Krugman: Nixon's The One! Now More Than Ever!

It has come to this, boys and girls: Nostalgia for Richard Milhous Nixon from New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman:

Surveying current politics, I find myself missing Richard Nixon....

The Nixon era was a time in which leading figures in both parties were capable of speaking rationally about policy, and in which policy decisions weren't as warped by corporate cash as they are now. America is a better country in many ways than it was 35 years ago, but our political system's ability to deal with real problems has been degraded to such an extent that I sometimes wonder whether the country is still governable.

Krugman adds the disclaimer that Nixon was almost (but not quite!) the equal in evil to Dick Cheney, but goes on to add:

Nixon proposed requiring that all employers, not just large companies, offer insurance.

Nixon also embraced tighter regulation of insurers, calling on states to "approve specific plans, oversee rates, ensure adequate disclosure, require an annual audit and take other appropriate measures." No illusions there about how the magic of the marketplace solves all problems.

So what happened to the days when a Republican president could sound so nonideological, and offer such a reasonable proposal?

Whole thing here.

Lest we allow misty-colored memories to get in the way, it's worth recalling that Nixon's policies, large and small, were disastrous on just about every level (one great exception: He ended the draft). You'd think a well-regarded economist of Krugman's age would remember stagflation and life on the ground during those swell Nixon years, when adequate disclosure, what, meant the meager percentage of Americans who had credit cards back then knew they were paying 21.75 percent annual interest? If Nixon's regulatory impulses were so freaking noble and grand and effective, why did the economy absolutely suck under his command? True, Tricky Dick had no illusions that the marketplace solves all problems. That's what Bebe Rebozo and the Watergate plumbers were for.

More to the point, the Nixon years were hardly free of partisan rancor and ugly personal attacks from every point on the political spectrum. Nor were they in any way nonideological (note to Krugman: The White House is currently occupied by a Democrat). Hmm, in fact, the Democratic candidate for president in 1972, George McGovern, likened Nixon to Hitler in a major address. And McGovern's short-term running mate, Sen. Tom Eagleton, anonymously slagged McGovern(!) as the candidate of amnesty, abortion, and acid. Yeah, that was a gentler America, where hippies and construction workers, and elected officials, had civilized debates about policies. And everybody thought America was so gosh-darn governable that virtually every movie, novel, and non-fiction book was some variation on The Late, Great Planet Earth or Future Shock.

The proximate cause of Krugman's Nixostalgia is the current health-care reform debate, during which various voters and officials have, my god, expressed discontent with both the status quo and proposed reforms (as vague as they are, and will almost certainly continue to be even after Barack Obama's speech next week). To Krugman that represents the ascent of corporate influence and "the right-wing fringe" (which despite being powerless is somehow holding a Democratic Congress in thrall). It has deranged him at least as much as the electoral success of George W. Bush, which is to say Kruman now needs a rubber room the size of airplane hangar just to keep from bouncing off the walls. Yes, there is something really rotten to the core with a country that actively debates a massively important issue that may well define quality of life and economic vitality for, I don't know, the next generation or two. What are we thinking, people? Shouldn't we rush through whatever plan Krugman, or Steny Hoyer, or Ted Kennedy, or Bob Dole, or some other grand vizier, says is all good? For god's sake, alternative proposals for actual reform, such as Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's real-world plan, are just getting in the way.

If The New York Times' reputation and influence is diminishing over time—and it surely is, as cultural knowledge, status, and power become increasingly decentralized—it's not simply a result of economic changes in the media and newspaper industries. It's because of the content, dammit, including ideologically obtuse and vacuous dreck such as Krugman's column on Nixon. Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca always had Paris. Krugman will always have Nixon. The rest of us will, hopefully, have a future in which we have better and cheaper health care. But not if we don't debate the hell out of it and, maybe just maybe, come up with a way to use the same market forces that have somehow driven down the real prices of just about everything else.

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  • Citizen Nothing||

    I wish Hunter S. Thompson were alive to kick Krugman's balls up into his brain cavity.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    nonideological



    You killed my father.

