On October 9 , NPR’s Robert Siegel interviewed Stephen Colbert. The discussion was both entertaining and ironic. Colbert mentioned that he reads the NY Times because he wants to know what “the enemy” is doing. He made a humorous, polite and salient comment that NPR demonstrates a liberal bias, including from Siegel.
What was ironic was how quickly Colbert was proven right in Siegel’s interview of Paul Krugman, a liberal love fest of junk economics and revisionist political history. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”
Krugman made the socialist argument that the country’s “progress” would be enhanced if “the gains from trade were more equally distributed”. It should be stunning that someone who is theoretically a trained economist can be so wrong so consistently, but we have to remember this is the New York Times. They’re not in the news business: they’re in the political activist business.
Krugman erroneously implies that if the rich are getting richer, the poor must be getting poorer, as if economics is a zero-sum game. Among the many things the Reagan administration proved, it’s that there is no limit to economic growth. The rich getting richer helps provide investment and risk capital which creates jobs, new technology, and a better quality of life for the majority of Americans. As the history of the 20th Century demonstrates, policies aimed at turning the government into Robin Hood or seeing equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity as a proper goal for our nation are the surest way to make everyone poor, with lower-income people being hurt worst. Just ask residents of the former Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China under Chairman Mao.
Krugman also makes a mistake that no trained economist should make: He assumes that the gains from trade or any other economic activity would be unaffected by redistributionist or socialist policies aiming at “making Americans more equal.” Reducing marginal tax rates has always caused economic growth and led to increased income tax collections by the IRS because it creates incentive to take risk, start companies, and create jobs. Trade works similarly. When people like Krugman say the gains should be distributed more equally, he is either arguing for trade barriers to protect American industry (which are indirect tax increases on Americans) or he is arguing for an explicit tax increase. Like tyrants and their propagandists throughout history, Krugman hopes that if he repeats a lie frequently enough, people will come to believe him.
NPR and Robert Siegel do their listeners a tremendous disservice by fawning over the anti-capitalist, anti-American Krugman and believing his repeated lies. Siegel demonstrated either gullibility or his own leftist bias (probably both) by wondering aloud why “voters seem to vote against their own economic interests.” It’s typical of the liberal elite to believe that people are simply stupid, especially when those people believe in liberty and free markets. The idea that people who support free trade are acting against their own interests is preposterous. Is it against my interest to be glad to be able to buy a Toyota (or for the competitive pressure it puts on GM to make better cars)? Is it against my interest to be able to buy one of millions of products at WalMart or Target for half the price I would have to pay if there were not free trade? Siegel should be ashamed of himself, even if his understand of economics is so feeble that he actually believes Krugman’s argument that two plus two could equal five if only the government “helped”.
Finally, again demonstrating ignorance or bias or both, Siegel had the nerve to call Barry Goldwater “a political failure”. Let’s see…Goldwater was a 5-term senator, he was the Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States, losing to a popular incumbent, his libertarian views still inform a large part of the American electorate (even if many of them don’t realize it.) Krugman even stole the title of his book from Goldwater. If Goldwater was a failure, I can hardly think of a pejorative strong enough to describe the uselessness of Krugman’s writing or Siegel’s reporting.
I should rephrase that: If Krugman’s goal is to propagandize with economic and political lies in order to help Democrats get elected, and if Siegel’s goal is to help him, then they may actually be having some success. But, thanks to the fact that Americans are smarter than Krugman and Siegel want to believe, they’ve had far less success than the great man Sigel had the gall to call “a failure.”