30 Jun 2009

The Importance of Sympathy

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Brad DeLong is once again beside himself. Sometimes the lies of the free market economists are so incredible that even he is surprised:

Does National Review have no editors? Does Thomas Sowell have no friends?

Wherefore this personal attack on a disadvantaged minority? Sowell’s mistake was the following line from a National Review article:“A quadrupling of the national debt in just one year… [is] not [a thing] from which any country is guaranteed to recover…”

DeLong then uses his (and Krugman’s) favorite blogoffect–“Ummm…”–to first stun his opponent, then he moves in for the Reality-Based kill:

Just to make sure we get it, DeLong says of the above table:

The national debt is estimated to be likely to increase by 17% in nominal terms over fiscal 2010. It is not estimated to quadruple. Is there nobody at National Review who will tell Sowell that +17% is not equal to +300%?

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Thomas Sowell already knows that 17% is not equal to 300%. (I have omitted DeLong’s signs for brevity.) In fact, looking at the very same table, I can come with a much more plausible explanation for Sowell’s mistake.

I am not defending what Sowell wrote in that column; the idea that the U.S. is going to be conquered by Islamists is silly. (Conquered by Marxists, now you’re talking…) But c’mon Prof. DeLong, he obviously meant “deficit” and not “debt.” A friendly suggestion: Spend less time wondering “why oh why is everyone else so stupid and evil?” and try to understand what your opponents are actually saying. It’s just possible you are wrong on one or two issues of importance.

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