Oh Baby, You're So Vicious


TAP's Robert Kuttner appears to have blown a fuse in his ongoing debate with Johan Norberg: He spends as much time in his most recent entry calling Norberg a "fundamentalist" as he does making actual arguments.

My favorite non–ad hominem part: "Sure, policymakers sometimes make mistakes but they actually learn over time. That's why there's been no great depression since the 1930s. " Of course, there also hadn't been a Great Depression before the 1930s, when FDR's policies just happened to coincide with the severe deepening of what might've been another routine recession.

Anyway, back when I was writing for Laissez Faire Books, I wrote a short bit on the "fundamentalism" argument, if anyone's interested.

Update: Reader Carole Newton suggests that the depression of 1893-97 counts as "great." Certainly it was quite severe, but also much shorter. I'll let y'all decide whether it's a counterexample to what I say above.

Update 2: Wow. Now Kuttner's trying to claim that Norberg was deliberately lying when he wrote "six percent" rather than "six percentage points," a mistake he immediately conceded and attributed to his writing in a second language. According to Kuttner, since Norberg's English is generally very good, he must have been "wilfully…distorting history." Now, that's the kind of mistake I'm sure I've made once or twice, and English is either my first language or my second by about 2 months…was I lying without knowing it? And what on earth would be the point of lying about a simple fact that can (and obviously would) be so easily checked? Just amazing.