  • Xeones||

    So "nonideological" = has ideas that Paul Krugman likes. Got it. Choke on a dick and die, Paul Krugman.

  • Markets Are Magical!||

    Maybe if you braindead libertards listened to Dr. Krugman once in a while you wouldn't be so irrelevant. How many of you geniuses have won the Nobel Prize? Zero.

  • emmajane||

    RTFC, and thought it was just....creepy. Krugman is clearly on some other planet.

  • ||

    Of course Krugman loves Tricky Dick. He's the SOB who ended the last tie of the dollar to gold.

    -jcr

  • ||

    So one ideological statist appreciates a nonideolgical statist. Common denominator?

  • Joe M||

    STFU, M'AM.

  • Mike M.||

    You left out the best part, which comes at the very end:

    "Actually turning this country around is going to take years of siege warfare against deeply entrenched interests, defending a deeply dysfunctional political system."

    Siege warfare? Good grief. Not getting everything he wants has pushed this lunatic over the edge.

  • MattXIV||

    Nobel Prize Winning Economist Paul Krugman is objectively pro-stagflation.

  • Guy Smiley||

    Nixon proposed requiring that all employers, not just large companies, offer insurance.

    I read this as Krugman thanking Nixon for fucking up health care so badly with government intervention, that Krugman can now convince people that the way to fix it is yet more government intervention.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    How many of you geniuses have won the Nobel Prize?
    I'll claim at least three off the top of my head: Hayak, Friedman and Buchanan. I'm sure there are more.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Price controls on health care will make it affordable.

    What would be the side effects?

  • MattXIV||

    Markets Are Magical!,

    So you get your economic policy opinions by blindly deferring to whoever has a Nobel Prize? And don't forget Friedman won one too, so why don't you defer to him? Guess he doesn't flatter your preconceptions the way Krugman does.

  • trix||

    Krugman you FAIL ECONOMICS FOREVER

  • Joe M||

    Hayek won a Nobel Prize too. Checkmate!

  • ||

    Krugman has ideals and principles; his opponents have mere ideology. Thanks for the clarification.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Maybe if you braindead libertards listened to Dr. Krugman once in a while you wouldn't be so irrelevant. How many of you geniuses have won the Nobel Prize? Zero.

    Oh. I see what you did there. Clever.

  • Guy Smiley||

    And don't forget that Al Gore won a Nobel Prize, and he's right about everything!

  • Guy_Smiley||

    And is it just me, or does Krugman always have the countenance of a stoned eight-year-old?

  • Thelonious_Nick||

    To be scruplously fair, Al Gore's Nobel prize wasn't in economics. He won the Peace Prize, just like Yassir Arafat.

  • NAL||

    I'm starting to think Krugman is a simpleton or something. Seriously, like an idiot savant. He's obviously very bright on some level (I believe his Nobel Prize was awarded for his theory explaining why countries of similar wealth tend to trade more with each other than countries of dissimilar wealth do...or something like that), but on other levels, he's almost retarded.

  • Michael||

    @MattXIV

    Don't forget Hayek winning a Nobel Prize in economics, too.

    Krugman's Nobel hardly excuses the hackjobs and rose-colored glasses nostalgia pieces that are his hallmark.

  • ||

    The Nixon era was a time in which leading figures in both parties were capable of speaking rationally about policy, and in which policy decisions weren't as warped by corporate cash as they are now.

    Military Industrial Complex.

    Where have I heard that term before? Oh, that's right, starting with the Eisenhower administration.

    Fail, Paul. EPIC FAIL.

  • mark||

    First of all, it's the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel and it's slightly more meaningful than the Peace Prize.

    And Krug,
    Nixon proposed requiring that all employers, not just large companies, offer insurance.

    I'm sure as an economist he knows that more regulation leads to more entrepreneurship. They should require all employers just hire everybody, why the fuck is there still unemployment?

    "Actually turning this country around is going to take years of siege warfare against deeply entrenched interests, defending a deeply dysfunctional political system."

