The Krugman Earthquake Stimulus Fakeout
Lots of people were having fun with the Great D.C. Earthquake on Twitter yesterday. Here are a couple of my joke Tweets:
Why, yes, Mr. Vice President, the secret underground UFO bunker in Richmond has a remote self destruct. It’s this button right here.
Too bad the quake didn’t hit during a Hempfest. Then we could call it the Hippie Hippie Shake.
If I was an alien with a UFO, I would totally be buzzing D.C. right now and screaming “klaatu barada nikto, bizzotches!”
Breaking: VP Joe Biden says he “fully understands” the need for earthquakes.
Breaking: MSNBC reports quake may have been caused by powerful low-frequency racist dog whistle from Rick Perry.
According to official sources, the primary fault running through the D.C. area is named “Bush.”
Breaking: Washington announces moving earth will be taxed until it stops moving, at which point subsidies will begin.
Breaking: mountain of debt in Washington shifts slightly, triggering magnitude 5.8 earthquake.
I never got around to making a Paul Krugman joke, but apparently many other people did, because this message appeared from what purported to be Krugman’s Google+ account:
People on twitter might be joking, but in all seriousness, we would see a bigger boost in spending and hence economic growth if the earthquake had done more damage.
Google+ is the soybean hamburger of social media. Of course Krugman would use it.
The message sounds like self-parody, but Krugman is a big believer in the “Broken Windows” school of economics, having apparently missed the part of Econ 101 where they teach you it’s a fallacy. He muses often on the fabulous opportunities for economic growth afforded by wars and the cleanup efforts from natural disasters. Less than a week after the 9/11 attacks, for example, he wrote: “Ghastly as it may seem to say this, the terror attack – like the original day of infamy, which brought an end to the Great Depression – could even do some economic good.”
The earthquake comment seemed a little too perfect, and it appears it was indeed written by an impostor who isn’t a big Krugman fan. There are fake Twitter accounts for both real people and humorous personalities, such as Obama’s Autopen, and even the DC_Earthquake itself. (“I’m sorry that I couldn’t make it to Kim Kardashian’s wedding. No really, I sincerely apologize, America.”) The provenance of messages from “real” people must always be investigated carefully.
Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit wonders if the “impostor” claim is, itself, legitimate – the Internet is a hall of mirrors! – and says he’s “mighty curious to know whether [Krugman] agrees with the point made about the quake,” since it’s not really that much of a stretch from Keynesian views he’s expressed in the past. It would be interesting to hear Krugman go through the implied “if not, why not?” part of that challenge, although on principle I don’t like the idea of asking anyone to defend a phony quote. “Some guy pretending to be you said this – what do you think?” is not solid ground from which to begin a debate.
Also, the most infamous recent lunacy from the New York Times columnist – who would have lost his job after his scurrilous post-Tucson comments if the Times had professional editorial standards – has been somewhat misinterpreted. Krugman stopped a bit short of wishing for aliens to attack the Earth, creating economic opportunities by unleashing cosmic destruction. He wanted the government to lie about an impending alien attack – or predict one, but prove to be honestly mistaken – to dissolve public resistance to bigger stimulus spending. He’s a totalitarian statist, not an economist. If he wanted a stronger D.C. earthquake, it would be the ensuing state of emergency, and massive unchallenged government spending, that really tickled his fancy.
Update: Krugman weighs in on the phony quote, and proves why it’s so difficult to write a really good Krugman parody, because you have to sound like you’ve only just arrived on Earth and you’re making a half-hearted attempt to blend in with the natives:
Well, this is interesting. I hear that the not-so-good people at National Review are attacking me over something I said on my Google+ page. Except, I don’t have a Google+ page.
This is the third incident I’m aware of — there may well be more — in which people are claiming to be me. There was also my nonexistent connection with academia.edu, and at least one web opinion piece by someone claiming to be me (and sounding not at all like me).
This is really cute, not. Apparently some people can’t find enough things to attack in what I actually say, so they’re busy creating fake quotes. And I have enough on my plate without trying to chase all this stuff down.
So if you see me quoted as saying something really stupid or outrageous, and it didn’t come from the Times or some other verifiable site, you should probably assume it was a fake.
Among the other important things on his plate are going on national TV to fantasize about alien invasions. It takes a lot of work to manufacture the reality Paul Krugman lives in, and the rascals at National Review are not helping by distracting him with phony Google+ pages.