Krugman's prize

by Russ Roberts on October 13, 2008

in Growth

Everyone has their own least favorite Krugman quote. There was his disrespectful treatment of Milton Friedman after Friedman’s death. There was his broken window analysis of the economics of 9-11. Today, now that he has won the Nobel Prize, I’d like to remember the quote that made it clear to me that the economic way of thinking was no longer of concern to him, when he wrote in the New York Times Sunday Magazine:

Although America has higher per capita income than other advanced
countries, it turns out that that’s mainly because our rich are much
richer. And here’s a radical thought: if the rich get more, that leaves
less for everyone else. That statement — which is simply a matter of arithmetic — is guaranteed to bring accusations of ”class warfare.”

I’ve talked to a number of people who are depressed and angry at Krugman’s prize.

For me, it is just another reminder that those of us who believe in liberty are in for a long time in the intellectual wilderness. Today’s intellectual climate is a taste of what it must have been like to believe in liberty in 1933, or what it must have been like to be Milton Friedman in say, 1962.

I think things are much better today. We have many more outlets for spreading the virtues of freedom than we had in the past. I take solace in the fact that the average American today has a much richer understanding of the case for liberty today. And I take solace in what Milton Friedman said when I interviewed him in August of 2006 and commented on how topical Capitalism and Freedom still is. His response:

The basic principles that we believe in are going to stay the same for
the next thousand years. That aspect of it will never go out of date.
What goes out of date are the particular applications. We still find
Adam Smith’s book, Wealth of Nations well worth reading even though it’s published in 1776.

So if you love liberty and fear those who would engineer our well-being rather than let it emerge from our free choices, if you love liberty and fear those who would use good intentions as an excuse for plunder, don’t worry. We’ll have our day down the road. Keep reading and writing and thinking. And don’t yell. Above all, smile and hold firm to your principles. They will be remembered and valued when the pendulum swings the other way. It’s just a matter of time.

Postscript (HT to Charlie and Sanjiv in the comments):

I’m not saying Krugman got the prize for his partisan advocacy. I have no idea. And I am not commenting on the quality of his academic work which I am not sufficiently familiar with to judge. What is unfortunate is that someone whose economic statements I mentioned above will be called a Nobel Laureate. And what is more unfortunate is that someone with his policy outlook (at least as it is articulated in his recent popular writing) which is hostile to liberty, will have a larger soapbox.

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{ 51 comments }

Carl October 13, 2008 at 11:59 am

Good article. I didn't realize it before, but I actually needed that reminder to not grow frantic and shrill.

Babinich October 13, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Russ,

Just remember this:

Long after the award ceremony remains the man.

Steve October 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Thanks for posting that, Russ. Sometimes things feel hopeless…

Steve Mc

tarran October 13, 2008 at 12:27 pm

I honestly wouldn't be depressed.

The Swedish government has given a statist economist a prize.

This is like the American Tobacco Intitute giving a prize to a scientist for research demonstrating that the link between second hand smoke and cancer is not strong.

When I survey the list of previous winners, they all won for generatign econometric models as to how governments can manage economies better. Even Milton Friedman won it for his theories on how the government should manage the money supply (the one area where he was not a free market guy).

Hayek had to share the prize with that MArxist fellow who did work completely unrelated to Hayek's work (and who thought it a travesty that Hayek won at all).

The point that I am making is that this is not as big a deal as people make out. Krugman is a smart idiot. His ideas will be tested exhaustively in the next decade. If he is right, great! If he is wrong, as I suspect, then we will be done with him.

Russ October 13, 2008 at 12:34 pm

-Russ

It is bizarre to take this prize as an assault on liberty. It would be just as bizarre to take the Kydland Prescott prize of two years ago to be extolling liberty. This is an academic prize for academic work.

Charlie

Speedmaster October 13, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Disheartening. I think Krugman ceased to be a legitimate economist long ago, and is now just another socialist sounding-board. Are these the same people that gave an award to Gore?

Russ Roberts October 13, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Charlie,

It isn't an assault on liberty. It just gives an opponent of liberty a bigger soapbox.

Will October 13, 2008 at 12:43 pm

This is an unequivocal embarrassment to the Nobel Prize.

