Quote Of The Day

“That’s right, and George Will isn’t Michael Moore; and a liberal blog, almost by definition, is a blog written by someone who chooses not to notice that asymmetry.  No need to read Marginal Revolution, Becker/Posner, Econlog, John Taylor, Greg Mankiw, Robin Hanson, Steven Landsburg, etc, etc.  Nothing of interest, just move right along folks.  I’m always amazed when someone so brilliant can be so clueless about life.  How someone can reach middle age and still live in a kindergartener’s world of good guys and bad guys….I find that reading good liberal blogs like Krugman, DeLong, Thoma, Yglesias, etc, sharpens my arguments.  It forces me to reconsider things I took for granted.  I’d guess that when Krugman tells people at cocktail parties that the post-1980 trend of lower tax rates, deregulation, and privatization was a plot devised by racist Republicans, they all nod their heads in agreement.  If he occasionally read a conservative blog he might learn that all those trends occurred in almost every country throughout the world after 1980, usually much more so than in the US.” — Scott Sumner, professor of economics at Bentley University commenting on Krugman’s admission that he doesn’t read any blogs that disagree with him politically

55 Responses to “Quote Of The Day”


  • The Bretton-Woods framework was a global framework. When Nixon decoupled the dollar to gold it ended it worldwide, and the speculative day trading world began wherein democracy was undermined as capital flows to the zone of short term profit maximization. It’s been bad for the whole world.

    Reading right wingers though is definitely good for me. But maybe Krugman already knows everything.

  • Right – global. So blaming it on “racist Republicans” would be stupid. No? I mean, essentially you are arguing with Scott Sumner.

  • Well I doubt Krugman actually says it’s a plot by racist Republicans. I assume Sumner is being tongue in cheek. What Krugman might say is that it is something that occurs naturally because it serves the interests of power and privilege, and our government has become less democratic and more oligarchic over the years, especially since 1980.

    Though as I understand it dismantling Bretton Woods was done over the objections of the business community. Business tends to favor the status quo. According to Mearsheimer and Walt the oil industry offered no discernible monetary support for an invasion of Iraq. AIPAC did and the military industrial complex did, but that’s about it. Big oil would just say keep things the way they are, which is bad enough. Washington though understand that controlling oil is controlling all nations, so they still would want to go for overall control, but I don’t think you can point the finger specifically at Shell or BP.

    But Nixon ticked off a lot of powerful people by dismantling Bretton-Woods and perhaps that partly explains why Watergate, which is really pretty minor, was still sufficient to bring him down. I mean, Bradley Manning is being subjected to mind destroying isolation right now. He’s stripped naked every night on absurd pretexts. He may lose his mind. Amnesty International is calling for protests. We’re crushing and killing real people right now. What was Watergate in comparison? Nothing.

    But dismantling Bretton Woods has now created a huge sector that we call the financials. So while the business community at the time didn’t like it, the new established business community loves it. The financials comprise an astonishing proportion of total profits, and as I said at my blog the benefits they bring are not detectable. So status quo today is really happy with the present setup and won’t want to change it despite the harm it causes.

    If you saw my most recent blog entry on Michigan, you’ve got tax increases for the poor, tax breaks for wealthy business, and more draining of subsidy to public universities. Meanwhile the wealthy and powerful are having a wonderful time. Profits through the roof. Taxes on the decline. It’s pretty astonishing the loot they are getting away with. This is our present system.

  • How do you explain the war in Afghanistan?

  • I really am not sure. I think it’s one of those things that we may come to know if the classified record is made public in 30 years. I suspect it’s resource control, whether the oil pipeline or the important mineral deposits. It’s also a very strategic part of the world. What’s obvious is that the stated reasons are bunk. Not about OBL. They would have probably given him to us. Not about democracy. That’s silliness. Not about punishing our attackers since the Taliban had nothing to do with the attack. So it’s something else. What it is I’m not sure.

    That’s not to say that business interests pushed for it specifically. The view is more that what naturally is in the interest of business kind of bubbles to the top, almost like natural selection.

