farm you know you're getting screwed and that someone in the middle has gotten rich skimming off and selling all that was good in what you labored so hard to produce.

Keep on pumping in the allswell, Pauly.

Anonymous Mr Green Man November 20, 2012 9:12 AM  

People are stupid and will throw out a defense from ignorance regardless of what you do.

In the past two days, in a political discussion, I heard a woman say, "I don't know anything about the details but I feel that you are wrong." In writing about experience from an auto test drive, I got asked immediately -- have you sat in the car?

You cannot fix stupid.

Anonymous JartStar November 20, 2012 9:25 AM  

[T]he point is that the problem isn’t with the economic engine, which is as powerful as ever.

This is a rather shocking statement considering that most liberals see deep structural problems with the economy, ie. Robert Reich.

Maybe Krugman is talking out both ends, but didn't his latest column at least suggest that he thinks there's structural problems if we need to make unions strong again and raise the top rate to 91%?

Anonymous fnn November 20, 2012 9:26 AM  

Vox, are the so-called "money cranks" as defective as Krugman? :

http://uncouthreflections.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/the-collapse-part-three/

http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/11/two-volumes-by-gottfried-feder/

Anonymous 691 November 20, 2012 9:28 AM  

Really? Did you miss this bit? "[T]he point is that the problem isn’t with the economic engine, which is as powerful as ever."

That line is suggestive, yes. But as an intellectual practice, I'm wary of reading too much into metaphors. They are crude approximations of what one intends to say and you have to be careful when translating back into more concrete or technical language.

Regardless, this is easily solved. Either he agrees and has said so elsewhere or he disagrees and has said so elsewhere. I just don't think this passage alone justifies knowing which.

Blogger Bob November 20, 2012 9:29 AM  

It still boggles the mind that this guy got a Nobel prize. Perhqps he was the last candidate standing?

I would like him to explain how a "new battery" will get all those jobs and factories that have vanished offshore back to us.

I would like him to explain how a "new battery" will somehow make a 16 trillion-dollar debt get handled "quickly and fairly easily".

I would like him to explain how a "new battery" will handle the 200+ trillion bill facing us for our unfunded entitlements.

I would like him to explain how a "new battery" will train all the doctors and nurses we don't have to handle those 30 million new Obamacare patients to do have.

And, I would like him to explain how a "new battery", will help a car that has lost its motor, its wheels, has an empty gas tank, no steering wheel, and is now sitting in the ditch on the side of the road, full of passengers that refuse to do anything but call for government help on their free Iphones.

The man is so typical of todays college educated product... degreed but without knowledge, common sense or wisdom.

Anonymous 691 November 20, 2012 9:31 AM  

I suspect that his wife has helped, if not directed.

She does, in general, revise his columns to be more inflammatory

Anonymous VD November 20, 2012 9:43 AM  

Regardless, this is easily solved. Either he agrees and has said so elsewhere or he disagrees and has said so elsewhere. I just don't think this passage alone justifies knowing which.

First, it is a pretty strong indication. As you say, it is suggestive. Second, as you may wish to keep in mind, I have actually read the entire book. I am only quoting one section here, but I am doing so from knowing the rest of it. So, logic would suggest if a statement can be taken in one of two ways, and one of those two ways is more strongly indicated than the other, and someone who has actually read the book states that it should be taken that way, it is, in fact, justified to take it that way.

Anonymous pgarstig November 20, 2012 9:47 AM  

Beat him at his game. Using bad analogies is exploited quite easily and has the same appeal as his own original argument. So simply putting what onejohn512 said would be enough of a refutation.

As you can't argue emotional arguments with reason, you can't counter arguments geared towards emotional and ignorant people with logical and reasonable one. Play with the same rules or don't play at all.

Also, don't invest any intellect into such black holes.

Anonymous Noah B. November 20, 2012 9:49 AM  

It may be a slight overstatement to say that Krugman is claiming that the problems with the US economy are trivial, but with the extensive use of his automobile analogy, he is clearly implying that there is a relatively simple, straightforward solution to fixing the economy. (The suspense is killing me -- does it involve creating more money from thin air?)

I don't personally take any exception to your description of Krugman's position, but your use of the word "trivial" is something a Keynesian apologist might seize on to distract from the real debate.

Anonymous rycamor November 20, 2012 9:52 AM  

VD, interesting format. Not completely sure I like it yet, but I think it will stop some of the more idiotic equivocating.

Honestly, I haven't spent much time this past year thinking about economics, nor visiting bookstores, so I was surprised that "End this Depression Now!" was actually the title of his book. I had thought it was your mocking characterization of him, but now I see the man is his own mocker. The title makes me think of those late-night TV ads with some past-celebrity intoning "Stop smoking now!! It's as easy as our 3-step plan" or "Shed those unwanted pounds NOW! No dieting, no exercise... so easy you can do it from the comfort of your own recliner."

