Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman is a bright guy and he’s done some good academic work. But when it comes to political commentary, he’s both ignorant and arrogant. His latest New York Times column is an example of both.
Krugman called himself a liberal, by which he means that he’s solidly part of the “progressive movement.” These folks have a deep belief in using government to fix the things they see wrong in the world. I understand their theory. I understand their motivation. I just think they’re wrong. I wouldn’t care about them holding an opinion different from mine if they didn’t assert the moral right to control other people — including me.
In his latest column, Krugman talks about the current debt ceiling “crisis.” (I put the word in quotes because I don’t see it as a crisis, even though most others seem to.) He doesn’t see it as a disagreement between two sides with opposing opinions. Instead, he sees it as a battle between crazy people who want to cut the budget and the centrist Democrats who have been willing to do everything reasonable to prevent a crisis. He even calls Barack Obama a “moderate conservative.” (Yes, seriously.)
If you believe the Democrats’ position is reasonable, that will seem like an accurate summary. But if you have a different worldview from Krugman, his description of the facts will seem like a delusional fantasy. And this is the problem. I understand why someone with his beliefs would frame the debate that way, even if I disagree with it. However, Krugman believes that anyone who frames the debate differently is doing so for reasons of “fear and ego.” He says:
“And yes, I think this is a moral issue. The ‘both sides are at fault’ people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it’s out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray.”
What Krugman can’t seem to understand is that it’s possible to hold principles different from his own. He doesn’t seem to understand that some of us believe that taxation is theft and that what the state takes from us and gives to other people — or spends invading and attacking other countries — is stolen money. He also doesn’t seem to understand that some of us believe that both sides are wrong because they both assert the right to control us.
He’s arrogant enough that he thinks anyone who disagrees with him is scared and egotistical.
I’ll admit that I’m scared, but I’m scared of people such as Krugman — in both of the major parties — who assert the moral right to own me and control my life. As for ego, the person who asserts that nobody else can possibly be right but him has that spot locked up.
I don’t care if Krugman and others want to have their own little world where they jointly decide how much much to take from others and what rules to make for each other. Just don’t pretend you have a moral right to rule those of us who didn’t agree to your system.