    Cuba is that way also. Business would rather see the embargo fall so they can trade and make money. But the long term business goal is to crush socialism so that private wealth can have everything. So our corporate run state can come into conflict with individual business sectors.

    Of course there are the anti-Castro lobbyists and terrorists in Miami that play a role.

  • First, Krugman is wrong and Sumner is right. Krugman should try to read Conservative blogs every now and then.

    However –

    As a long-time blog participant, I completely understand Krugman’s position about “asymmetry”. The fact of the matter is that there really isn’t anything in the conservative blogosphere where a blogger makes deep, interesting points about Policy, rather than Politics, AND get lots of traffic. The big conservative blogs are all about political point scoring, which is fine I guess as far as it goes, but that doesn’t seem to be entirely the case on the left. On the liberal side, some of the popular blogs (not all, but some) often have interesting discussions about policy.

    Now, there are indeed conservative blogs that promote the discussion of ideas (such as this one) but, let’s face it, those blogs just don’t attract the attention of today’s “conservatives.” Seriously HP, your two most prolific commentators are pretty liberal. And the blogs about policy that are high traffic are pretty much all on the left. Ezra Klein, Yglesias, Krugman, Drum, etc.

    At least that’s my perception.

    Consider: Matt Yglesias, according to Technorati, is the 72nd most popular blog in the universe. Go to his blog and notice that there are three postings on the subject of the Commerce Department on his front page. The Commerce Department! That’s policy, not politics.

    Now go to Legal Insurrection, which is right next to Yglesias at #71 on the list. Every single article on his front page (most of which revolve around NPR and Wisconsin) is overtly political. There truly is zero discussion that Krugman would be interested in. Frankly, it was pretty much a wasted trip for me too.

    So, that’s why I empathize with Krugman even though I disagree with him.

    *In this discussion, when I say “blogs”, I am referring to blogs that actually create original content written by one blogger – I’m intentionally not talking about Instapundit, HuffPost, Breitbart, Media Matters, Drudge, etc. since those are really a whole other product.

  • LaurenceB,

    What about the blogs that Sumner mentions: Marginal Revolution, Becker/Posner, Econlog, John Taylor, Greg Mankiw, Robin Hanson, Steven Landsburg…and I would add my personal favorite, Megan McArdle? I read most of those, and they are all about policy and economics.

    I do agree with your general premise though: there simply is nobody on the right that covers as much stuff, in as deep of a manner, as say Matthew Yglesias and Ezra Klein (also interesting that Krugman doesn’t read Yglesias but reads Klein – after reading both for a very long time, that tended to be my preference as well). There really is no conservative Matthew Yglesias or Ezra Klein. Which sucks, IMHO.

  • Jon,

    You suspect nefarious reasons where I see a hole in your world view. A big one. Maybe our foreign policy is just dumb (on a cost/benefit analysis)…not necessarily evil. Have you ever considered that?

  • I agree that McArdle is an exception to my rule. She does discuss policy and does get traffic. Good point.

    Athough I don’t know if I would label her blog a strictly “conservative” blog.

  • When you say dumb I take you to mean pointless. But if that were the case I’d expect more randomness. Instead what I think you actually see is a pattern.

    Mossadegh in Iran was deposed on behalf of BP. Allende was deposed (and ultimately he died by suicide) on behalf of ITT. Democracy in Guatemala was ended on behalf of the United Fruit Company. These are not just random, blundering acts. The motivational pattern I think is clear.

    Life is complex of course and there are competing interests at play. So it’s not like you can just say “Well, Boeing would love an invasion of N Korea so it’s gonna happen.” It’s not always cut and dried. But to my mind there’s no doubt about the general outlines. I can only speak for myself. I see a pattern. If you don’t I of course understand. I used to think the same way, so it’s not like I think you’re crazy. I just don’t agree.

  • LaurenceB,

    Another one that I have been getting to know more recently, and am liking more everyday, is the American Scene.

    Jon,

    I, on the other hand, think you’re crazy. 😉

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