This is what our culture excels at now: fatuous easy-solution-mongering. Krugman's just in tune with the times. Unsustainable times, of course.

Anonymous Godfrey November 20, 2012 9:52 AM  

Sorry Vox, I’m sure your approach is the correct one, but I can’t help thinking that what is really needed is deep, very deep, psychoanalysis. I wonder what his childhood relationship with his father was like. I also ponder if he had a domineering mother. He does seem rather effeminate, narcissistic, insecure and prone to hostility when his irrational fantasies are challenged.

Anonymous Yorzhik November 20, 2012 9:58 AM  

The trade deficit isn't a problem. Other than that you are spot on.

Anonymous pdimov November 20, 2012 10:02 AM  

It still boggles the mind that this guy got a Nobel prize.

The book is propaganda, and you should evaluate it as such. It doesn't matter whether it's good economics; it matters whether it convinces its target audience.

Anonymous VD November 20, 2012 10:03 AM  

I don't personally take any exception to your description of Krugman's position, but your use of the word "trivial" is something a Keynesian apologist might seize on to distract from the real debate.

He'd be foolish to do so. In addition to section already quoted, Krugman adds: "Now, let me be clear: in saying that the causes of our economic disaster are relatively trivial, I am not saying that they emerged at random or came out of thin air."

Anonymous JartStar November 20, 2012 10:03 AM  

So, logic would suggest if a statement can be taken in one of two ways, and one of those two ways is more strongly indicated than the other, and someone who has actually read the book states that it should be taken that way, it is, in fact, justified to take it that way.

In general yes, but in this case your low regard for Keynesian economics and Krugman in general could be an argument against your claims due to bias.

I'm taking the role of the hostile reader on this issue.

Anonymous Noah B. November 20, 2012 10:04 AM  

"The book is propaganda, and you should evaluate it as such."

That's really right. I find it hard to believe that Krugman actually believes his own crap. He's probably fully invested in physical PM's.

Anonymous Noah B. November 20, 2012 10:06 AM  

"He'd be foolish to do so."

We're talking about Keynesians here. How dare you misquote Krugman by using direct quotes.

Anonymous RedJack November 20, 2012 10:07 AM  

asdf November 20, 2012 7:51 AM
When I read Ender's Game I didn't grow up and think I was Ender Wiggin. However, it appears Krugmen read The Foundation Trilogy and grew up thinking he was a "psychohistorian".



A great many politicians and policy makers think they are.

Anonymous patrick kelly November 20, 2012 10:08 AM  

VOX:
" find myself addressing various complaints about my summaries and critiques from those who readily admit they have not read the book....."

SOMEONE WHO HAS NOT READ THE BOOK: "At least in this passage, he makes no mention of any of these topics. And I don't think his argument necessarily implies that he sees no serious structural economic problems.... I just don't think this passage alone justifies knowing which......"

VOX: "So, logic would suggest if a statement can be taken in one of two ways, and one of those two ways is more strongly indicated than the other, and someone who has actually read the book states that it should be taken that way, it is, in fact, justified to take it that way."

You make it hurt so good. AWCA indeed.

Anonymous DonReynolds November 20, 2012 10:10 AM  

It may indeed be true that the timing needs to be adjusted on the economic engine and it may not be as serious as a timing chain. I have fixed cars that were running sluggish by adjusting the spark advance.

But it makes little difference if we do this on this present economy when the coil is missing, and there is way too much oil in the crankcase, and half the cylinders have been removed and sent to China, and vandals have ripped off the wheels, and we cannot find our keys anymore. Besides, unless we are going muddin on the farm, we need to renew the license tag and let someone else drive this time. The designated driver it seems had his license revoked months ago.

I do not see the point actually in Krudman's argument. Why should we be concerned? The car has not moved an inch in years and very soon, we are told, it will no longer be our car anyway....it has been given away to illegal aliens from Messico and Latino American. Why should I wash, wax, get new tires and tune up a car that already belongs to someone else?

Hey, do you want fries with that?

Anonymous Enoch Powell November 20, 2012 10:10 AM  

Krugman is just another one of those Leftist, functional imbeciles who uses his intelligence to rationalize a massive lie. That's all he uses it for. He does this in order to please his paymasters, who are the creators of the lie. That lie is the Leftists' original sin; Man IS God, and will transcend an obsolete moral and ethical system.

Anonymous DonReynolds November 20, 2012 10:17 AM  

Vox, I would have thought you would have mentioned the current push by the economic celebs to have Congress raise the debt ceiling of the United States to infinity, so the President would not have to keep demeaning himself by asking them to raise it again and again, every time he wants to spend more money. Krudman is in favor. Of course, the Treasury Secretary Geitner is in complete agreement. It is old and white and we do not have to do what Congress says anymore. The Whigs are gone (again). Long live the King! (Ha Ha)

Anonymous jack November 20, 2012 10:20 AM  

I am terrified to think that people in power actually listen to this man. May the Lord help us all, including him.

