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June 02, 2005

Krugman v. Okrent Redux

Over on this side of the pond we don’t tend to worry too much about columnists slicing and dicing their data to support whatever preceonceived notion they have....that’s what they’re for. The Americans tend to be a little more po-faced about such things, actually wanting even opinionated writers writing opinions to be factually correct.

That’s why Daniel Okrent’s passing shot at Paul Krugman has generated such heat as he accuses him of being , well, somewhat selective, in his presentations. Krugman responded in a speech captured here.

My own view is here in two TCS pieces. I don’t even presume to know whether Krugman plays with numbers but he most certainly was misleading in his representation of the problems in the UK pension system and the possible comparisons with Social Security reform.

Tom Maguire has his list of , umm, well, whether you call them misrepresentations or simply errors is really up to you and Jim Glass has his, with as an extra bonus, possible defenses ofthe statements made.

As above, this is all good clean fun and something that is vested with a great deal more significance over there than it is over here. We expect the partisanship being shown, they still having this rather endearing belief that political columnists should not be, err, political.

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"...they still having this rather endearing belief that political columnists should not be, err, political."

Oh, don't think that's true. Bob Herbert and Molly Ivins don't have "truth squads" watching them -- though if truth or political slanting of data was the issue they would.

The thing that gets people about Krugman is the way he impugns everybody else's honesty, integrity and motives, personally.

Perpetual name calling -- he can never simply disagree, the other person is always a "panderer" or sell out or fraud or, of course, a "liar", a word he used so much Howell had to tell him to stop.

That combined with his complete, double standard, total inability to admit any error he's made himself, no matter how big a whopper howler. Read what Okrent has to say about that.

Bob Herbert tells howlers all the time, but he doesn't claim personal intellectual and moral superiority by slurring others in such a completely hypocrital manner -- so he didn't get even the departing shot from Okrent that Mo and and Bill did.

So no Bob Herbert Truth Squad! Good for him about that too. He's smart!

Posted by: Jim Glass | Jun 2, 2005 2:07:24 PM

Part of Krugman's difference is that he's an Ivy League economist and economics professor who allows his politics to override his scientific method. Pick any position that Clinton and Bush both took, like the need for Social Security reform, and compare what Krugman said when Clinton called for it and now. This isn't how we see economists, it's how we see lawyers. And since all of his credibility is supposedly based on his credentials as an economist, his politics pretty much destroy his credibility. Considering the cost of attending Ivy League Schools and the prestige their degrees bring, isn't he a sign that there is rot in the system our nation depends on for it's future economic survival?

Posted by: B's Freak | Jun 2, 2005 6:56:04 PM