On the flip side, if this is the standard they're setting for laureates, I'm pulling for Thomas Sowell next year…

Heck, if a flaming left-wing zealot can win the economic prize, Rush may win the Peace Prize after all.

T L Holaday October 13, 2008 at 12:47 pm

I love liberty, and I love quantitative arguments for liberty based on data rather than doctrine.

I love liberty, and I love those who criticize the policy and treat the identity of the particular policymaker as meaningless.

Adam October 13, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Charlie,

It is rare these days for a Nobel Prize in economics to go unshared by a single individual. Was Krugman's academic work so much more significant than the laureates of recent years? Were the works of Dixit and Helpman so worthless without his addition to it that they deserved no share in the prize?

Do you honestly believe that academic prizes are handed out without any political considerations effecting the outcome?

Do you not think that Krugman's aggresively partisan public image was not taken into consideration?

Charlie October 13, 2008 at 12:57 pm

"It isn't an assault on liberty. It just gives an opponent of liberty a bigger soapbox."

I guess I can understand why it makes you sad, but I hope that you can understand why your commemnts make me sad. It just fuels the belief that economics isn't a rigorous discipline that is separate from the political disagreements that economists have with each other. From someone who places high virtue on the benefits of economic education, you undermine that very goal and the whole field when you confound economic research work with political advocacy.

Charlie

Sanjiv October 13, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Russ,
Your post surprises me. Are you suggesting that Krugman got the Nobel prize for his articles in newspapers and magazines?
He got the Nobel prize -as your colleague Alex Tabarrok points out- for "New Trade Theory." Now, I don't have the faintest clue what that is as I am not an economist. But you are one, and it would seem to me that if you are not happy with the award you would either-
a) make a case that Krugman's contribution (new trade theory) is not all that great OR
b) Argue that his theories turned out to be just plain wrong.

Instead, you criticism effectively boils down to "I don't like this guy!".

Like a lot of people, I too have a healthy dose of hate for Krugman. On your blog, you have pointed out so many instances where Krugman was either shoddy in his use of statistics (when talking about tainted food) or just plain dishonest (when he tried to diminish the role of Fannie/Freddie in the recent crisis). But, is he as shoddy and deceitful when he publishes his work in peer-reviewed journals?

Of course, you could try to make the case that while Krugman might have done great things in the past, he is getting the award now (after he started writing for NYT, etc.) precisely to make a political statement. But you haven't done that either.

Pingry October 13, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Does anyone feel that the timing of this award is highly convenient? It seems as if there are political forces trying to push us in a more liberal direction as we approach the election.

After all, why not consider awarding Krugman the Nobel for his technical work in 3, 5, 10, or 15 years from now?

Obviously, no one is currently talking about trade and globalization issues given the financial distress that the government has created. So, why choose Krugman now? Maybe you disagree with me, but I really think that it's a legitimate question.

If the selection committee is truly interested in trade and globalization, and not political matters like moving us in a liberal direction by promoting Krugman as some 'authority', then surely Jagdish Bhagwati is deserving of a prize this year, or next, or after that.

Furthermore, whether you like or dislike the Bush tax cuts, allow me to quote Don Luskin: "The only question now is whether Krugman will pay taxes on the prize at the low rates enabled by the Bush tax cuts he has done so much to discredit, or if he will volunteer to pay taxes at higher rates he considers more fair"

It's funny how people can find themselves in a bind when they get up on the soap box and make grand statements, and yet be confronted with a surprising situation that really puts their integrity and beliefs to the test.

Please Don and Russ, keep us current on this issue because I hope he's not a fake like Noam Chomsky. So many big government spenders, hypocrites like Chomsky, love to spend other people's money, but fiercely protect their own.

People like this have a belief in some divine right to do anything with the property of others because they think that their subjective notion of "fairness" and "justice" is somehow better than yours or mine. That's the essence of arrogance as far as I'm concerned.

As a classical liberal (a true liberal!) I disagree with his political preferences, but I'll give him credit if he does indeed pay the higher rate and stick to his guns, rather than write some unethical character assassination like Krugman did against Milton Friedman after he died.

Well, we'll find out soon enough.