    Made possible by the end of Bretton Woods!

  • _^___^_||

    Guy_Smiley | September 3, 2009, 11:43am | #

    Krugman always have the countenance of a stoned eight-year-old


    That's the look of genius. He has the prize to prove it.

  • Xeones||

    He had other cats, but he ate them.

  • The Nobel FTFY||

    I HAD MOAR CATS

    BUT I EATED THEM

  • ||

    Maybe Krugman really is nostalgic for those days. We must remember Krugman is a rich guy who grew up in a rich-kid's world and attended rich-kid's schools etc. Krugman has never had direct experience of consequences resulting from the policies he advocates or is against. He's been insulated from such inconvenience his entire life.

    Nixon also was a liberal's dream...policy-wise. He centralized control of the federal bureaucracy into the OMB, was an innovator in the endless councils-to-the-president that have slowly phased out the relevance of most cabinet appointments and replaced Senate-vetted folks with political hacks being close to the president in all matters of governance. He gave us the EPA, busted us out of the gold standard, adopted price-fixing, haggled with the Fed to keep the Xerox running, hatched the DEA, went to China, accommodated the Soviets...the list goes on and on. Nixon sucked.

    We haven't had as "progressive" of a president since frankly. No wonder Krugman's all about it.

  • ||

    I CAN HAZ NOBL PRIZ?

  • MattXIV||

    NAL,

    My guess is he's smart, but believes that misleading people is ok as long as the ends justify it. It seems like he knowingly fudges the economics if he thinks there is some moral imperative to enact a policy. His political writings tend to use a form of somewhat sophisticated question begging where he identifies the underlying premises of arguments he disagrees with and assumes them to be false so that his views flow logically from the assumption, so it's rare for people who don't already understand the economics of an issue to notice the dubious assumption.

    For example, in one piece he assumed healthcare spending is completely inelastic to argue against the idea that reforms involving market mechanisms couldn't save money. Healthcare spending is obviously not completely inelastic, otherwise it wouldn't make any sense to charge copays or coinsurance to reduce unnecessary usage, but your average NYT editorial page reader isn't going to notice that unprompted, so he gets away with it. In contrast, he probably knows he can't get away with it in serious academic work, so he plays it clean and includes all the appropriate caveats.

  • ||

    The Nixon era was a time in which leading figures in both parties were capable of speaking rationally about policy, and in which policy decisions weren't as warped by corporate cash as they are now.



    Holy crap, Krugman seems to have lived through an entirely different Nixon era than the one I lived through.

    I wonder which one of us crossed over into the other's universe. Forget healthcare, just find the technology that made that possible.

    On the other hand, some people used a lot of drugs back then. :)

  • JB||

    Krugman is a retarded fetus.

  • The Gobbler||

    "How many of you geniuses have won the Nobel Prize? Zero"

    My brother did back in the mid-80's. In an actual HARD science. Does that count?

  • Warty||

    LOOK AT THE KITTY!!!!!!!

  • <i>This</i> Nixon?||

    "I am today ordering a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States...it is temporary....To put the strong vigorous American economy into a permanent straight jacket would lock in unfairness....I am relying on the voluntary cooperation of all Americans....While the wage-price freeze will be backed by government sanctions...it will not be accompanied by the establishment of a huge price-control bureaucracy....Freedom brought America where it is today and freedom is the road to the future for America."

    Speech to the nation, Aug. 15, 1971

  • ||

    I HEER AND OBEY YUO, SNUGGLES.

    NO, MANKIND NOT DESTROID YET.

  • ||

    "Nixon also was a liberal's dream"

    Pretty much. But the liberals hated him because he was the guy who got Alger Hiss. They hated him because he was the nobody weird kid for California who took down the erudite Harvard educated former Supreme Court clerk. It would be like Sarah Palin proving that Bernake was on the Iranian payroll. The fact that Nixon created most of the infrastructure of liberal government and ended the Vietnam War, the ending of which they claimed to be such a fierce moral urgency, didn't matter.

