Debt and Deficits

Paul Krugman, on His Policy Reversals Since 2005: 'Well, I've learned a few things since then'

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As forecasted on Reason 24/7, New York Times economist-turned-conservative-basher Paul Krugman faced down MSNBC talker Joe Scarborough over debt, deficits and government spending yesterday on The Charlie Rose show. Even by Krugman's own lights, the Nobel Prize-winner got his clock cleaned. Here's a particularly shifty-eyed passage:

Reason on Paul Krugman here.

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  1. Well, we’ll see how it comes out after editing, but I feel that I just had my Denver debate moment: I was tired, cranky, and unready for the blizzard of misleading factoids and diversionary stuff.

    And that’s about as humble as Krugabe will ever get. He’s still a genius and the greatest economist in the world, he just needed a nap.

    1. Translation: I never expected anyone to use my own words against me.

      1. He spins his so called economic expertise in whatever way is politically convenient for him at the time. So the difference is that Bush was president back than and a Democrat is president now. His goal is to get invited to NY cocktail partys not to give expert economic analysis not that he would be capable of that anyways. Hacks gotta hack.

      2. Wow. Just fucking wow. And this is the guy the NYT uses as an example as to why to blog “ignorant” comments on their site?

        Classic liberal tactic. When faced with their own words they move the goal posts and say something as vapid as “don’t play that way. Argue on the merits of the argument at the moment.”

        That way they never, ever, never have to answer to anything.

        Priceless.

        The thing is, Krugman is probably the most notable and recognizable face defending Obamanomics and we see it for the empty bull shit that it is.

        1. Really, at this point, what does it matter…

          That is as good as ‘You didn’t build that’; just does not get old!

  2. He has people skills, dammit!

    1. Does he have a Jump to Conclusions mat?

      1. He has a Jump to Conclusions beard. It just takes less effort that way.

  3. “And I took this much Obama dick in my mouth”

  4. Even by Krugman’s own lights, the Nobel Prize-winner got his clock cleaned.

    SHOCKER. This guy is so off the rails that I’m amazed he actually allowed himself to be in the presence of anyone who might disagree with him. But I guess when you’re as self-delusional as he is, you actually believe you’re not a fucking retard. Kind of like Tulpa.

    1. In his defense, Joe Scarborough has suckered just about the whole world into thinking he’s not that bright most of the time.

      1. Well, call me suckered because he’s not that bright.

        1. And yet he wiped the floor with a Nobel Prize winning economist who writes for the NYT. Something in our signalling process must be broken, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what it is. Maybe the whole experts are specialists who don’t know everything or even most things about even their own broader fields.

          1. I always knew I had an inappropriate crush on Joe Scarborough for…a reason…

            Don’t worry though, guys, it’s all in the past.

            Even though he still looks sorta dreamy…

          2. And yet he wiped the floor with a Nobel Prize winning economist who writes for the NYT.

            Winning the Nobel Prize doesn’t mean you always know what you’re talking about.

            1. Or, even what you’re saying, given that they awarded it to a teleprompter not long ago.

            2. I believe Krugabe’s Nobel was in Economics. That should mean he knows what the fuck he is talking about in this instance…and yet he does not. Suck some more of his “Juice” will ya?

              1. Non-sequitur alert! Non-sequitur alert!

                1. You mean when Brett brought up Nobel Prize and NYT?

                  1. No. I mean Fatman’s bizarre post.

                    1. What’s bizarre about bringing up the fact that Krugman’s Nobel was for econ, not peace per Juice?

                    2. Actually, MY BAD Comprehension Fail. Saw words that did not exist. Apologies.

              2. Krugman’s “Nobel” (Swedish central bank) prize was for international trade, not macroeconomics. You’d think he’d shut up about macroeconomics, but he can’t and half the time he just spouts what he learned in undergrad, which many macroeconomists consider oversimplified, outdated and/or wrong today. Insert play of words on “Fatman” here. Also, Joe Scarborough is not that smart.

              3. Fatman are you the same guy who was tearing some cop sucker apart over at Bob Owens blog? Because that was some quality vitriol.

                1. I am, and thank you.

                  1. And that asshole Bob has banned me from his blog because, like a libtard, he hates when people disagree and so silences them.

  5. I don’t want to alarm you, but there may a Krugman or Krugmen in the house.

    1. “The calls for stimulus spending are coming from inside the house!”

      1. Have you checked the children?

        1. “Tell me, Paul… what are you wearing?”

          “A sweater I stole from a dog.”

          “Is it a tight sweater? Can I see your dirty pillows?”

          “No. It was a big dog.”

          1. No dog is that big, it must have been a bear.

  6. Notice his tell? He smirks when he lies. I bet he sucks at poker.

    1. Not at all. When he loses his bankroll he just starts betting IOUs on the same pair of deuces.

  7. FACT PWNED

    1. Or say hello to warm, wet Mars. A direct hit by a comet might be enough to restart its plate tectonics.

      1. Logic? My God the man’s talking about logic! We’re talking about Martian Armageddon!

      2. I don’t know about restarting plate tectonics, but it will be enough to melt a lot of ice and keep the local area warm for years. Don’t know if our satellites will have a shot at picking up signs of life, though…

        1. Why restart plate tectonics? We can just dig tunnels underground all over the planet and live underground. Is there any heat at all in the core? There must be some.

