Friday, May 23, 2003
Paul Krugman takes the week off: But that doesn't stop the debate. After my note last week about the change in the archiving policy at The New York Times several people pointed out that all of Krugman's columns are available at the "Unofficial Paul Krugman Archive." I was aware of this, but I prefer not to link there because it's not the primary source and I suspect, when the Times gets around to it, that the archive will disappear -- if that doesn't violate the Times' copyright then nothing does.
But the archive is more than just an archive -- it's also become a Krugman-defense blog. The biggest debate in recent weeks over Krugman's work has been Donald Luskin's discovery that Krugman juxtaposed the 10-year tax cut dollar figure with the 1-year job-creation projection. Luskin properly described it as Krugman's "divide-by-ten" problem.
Luskin's "gotcha" prompted Krugman to write ten explanations for why he was correct to use this "new math." Well, this week one of Krugman's readers, Thomas O. Miller, came across a transcript from the Jan. 31 "Wall $treet Week" where Krugman made the exact same error:
"KRUGMAN: ...of course, it's an enormous expense. The administration's own estimate -- we're now told we don't know how they get this -- is that this thing is going to add half a million jobs in the next year. Now you take that or leave that, but a $674 billion plan for 500,000 jobs, even with fuzzy math that's more than $1 million per job. Something is wrong here.
"COLVIN: Well, but it's going to go for longer than just this one year, right?
"KRUGMAN: Well, yeah, but then the question is, if we're thinking about the long run, we've got to ask ourselves how are we going to pay for this thing?"
Back then Krugman was working with a smaller number of jobs expected to be created, so the lie was $1 million per job, not $500,000. But it's the same lie, and Colvin immediately caught Krugman at it when he asked "it's going to go for longer than just this one year, right?"
And how does Krugman respond? Does he talk about liquidity traps and IS/LM curves and all the other econobabble he's spewed up in all his apologiae? Does he even simply say "No, Geoff, I can't explain all the details but those jobs will vanish after one year."
No... he admits it! He says, "Well, yeah, but then the question is..." ...is...something else.
He admitted it!
Well, what's as plain as the nose on your face to most of us, is murky and in need of an explanation to Krugman's main fan over at the Krugman Defense Blog.
Now let's see what's wrong with Luskin's dishonest claim. Let's just note the obvious: Colvin's question was phrased in such a broad and general way that there was very little reason to think that the question had anything to do with a failure to "divide by ten." Especially, let's remember that this debate was on January 31, and Luskin didn't make his "divide by ten" criticism until April. So back then, nobody was even thinking about this ridiculous criticism, which was completely incorrect anyway (as we've already shown here and see below)
It doesn't seem that "Bobby" is stupid from most of his writing -- but he's trying really hard here. While most people -- including Krugman, seemed to be able to follow Colvin's question -- Bobby maintains that it's phrased too broadly. Sorry, but that's a childish word game -- what does "it" refer to? Well, the last object referred to is "job" -- welcome to English 101.
The other stupid (I'm sorry, there's no better word for it) argument is that Luskin's failure to watch "Wall $treet Week" when it originally aired on Jan. 31 and note Krugman's poor math then makes his notice of it in the April column invalid.