And what of the big government experiments that have led to the disasters?

In the past few days, Russ Roberts, of Cafe Hayek has posted on his blog asking John Cassidy and Paul Krugman to back up their claims that European governments have cut spending. Both claim that “cuts” in government spending are making these economies worse.  For example, Cassidy wrote:

Republicans say they want to slash government spending and focus on the deficit regardless of the immediate economic situation. The Europeans have carried out that experiment, and, to say the least, it hasn’t turned out very well.

Roberts asks a good question. If you want to claim that government spending has been cut, show your work so we can know what meaning of ‘cut’ you are using. Is that cut in absolute amounts? Cuts in growth rates of spending? Cut as a percent of GDP? Or just talks about cuts?

I’d also like to ask Cassidy why he focuses only on what he believes to be the spending “cut” experiments, while completely ignoring the big government experiments that have led these European countries to the brink of financial disaster.

Let’s assume the spending cuts are real. Saying they’re not working while ignoring all that came before is a bit like observing a drug addict going into withdrawal and concluding that quitting the drugs is causing the problem and everything would be fine if he were just to resume taking drugs and, maybe, up his dose.


5 thoughts on “And what of the big government experiments that have led to the disasters?

  1. I’m surprised you haven’t picked up on the left’s definition of a “cut”. That’s when the increase during some time frame is less than the increase in the previous time frame, even though, in absolute terms, it’s still an increase. Remember, the relativism in their morals has crept over to all of their arguments.

    • I understand that trick from liberal, and sometimes moderate, politicians. Maybe even journalists. But a Nobel economist?

      • I don’t follow Krugman very closely anymore as his writings have changed from his pre-Nobel days of basing his conclusions on facts (or at least what he reasonably believed to be factual) to his post-Nobel state of justifying his opinions not on facts pertinent to the issue, but simply on the fact that he has a Nobel in his living room. Krugman has let the Nobel go to his head has gotten lazy. He seems to believe that his utterances should be revered on the basis of his Nobel alone. It’s analogous to the Green Bay Packers believing that they should be feared forever simply because they won the first Super Bowl – even though they have all new players and all new coaches. Krugman needs to wake up and realize that he won the Nobel, but it’s a new season and thus far he’s 0 and something.

        • My history with Krugman:
          Around 2000, I read a column of his that I thought then was so transparently slanted and dumb that I sent him a letter telling him so and decided not to read him any longer, and I didn’t. I really didn’t think he would last long.

          In the later 00’s, I noticed to my disappointment that it was becoming quite the quatrain-reading-sport among young economists to debate what Krugman meant.

          On a few occasions since then, I’ve tried to give Krugman more opportunities, but find it very tough to get past his opening salvos of straw man and ad hominem fallacies and over simplified/cherry picked data to fit his vision.

          • Your final line hit the nail on the head – he has an agenda and selects and adjusts the facts to support it. He stopped being a serious economist years ago and is now simply a stooge for the NYT.


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