          1. IIRC from the Science Channel, yes the core is warm but not rotating. No rotation, no magnetic field to deflect the solar radiation.

        1. You highlight an important military gap. Where are the space drones?

          1. Damn near every functional piece of equipment in space is a drone. And all of them are constantly irradiating the planet with electromagnetic waves! Its terrifying when you think about it, but not alarming at all if you think about it even more.

            1. I was thinking more of drones that destroy stuff.

              1. If the Pentagon had space drones, do you think they’d let us know about them?

                1. That’s true, so maybe we have space drones and a complete asteroid/comet defense network. That would explain why we’ve been told that all we can manage to do is piddle about in LEO, despite going to the Moon forty years ago. Pretty unbelievable, when you think about it.

      1. QUAID…START THE REACTOR…FREE MARS

        1. Do you think the Preservers left an asteroid-deflection device on Mars?

          I AM KIROK!

          1. No, ProL. It’s “I SERVE NONE BUT KORROCK”. Idiot.

            1. Did you just make a “John Dies at the End” reference?

    2. If it’s actually going to hit Mars (probability is only like %0.08 or something), I would support federal funding for Mars satellite that would monitor the impact in every way possible. Because really, when else would you ever get the chance?

      1. The impact is in 20 months, so the satellite would have to be launched like yesterday.

        1. I thought it takes 6 months to get there? So it’d have to be designed yesterday.

          1. It takes 6 months for objects from Earth to get to Mars, not the comet.

            1. I read twenty months as twenty weeks. Derp.

            2. And that time depends heavily on the orientation of the two planets at launch time. 6 months is the lower limit.

      2. We already have probes orbiting Mars that would get a look at this thing. They are part of ongoing missions.

        1. Article said they’d be wiped out.

    3. “Well, in those days Mars was a dreary, uninhabitable wasteland, much like Utah. But unlike Utah, Mars was eventually made liveable when the university was founded in 2636.”

      1. So the university scared off the Mormons?

    4. I hope it doesn’t destroy any Enkindler artifacts…

    1. Why is she dating a 40-year old virgin?

      1. Because she’s a 40 year old divorcee with an STD.

        1. Moneymaker: Dating site for Herpes’d-Americans.

          BurningTingle.Com: Discover Your Outbreak of Love

      2. Heh, reminds me of the time I checked the medicine cabinet of the woman I was dating, and there was a lot of medicine with odd names in there. I later went b went back in there that night with a pad and a pen and wrote every name down then checked them out on line the next day. One was a two year old prescription to treat a mild STD. The deed had already been done at that point, I just didn’t want any surprises.

        That is why you should always offer oral first guys, so you can inspect that thing inside and out.

        1. And start out the relationship with facial sores.

    2. “Frankly, I don’t understand why you want to have intercourse with this guy.”

      You have that backwards, lady.

      1. Its only genital warts. Not like, anything serious.

    3. GOD DAMMIT PEOPLE STOP LINKING TO RETARDED SLATE ARTICLES

      1. Dear Prudence is one of the few good things about Slate.

        1. Dear Prudence, my wife wont give up the butt, what should I do?

          You and your wife should see a therapist together.

          Dear Prudence, my son is a huge dork who speaks in Klingon and wears a federation uniform to school. I’m afraid he will be untouched for the rest of his life.

          You and your spouse and your son should visit a therapist together. Get the group rate!

          My sister is really cute. I think about banging her like all the time. How do I approach her about it?

          In front of a board certified therapist.

          Dear Prudence, let me see you smile
          Dear Prudence, like a little child
          The clouds will be a daisy chain
          So let me see you smile again
          Dear Prudence, won’t you let me see you smile?

          Licensed therapist.

          1. *you and your wife should see an analrapist together, FTFY

            1. Yeah, but I’m cheap and they charge for both the analysis and the therapy.

        2. “Dear Prudence is one of the few good things about Slate.”

          Agreed.

          http://www.slate.com/articles/…..games.html

          I loved the second question in this column for this part, “My friend has dealt with bulimia starting at age 7 because her mother told her she was fat. Based on pictures, she wasn’t.”

          If she HAD been fat, well that’s completely understandable for the mother to point it out at every opportunity. But come on! She wasn’t even fat.

      2. But if people stop linking to Slate, they’re probably going to be asked to stop linking to Jezebel as well. And without stupid Jezebel and Slate articles, who will we have to laugh at? Krugman? That’s more annoying than fun. The Morning/PM links comment thread would shrink by 75%.

        1. they’re probably going to be asked to stop linking to Jezebel as well.

          I asked for people to stop linking to Jezebel a long long time ago.

      3. Finally, Hugh and I agree about something other than that “The City on the Edge of Forever” is the best TOS episode.

        1. You and I are of a kind, Epi. In a different reality, I could have called you friend.

          1. Consider my terror balanced, Hugh. Wait, isn’t Mark Lenard Spock’s dad? I’M CONFUSED.

    4. Prudie is on her game today. The one about the woman with the book is great.

      I hope this isn’t a self-help book about letting go of slights and unrealistic expectations. Congratulations on your book, and speaking for book authors everywhere, get used to realizing that hardly anyone else is going to care.

