Monday, August 15, 2011

Masters of Projection

Paul Krugman is exasperated:
I’m not the first person to notice this, but whenever you read conservatives trying to critique what they think the other side believes, you find them assuming that their opponents must be mirror images of themselves. The right believes that less government spending is always good, regardless of circumstances, so it assumes that the other side must always favor more government spending. The right says that deficits are always evil (unless they’re caused by tax cuts), so they assume that the center-left must favor deficits in all conditions.
Yes, I've noticed this as well. It seems like whatever the right-wing power/looting/propaganda apparatus is up to that in any way twinges what's left of their conscience, they make sure to accuse the left of doing that very same thing. Election fraud, racism, gross incompetence, you name it. But Krugman's post is actually about something different: the utter failure to understand Keynesian economics.

The way this overlaps our projection problem though, is this: they basically assume that whatever the left is in favor of, it must be Keynesianism. And contrariwise, if Keynes advocated some policy, it must be a leftist plot to enslave the poor with chains of dependency and punish the successful for their advantageous accident of birth business acumen. Richard Nixon's proclamation that "we're all Keynsians now" is so 20th century.

 So that's not actually how to go about debating and solving the problems we face as a nation, but it seems to be working out okay for them so far. For actual intelligent discussion of Keynes and the relevance of his theories to the current crisis, try, oh, I dunno, a Nobel laureate in economics.

UPDATE: Poor Krugman today: "Sometimes I really do wonder whether it’s even worth trying to make rational arguments."

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