Past performance is no guarantee of future results:
It seems almost in bad taste to talk about dollars and cents after an act of mass murder. Nonetheless, we must ask about the economic aftershocks from Tuesday’s horror. These aftershocks need not be major. Ghastly as it may seem to say this, the terror attack — like the original day of infamy, which brought an end to the Great Depression — could even do some economic good.
— Paul Krugman of the New York Times, September 14th, 2001.
Here’s the situation: The U.S. economy has been crippled by a financial crisis. The president’s policies have limited the damage, but they were too cautious, and unemployment remains disastrously high. More action is clearly needed. Yet the public has soured on government activism, and seems poised to deal Democrats a severe defeat in the midterm elections.
The president in question is Franklin Delano Roosevelt; the year is 1938. Within a few years, of course, the Great Depression was over. But it’s both instructive and discouraging to look at the state of America circa 1938–instructive because the nature of the recovery that followed refutes the arguments dominating today’s public debate, discouraging because it’s hard to see anything like the miracle of the 1940s happening again.
What Krugman calls “the miracle of the 1940s” is more commonly known as World War II, a ruinous conflict that cost some 60 million lives, including more than 400,000 American ones, and that entailed the near-extermination of Europe’s Jewish population.
World War II is sometimes called a “good war,” meaning that few dispute American intervention was necessary or that we fought on the right side. But this easy moral clarity is possible only because the Axis actions that started the war were unambiguously evil.
In April 2009 we noted that David Leonhardt, a Krugman colleague at the Times, had praised the economic policies of Germany’s National Socialist Party. Now Krugman calls World War II itself a “miracle.” The Old Gray Lady is in the grips of utter madness.
— James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal, September 8th, 2010.
There he goes again.
Bombastic New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has launched another overblown attack on House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget.
“To be a little melodramatic, the budget would kill people,” Krugman told CNN as part of a profile of Ryan. “No question.”
— Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner, today.
(“Kill people?” That sounds remarkably like the eliminationist rhetoric that I recall one New York Times economic writer hectoring us all to avoid back in January. Say, what was that guy’s name, anyhow?)