    5. Maybe if she wasn’t such a whore, that she is, she wouldn’t have teh herpez and teh mamma’s boy might want to getz teh peepee wet?

  8. “I’ve learned a few things since then…”

    Like sometimes there’s a Democrat in the White House.

  9. UN thinks state laws legalizing pot violate international law. Isn’t it cute when the UN thinks it has real authority? Like a dog that thinks it’s people.

    1. The UN has no more or less authority than the states.

  10. Do you all remember the call by Krugmen and Democrats to lower the debt and deficit spending in preparation for baby boomers coming through the belly of the snake? They wanted to get with Bush and make Social Security solvent and reform entitlements. You remember that right, when it occurred, in ummm, well with the missed opportunity, ummm, they wanted to reduce spending at the…, ummm. Hmmm, I can’t really recall Democrats giving a damn about the debt and deficts or every mentioning the shining moment of opportunity Krugman mentioned.

    1. Krugmen? He’s multiplied?

      Well, we’re boned.

      1. It’s about as likely as the multipliers he believes in when it comes to printing money.

      2. Not so much multiplied as spread. As I’ve argued before, Krugman is actually a contagious disease.

  11. If Krugman’s so gung-ho about deficit spending in the foreseeable future, why is he in favor of increasing taxes on the rich? And actively opposed to decreasing taxes for the rich? Decreasing their taxes would only help increase the deficit, which is, apparently, the most awesome thing we can do right now.

    1. What is it about this topic that makes everyone so fucking obtuse?

      1. Explain it to us dumb libertarians, Tony. Because I don’t get it either. If deficits don’t matter, why the necessity of raising taxes?

        1. And if spending cuts have a multiplier of at least 1.5 as he claims, then why would we EVER cut spending? Why wouldn’t we crank it up as high as we possibly could?

        2. SPENDING GOOD RICH BAD *HEAVY MOUTH BREATHING*

        3. Because the rich must be punished. That’s the progressive agenda in a nutshell.

        4. (For Sparkle Tony’s benefit, a multiplier of 1.5 means that you lose $1.50 of GDP for every dollar cut, or gain $1.50 of GDP for every extra dollar spent. Krugman is claiming that $1 of deficit spending makes us $1.50 richer, i.e. that the more debt you accumulate, the wealthier you are. This is such obvious horseshit, nobody would believe it if it were not couched in jargon.)

          1. see it works like this: you are the gov. you spend a dollar you don’t have. It takes the form of a bond you pay interest on over 30 years. By the time you have paid it off with interest, you’ve paid 1.50. Because you are buying all your own bonds (via the Fed), you now have $1.50. You are rich. See?

            1. Oh that’s cool!

              So you get $1.50 in GDP now, and over time, you make a profit from the loan!

              If it works this way, we really should be doing a LOT more of it!

        5. Raising taxes is necessary assuming we have a policy of cutting the deficit. Krugman (and many others) don’t think the deficit is the most important problem right now, and can’t really be dealt with simultaneously with dealing with unemployment anyway.

          Deficits are a long-term problem. Unemployment is an immediate problem. If people insist we deal with deficits and they don’t tolerate a single dime in tax increases for the purpose, then they are being ideological and disingenuous. It makes absolutely no sense, morally or economically, to make only the poor and elderly pay for the deficit.

          1. You’re buying into Krugman’s assertion that cutting spending has a 1.5 multiplier and therefore increases unemployment.

            That’s the part that’s horseshit.

            If it were true, we should keep borrowing more and more money until the cost of borrowing hit 50% per year. Up to that point, we’d be making ourselves rich, with every dollar we borrow.

            Since you clearly don’t understand the bullshit Krugman is spouting, then why do you agree with him?

            1. But the cost of borrowing is practically nothing. The reason cutting government spending is bad for employment is because the private sector is not producing enough jobs to get unemployment acceptably low. It’s simple arithmetic. Cutting government spending means either cutting government jobs or cutting economic demand, both of which contribute to weakening the economy.

              The bullshit on the other side of this argument is premised entirely on the notion that government is evil. That’s why it fails to accord even with basic arithmetic. It’s ideology, not economics.

              1. When you say that the cost of borrowing is practically nothing, you’re assuming that interest rates will be near 0% indefinately. That has never happened in recorded history. When interest rates rise (not if), the payments for servicing the debt will skyrocket.

              2. “The reason cutting government spending is bad for employment is because the private sector is not producing enough jobs to get unemployment acceptably low.”

                And the fact that the government takes trillions of dollars out of the private economy year after year has nothing to do with that?

                1. All of which (and then some) goes back into the economy, which is more than can be said for much of the lightly taxed income of the wealthy.

                  1. Wow Tony. The government taking money out of the economy, shuffling it through a massive bureaucracy and a corrupt political process actually improves the economy. Just wow. And this post shows how utterly clueless Tony is about economics. Rich people just hoard cash and things like saving and investing are just drains on the economy by preventing consumption. Not to mention that my comment was referring to spending, not taxes, as that is the true measure of the fiscal burden on the private economy. And since when do only rich people pay taxes?

                    1. By federal bureaucracy you mean people’s paychecks–and not those of the superwealthy who can stash most of their income (meaning it’s not creating demand in the economy). Whether a particular bureaucracy itself is useful or not, the money still goes back into the economy. Where do you think it goes? Into a bottomless pit?