Hey, maybe I'm falling victim to some bizarre conspiracy theory, but I find that the timing is highly suspicious as we move closer to the election.

Does anyone else feel this way?????

Charlie October 13, 2008 at 1:24 pm

"Was Krugman's academic work so much more significant than the laureates of recent years? Were the works of Dixit and Helpman so worthless without his addition to it that they deserved no share in the prize?"

Looking back at past winners, it looks like multiple winners are chosen when work is shared or when the contributions of the parties are roughly equal. Though, single prizes tend to be awarded when the author has great depth, such that most would-be pairings would be considered less accomplished. I think that is a reasonable explanation of the prizes or Becker, Lucas (two lovers of liberty that the "statist" prize was given), Sen and Mundell.

Your argument that it is based on lefty partisanship ship seems quite flawed since Akerloaf and Stiglitz share the prize.

"Do you honestly believe that academic prizes are handed out without any political considerations effecting the outcome?"

Krugman won a Clark medal, which is arguably more prestigious than the nobel and almost certainly more difficult to achieve, since it is given to only one economist every two years. Are you saying not that you don't think he was worthy based on his accomplishments, but that he should have been excluded because he wrote a New York Times column voicing his political opinions? That hardly seems a reasonable complaint from anyone that claims to love liberty.

"Do you not think that Krugman's aggresively partisan public image was not taken into consideration?"

What is your evidence? Chicago still has the most prizes of any school. Friedman, Becker, Coase, Lucas, and Prescott have all gotten the award, and all have been outspoken advocates of liberty. I'm sure they consider many things, as they have a brand to protect, but I don't at all see how you draw the conclusion that it is unduly political, unless you are arguing that they simply prefer partisans over non-partisans.

Charlie

kurt October 13, 2008 at 1:34 pm

They should have given the Nobel Prize to BenoƮt Mandelbrot, even though he's a mathematician.

Charlie October 13, 2008 at 1:34 pm

""The only question now is whether Krugman will pay taxes on the prize at the low rates enabled by the Bush tax cuts he has done so much to discredit, or if he will volunteer to pay taxes at higher rates he considers more fair"

It's funny how people can find themselves in a bind when they get up on the soap box and make grand statements, and yet be confronted with a surprising situation that really puts their integrity and beliefs to the test."

Can we stop and agree that this is incredibly stupid logic? I am for closing tax loop holes and government subsidies, is it morally wrong for me to take advantage of such subsidies given that they exist?

Do you think Russ is immoral for taking advantage of the interest deduction on his home? Is Don immoral for chairing a department at a public school, accepting a salary and overseeing the dispensation of public funds?

We can disagree on what rules are in place, Krugman may think tax rates on the wealthy should be higher and Don and Russ may think their public colleges are a waste of tax payer money, but once the rules are in place, you'd have to be a moron not to take advantage of them.

Charlie

muirgeo October 13, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Wow a libertarian, Friedmanesque, laissez faire free market global financial collapse and now this. A Noble prize for the guy who predicted it all 10 years ago. Talk about a bad week for the free marketeers!

But don't worry. As Friedman said your day will return for surly in the future "… a crisis – actual or perceived -( will) produce real change" and will occur to allow a re-application of "economic shock treatment" as long as you can keep your "ideas laying around".

Hey… here is a fact the majority of the worlds people overwhelmingly reject libertarian politics and economics. The only way to have your way is to force it on people on societies against their wishes ( a shock of sort always helps) which is obviously the opposite of everything your positions claims to support.

Anon October 13, 2008 at 2:07 pm

"Wow a libertarian, Friedmanesque, laissez faire free market global financial collapse and now this. A Noble prize for the guy who predicted it all 10 years ago. Talk about a bad week for the free marketeers!"

Muirduck…

Go read Krugman's work prior to the 2000 presidential election. What he won the Nobel Prize for is in favor of international trade and free markets. The old PK would be irrate over such idiocies as "energy independence".