    The left, in this country at least and at least since World War II, has always been more about culture than policy or beliefs.

  • Tony||

    John,

    The left hated Nixon because he was a paranoid, racist criminal. The fact that none of his successors were as liberal as he says more about his successors and the state of the country than it does about him.

  • ||

    "My guess is he's smart, but believes that misleading people is ok as long as the ends justify it."

    He wrote an entire book in the early 80s about stagflation and failures of Nixon's policies. He knows that what he is saying is bunk. He is just lying. This is no different than he is on the budget deficit. When Bush was in office he wrote rivers of ink explaining how the deficit was the end of the country. Now that Obama is in office, he is saying that 9 trillion dollars in new debt is nothing to worry about.

    The whole thing is really kind of sad.

  • The Man||

    This may be off-topic but I just noticed that Krugman is a potbellied cat fancier with an overbite. Could this be the explanation for his madness?

    I've also just noticed that the quality of debate declines dramatically once the comment count exceeds 10. Not a bad thing overall, quite entertaining, but still . . .

  • ||

    Nixon also was a liberal's dream...policy-wise.



    Yes, I always cringe when I heard RMS referred to as a "conservative."

    If anything, Jack Kennedy was the more conservative candidate in the '60 election, with his tax cuts (the Republicans wanted spending cuts first), hard line on Communism (he accused Eisenhower, and by association, Nixon, of appeasement, and allowing a missile gap).

    On domestic policy there was little to distinguish them. The New Deal was accepted as America's secular religion and it's programs untouchable. Any changes were going to be at the margins.

  • The Gobbler||

    "The left hated Nixon because he was a paranoid, racist criminal."

    Just like Obama. BTW, you accidently ommitted liar.

  • ||

    "The left hated Nixon because he was a paranoid, racist criminal."

    Tony you are an idiot. Nixon's abuses, while awful, were no worse than those purpetraited by Johnson and Kennedy. As far as him being a racist and anti-semite, he was no bigger a one than the martyr JFK. In fact, Nixon and JFK were quite close and Nixon and Jacki remained close until his death. Just like Joe Kennedy and McCarthy were close associates.

  • ||

    Hayek won a Nobel Prize too.

    Actually, no. There is no Nobel Prize for economics, there's a swedish banker's prize that they try to pass off as a nobel prize.

    Of course, the real Nobel prizes have been hopelessly debased ever since they started handing them out to the likes of Arafat and Kissinger.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Nixon's abuses, while awful, were no worse than those purpetraited by Johnson and Kennedy.

    I beg to differ. Neither Johnson nor Kennedy attempted wage and price controls.

    -jcr

  • ||

    a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States.

    That's what the bastard should have been impeached, prosecuted, and imprisoned for, just like Roosevelt. Watergate was a side-show.

    -jcr

  • ||

    I still marvel at how David Frost was able to sit there and listen to Tricky Dick say "if the president does it, it's not illegal" without strangling him on the spot. How many times in your life do you get that close to such an example of evil incarnate?

    -jcr

  • ||

    "I beg to differ. Neither Johnson nor Kennedy attempted wage and price controls."

    True. But I was thinking more of his abuses of the CIA and the FBI.

  • ||

    This may be off-topic but I just noticed that Krugman is a potbellied cat fancier with an overbite.

    KITTY!!!!

    I always had a hard time hating 007 villains.

    Sure he had a bone strewn tank full of sharks...but he also had Fluffy so all was forgiven.

  • .||

    Yes, I always cringe when I heard RMS referred to as a "conservative."

    Richard M. Stallman? You should cringe!

    Tar and feather Krugman and be done with it!

  • mark||

    Well I just read about that pastor in Georgia, so I think I'm going to log off Reason for a while and think about how to make a positive impact on the world. Krugman sucks, NYT sucks, health care "debate" sucks, Nixon sucked, Johnson sucked more, Obama is sucktastic. Bye for now.

  • Xeones||

    This may be off-topic but I just noticed that Krugman is a potbellied cat fancier with an overbite. Could this be the explanation for his madness?