Anonymous Noah B. November 20, 2012 10:21 AM  

Greenspan has also voiced his approval of QEternity.

Anonymous VD November 20, 2012 10:27 AM  

In general yes, but in this case your low regard for Keynesian economics and Krugman in general could be an argument against your claims due to bias.

We'll see if that argument lasts for all 16 posts....

Vox, I would have thought you would have mentioned the current push by the economic celebs to have Congress raise the debt ceiling of the United States to infinity, so the President would not have to keep demeaning himself by asking them to raise it again and again, every time he wants to spend more money.

And here I would have thought that you would be able to look down two posts before making that comment.

Blogger Bob Wallace November 20, 2012 10:39 AM  

I refer to Krugman and his kind as "high-IQ idiots."

It'd be a better world if Yale, Harvard and Princeton were closed down. Barring that, eliminate Economics degrees. If any good has come from there I don't know what it is.

Anonymous 691 November 20, 2012 10:41 AM  

Second, as you may wish to keep in mind, I have actually read the entire book. I am only quoting one section here, but I am doing so from knowing the rest of it.

At one level, yes, I accept that your summary is probably fairly accurate. But isn't the whole point of this exercise to demonstrate that you are not erecting a strawman with your summaries? How is the fact that you've read the book evidence that you're being faithful to the text?

All I have done is point out areas where, as someone who hasn't read the book, I find your summary suspicious. Being suspicious is not the same as claiming that your summary is wrong. I'm just elaborating on questions and distinctions I will keep in my mind as I read the book. If you can answer those questions ahead of time, great. Otherwise I'll answer them for myself as I read.

I don't think this approach is going to solve your annoyances. Posting passages will engage more people to read those small sections, but how many people will then go on to read the entire book? You still seem annoyed that I only read the passage you cited and argued based upon just that passage, instead of reading the entire book.

Blogger Nate November 20, 2012 10:54 AM  

i suspect Vox... in spite of your considerable efforts here to avoid the strawman accusation... you will still be confronted with it over and over.

Outside of literally printing the whole book... the followers will simply never accept that their hero said something that is incorrect. And if you do reprint the whole book... they won't bother to take the time to read it.

Anonymous VD November 20, 2012 10:56 AM  

All I have done is point out areas where, as someone who hasn't read the book, I find your summary suspicious.

Yes, which is really fucking annoying, since no one with an even halfway open mind would find that summary the least bit suspicious. The only way one could reasonably find it suspicious is because one is actively looking for things to be suspicious about.

Being suspicious is not the same as claiming that your summary is wrong.

True. The problem is that it is questioning either my intellectual character or my intellectual capacity to understand and accurately summarize the information. It is one thing to reserve judgment and wait for more information to confirm a possible error. It is another to be "suspicious", given the implications.

I don't think this approach is going to solve your annoyances.

Perhaps, but on the other hand, it is going to make it abundantly clear to everyone just how far out of their way some people are willing to go in order to cry strawman.

Anonymous zen0 November 20, 2012 10:58 AM  

So does this mean the economic genius class now actually admit there is a depression? I thought the word had been banned.

Blogger Joe A. November 20, 2012 10:58 AM  

It's evidence that he knows the text, 691. What is there to be suspicious about in his methodology? I don't think there is anything he can do to remedy your concerns, which would mean he should probably disregard them entirely.

Anonymous the bandit November 20, 2012 11:01 AM  

And if you do reprint the whole book... they won't bother to take the time to read it.

But they might bother to file a copyright violation!

As 691 just commented, I don't think this method will solve the problem, but it certainly will make it easier to reasonably dismiss. And I like it, because I still haven't gotten to a life mode where I will bother to read the book myself.

Blogger Laramie Hirsch November 20, 2012 11:05 AM  

I follow you. Continue.

Anonymous JW November 20, 2012 11:06 AM  

Krugman is a genius! I smell another Nobel Prize! Or maybe not.

Anonymous DrTorch November 20, 2012 11:08 AM  

It'd be a better world if Yale, Harvard and Princeton were closed down. Barring that, eliminate Economics degrees. If any good has come from there I don't know what it is.

I have said often that no one should be awarded an economics degree w/o first passing a class in classical thermodynamics. If you can't explain the Carnot cycle, then you shouldn't be discussing economic engines.

Maybe there should be a practicum, to weed out people who just memorize formulae. You actually have to assemble and operate a working small-scale combustion engine.