Russ Roberts October 13, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Folks,

Let's not get into a silly shouting match with muirgeo asking for examples of when libertarians have forced freedom on people or why this is a Friedmanesque laissez faire meltdown. Let him start his own blog. Don't let the comments on this post be ruined by such a ridiculous claim. It's not worth it and distracts. Leave him alone. When he has something thoughtful to say, respond to it. This is not thoughtful. Just ignore him. Thank you.

david October 13, 2008 at 2:16 pm

What a lame post. You should at least have acknowledged that Krugman has done outstanding work (he is actually one of the cases where I have never, ever heard anyone say that his work was not noble worthy) and congratulate him on that. This is a scientific award, and to react to it with "I don't like this guys politics" is just incredibly lame. And I say that as someone who is much more drawn to your political stance than to Krugman's.

Anon October 13, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Russ…

Shouldn't we take this Nobel prize as an opportunity to remind the world that Krugman pre-2000 would be disgusted with the crap the Krugman post-2000 spews on opinion pages?

Chris October 13, 2008 at 2:22 pm

The problem with awarding the Nobel Prize is that it become possible to preface anything idiotic that the winner said with "As Nobel Prize winner XXX once said…"

Luckily, the power of such statements has been diminished by the ability to substitute the names "Al Gore" and "Jimmy Carter" for XXX.

Pingry October 13, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Charlie,

No one is doubting the importance of his work, and I'll bet any amount that I'm more familiar with it than you are.

I'm questioning the timing of the decision.

And no, it's not incredibly stupid logic. Irrespective of what one thinks about the Bush tax cuts, Krugman has a free choice as to whether he will pay the current rate, or if he will pay a higher rate commensurate with his writings. Is anyone forcing him to pay the higher, pre-Bush rate?

Indeed, if he pays the lower rate, and yet continues to agitate for higher rates, then it goes back to my argument that there are many people interested in having society follow their rules, from which they themselves should be exempt.

I'm not accusing Krugman of anything. I'm just very interested to see exactly what he does. Surely these are thoughts going through his mind.

As for the decision by the Nobel committee, they are free to make decisions in any manner they wish. They can award a Nobel Peace Prize to Robert Mugabe if they like, because they already gave one to Yasser Arafat. But in a somewhat free society, I can disagree with it, and with you….and look Charlie, no government is needed.

It's not morally wrong for you to take advantage of government programs, but if you consistently oppose them, and yet take advantage of them when you have a freely chosen option to do exactly what you say (the only additional cost being the higher tax burden), surely you cannot expect people to look away blindly without judging your actions as even mildly hypocritical.

P.S. Yes, GMU is a public university, a damn fine one at that, and many of us went to public universities, but there is no definitive argument for or against public universities.

There's the human capital effect of investing in higher education, (think Gary Becker here) in which subsidies are assumed necessary to ensure enough resources are allocated to higher education given the spillover benefits associated with increased productivity.

But there's also the signaling effect one receives from higher education (think A. Michael Spence here) in which subsidies should not be doled out because they lower the cost of acquiring a signal to overcome asymmetric information endemic to labor markets, and thus impair their functioning.

So, talk is cheap. It's what people do, and if they follow the rules they propose for others.

He might not like paying more and, in fact, he might actually decide to pay the higher rate to stick to principles. Who knows, it's his decision, but if he feels compelled to pay the higher rate, but would prefer the lower rate, well, that's the cost of being a public intellectual.

Realize that he must pay the lower rate (and nothing less) under coercive threat of law, but if he freely chooses to pay it also, it implicitly indicates that force is needed for him to pay the higher rate, (otherwise he would have chosen it freely) given a choice free of coercion and assuming that the only additional cost is the foregone goods and services from the higher tax burden.

There really is no such thing as a free lunch, especially if you aspire to be a public intellectual.

Rodrigo Villarreal October 13, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Russ, your words give us the strength we need to keep fighting against the interventionism and statism, especially in Latin America where the socialism is in progress.

John S. October 13, 2008 at 2:32 pm

"Hey … here is a fact the majority of the worlds people overwhelmingly reject libertarian politics and economics."

Vox populi. At various times in history a majority of the world's population favored witch burning, bloodletting, slavery, etc.

Oil Shock October 13, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Here is Lew Rockwell's take….