    Possibly. It also explains Warty.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I promised I'd pimp this note Ben Lee (of previous Krugman decimating fame) sent me the other day and lo and behold; a new Krugman article presents itself:

    Check out what Krugman said in 2003 on Bush-era deficit spending:

    "The Congressional Budget Office operates under ground rules that force it to wear rose-colored lenses."


    "...that the 10-year deficit will be at least $3 trillion… So what? Two years ago the administration promised to run large surpluses. A year ago it said the deficit was only temporary. Now it says deficits don't matter. But we're looking at a fiscal crisis that will drive interest rates sky-high… But what's really scary - what makes a fixed-rate mortgage seem like such a good idea - is the looming threat to the federal government's solvency. That may sound alarmist: right now the deficit, while huge in absolute terms, is only 2 - make that 3, O.K., maybe 4 - percent of G.D.P. But that misses the point."


    "Think of the federal government as a gigantic insurance company (with a sideline business in national defense and homeland security), which does its accounting on a cash basis, only counting premiums and payouts as they go in and out the door. An insurance company with cash accounting . . . is an accident waiting to happen." So says the Treasury under secretary Peter Fisher; his point is that because of the future liabilities of Social Security and Medicare, the true budget picture is much worse than the conventional deficit numbers suggest."



    And most obnoxiously of all:

    "But my prediction is that politicians will eventually be tempted to resolve the crisis the way irresponsible governments usually do: by printing money, both to pay current bills and to inflate away debt. And as that temptation becomes obvious, interest rates will soar."




    Read Ben's comments and a couple of my own here: Conscienc? What Conscience?

  • creech||

    For what it's worth, Nixon's freeze on wages and prices precipitated David Nolan to call for the formation of the Libertarian Party, which unlike the freeze, still survives today.
    [begin snarky comments now.]

  • Mike M.||

    I still marvel at how David Frost was able to sit there and listen to Tricky Dick say "if the president does it, it's not illegal" without strangling him on the spot. How many times in your life do you get that close to such an example of evil incarnate?

    I agree, but let's be honest: every President since him (including the current one) secretly believes the basic idea as much as he did.

    They just wouldn't be stupid or deranged enough to say so is all.

  • alan||

    Good grief, Krugman. Defending the pathetic policies of the Nixon administration? How low will you go before you erase the chalk board of your preconceptions and start over from scratch?

  • ||

    "Yes, I always cringe when I heard RMS referred to as a "conservative."

    Richard M. Stallman? You should cringe!"

    Dang, teh stoopid strikes.

    And the "S" isn't anywhere near the "N" either. So I can't even plead "typo".

  • ||

    Krugman loves Nixon because (1) Nixon employed price fixing, (2) Nixon terminated the gold standard with extreme prejudice, and (3) Nixon knew how to use tyrannical power when it suited him.

    If only Obama had all those features!

  • ||

    Paul rubbed more oil into his matted pelt of chest hair and crumbs. The sun was rising behind the Washington Monument and the lounger groan and creaked as he struggled to reach his tofu and rum smoothie. His other hand scratched absently at the angry red strip of assflesh that squeezed themselves out between the lounger's elastic bands. The Nobel Prize that he normally wore around his neck was tucked in the crevasse formed by his left moob.

    He drained his glass and roared "Servants! I demand service!" Ezra and Matt bounded from their cubbyholes like retarded hounds. "Herr Doktor," Matt slurred past the zippered mouth of a gimp mask, "vhat do you deshire?" Ezra's high-pitched giggle ended with a hiccup and a fart.

    "What prizes have I won today, Matt? I barely tan through all this hair and I need a pick-me-up." Paul flicked away a fly feeding on the insensate flesh around his nipple. It fell to the ground at Ezra's feet, dead.

    Matt stammered. "Noshing, Herr Doktor. Not shince ze Nobel."

    "Nothing? NOTHING? I'M A GODDAMN GENIUS!"

