Listen to Matt Welch Debate Sequestration With Matthew Yglesias on WHYY Philadelphia from 10-11 AM ET


Beginning in 15 minutes I'll be talking government-cutting on Philly's public radio outlet with Slate econ writer Matthew Yglesias. I presume you can listen live somewhere at the link.

NEXT: Woodward Invites Sperling and Others From the White House to His House

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  1. Matt,

    If you would kick sad pirate in the nuts, I promise I will donate generously to your defense fund.

    Available at approx. 12:30 p.m. EST

    Another failed promise from the libertarians.

  3. Yglesias is a philosophy major and completely clueless on economic matters:…..esias.html

    1. I’m certainly no fan of sad pirate, but that was weak.

      It is amusing, but ultimately irrelevant that he is a philosophy major. He may know something about economics nevertheless. Tyler Cowen seems to take him seriously, so I suspect that, while sad pirate may be wrong about a lot of things, he is not “completely clueless”.

      1. “Tyler Cowen seems to take him seriously,”

        Which means nothing.

        “he is not ‘completely clueless’.”

        Then explain how he so consistently misses even the most obvious and well proven points, and makes basic errors that first year econ students manage to avoid?

        Judging Yglesias by his writings, calling him “clueless” is as close to correct as his writings are about economics.

        1. It doesn’t prove anything, but nor does it “mean nothing”. Which is why I specifically said “I suspect that…”

          And I don’t know that he “consistently” misses even the most obvious and well proven points. Apparently he wrote a decent monograph on rent control. And sometimes he stumbles on the truth.

          In any case, my point was that “he’s a philosophy major” isn’t an argument. And the counterargument given in that blog post (which was mixed together with ad homs) is weak — it’s not going to convince anyone that doesn’t already agree with you.

          To be clear, I’m not defending Yglesias. That’s his job. I’m just calling out what I think is sloppy argumentation.

      2. What’s weak?

        He took on Reinhart and Rogoff because their conclusion didn’t match his politics. He didn’t make a single decent point.

        1. Your only argument here is

          “If Japanese bond-holders tore up their bonds (or if Japan defaulted 100%), that would be a huge destruction of wealth for the private sector in Japan, and it would crush GDP and plunge Japan into a depression.”

          Really? Why? I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, but don’t you have to flesh that out, like, a lot?

          In Yglesias’s macro-view, it’s all debt that the Japanese “owe to themselves”. Now, if I literally take out a loan and fund it myself and owe it to myself, I can just tear it up, and I haven’t “destroyed private wealth” as a consequence. So it’s not going to be obvious to anyone that already agrees with him that your claim is true.

          The problem is that this sort of macro-view is misleading. You have to drill in deeper to put an argument together. Doesn’t it matter who owes who? Doesn’t it matter what the spending was that produced the debt?

          This is what Buchanan did, at a time when mainstream economics was saying “public debt doesn’t matter, because we owe it to ourselves”. And it took some careful thinking, and even many real-life economists still don’t get it.

          That’s why I thought your post was weak.

          1. Sorry, I thought it was obvious that a lot of government debt is held by the private sector.

  4. “I’m sorry, WHAT CUTS?”

  5. Will you be shamelessly promoting your book?

    1. Should not the question have been “how will you be shamelessly promoting your book”?

  6. Never bring a knife to a gunfight.

  7. Holy low-hanging fruit, Matt. Calling it a “debate” when verbally sparring with Yglesias is sort of like calling it a “fight” when you’re kicking a no-armed, no-legged, comatose man.

  8. I tried, but for My sake, I can’t stand Yglesias’ smarmy sanctimonious voice. That dude has a very punchable voice.

    1. The dog next door started barking when I played the audio back.

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