Wow just when I’m sulking because Bob Wenzel is getting all the attention for his NY Fed talk, along comes a resurgence in interest in the Krugman Debate Challenge.
Daniel Kuehn really impressed me with this post. I think he must have felt bad that Krugman fans were zinging me at the Reddit blog. Here’s Daniel:
Way back when I said it wouldn’t be a very worthwhile debate. There was a lot of really bad Austrian commentary on Keynesianism at the time, I wasn’t familiar with Bob, and I hadn’t had the chance of stumbling on any discussion of Bob’s that made me think it would be an interesting debate.
My view on that has changed over the almost two years since I wrote that post. Bob is a sharp guy and a fair guy, and this would be a debate worth seeing. To press the issue, up-vote this comment on reddit, and share the link.
In a lot of ways Bob will have a big advantage – I think he’s probably more familiar with Krugman’s position than vice versa (something I am not willing to concede for a lot of major Austrians or Austrian-fellow-travelers that have made a big splash in various social media).
I think Krugman is right on almost all points, obviously. And the guy is not some pundit or partisan as many suggest. He’s a brilliant economist with a real talent for communicating what he knows.
So I’ll be rooting for Krugman – but this will be a good debate to see nonetheless.
Now here’s what I said in the comments:
Daniel, thanks a lot for this post. I am impressed that you said this, knowing that a lot of “your allies” are not my biggest fans at the moment. I am being serious, this was a brave post, as far as bravery and the blogosphere go. When the libertarians take over, and are going to string you up, I will plea for leniency.
Hey everybody: Just to clarify the genesis of the food bank campaign: A girl had emailed me and told me that she went to a Krugman book signing in a Barnes & Noble or some such place. In the Q&A, she raised her hand and said, “Dr. Krugman, why don’t you debate an Austrian economist?” (Maybe she was more specific about business cycle theory; I don’t remember.) She said that his public response was something like, “Well, I realize I will sound like an elitist for saying this, but the profession doesn’t take Austrian economic seriously. It was useful in its day, but that was before the Depression. There would be no point in me debating something that only non-professionals believe in.”
So he *publicly declared* that he wouldn’t debate an Austrian. Hence, I needed to come up with some angle. Thus the Food Bank campaign was borne…
Up till now, Krugman could have played the high-principle card, saying, “I’m not going to waste my time debating this punk Murphy, because to do so would lend legitimacy to his gold-bug views.” But oops, now he can’t say that, since he just admitted he debated Ron Paul to sell books.
Really, doesn’t this cause even the slightest bit of cognitive dissonance among Krugman’s fans? If Krugman wanted to have fun with it, and to make sure he wasn’t open to every Tom Dick and Harry, he could come out and say, “I’ll do it if Murphy’s fans donate $150,000 to the food bank, and another $150,000 to the Center for American Progress.” That would turn things around and he could say he wasn’t opposed to the debate in principle, but that his time was valuable blah blah blah.
Yet thus far he has just ignored it, when there is $72,000 already on the line. And that number would probably quadruple very quickly, if people actually thought it was going to happen. (I.e. a lot of people aren’t pledging their full reservation amounts, because they don’t think he would ever actually debate me.)
So again I ask: Doesn’t this cause just the slightest bit of weirdness among Krugman’s supporters? He should be able to destroy me, right? So why not do that, and pluck hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the hands of right-wing gold bug nutjobs? Krugman has a popular blog, and goes on TV to debate George Will and Ron Paul. It’s not like he’s “above” debating people he thinks are morons, right?