Anonymous Anonymous November 20, 2012 11:09 AM  

The scary thing about Krugman's argument is that he is essentially saying that the one and only cause of our economic troubles is his political enemies. All of our woes are caused by this nefarious group of bad people, who don't have any legitimate basis for disagreement but instead are causing economic misery out of pure evil. Just get rid of the Republicans, and everything will be great. That's dangerous rhetoric.

Blogger Nate November 20, 2012 11:14 AM  

"Just get rid of the Republicans, and everything will be great. That's dangerous rhetoric."

Its rhetoric that the secessionists among us openly welcome.

Absolutely Mr Krugman! If you could just be rid of people like us everything would be fine!!! so... we'll just go our way then. See ya.

Anonymous The One November 20, 2012 11:19 AM  

Anyone remember this sign at tea parties.

"It doesn't matter what this sign says, you'll call it racism"

Well Vox

"It doesn't matter what you write, they'll call it strawman"

Anonymous Porky? November 20, 2012 11:35 AM  

Nate: Outside of literally printing the whole book... the followers will simply never accept that their hero said something that is incorrect. And if you do reprint the whole book... they won't bother to take the time to read it.

Even if followers DO read the book they will never see the things that open minded folks see. This is a demonstrable bio-neurological phenomenon.

Anonymous E. PERLINE November 20, 2012 11:41 AM  

Ah, my son, there are secret meanings to magnetos and to engines in general.

Magneto sparks are the interest paid to savers who saved their money in banks. With no interst paid, these accounts are meaningless. Interest returns are what pension operators got to pay their pensioners with. Now, without unterest, these pension operators have been cut adrift.

The government prints unlimited money and loans it out for no fee. That will teach the brokers and the smaller banks.

Government has another tactic. It over-regulates engines for the "common good." How? By blocking all engines and keepng them from operating smoothly. That will teach all those independent operators.

Anonymous Darren H November 20, 2012 11:42 AM  

I like the approach. A fair summary of what he has said, and no "strawman" has been introduced. Continue.

Anonymous JartStar November 20, 2012 11:43 AM  

The problem is that it is questioning either my intellectual character or my intellectual capacity to understand and accurately summarize the information. It is one thing to reserve judgment and wait for more information to confirm a possible error. It is another to be "suspicious", given the implications.

1.Vox is openly hostile to and ridicules Keynesian economics.
2.I have no evidence of his intellectual dishonesty or lack of intellectual capacity about the issue.
3.Reserving judgment is the logical conclusion.

If a critic can find evidence in premise two then they have a right to be highly suspicious.

What will likely derail this review is Krugman’s prolific writing and speaking coupled with carelessness likely has him saying things contradictory to what is in the book. Since it is unreasonable to expect Vox to know everything Krugman has said publicly the focus must remain on the book itself.

Anonymous Andrew Baumgardt November 20, 2012 11:49 AM  

It appears Krugman has demonstrated why he is wrong.

He asserts the Alternator (magneto) is broken and then states that the obvious solution is to replace the dead battery and things will just fine.

Any wonder why his stimulus plans only work for very short periods of time?

Anonymous BillB November 20, 2012 11:54 AM  

Think:


USA is the car, obama the battery. We screwed up but if we change the battery things will be great. Just ask the cat lover.

Anonymous Gx1080 November 20, 2012 11:59 AM  

While the bad faith arguments of Keynesians will not be so easily vanished, being able to pull direct quotes easily will shut them up more quickly. Also, this makes the arguments more easily understood. So, it seems like a good approach.

What amazes me of the Liberal establishment is that, despite their disgust at the so-called "American Excepcionalism", there's no better textbook example than thinking that the rest of the world will keep buying the US's debt because the US is awesome.

Or perhaps is that they all worship at the altar of Goldman Sachs.

Anonymous carnaby November 20, 2012 12:05 PM  

I would be very interested to see a prediction of what would happen to the economy if krugman were given the absolute reigns of power. Too bad this experiment can never be run.

Anonymous JartStar November 20, 2012 12:26 PM  

Too bad this experiment can never be run.

Never say never. The Chicago school was discredited after Argentina followed their advice to its demise.

Given the slippery nature of Neo-Kenyesianism I suspect the only way the theory will be abandoned is when a large nation follows the advice to the letter.

Anonymous Razoraid November 20, 2012 12:29 PM  

I'm going to say this, and I want you to hear it and take it to your grave: Nobody makes fun of Krudman the Nobel Prize illiterate on my watch and gets away with it.

Anonymous 691 November 20, 2012 12:33 PM  

I really got under your skin today, Vox.

Was I purposefully looking for errors? Of course. Did I expect to find any? No. I generally trust you Vox and today was no different. But since I plan to sit down with the book over the holiday weekend, I thought it'd be a fun exercise to try anyway. It's surprising that you didn't respond with smug satisfaction and see increasingly desperate arguments as vindication. Totally not a Sigma response.