"Vulgar Keynesian Paul Krugman of the NY Times and Princeton has been awarded the 'Nobel' prize in economics, as Bill Anderson notes. Unlike all the real Nobel prizes, which were established and funded by Alfred Nobel, the economics prize was established and funded by the Swedish central bank. With the sole and shining exception of F.A Hayek, who was forced to share his prize with a Swedish communist, every other Nobel econ winner has been a shill for central banking. This year especially, the central bankers wanted a loyal propagandist for endless currency depreciation."

Parkwells October 13, 2008 at 2:37 pm

Another professor from Princeton recently published a book demonstrating that in the 20th there had been more real economic growth under Democratic administrations rather than Republican ones, and more increase in income inequality under Republican ones – so don't think the "free market" that Republicans and others claim to support is the best solution.

dg lesvic October 13, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Prof Roberts quotes Prof Krugman as saying:

"…if the rich get more, that leaves less for everyone else."

The first response, of course, is that the rich get more by producing more for everyone else.

The second, I submit: that you do not get more for the poor by taking from the rich to give to them, that that will just make the poor themselves poorer.

For more on this, see my discussion below with Sam Grove at what is now the bottom of the comments section for My Argument for Redistribution.

Krugman - OMG. October 13, 2008 at 2:41 pm

I've often thought that, in the interest or promoting his ideas as superior, pointing out the fact that Hayek got a Nobel prize in economics was treading on shaky ground, because of the unabashed statism of several of the other economists who were also Nobel prize recipients.

But this clinches it: Paul Krugman has been awarded a Nobel prize in economics. And what perfect timing! Interventionist policies have brought the U.S., and the world, to their knees financially. Who better to be lauded than a champion of leftism! Oh, the sweet irony.

I know the Swedes have had their challenges with socialism, but how far left can they go before they've completely stripped a Nobel prize award of all its legitimacy? What's next, a posthumous Nobel for Marx? Playing "a big role in shaping the discourse in economics" is the central criterion for the Prize, after all.

How much you would you bet that Hayek would list his Nobel on eBay now if were alive? The Nobel in economics is now, officially, a bad joke.

Anon October 13, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Parkwells:

Post hoc ergo propter hoc?

colson October 13, 2008 at 2:46 pm

Anon makes a good point. There are some PK articles over at http://www.econlib.org/ that pretty much rebuke your ideas about PK. His Nobel was based largely on his older work, prior to becoming a just another political wonk.

"Hey… here is a fact the majority of the worlds people overwhelmingly reject libertarian politics and economics."

… and if everyone jumps off of a bridge, I'm guessing you would be right there with them. A significant portion of the world is ignorant of economics despite their active participation as an actor in the economy of human nature. DB posted a point on this exact issue when he noted a NYT or WaPo columnist was fixated on the "seen", never taking a glance to comprehend the unseen factors involved.

"The only way to have your way is to force it on people on societies against their wishes"

Well, not really. We advocate for a system of negative rights. You advocate for positive rights. Your position, by definition, imposes its will on others. We think people should be free without imposing their will on others. We don't threaten people with taxes and regulations. We don't rob people of their rightful gains. To the greatest extent of our ability, we promote education over force, reality over unrealistic idealism.

"(a shock of sort always helps)"

Stop using Naomi Klein's fallacious arguments to buttress your own. You are doing yourself a disservice to use Klein's out-of-context quote while ignoring the greater concept Friedman wrote of.

I've said this once and I'll say it again: The difference between your world and our world is that in our world, your world can and will exist. In your world, our world can never exist.

Pingry October 13, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Indeed, as an addendum to my previous post, if Krugman decides to willingly pay at the higher rate, to keep with his writing in which he attacks the Bush tax cuts, and despite only a legal obligation to pay the lower rate, then the higher tax burden (reflected in foregone goods and services, whether now, or in the future from lower interest income from investments)is surely a big cost of being a public intellectual.

But if he pays the lower rate, despite wanting others to pay the higher rate, and having no obligation and free opportunity to pay the higher one, he can consume more goods and services both now and in the future. But, in this scenario, a large cost of being a public intellectual would be the flack he would receive.