                    2. Where do superwealthy stash most of their income? Giant vaults where they can swim through mountains of gold coins.

              3. The bullshit on the other side of this argument is premised entirely on the notion that government is evil. That’s why it fails to accord even with basic arithmetic.

                Epically wrong. The question is whether creating make-work jobs make “us” wealthier.

                Government jobs do not create wealth, that is, the goods and services that people want or need.

                1. The burden of government spending is always, ALWAYS, borne by producers. The harm is suffered by all.

            2. You’re buying into Krugman’s assertion that cutting spending has a 1.5 multiplier and therefore increases unemployment.

              That’s the part that’s horseshit.

              Indeed. Tony has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about, as usual. He can’t get past chapter 5 in Macro-101.

            3. It makes absolutely no sense, morally or economically, to make only the poor and elderly pay for the deficit.

              Except there’s no way to avoid that. If you ever figure out the distinction between wealth and money, you might begin to understand that.

          2. Tony:

            Raising taxes is necessary assuming we have a policy of cutting the deficit.

            Really? As far as I can recall, when he’s discussing raising taxes on the wealthy, the “assume cutting the deficit” qualifier is always unstated.

            1. What other reason is there to raise taxes?

              1. To punish the rich… Unless they are Obama donors.

              2. Tony:

                What other reason is there to raise taxes?

                Precisely, which makes one wonder why, in an environment such that more defecits = more awesome, he talks about raising their taxes.

                1. Again, obtuseness. Krugman only ever argues for raising taxes on the rich in the context of deficit reduction–which he says will need to be done long-term.

                  Nobody’s forcing you to agree with mainstream economics (which says that cutting government spending during high unemployment is counterproductive), but why can’t you at least understand its basic arguments?

                  1. Krugman only ever argues for raising taxes on the rich in the context of deficit reduction–which he says will need to be done long-term.

                    Krugman is living in a fantastical full of shit world that depends on you being totally uncurious. Daddy Bush tried the taxes-for-cuts to reduce the deficit a long time ago and surprise, surprise..spending never went down.

                    Politicians do not live in Krugman’s academic hot box. Taxes raised tend to stay raised and spending is NEVER reduced. What you consider mainstream econ also says govt spending should be cut during robust times but that never happens, either.

                    1. Actually it says that aggregate demand should be reduced during boom times. Government spending is government spending. There’s no reason to cut, say, Medicare just because the economy is booming. Most government spending should exist because it’s something we want government to be doing. Reducing demand during a boom can happen via progressive taxation, and perhaps the elimination of any government spending that had been enacted only to increase demand.

                      But you want to cut spending because you are ideologically opposed to government doing things. I don’t know why you can’t just say that instead of pretending to care about deficits (since if you cared about deficits you’d obviously be in favor of adjusting the revenue side of the ledger).

                    2. Tony:

                      Most government spending should exist because it’s something we want government to be doing. Reducing demand during a boom can happen via progressive taxation

                      Right. During the recession, you don’t lower taxes, you increase spending. During the boom, you increase taxes. You never cut spending or taxes. And this goes on forever, without ever running into a dead end. Nope. Can’t imagine a fault with this plan.

                  2. Tony:

                    Again, obtuseness. Krugman only ever argues for raising taxes on the rich in the context of deficit reduction–

                    What other reason is there to raise taxes? Doesn’t that go without saying?

                    which he says will need to be done long-term.

                    Really? In this article, he seems to go on and on about how the rich aren’t paying their fair share, during a time when congress is debating letting the Bush tax cuts expire without replacement. I don’t see the qualified warning stating “this advice is for long-term deficit reduction only: do not take in the next several years.

                    1. All he is doing is refuting arguments against raising taxes. The whole conversation, though, is in the context of deficit reduction. Yes, it is implied.

                      I happen to think, and I suppose Krugman does too, that progressive taxation has positive–and necessary–benefits all by itself. If you want to explore that we can.

                    2. Ah, I see: So Krugman is refuting arguments against raising taxes, but only under the assumption that we are going to reduce the deficit (of course: for what other reason should one raise taxes?), which, apparently, we shouldn’t be considering doing right now, because deficit spending is currently helpful.

                      So he’s refuting arguments against doing something that’s bad for the economy, instead of explaining how it’s bad for the economy? If that’s how he’s going to talk, what’s the point of writing editorials for the NYT? To help shape bad policy?

                    3. It’s a DC reality that deficit reduction is a policy goal. So at the moment it’s always the context. He also says, often, that deficit reduction shouldn’t be the priority right now.

                      But especially in a weak economy the best way to do deficit reduction, as far as it can go, is to tax the wealthy. That has the least negative impact on the economy of the available options.

                    4. Tony:

                      It’s a DC reality that deficit reduction is a policy goal.

                      Well, it’s just a darn shame that both Democrats and Republicans have such a stunning disregard for economic realities. I guess Krugman just got tired of qualifying his articles about taxing the rich with warning disclaimers like:

                      “Warning: deficits really shouldn’t be reduced at all, but I can’t even get Democrats in power to listen to me, so since we’re going to reduce the deficit anyway, let me explain the best way to enact bad policy,”

                      after which, he jumps into the “Hey, I have a great idea: let’s tax the rich!” articles.