Anonymous VD November 20, 2012 12:37 PM  

I really got under your skin today, Vox.

I am putting the final edits on a book that is clocking in at 1,050 pages published. Don't expect to be cut much in the way of slack for the next two weeks.

Anonymous John November 20, 2012 1:02 PM  

This is a textbook example of the dogma from which Krugman operates. "The problem is never with their system. No. The problem is with the detractors from the system. Silence all opposition and everything will work out fine."

What's he write next, Vox? Is it a passionate plea for the arrest and execution of the Austrian school of economics?

Anonymous Anonymous November 20, 2012 1:18 PM  

OK - how about a non-economists opinion and one who has no inclination to read Krugmans book - ever. I assume Vox has read the whole book and here he summarizes a section he feels is important enough to pull out to expose and refute the fatal flaws. So for me, this particular summary makes sense. I also have this perspective as my bias: My wife and I own our own business and I know the business is a somewhat complex interaction of systems. There are the financials, there are employees, there are clients etc. When a problem rears up it is not as easy as just increasing prices, or hiring another person (the replacing the battery?). It takes finding out what is wrong with how all our systems as a whole may have contributed to the problem and how they will react to the solution. Krugmans assesment makes the solution seem too easy as Vox has pointed out.


BTW, what do he mean when he say that "and could be fixed quickly and fairly easily if enough people in positions of power understood the realities". From my reading here and at other sites it seem the politicians just keep going along with the Fed and the Keynesian school of thought in micromanaging our economy. So could I not infer that the crap he espouses is what has caused, maintained and exacerbated the problem he is describing.

Alabamarob

Anonymous Cheddarman November 20, 2012 1:19 PM  

Vox,

Your approach is sound, though it wont fix the spiritual problem in the hearts of those who would believe Krugman.

They want to live by a different set of rules than those of the Game Maker.

Sincerely

Cheddarman

Anonymous Noah B. November 20, 2012 1:33 PM  

Wait, where did the green shoots go? Is Krugman actually claiming that all the talk of a recovery is -- A LIE???

Anonymous Gen. Kong November 20, 2012 1:40 PM  

There is an actual term for the type of assertion Krugman is making here. It's known as "magical thinking". Following the sage advice of Krugdolf da Wiz, all Obozo has to do is toss that ring into the bowels of Mt. Doom. The Eye of Keynes will then shine brilliantly and golden showers will fall upon the happy multikulti utopia. He must have consulted his cat on that pillar of the argument.

Anonymous WinstonWebb November 20, 2012 1:46 PM  

Moreover, for the great majority of people the process of fixing the economy would not be painful and involve sacrifices;

I don't understand Krugman's concern here. It could be argued that a majority of people are not being pained by the CURRENT state of the economy as they are not part of the economic engine, just a drain on it.

Anonymous Mr. Nightstick November 20, 2012 1:48 PM  

Is this a new book or the same book?

Blogger IM2L844 November 20, 2012 1:51 PM  

So far, so good. I don't see any lucid reasons to take exception to your summary or to claim that you are erecting straw men.

While I understand some people's reservations about how effective this systematic highlighting approach will be on the Keynesian faithful, I think it will be helpful to me, personally. Besides, it would feel a little hypocritical to critique your approach when you generally do more each and every day to wrench control of the narrative away from the liberals and neocons than I do in a year.

Anonymous Gen. Kong November 20, 2012 2:00 PM  

Enoch Powell:
Krugman is just another one of those Leftist, functional imbeciles who uses his intelligence to rationalize a massive lie. That's all he uses it for. He does this in order to please his paymasters, who are the creators of the lie. That lie is the Leftists' original sin; Man IS God, and will transcend an obsolete moral and ethical system.

That is a superb summary. I completely agree. I also agree that the foundation of all leftist ideology is indeed original sin. In traditional biblical numerology, 6 represents man (or evil), while 7 represents the totality of perfection. 666 can be described as 6 attempting to become 7 (but never actually reaching 7). This is one way of expressing the utopian idea - the foundation of all leftist thought - that Man can be God. Sad thing is, this is the very notion which is preached each Sunday even in many "conservative" churches.

Anonymous readingtoomuchintoit November 20, 2012 2:00 PM  

First, it is a pretty strong indication. As you say, it is suggestive. Second, as you may wish to keep in mind, I have actually read the entire book. I am only quoting one section here, but I am doing so from knowing the rest of it. So, logic would suggest if a statement can be taken in one of two ways, and one of those two ways is more strongly indicated than the other, and someone who has actually read the book states that it should be taken that way, it is, in fact, justified to take it that way.

Except that by your own declaration the whole point of presenting your arguments in this way is to prevent criticisms from people who have not read the book. It would follow that telling those people to trust you and trust that your characterizations are right, because you have read the book, defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.

