The Unbearable Lightness of Paul Krugman's Thoughts

The elegant nature of untimed sports -- like baseball or tennis -- is that a safe lead cannot exist. With no clock to kill, the participant must consistently be the better competitor.

Supply and demand -- that most basic economic truth discovered in the age of barter and the grand fairness of democratic society which the tea party participants ascribe to -- is much the same. When the world's wealthiest firm chooses to make an inferior product, when they choose to stop competing and to sit on a large lead, that moment occurs during day one on their path to bankruptcy.

According to his glittering bookshelf, economist Paul Krugman is one of the world's preeminent thinkers. And according to his writing, he is supposedly the product of a solid-gold mind. He must believe in the existence of a safe lead.

His April 12 New York Times column, "Tea Parties Forever," is a phenomenally wan, iron-deficient piece of journalism. Krugman uses unexamined lies, false assumptions, and brittle-boned logic to attack his philosophical opponents.

He makes a million unprofessional mistakes in the writing of this piece, all worth rebuttal.

But, more importantly, his million little mistakes add up to one much larger -- one fatal hubristic flaw that only a market of millions and a bay full of tea leaves may correct. Regarding the tea parties, Krugman states that concern regarding Obama being a socialist is based only on Obama's proposal to raise taxes on higher-income individuals. And publicly demonstrating, based on that alone, means tea party participants must be twelve buckets of crazy. Krugman writes:

President Obama is being called a "socialist" who seeks to destroy capitalism. Why? Because he wants to raise the tax rate on the highest-income Americans back to, um, about 10 percentage points less than it was for most of the Reagan administration. Bizarre.

Lovers of facts and evidence will recall that Obama has also committed trillions of taxpayer dollars to bailing out private industry, taken massive government stakes in those industries, complained about subsequent private industry decision-making (thus declaring his intent to apply government influence on their operations), enacted confiscatory government taxes to effectively annul lawful employment contracts, and forced out the CEO of General Motors.

Yet Krugman has moved on already, and lovers of logic and reason will note the unsoundness of his following passage. Rather then present facts to back his argument that tea party anger is based entirely on tax increases -- which any economist or any motivated taker of the SAT reading comprehension exam would expect to follow -- Krugman skips that necessity. Instead, he tries to back his assertion that tea partiers are, indeed, crazed crazy folk. He writes:

The charge of socialism is being thrown around only because "liberal" doesn't seem to carry the punch it used to. And if you go back just a few years, you find top Republican figures making equally bizarre claims about what liberals were up to. Remember when Karl Rove declared that liberals wanted to offer "therapy and understanding" to the 9/11 terrorists?

Then there are the claims made at some recent tea-party events that Mr. Obama wasn't born in America, which follow on earlier claims that he is a secret Muslim. Crazy stuff -- but nowhere near as crazy as the claims, during the last Democratic administration, that the Clintons were murderers, claims that were supported by a campaign of innuendo on the part of big-league conservative media outlets and figures, especially Rush Limbaugh.

Speaking of Mr. Limbaugh: the most impressive thing about his role right now is the fealty he is able to demand from the rest of the right. The abject apologies he has extracted from Republican politicians who briefly dared to criticize him have been right out of Stalinist show trials.

I would love to see a reader, perhaps one more mathematically expert than I, try to shoehorn that splatter-paint thought train into a concept map. Maybe a Kripke model. The task isn't for me -- I haven't yet been considered for a Nobel, not even in the "soft" sciences. I've taken a stab at a summary though, if it is a help:

Tea parties are crazy because they are an overreaction. Most of the participants are Republicans. A Republican said something I believe to be crazy years ago. Also, other people at the tea parties said things I believe to be crazy about other things, and that's representative of the movement as a whole. Ten years ago, another Republican said something I think is crazy. Rush Limbaugh agreed. Josef Stalin.

According to Wikipedia, Paul Krugman has won himself a John Bates Clark Medal, a Nobel, and -- among other prizes -- Editor and Publisher's 2002 Columnist of the Year.

Possessing such a resume leads one to believe Krugman is sitting on what he perceives to be an insurmountable lead. An inexperienced, untenured type would not dare mail it in so publicly, so one can only assume Krugman is secure in his legacy, living standards, and current employment.

The market being what it is and the mainstream media failing as it is, work this poor gets chewed up and buried in the age that killed media monopoly. Krugman will not long be regarded seriously with columns like this.

Though that is not, however, the fatal flaw I mentioned earlier.

Krugman's terminal error in reason was in thinking his gold leaf on polyvinyl trophies are an accurate yardstick of literary ability. Classical liberal, socialist, or one of his hated "crazies," a great thinker needs to show some mastery of thought and letters if he wishes to affect discourse.

A great thinker should be able to leave behind greatness. Perhaps Krugman is a great economist, but I don't believe him to be capable of leaving behind a memorable collection of political thought. He cannot communicate passably well, yet he left behind pure economics to become a political theorist. At that, he is not capable. He deserves a challenge to his tenured, compromised soapbox, and the market is seeing to it -- in the form of looming bankruptcy for his employer -- that he does.

And that, dear economist, is what the tea party displays are about: a free market in goods, a free market in trade, and a free market, merit-based standard for our policies, our ideals, and our leaders who win the privilege of representing them -- be they elected, or be they chosen as figureheads of our constitutionally-protected free press.

Am I a crazed radical, after your head?

No, sir.

Just your job.