                      I can see why it got tiring writing the disclaimer over and over again.

              3. Power. It’s really that simple. The tax code is the single greatest source of power in DC.

                Also, the cost of govt goes up every year and it is an article of faith among the left that only higher taxes can sustain the higher levels of spending.

          3. How does raising taxes lower unemployment?

            Wait, wait! I know! Raising taxes on my evil rich corporate employer will result in them cutting back the work force and raising unemployment! No, no, that’s not it! I know! Raising taxes on rich people will cause them to buy less stuff, thus lowering employment because the people who made that stuff are no longer needed! No, that’s not it! Shit! Can you explain it?

            1. I didn’t say it did.

              1. Unemployment is an immediate problem. If people insist we deal with deficits and they don’t tolerate a single dime in tax increases for the purpose

              2. Tony:

                I didn’t say it did.

                I know: raising taxes on the rich during a recession is the part where Democrats depart from the wisdom of the Keynesian economics professors. We don’t talk about that much. For Democrats, its just part of the fact-free, philosophical dogma that they get a pass for.

                1. It’s ONLY EVER IN THE CONTEXT OF DEFICIT REDUCTION. Jesus Christ.

                  I fault Democrats for going along with the deficit police in the GOP and not calling them out on their hypocritical bullshit more often (since the deficit almost entirely belongs to the GOP).

                  But they’re not arguing for raising taxes on the rich as a means to lower unemployment. It’s a separate issue. For some reason the deficit hawks have dominated the conversation at the expense of all the unemployed people.

                  1. Tony said:

                    It’s ONLY EVER IN THE CONTEXT OF DEFICIT REDUCTION. Jesus Christ.

                    Tony:

                    What other reason is there to raise taxes?

                  2. It’s ONLY EVER IN THE CONTEXT OF DEFICIT REDUCTION. Jesus Christ

                    Which is fucking pointless if government spending keeps going up every year. It’s like you live in a universe where inflation doesn’t even exist.

                  3. Tony:

                    But they’re not arguing for raising taxes on the rich as a means to lower unemployment. It’s a separate issue.

                    Well, it’s a darn shame, then, that the Democrats’ current favorite policy idea has nothing to do with lowering unemployment. Krugman makes that sound really important. Damn those politicians and their fact-free, economic illiteracy! Oh, when will they start living up to our dreams?

            2. sarcasmic| 3.5.13 @ 3:33PM |#

              How does raising taxes lower unemployment?

              It gives Mommy government more monies to spend on ‘Shovel-Ready Projects’ which Create Teh Jobses, *DUH!*

          4. Tony said:

            It makes absolutely no sense, morally or economically, to make only the poor and elderly pay for the deficit.

            Right, but you’ve already told us that any claims about moral truths are subjective; the only difference is assertion.

            So, why should anyone care what you think morally? No one should feel compelled to agree with your sense of morality any more than your taste in food or clothing, given your statements. If it’s just a matter of opinion, then why should anyone have to care about the poor or elderly at all, much less have the government force them to?

            1. Morality can be subjective and still useful.

              I don’t believe that God or the universe or any other external force gives a shit about whether the human species survives or prospers. But I give a shit, and I construct my ethical norms around the principle that I think the human species should survive and prosper. It’s the definition of subjective, but even so it’s fairly universally felt among humans (understandably).

              As is the idea that the most vulnerable ought not be forced to suffer even more for the good of society before the least vulnerable are asked to contribute. (And make no mistake–concern over the deficit is a social concern.) Just not among libertarians. And sometimes I wonder if the first moral principle isn’t merely secondary to libertarians.

              1. Tony:

                But I give a shit, and I construct my ethical norms around the principle that I think the human species should survive and prosper. It’s the definition of subjective,

                Actually, that’s not the definition of ethical subjectivism: you have to do more than reject God, the universe, and external forces, and then pick an ethical norm you like.

                ,but even so it’s fairly universally felt among humans (understandably). As is the idea that the most vulnerable ought not be forced to suffer even more for the good of society before the least vulnerable are asked to contribute…Just not among libertarians.

                I’d say this is argumentum ad populum, except that you don’t come out and say your view is superior. You just claim that caring about human survival and propserity is popular, and accuse libertarians of not doing so.

                So, that’s your big accusation? Libertarians don’t embrace a morality that’s popular enough for you? I didn’t know being consequentialist and pragmatic meant embracing the rationaltiy of Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, and I’m somewhat disappointed: I expect stronger stuff from the self richeous than appeals to popularity.

                1. I am not claiming that “human well-being should be maximized” is any less arbitrary (with respect to the universe) an ethical first principle than “finder’s keepers” or whatever you’re claiming. They are both mere assertions. The difference is I acknowledge that fact and justify my claim by rejecting the alternative as popularly undesirable (maximizing human misery is something we could do, but why not just pick well-being instead?) You give your first principle an extra imprimatur, though I confess I’m not sure what that authority is supposed to be.

                  1. Tony:

                    I am not claiming that “human well-being should be maximized” is any less arbitrary… an ethical first principle than ..whatever you’re claiming. ..The difference is I acknowledge that fact and justify my claim by rejecting the alternative as popularly undesirable (maximizing human misery is something we could do, but why not just pick well-being instead?)