Yes, which is really fucking annoying, since no one with an even halfway open mind would find that summary the least bit suspicious. The only way one could reasonably find it suspicious is because one is actively looking for things to be suspicious about.

That's pretty much the whole point of criticizing a logical argument. The way you characterized his argument does not follow from the passage you quoted, allowing that he is taking some rhetorical liberties, which should be a given considering that it's a book intended for a general audience.

Anonymous VD November 20, 2012 2:10 PM  

Except that by your own declaration the whole point of presenting your arguments in this way is to prevent criticisms from people who have not read the book. It would follow that telling those people to trust you and trust that your characterizations are right, because you have read the book, defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.

No, it's not going to prevent them from doing anything. The only way to do that is take the Scalzi approach and mallet everything I don't like. It's merely going to make them look like the dishonest idiots they are.

The way you characterized his argument does not follow from the passage you quoted, allowing that he is taking some rhetorical liberties, which should be a given considering that it's a book intended for a general audience.

Very well, I'm going to call you out. Do you assert, on the basis of the quoted passage, that Paul Krugman is saying there are serious structural problems with the economy? Do you also assert that Paul Krugman is saying that the problems are not trivial and easily solved, but complex and very hard to solve?

Anonymous readingtoomuchintoit November 20, 2012 2:36 PM  

Very well, I'm going to call you out. Do you assert, on the basis of the quoted passage, that Paul Krugman is saying there are serious structural problems with the economy? Do you also assert that Paul Krugman is saying that the problems are not trivial and easily solved, but complex and very hard to solve?

He is talking about this particular downturn, which should be evident from the title of the book. What he might think about the structure of the economy long term or particular social or demographic trends is not apparent from the quote you posted. Clearly he is saying that the problems caused by the economic crisis, which we can take to mean the recession, high unemployment, sluggish growth, etc. can be easily fixed using his prescriptions.

He sees no serious structural economic problems stemming from the trade deficit, the demographic changes in the population, the educational system, the financial system, the shift to a service economy, or the record levels of public and private debt.

He didn't saying anything about any of these particulars. Whether his prescriptions are based on the assumptions of a perfectly structured and otherwise perfectly functioning economy is a matter of debate, and that's what you're taking as a given. You have to at least support that position with further evidence.

Anonymous readingtoomuchintoit November 20, 2012 2:59 PM  

Ever since writing TIA, I have found it frustrating to read a book, accurately summarize the arguments it contains, critique those arguments, and then find myself addressing various complaints about my summaries and critiques from those who readily admit they have not read the book.

what I'm going to with this book is systematically highlight the 16 sections that I bookmarked and identify the specific claims being made as well as any fundamental flaws I believe are thereby revealed.

It's merely going to make them look like the dishonest idiots they are.

How is it going to make them look like dishonest idiots if your response to their complaints of an inaccurate summary is that your summary is supported by other passages somewhere else in the book that you've read, and "just trust me"? Why even change the format then?

Anonymous kh123 November 20, 2012 3:02 PM  

Is clear and fair, hence the anklebiters' uncontrollable desire to sic on it from their Greenwich or Berkeley dens.

Anonymous kh123 November 20, 2012 3:03 PM  

With a book cover like that, I'm surprised he didn't use a broken clock analogy.

Anonymous Anonymous November 20, 2012 3:39 PM  

To quote the quoted passage..."What I hope to do in this chapter is convince you that we do, in fact, have magneto trouble. The sources of our suffering are relatively trivial in the scheme of things, and could be fixed quickly and fairly easily if enough people in positions of power understood the realities."

Seems easy enough....he says the problem is trivial, can be fixed easily, so I assume Krugman sees no structural problems. In an economy as large and diverse as ours it seems that if he was thinking there were structural problems he would have to acknowledge a more difficult solution.

"Moreover, for the great majority of people the process of fixing the economy would not be painful and involve sacrifices; on the contrary, ending this depression would be a feel-good experience for almost everyone..."

Again seems to me he sees no inherent system wide problems if the solutions are so easy as to inflict no pain on anyone except those who disagree with him. If Krugman is allowing that there are system wide flaws I don't see how he could not posit that the fix is simple, trivial and painless. But then again I am not an economist nor do I claim to genius. I only comment because what Vox is proposing in critiquing this book is why I come here - to try to learn, to get info from which I make my own conclusions and make my own decisions. I for one would appreciate some sound and yet straight forward insight, without all the Ivy-tower speak that is so often not grounded in reality.

Alabamarob

Anonymous Noah B. November 20, 2012 4:09 PM  

"Seems easy enough....he says the problem is trivial, can be fixed easily, so I assume Krugman sees no structural problems. In an economy as large and diverse as ours it seems that if he was thinking there were structural problems he would have to acknowledge a more difficult solution."