    Cats scurried from where they lay in the sun. Paul winged the empty glass off of Matt's exposed genitals. Ezra automatically dropped to his hands and knees, exposing the deep anal fissures that radiated out onto his pale and pimply buttocks. The stench was unbearable. He would die soon of Fournier gangrene, but there were a hundred more like him coming out of Sarah Lawrence College every year.

    Paul struggled to stand. Corporashuns had used advertising and unbearably hyperpalatable food to balloon his weight. He shoved the moaning Matt to the ground and kciked him over onto his back. "Oh, I'll get a PRIZE! PRIZES ARE MINE"

    Paul began pissing into Matt's mouth. Matt choked and gagged and swallowed and smiled.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Brava sir.

  • ||

    He would die soon of Fournier gangrene, but there were a hundred more like him coming out of Sarah Lawrence College every year.

    It's funny because it's true!

  • ||

    Wasn't Nixon's health care plan authored by Kaiser Permanente, the first HMO? They wanted these things because it would make them rich and allow them to deliver poorer services.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Quality stuff, Sugarfree. Unfortunately, it was vivid enough that I imagined the smell of Ezra's anal fissures. Ewwww.

    NAL said:

    but on other levels, he's almost retarded.

    Maybe he is just being dishonest, but he does project a kind of dull cluelessness when I see him on TV. That could just be his demeanor, but when the stuff he's saying also seems dumb sometimes, one can only wonder...

  • ||

    "Paul began pissing into Matt's mouth. Matt choked and gagged and swallowed and smiled."

    Where's the cat'o'nine tails?

  • Xeones||

    For what it's worth, Nixon's freeze on wages and prices precipitated David Nolan to call for the formation of the Libertarian Party, which unlike the freeze, still survives today.

    [citation needed]

    (You're welcome.)

  • Xeones||

    Goddammit! Close tag!

  • Xeones||

    Thanks, SugarFree. Whiskey for dinner again tonight!

  • JB||

    Sure he had a bone strewn tank full of sharks...but he also had Fluffy so all was forgiven.

    Well, if he threw Fluffy into the tank all would be forgiven.

    The one great scene in The Spirit had a similar result.

  • MattXIV||

    Prediction:

    30+ years from now, a Krugman equivalent will be praising the Bush administration for it's expansion of Medicare and pointing out how it was willing to work with Ted Kennedy on No Child Left Behind and asking why the Republicans of his day are such terribly partisan reactionaries.

  • ||

    "30+ years from now, a Krugman equivalent will be praising the Bush administration for it's expansion of Medicare and pointing out how it was willing to work with Ted Kennedy on No Child Left Behind and asking why the Republicans of his day are such terribly partisan reactionaries."

    I'd hope that's true...however thirty years from now will be after the tits-up/Come to Jesus moment all debtors face when insolvency arrives. In no small part thanks to Medicare expansions ironically...

  • Grandpa Whithers||

    "I always had a hard time hating 007 villains.

    Sure he had a bone strewn tank full of sharks...but he also had Fluffy so all was forgiven."

    That's why I liked how Dr. Evil was portrayed as having difficulty getting closer to his son.

    Same holds true for South Park's humanizing Satan as torn between Saddam and Chris. One couldn't help but empathize...with Satan!

  • Markets Are Mayhemical!||

    So you get your economic policy opinions by blindly deferring to whoever has a Nobel Prize? And don't forget Friedman won one too, so why don't you defer to him? Guess he doesn't flatter your preconceptions the way Krugman does.


    I was just fucked in the ass by a unicorn!

    Sir take the paper, take a seat, and fill out your complaint.

    But my ass hole is bleeding!

    Calm down sir, or else I'll need to get an officer in here to detain you. Take the paper, take a seat, and fill out your complaint.

    Aren't you listening! I was ass raped by a unicorn!

    Officer, Officer, we have a situation in the lobby.

    Violated! He used his horn on me!

  • ||

    No wonder I've never liked or trusted Krugman.
    He's a cat person.

  • ||

    Proposed caption for the photo: "Economist Paul Krugman and his cat Maynard. Krugman is the one in the blue shirt."

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