Either way, there is no such thing as a free lunch. But in Krugman's case, lunch is a bit more expensive because everyone will be watching to see if he truly is a paragon of American liberalism as befits the "conscience of a liberal"

This is a completely different argument from merit emanating from his important contributions, because the same argument could be made if, say, he had become exceptionally lucky and correctly guessed the pseudo random numbers generated by the lotto, incurring, let's say, a payout equal to the Nobel Prize winnings.

gilligan October 13, 2008 at 2:59 pm

I've said this once and I'll say it again: The difference between your world and our world is that in our world, your world can and will exist. In your world, our world can never exist.

Awesomeness. I've used this reasoning before but it often unfortunately falls on deaf ears.

Charlie October 13, 2008 at 3:01 pm

-Pingry

Are you saying it is immoral for Russ to take a deduction from his income taxes for mortage interest rate, since he is against such a subsidy?

Charlie

DRDR October 13, 2008 at 3:18 pm

I'm curious to see if Krugman uses this award to gain "a larger soapbox." My first impression is no. Unlike most laureates, he had a large soapbox to begin with, and I'm not sure he really wants a larger one.

My impression from Krugman's initial reaction to the award is that he'll use it to pay tribute to his solid academic work, and not further his political agenda. He's had plenty of opportunities today to take shots at his critics and political opponents over the financial crisis, but so far, I haven't heard him taking them. I think Krugman understands that this award is and should be apolitical, and he won't do anything to spoil that. Also, perhaps the current Paul Krugman feels nostalgic about the Paul Krugman who was a pure academic.

This is in contrast to Stiglitz, who often has used the Prize to help legitimize his ideas at the expense of rigor. I'm guessing Russ had Stiglitz in mind when he worries about a larger soapbox.

P October 13, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Charlie,

Not at all, because I told you that it is not immoral if you take advantage of government programs even if you happen to be against them.

Nor have I said that it would be immoral for Krugman to choose the lower rate, despite railing against the tax cuts. And nothing of the sort can be inferred from my statements.

But first, I hope that no one makes some blissfully naive post attacking me about Krugman's contributions because I know damn well that I understand them, and other economics, as well as or better than anyone here. That's not being disrespectful, I'm just confident in my ability because I have always taken a rigorous approach to learning it.

Second, we can talk about Krugman, Russ, Milton Friedman, Karl Marx, or anyone else for that matter, including myself, but the crux of my argument is that the public will embrace the Ad Hominem (tu quoque) stance against anyone if they deviate from their argument when coercion is not present, and free choice is available, holding other things constant.

That is a major cost that anyone must undertake, a risk of being a public intellectual as Krugman fancies himself, because no matter what one says and subsequently does, one cannot overturn economics and logic.

That is precisely what I am saying.

muirgeo October 13, 2008 at 3:30 pm

The difference between your world and our world is that in our world, your world can and will exist. In your world, our world can never exist.

Posted by: colson

In your world you and I would likely be serfs. Your world simply does not exist in the real world. It would be an un-natural state of humanity. Like a school of fish suddenly deciding they weren't gonna school together anymore.

Pingry October 13, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Charlie,

Not at all, because I told you that it is not immoral if you take advantage of government programs even if you happen to be against them.

Nor have I said that it would be immoral for Krugman to choose the lower rate, despite railing against the tax cuts. And nothing of the sort can be inferred from my statements.

But first, I hope that no one makes some blissfully naive post attacking me about Krugman's contributions because I know damn well that I understand them, and other economics, as well as or better than anyone here. That's not being disrespectful, I'm just confident in my ability because I have always taken a rigorous approach to learning it.

Second, we can talk about Krugman, Russ, Milton Friedman, Karl Marx, or anyone else for that matter, including myself, but the crux of my argument is that the public will embrace the Ad Hominem (tu quoque) stance against anyone if they deviate from their argument when coercion is not present, and free choice is available, holding other things constant.

That is a major cost that anyone must undertake, a risk of being a public intellectual as Krugman fancies himself, because no matter what one says and subsequently does, one cannot overturn economics and logic.

That is precisely what I am saying.