A reasonable person wouldn't object to that description. Someone with the childlike mentality that the only thing wrong with the economy is that we haven't gotten enough visits from the magic money fairy isn't reasonable or rational.

"I for one would appreciate some sound and yet straight forward insight, without all the Ivy-tower speak that is so often not grounded in reality."

The videos at barnhardt.biz posted around Nov. 9 are a great resource. I don't 100% fully agree with everything she says, but she does admit that she's giving broad overviews of the economic problem, and overall the videos are great.

Anonymous VD November 20, 2012 4:41 PM  

He is talking about this particular downturn, which should be evident from the title of the book.

You didn't answer the two questions. Don't be evasive and answer questions I did not ask. Do you assert, on the basis of the quoted passage, that Paul Krugman is saying there are serious structural problems with the economy? Do you also assert that Paul Krugman is saying that the problems are not trivial and easily solved, but complex and very hard to solve?

What he might think about the structure of the economy long term or particular social or demographic trends is not apparent from the quote you posted.

Absolutely false. "the point is that the problem isn’t with the economic engine, which is as powerful as ever." If the engine is as powerful as ever, there cannot be a structural problem with it.

He didn't saying anything about any of these particulars.

Totally irrelevant. He didn't have to say anything about any of those particulars; none of them can be a serious structural problem because there are no structural problems. The economic engine is as powerful as ever.

How is it going to make them look like dishonest idiots if your response to their complaints of an inaccurate summary is that your summary is supported by other passages somewhere else in the book that you've read, and "just trust me"?

Because this isn't going to be the last post on the subject. There are at least 15 more in the works. You can get away with your idiotic attempts to pretend that the text quoted doesn't say what it does for now. But your wiggle room is going to continually shrink until you must either give up the pretense of poor reading comprehension - and it is obviously a pretense - or stand revealed as a dishonest idiot. The evidence is forthcoming and will show that my summary is correct and the attempts to claim my summary is incorrect are either dishonest or based on fundamental misreadings.

Anonymous Northern Hamlet November 20, 2012 6:10 PM  

Thank you for using this format, Vox. It also works well for people like myself who don't really want to wade into Krugman's work, but who want more insight into the bigger picture. This has been very helpful in that regard.

Anonymous Northern Hamlet November 20, 2012 6:15 PM  

Also, Vox, I don't believe you need the quotation marks around Krugman's words as you've essentially block quoted them.

Anonymous readingtoomuchintoit November 20, 2012 6:17 PM  

Do you assert, on the basis of the quoted passage, that Paul Krugman is saying there are serious structural problems with the economy? Do you also assert that Paul Krugman is saying that the problems are not trivial and easily solved, but complex and very hard to solve?

Clearly no. Nor is he saying the opposite, that there are no problems. Absence of one is not necessarily definitive evidence of the other, unless you're stupid. The most we can infer, is that if he does see problems, he doesn't consider them large enough to prevent a recovery by his proposed means. How powerful is the economic engine? As powerful as 2006? Clearly we were not in a depression but many people would say there were some structural problems then.

Your third point is idiotic. If you're going to quote passages in an effort at clarity for those who haven't read the book, you shouldn't be relying on other parts of the book that you haven't quoted yet to make your points. It's the equivalent of waving your fist and yelling "you'll see!".

Anonymous Northern Hamlet November 20, 2012 6:42 PM  


Vox:
"Do you also assert that Paul Krugman is saying that the problems are not trivial and easily solved, but complex and very hard to solve?"

Krugman:
"What went wrong? The details are complex, and mind-numbing" (speaking of one of the "programs" to solve one of the "problems")

Whereas your approach might slow down some of the dishonest critics, I imagine you will still have roughly the same amount playing the same game. Bad readers are a dime a dozen. And they love each other. I would imagine they'll be suspicious of the your intellectual honesty and of your selections simply because of the confrontational attitude you sometimes take. There's not much you can do about this aside from changing some of the language you chose sometimes, which ups the emotional stakes and draws in the idiots who love to be the victim of your aggression. I see this as the larger issue.

Anonymous Rex Little November 20, 2012 7:09 PM  

Hey, at least Krugman is admitting we *are* in a depression. That's progress, isn't it?

Anonymous VD November 20, 2012 7:15 PM  

Clearly no. Nor is he saying the opposite, that there are no problems. Absence of one is not necessarily definitive evidence of the other, unless you're stupid.

You clearly cannot comprehend what you read or handle basic logic. Krugman says there is one problem. A technical problem. Solve it and the economy will roar back to life. That means there cannot be any structural problems, for the obvious reason that a technical problem is not a structural problem.

Your third point is idiotic.

