New Silicon Graffiti Video: Where Krugman Has Gone Before
Rather than shoot the new video in the newsroom set we typically use as home base, I decided to borrow a used Apollo capsule and Saturn rocket to make my way to Space Station V. What better place to discuss the alien invasion that’s about to strike planet earth?
Or at least the one that Paul Krugman of the New York Times has publicly called for on two different occasions, first during an interview with CNN host Fareed Zakaria in 2011, and then just last month on Bill Maher's HBO series. Here's a partial transcript of Krugman's CNN appearance, which he shared with Kenneth Rogoff, Harvard University economics professor:
KRUGMAN: Think about World War II, right? That was actually negative social product spending, and yet it brought us out.
I mean, probably because you want to put these things together, if we say, "Look, we could use some inflation." Ken and I are both saying that, which is, of course, anathema to a lot of people in Washington but is, in fact, what fhe basic logic says.
It's very hard to get inflation in a depressed economy. But if you had a program of government spending plus an expansionary policy by the Fed, you could get that. So, if you think about using all of these things together, you could accomplish, you know, a great deal.
If we discovered that, you know, space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months. And then if we discovered, oops, we made a mistake, there aren't any aliens, we'd be better –
ROGOFF: And we need Orson Welles, is what you're saying.
KRUGMAN: No, there was a "Twilight Zone" episode like this in which scientists fake an alien threat in order to achieve world peace. Well, this time, we don't need it, we need it in order to get some fiscal stimulus.
But even if you hire Rod Serling to write your script, and Industrial Light & Magic to provide your special effects, it's still simply an interstellar spin on William James' Moral Equivalent of War concept from 1906, a "progressive" obsession that has led to a century of bad ideas -- including, as we mention in the video, a few from History's Greatest Monster himself. While the Malaise Speech of 1979 gets all the credit, Carter's earlier "M.E.O.W" moment in 1977 arguably demonstrates the futility of his worldview just as well:
And similarly, in April of 2008, Time magazine would illustrate Carter’s notion with this cover, which replaces the American flag the US Marines hoisted atop Iwo Jima with…a tree, and the headline “How to Win the War on Global Warming.”
Back in 2004, Thomas Sowell explored one reason why the Moral Equivalent of War and similar doomsday mongering is a staple of the left:
There’s something Eric Hoffer said: “Intellectuals cannot operate at room temperature.” There always has to be a crisis–some terrible reason why their superior wisdom and virtue must be imposed on the unthinking masses. It doesn’t matter what the crisis is. A hundred years ago it was eugenics. At the time of the first Earth Day a generation ago, the big scare was global cooling, a big ice age. They go from one to the other. It meets their psychological needs and gives them a reason for exercising their power.
But with Solyndra and other elements of Obama's environmental themed venture socialism now seen as failed ventures, and with the idea of global warming having discredited itself during the infamous “Hide the Decline” scandal in 2009, and numerous doomsday final countdowns having come and gone and the earth no worse for wear, we’re left with Paul Krugman’s Twilight Zone fantasies to sell the idea of massive government spending.
Well, even more massive government spending than we’re doing already.
Click on the above video to watch; a handy embeddable YouTube version is available here. And click here for three years worth of earlier editions of Silicon Graffiti, including our previous trip to the Space Station. We visited there back in the spring of 2009, when John Holdren, President Obama's Dr. Strangelove-esque "science" "czar" told an apparently nonplussed AP reporter that he debating launching rockets to seed the upper atmosphere with pollutants to fight global warming. Ahh, the heady days of hopenchange...)
Update (7/2/12): PJTV subscribers can tune in here to watch.