                    Ok, so your argument goes like this:
                    Libertarians embrace a totally artibtrary first principle, which makes them completely equivalent with me and my first principle. Except mine is more popular than theirs.

                    Wow, that’s a stunning, objective rebuke of libertarianism. One big appeal to popularity.

                    In fact, what little weight the argument has is completely annihilated when you realize you’re just working with strawman libertarianism. There are utilitarians that embrace liberty and non-aggression as a utilitarian result, maximizing human well-being. They have the same first principle as you do. Their estimate of human well-being just factors freedom from aggression more heavily than yours. And how do you prove yours is better? More appeals to popularity? Is it Glinda, all the way down?

                    1. Also, for someone who embraces ends as justifying the means, you never show you work. Where is this great human well-being maximization function? How do you prove optimality? It’s just a lame excuse for taking contradictory positions: apparently, you’re just too damn busy maximizing human well-being to worry about consistency, or explaining how you measure it. And, since everything’s subjective, who the hell says we have to care about consistency? So much for logic and rationality.

                      It’s disappointing that you seem so fired up to prove libertarians inconsistent, only to turn around, claim rational equivalency in first principles, and, then, appeal to popularity. False equivalency and fallacies don’t go far.

                    2. Also, it’s a pretty clear sign that the arguments for morality aren’t going your way when, despite embracing an objective ethical framework (utilitarianism), there comes a point in the argument where you have to throw up your hands and claim that morality is all subjective: it’s all a matter of opinion, and none is objectively right or wrong. That’s usually most convenient for the people who are wrong, along with being unfalsifiable at best, and self-contradictory when taken as objective truth.

                      These aren’t the hallmarks of a philosophy based on logic and rationality, much less the foundation for lecturing anyone else about their beliefs.

                      Considering that you’ve taken on such lecturing in your attempt to maximize human well-being, maybe you could come up with a coherent philosophy yourself? It’s a blatant performance contradiction to, one the one hand, claim it’s all a matter of subjective opinion, and go around “proving” that everyone is “wrong”.

          5. It makes absolutely no sense, morally or economically, to make only the poor and elderly pay for the deficit.

            This is a weaker straw man than usual, Tony.

            http://www.9news.com/rss/story.aspx?storyid=321033

            1. Explain how it’s a strawman. You don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthy one dime for the purpose of deficit reduction, correct? So they are completely off the hook. Who does that leave the bill with? Medicare recipients, mostly. I guess we would both agree on some room for defense cutting that wouldn’t affect the poor and elderly.

              And that article says to me we’re off to a good start. One curious blind spot of supply-siders, libertarians, etc. is the fact that taking $1000 from a billionaire is not, in fact, as burdensome to him as taking $1000 from a poor person.

              1. This is cute. You deny that it is a straw man by following up with the same straw man. But of course you also deny that we have already raised taxes on the rich, despite the citation I posted. I don’t want to raise taxes on anybody one dime, for any purpose. The deficit can be reduced through spending cuts, and the spending cuts can start with money that is going to billionaires. But you don’t even want that, because you’re not interested in anything resembling an honest discussion. Actually, fuck you, Tony, because you will just disregard anything I say and post another unrelated straw man and try to pretend it’s something that someone actually argued.

                1. Well I did ask you to explain where the straw man was. Is it that you don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthy by one dime? Can’t be it, you just admitted it.

                  The thing about the poor and elderly isn’t a straw man because it’s a claim. You may not want to burden the poor and elderly, but that’s really the only option if we don’t tax the rich.

          6. Raising taxes is necessary assuming we have a policy of cutting the deficit.

            Math fail.

          7. Deficits are a long term problem until they become a short term problem. That’s when we’re screwed.

          8. Raising taxes is necessary assuming we have a policy of cutting the deficit.

            Builshit. Cut the spending.

            -jcr

  12. So that Mars story has me thinking.

    Say Mars gets hit this year.

    That would make two of the nine (yeah, fuck you, I said nine) planets hit by comets in less than 20 years.

    WTF, comets?

    Wouldn’t that drastically mess up all the models out there concerning how likely it is for the Earth to get hit in any particular year?

    We don’t really have a complete enough crater history on Earth to do a definitive count to rebut the whole “two planets hit in 20 years” statistic that would be glaring us in the face.

    Especially when you throw Tunguska in there as a third data point.

    1. The energy they are talking about is closer to the Yucatan dinosaur killer. Tunguska didn’t have enough energy to be a comet like Hale-Bopp or this one.

      1. Sure, but it had enough energy to be destructive.

        It’s more of a frequency issue. If the question is, “How often are planetary bodies in the solar system hit by objects large enough to cause widespread destruction?” if this thing hits Mars the answer to that is “Well, three times a century that we know about.”

        That’s crazy high. Hell, even seeing Schumaker Levy 9 during our lifetimes was supposed to be an extremely low probability event. But to see that go down more than once?

        1. I suspect an intelligent race, living in the Oort Cloud, is sending us several warnings before clobbering the Earth.

          1. Or they are only semi-intelligent and can’t aim a comet for shit.

            1. That’s a possibility as well. Still, lots of comets out there, so they might succeed one of these days.

              1. The Stopped Clock Theory of Planetary Extinction

    2. I would think comet hits on Jupiter or Saturn to be pretty common. They are big gravity wells.

      I think if you want to use a two planet metric over 20 years you really can only talk about rocky planets.