No, you're simply failed to understand the obvious. You're claiming one reading. I'm claiming another. However can we possibly tell who is correct, the reader who knows the complete context from reading the book or the non-reader who doesn't?

The point is perfectly clear. You're either too stubborn or too stupid to admit it.

Blogger Rantor November 20, 2012 7:24 PM  

For what it is worth, I like it. I also like that the book is the priority, looking forward to reading it, must order soon.

Anonymous Desiderius November 20, 2012 9:48 PM  

VD,

"If that excerpt is exemplary, and I have no reason to suspect it is not, his argument appears to be entirely rhetorical."

This is all that needs to be said.

The man formerly known as Paul Krugman, the man who won the Nobel Prize (a prize itself increasingly meaningless, but at the time both meaningful and merited) is no longer with us. He is now, as with many men of his generation, utterly dominated by his wife.

He's whipped, and will foolishly do her bidding, although it likely avails him less than nothing.

His argument is entirely rhetorical, and will carry the day unless engaged rhetorically. By putting it in terms of a husband failing in his duties, he immediately wins (if unchallenged on that score) with 40% of the population through absolutely brazen hamster feeding, and he gets another 15% at least of those already too invested tribally to dissent.

The only effective counter is to call him out on his Eddie Haskelling or to devise a more persuasive rhetoric.

If you're attempting to engage him dialectically you've already lost.

OpenID admiralboom November 20, 2012 9:54 PM  

Yes, a car analogy! Fixing the battery might work...except for the fact that we maxed out our credit cards on a $5,000 set of rims, p-zero tires, and a new set of electronics to power the 10,000 watt subwoofers.

All the while, we neglected to do the oil changes, brake pad replacements, front end alignments, and fix the timing chain. Now the entire discs are shot, the cylinder heads are blown, and the transmission is all messed up.

A strawman your argument is not; rather it's a refutation of one.

It's kinda fun to check out the Krugmeister's columns during the Bush years when he was hysterical about budget deficits. His fiscal concerns seem to wax and wane with the party in the white house.

He's an intellectually bankrupt political hack, nothing more. Just like the dollar, Nobel Prizes ain't what they used to be.

Anonymous Raker November 20, 2012 10:10 PM  

Aye, 'tis I, the Raker...
Vox:" I'll also be interested to know your opinion of whether this approach is effective or not." Actually, time will tell. As for me, I think it's self evidently the right way to go about it; but OTOH, it could end up like that tree falls in the forest thing; If a reasonable man tries to be objective with subjective people...was he being nice?
Even a guy who was on the 5 year high school plan can see that there are serious problems with the economy, for him to say otherwise sounds like he's catering to a select audience, maybe trying to perpetuate the Democrat vs Republican mindset. At any rate, if there be blind followers of the blind, there must needs be a leader. Personally, I think there's a strong likelihood we're seeing 2 Thessalonians 2:11 "(2Thess 2:11 [KJV])
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:"
BTW, I copy & pasted that from The Word, free Bible software. You can find verses fast, search for not only words, but phrases, and keep notes by topic headings you choose. Good stuff man, try it.

Blogger rcocean November 20, 2012 11:39 PM  

"This is particularly annoying because the percentage of people who actually bother to read a book appears to be a small fraction of those who are interested in discussing its contents and its implications."

LOL- welcome to the internet Vox, where ignorance never stops a critic.

Blogger rcocean November 20, 2012 11:55 PM  

I'm suspicious of the whole "The Earth is round" business. People who assert it might have a hidden agenda.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza November 21, 2012 1:13 AM  

This is fantastic, carry on!

(I still recall an interview PK did on cspan where he complained foxnews turned his mic off during an interview.)

Blogger R. Bradley Andrews November 21, 2012 4:42 AM  

I am putting the final edits on a book that is clocking in at 1,050 pages published. Don't expect to be cut much in the way of slack for the next two weeks.

You cut slack on people? I must have missed that time. :)

Blogger James Dixon November 21, 2012 7:39 AM  

> You cut slack on people? I must have missed that time. :)

Usually it's when an obviously well intentioned commenter (say myself on occasion), makes a stupid or egregious error. The correction is usually swift, but not quite as brutal as to the willfully ignorant ones.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera November 22, 2012 10:56 AM  

I believe this method will be less effective than the usual method. And I have no idea why you're sinking so much effort into a demonstration that MPAI, but I'm sure you do. So...Godspeed. Can't wait to see the finale.

Blogger R. Bradley Andrews November 22, 2012 8:30 PM  

"> You cut slack on people? I must have missed that time. :)

Usually it's when an obviously well intentioned commenter (say myself on occasion), makes a stupid or egregious error. The correction is usually swift, but not quite as brutal as to the willfully ignorant ones."

I have gotten a few of those. I guess they may have been softer than they could have been. It is all relative after all....

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