I know a lot of you ask, “Bob, why do you waste so much time on a Keynes-friendly grad student?” But it’s my blog. Go do something “important” on your blog, if you like.
Anyway, Daniel rushed to Krugman’s defense vis-a-vis Jon Stewart. The odd thing is, Daniel actually agrees with Stewart that the platinum coin idea is goofy and a distraction from the serious problems our noble leaders must face. So I was dumbfounded: Stewart was obviously funny, and he (according to Daniel) was correct in even his analysis of the platinum coin. So why isn’t this a clear-cut case of Krugman being toolish (not to be confused with foolish)?
It turns out that Daniel didn’t like the opening context Stewart gave to the original joke. OK, I challenged Daniel to say–in the same number of words, more or less–something that would have caused him to think the skit was hilarious, with no caveats. To refresh your memory, here’s what Stewart actually said, before going into his bit about, “Why don’t they just make it a quibbillion dollar coin?”
“Hey everybody you may be aware, America has a bit of a cashflow problem. With a $16 trillion debt, and the recent downgrade, it’s time to show the world we’re serious and restore the soundness of our currency.” [Not a literal transcript, but captures the gist, and might be missing a sentence.–RPM]
Here’s Daniel’s suggested replacement for the above:
“Hey everybody you may be aware, America has a bit of an unemployment problem. And even though nobody trusts Congress these days, people still consider the government such a safe bet they’re actually paying them to borrow money. But people from the right to the left still seem convinced its fiscal doomsday and insist that we don’t get paid to take other peoples’ money. So to get around Congress…”
Nope, sorry Daniel, if Stewart said your intro, and then went into his jokes about the platinum coin, it would have made absolutely no sense whatsoever. After further review, I still think Jon Stewart knows more about comedy than you or Paul Krugman.
But all is not lost. Daniel’s suggested intro would work, if, say, there were an economist who proposed paying one group of workers to dig ditches, and the other to fill them up, or who–oh I don’t know–proposed burying bottles of money in the trash heap, so that other workers would have to dig them up. Then Daniel’s intro would be a good setup, so we could all laugh at these idiotic proposals.
But for this idiotic proposal–to take a platinum coin and slap “ONE TRILLION DOLLARS” on it–nope, Stewart’s into works much better.