  13. Scarborough is a non-economist pundit with an ideological obsession. He’s not cleaning Krugman’s clock here (and I expected it to be bad). Krugman talking about the debt problem pre-2008 is not inconsistent with his economic views. I fail to understand what relevant credentials Scarborough has to even be engaging in such a debate.

    1. Krugman is a non-economist pundit with an ideological obsession.

      FIFY

    2. I fail

      You sure do.

    3. Define “ideology.”

      1. A system of ideas–I use it in the sense of being contrasted unfavorably with pragmatism.

        As in caring more about proving your core ideas right than discovering how the real world works by examining evidence.

        It often comes from an unnecessarily sensitive moral compass. Someone or something is always evil and someone or something is always good. A child’s worldview.

        1. Tony:

          It often comes from an unnecessarily sensitive moral compass. Someone or something is always evil and someone or something is always good. A child’s worldview.

          Right. This is from a person who claims that all morality is subjective: the worldview of a person who just wants to do whatever they please, to anyone else, with as few pesky limitations as possible. An adult child’s worldview.

        2. Someone or something is always evil and someone or something is always good. A child’s worldview.

          Oh, you mean people who think intentions are all that matter?

        3. Why isn’t pragmatism a system of ideas? Are you saying that your reasoning is devoid of ideas? Or are you simply using “ideological” in place of “deontological” as opposed to “teleological”?

          1. Ideological has a connotation similar to “dogmatic” and that’s what I was going for.

            1. We’re going in circles. What is “dogmatic”?

              1. Unshakable belief in principles regardless of evidence.

                1. Does this mean you are a utilitarian? Do you reject all deontological systems?

                    1. I would say I’m a small-u utilitarian. I’m not convinced that moral calculuses are all that useful or that strict ones are all that possible, but if we’re going to talk about normative ethics, consequentialism of some form is the best approach. (I wouldn’t endorse a strict utilitarianism that rejects individual rights, for example, but do think that morality is inherently social, and that it should be completely devoid of appeals to magic, i.e., deontology.) I didn’t mean to imply that I agree with the formulation that the only alternative to deontological ethics is a strict utilitarianism. Above all I would consider myself a pragmatist.

                    2. What are “individual rights”? How do we know what they are? Whence do they come? And how do you define “pragmatist”?

                    3. Right, so the first principle is maximizing human well-being. This can more or less be objectively determined (they need food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, physical and financial security, and a few other things). These are basic needs. I would consider individual liberty to be another basic need, and define individual liberty to mean freedom of mobility and self-determination. I think that’s clearly as basic at least as physical security.

                      Let’s pause and acknowledge that these are not needs embedded in the universe, they are specific physical needs of the animal homo sapiens interested in its own survival and prosperity. If someone wants to say that human survival and prosperity don’t matter and that we should all lay down and die, they are on just as solid ground, but given the choices I pick, perhaps arbitrarily and anthropocentrically, not-nihilism.

                    4. They come in the form of social contracts. They are specific licenses to do a thing or be free from something and they come from a stable government that’s able to protect and enforce them.

                      By pragmatist I mean everything is provisional pending new evidence.

                    5. “Human well-being” – how is that to be measured? Are there units, hedons perhaps, that we can accurately determine? This is not an idle question. If the first principle is to “maximize” x, one must first measure x before it may be increased or decreased.

                      “Individual liberty” – defined as “mobility” and “self determination.” What is “self determination”? And what does freedom of mobility mean? That someone must be provided a means of transportation to wherever he wishes to go, by whatever means?

                      The problem with your reasoning is that if you delve down and really try to pin down your concepts, I think you’ll find the ultimate basis of your pragmatism to be just as metaphysically slim as someone appealing to “magical” property rights. Both types of thinking are “magical.” You just think your magical thinking is better. And that’s fine. We prefer our magic. But you’re not going to win on the basis of logic. Neither side can. It’s a matter of preferences.

                    6. I like that you’re questioning terms. It’s important. Human well-being, mobility, and self-determination are not specifically defined. But I listed some specific aspects of well-being, and I acknowledge that these standards evolve with time (hopefully toward more well-being).

                      The specifics are all negotiable and that is the basis of all political discourse. Some think it’s worth paying for a safety net. Some think it’s worth paying for public transportation (which indisputably increases access to the freedom of mobility). Some think society should be more stingy.

                      We both actually have the same first principle: maximizing human well-being. You think your policies do that, otherwise you wouldn’t advocate them. You may claim (strangely) that you’re actually adhering to principle over people, but that must be because you think that’s what’s best for people. It’s utilitarianism all the way down I’m afraid.

                      Libertarianism hence is simply an alternative with the same goal in mind but at quite a deficit when it comes to empirical evidence.

                    7. But we don’t have the same first principles. I’m concerned with what I consider to be right, which is the protection of property. And that holds even if my ideal society has less overall well-being than yours. You may decry that, but there is no a priori reason why I should abandon my first principle (and no a priori reason you should abandon yours). But one metaphysically troubling aspect of your first principle is that there is no way to measure the very thing you wish to maximize. Without measurement, you will not know if you are increasing or decreasing well-being.