Charlie October 13, 2008 at 3:38 pm

No they won't, becauase they aren't dumb. Do you think this puts Krugman in a higher tax bracket? It certainly won't. His and his wife's salaries as professors put Krugman in the top bracket. Not to mention he has two well-performing texts and several books, plus his NYT column. I really doubt he's been voluntarily paying higher taxes through the last 8 years. I don't know why he would start now. And people don't care. Probably because they don't think it is a deviation of ones arguments to advocate for one thing, and yet, if it doesn't work to follow the law as is. It seems the public may actually think it is noble to rail against one's on self-interest, because of a belief that it is fulfilling some higher principle of fairness or justice.

Charlie

Trumpit October 13, 2008 at 3:51 pm

This is totally disrespectful blather on the day that Krugman wins the big one. Couldn't you wait until tomorrow to trash, and bash him. Show a little common decency on a day of celebration for him and his friends, family, and fans.

T L Holaday October 13, 2008 at 3:53 pm

For an example of grace and good manners in the face of the success of someone with whom you have policy differences, see Arnold Kling on his blog and at Reason.

Babinich October 13, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Don Luskin has had constantly written to Dan Okrent about the dishonesty of Paul Krugman.

Dan Okrent responded:

"Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults"

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/22/weekinreview/22okrent.html

Paul Krugman is a hatchet man. He'll put partisan politics ahead of truth.

No award, by any committee, can make a man whole.

Vake October 13, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Thanks for the inspiration Russell. It's disheartening seeing the continual march of statism, but knowing that liberty will ultimately triumph is our ultimate consolation.

Pingry October 13, 2008 at 4:09 pm

Charlie,

I have no idea what his income is. Do you? And if so, have you got a citation? You seem to be unsure when you write things like "I really doubt" and "I don't know why", etc.

However, I am more concerned with his, or another person's decision in a similar situation.

Notice how I say that everything else is held constant.

Whether they are "dumb" or not regarding the choice, is not even relevant, and is based on some notion of "dumb" which cannot even be objectively defined given that we, as a species, cannot even define intelligence or measure it.

I'm trying to talk about costs and benefits at the margin, and you inject subjective and emotionally loaded concepts like "dumb", "noble", "fairness" and "justice".

These terms are completely subjective, and vary from person to person. They can never be reconciled with any degree of objectivity.

Furthermore, when people bandy about these terms, it almost invariably applies to other people. But, of course, those other people interpreting these things in their own subjective way, use them to describe other people….including you!

I think my argument is pretty much set out in my previous posts, so read through them again please.

Also, I must say that it is rather difficult to follow your argument as your style and level of writing appears. It's quite unruly and bereft of any cogency.

Methinks October 13, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Let's face it, the prize was given to Friedman and Hayek reluctantly and only because they just couldn't get around their contributions to the science. the Nobel committee agreed to give Hayek the prize only if he shared it with the Marxist. They leapt to give Al Gore a prize for making a dumb movie, passing over a woman who risked her life and withstood to save the lives of many many others. The Nobel prize is becoming meaningless.

Chris October 13, 2008 at 4:16 pm

Russ,
The biggest assult on liberty has come from the Bush administration, but you can only muster outrage over a prize for academic work with which you admit that you are not familiar. You're a class act.

Russ Roberts October 13, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Chris (and others),

My displeasure is over Krugman's non-academic work as an economist. I thought I tried to make it clear I wasn't judging his academic work.

Welcome to the Cafe. If you hang around long enough, you will find that unlike Professor Krugman, we are not interested in advancing a partisan agenda, particularly that of the Bush administration.

Jeremy October 13, 2008 at 4:37 pm

I can't stand Krugman. I remember his positions on the Asian Financial Crisis closely resembled that of some libertarian thinkers, until he realized that the moral hazard argument was being expounded by some folks whose positions he disagreed with. Then he flip-flopped.

I better go find my stress ball before I explode!

dg lesvic October 13, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Russ,

I like your work a lot.

What do you think of my thesis that taking from the rich to give to the poor does not reduce but increases income inequality?

David October 13, 2008 at 4:43 pm

You label your article "Krugman's price", the price is clearly about his academic work, and then you go on and attack him for his political views. It just is lame, sorry. Put the politics aside for one day, and pay tribute to a man who has contributed greatly to economic research. Just because he is not of your (or mine) political side doesn't mean one cannot see that he is a great economist and can acknowledge that.

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