Know Your Premises

by Don Boudreaux on August 31, 2011

in Economics

Steve Landsburg teaches some basic economics to a Nobel laureate economist.

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kyle8 August 31, 2011 at 6:56 am

Yes but Krugman has become such a clown that making fun of him is now like shooting fish in a barrel.

Nickolaus August 31, 2011 at 10:52 am

Krugman specializes in “educating” his readers by teaching them some economics while leaving out the most relevant assumptions.

tdp August 31, 2011 at 12:16 pm

That’s why in college econ you should balance your Krugman/Wells textbooks with something by Gene Callahan at the intro level and by von Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Menger et al at the higher levels.

Invisible Backhand August 31, 2011 at 10:57 am

Landsburg says:

“Notice that Krugman goes beyond implicit insistence that everything today is perfectly hunky-dory; he says that it makes no sense to believe otherwise.”

Which doesn’t appear in Krugman’s essay, so Landsburg has a problem with the concept of a direct quote.

Landsburg makes a big deal about how the logical conclusion comes from certain premises, but I suspect chief among his own is that the deficit wasn’t important until January 20, 2009.

Michael August 31, 2011 at 11:51 am

Are you familiar with the definition of “implicit”?

Invisible Backhand August 31, 2011 at 12:52 pm

After careful consideration, I have no idea what you mean. Are you referring to ‘goes beyond implicit’? Landsburgs first sentence in his essay? I suspect you didn’t read the Krugman post he was talking about. Here’s a link:

Methinks1776 August 31, 2011 at 1:24 pm

After careful consideration, I have no idea what you mean.

well, that answers Michael’s question. You can now return to stalking the hosts.

J. W. August 31, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Krugman: “This isn’t some novel idea, by the way — it’s the standard theory of public finance during war, going all the way back to Ricardo. And the logic of wartime finance applies equally to natural disasters.

“So the bottom line is that basic, regular economics says that Cantor isn’t making sense.”

Landsburg quotes that last bit earlier in his post, and it is that to which he refers in your quotation of him. So yes, it does appear in Krugman’s post, and no, Landsburg doesn’t have a problem with the concept of a direct quote (at least, not in the way that you suggest).

Invisible Backhand August 31, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Actually, I think you are right and I was wrong (about the quote).

DG Lesvic August 31, 2011 at 11:40 am

Love that Landsburg. He is one of the few real, pure economists around today, and as good as they come and you could hope for.

yet another Dave August 31, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I liked Landsburg’s comparison of government with an irresponsible child, even though it’s a harsh insult to irresponsible children.

vikingvista August 31, 2011 at 2:30 pm

If government is an irresponsible child, its name is Anthony Fremont.

Seth August 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Andy is such a good and wonderful boy. We wouldn’t want to do anything to upset him, now would we?

vikingvista August 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Oh no. It’s real good thing Uncle Sam did. Real real good.

yet another Dave August 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm


Invisible Backhand September 1, 2011 at 10:51 am

Krugman responds to Landsburg:

But wait: Eric Cantor is the one claiming that there’s a principle here, that any spending rise on disaster relief must be offset with current spending cuts. I’m critiquing that assertion; there is no such principle. I should have been clearer on that.

Invisible Backhand September 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm
Ken M September 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm

But, but, but wait just a minute!!! I thought Krugman believed that natural disasters (e.g., being hit by a hurricane, having Mrs Leary’s cow start a fire that razes your house, etc.) actually created wealth by calling otherwise idle resources into play. In that case, rather than spending money on so-called disaster relief for those areas hit by the storm, shouldn’t we be considering a windfall profits tax, since the benefits of the storm were unjustly limited to certain areas. Recall that the term “windfall” itself derives from precisely this sort of unearned benefit.

Dan J September 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Why would any govt money be needed if idled dollars would be used?

John September 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Right. Know your premises!

P -> Q
Therefore, P.

Know your logical fallacies.

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