                    8. The Heresiarch said:

                      Without measurement, you will not know if you are increasing or decreasing well-being.

                      I think you’re taking him too seriously: he’s not interested in actually measuring human well-being. He just likes the cover that claiming to maximize human well-being gives him. It functions as a great excuse to do whatever he wants, while simultaneously ignoring the inconsistencies and consequences, which is shocking, considering he claims to be a consequentialist.

                      He essentially said above that he can’t even figure out how to define or measure this well-being, even though its maximization is the central tenet of his “philosophy”. So, he’s directly admitted to being unable to even apply his convictions. Yet, he still argues as if he can just assume his ideas are best for everyone overall, and will produce that. It’s totally irrational, and a lot more generous of a goal post than he demands of libertarians.

                    9. Well, perhaps this is obvious to you and others, but I think you are wasting your time here. Most people here are not utilitarians. For most people here, the means (stealing via taxation, using a definition of stealing whereby property rights are ontologically prior to the state) do not justify the (purported) ends (feeding the hungry and homeless). I don’t see any sign that people here are going to change their first principles from your constant posting. And until the first principles are resolved, you and the others here are just talking past one another.

                    10. Why can’t the first principles be resolved? The idea that property rights are prior to the state is silly. Or at least no less silly than the claim that Jesus was born of a virgin. I’m mostly here to challenge first principles and deontology itself.

                    11. I haven’t seen any evidence that you’re shaking people out of their first principles, or vice versa. As for rights, I’ve seen you invoke those before. What are they? Where do they come from? How do we know what are rights and what are non-rights? And do you think there is a difference between propositions regarding rights, and propositions regarding facts like whether or not someone was conceived by intercourse?

                    12. I’ve learned a lot by being here; can’t speak for anyone else. But this isn’t my bubble and there’s always something to learn from strange lands.

                      Rights are legal constructs that confer liberties or entitlements to people. We know what rights there are because they are written down and legally enforceable paper.

                      If you’re asking how do we know which rights we should enforce, it’s a question that can be posed to you as well. I might say we want rights that maximize individual liberty. You might say the same. Of course then I’d say individual liberty is obviously maximized by a strong welfare state, and you might disagree.

                    13. Rights are legal constructs that confer liberties or entitlements to people.

                      Rights are logical constructs. Legality (and illegality) are similarly constructs.

    4. Tony:

      I fail to understand what relevant credentials Scarborough has to even be engaging in such a debate.

      This is a great example of argument from authority. Is there a list of fallacies that you check off whenever you use them? I’d think you’d have most of them covered by now.

      1. That’s not a great example of that fallacy at all. It’s not even a good one. Questioning someone’s credentials on a topic on which he’s opining is perfectly legitimate.

        You might say I was engaging in the fallacy if I claimed Krugman says x, thus x is true. But Krugman is a subject-matter expert and there is at least arguably a consensus among experts on that subject that agrees with him.

        Scarborough’s only skill it seems to me is talking out of his ass. That’s not relevant to the question of whether he’s suited to debate macroeconomics?

        1. Tony said:

          Scarborough’s only skill it seems to me is talking out of his ass. That’s not relevant to the question of whether he’s suited to debate macroeconomics?

          Oh, it’s totally relevant to the question of whehter he’s suited to debate macroeconomics.

          The problem is, we’re discussing the question of the quality and flexible nature of Krugman’s assertions. Talking about Scarborough’s suitability only interests you, and does so as a means to change the subject.

          1. Well Krugman did agree to debate him so I guess you have a point.

    5. Argumentum ad hominem

      You get that that’s a fallacy, right? Not some sort of Theorem of Right Reasoning.

  14. New York Times economist-turned-conservative-basher Paul Krugman faced down MSNBC talker Joe Scarborough over debt

    I watched some of it (until the projectile vomiting began)

    What drove me nuts = its a fucking super-liberal versus an only-VERY-liberal pundit. Whoa~! Sparks flew~

    Bullshit. Their differences were a matter of arguing how Democrats need to DO MORE SOMETHING about TEH ECONOMICS and the only point of disagreement was JUST HOW AWFUL ARE RETHUGLICANS???

    1. That’s the reason why I forgot about this debate until Reason posted this story.

      Did Krugman mention his favorite Atlas Shrugged quote?

  15. The difference I have with Tony, et al, is that he seems to assume that we have an economic system to provide people with jobs, whereas I now think we have an economic system to satisfy our needs and wants as consumers.

    The only reason to do a job is because more value is derived from the activity than is consumed in performing the activity, otherwise your resources will be consumed and starvation will follow.

    Because Tony assumes that jobs automatically make people wealthier, they are unable to see that jobs can also make people worse off.

    That’s the value of markets over politics; in the market, we can refuse to pay for jobs that make us worse off, with government, we don’t have that ability.

    1. I merely consider mitigating starvation among humans more important than satisfying the supposed mathematical purity of the market mechanism.If the latter doesn’t result in the former then the latter is a flawed outlook on a basic level.

      1. Yeah, it’s the same clap trap:

        “I’m feeding the poor, and keeping them from starving. Because I say so! And you’re not!”

        It’s just begging the question: your intention is to maximize human well-being. You assume you do so. Viola: immediate philosophical superiority.

        It’s all just a question begging joke.

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