02 Oct 2014

Uncivil War

Humor, Scott Sumner No Comments

Matt Bruenig:

I am not really sure what Scott Sumner is all about these days. Many years ago, he was like “monetary policy should utilize an NGDP target” and people were like “that’s an interesting thought.” But now, he’s kind of gone into mission creep mode where he comments on things that he’s not so knowledgeable on.


Like the first post, this new post utilizes what I am going to call the Grandpa Sumner style. It took me a while to figure out how to describe the way he argues, but it finally hit me that it’s the way a low-information grandpa talks about things.

For instance, instead of saying “since 1967, the poverty rate has not declined, as you can see from this linked data,” he says stuff like “isn’t the blogosphere full of progressives complaining that the poverty rate is just as high as in 1967?” Instead of saying “if we cut transfer programs, the poor would bring down so much more market income that there would be no difference in poverty as you can see from this link,” he says “don’t the progressives always tell us that in the bad old days the rich aristocrats did little work, and the poor worked extremely long hours, because they had to do so to survive?”

You wouldn’t expect this out of a competent economist who theoretically can look up stuff to see if it’s the case, but Sumner becomes Grandpa Sumner on everything that isn’t NGDP targeting.

To which Sumner replied: “Matt seems to have forgotten to take his meds, as his newest post is one of the silliest I’ve ever read.”

I think Scott cleverly refuted the ‘Grandpa’ label with that remark. Grandpa Sumner wouldn’t use the word “meds,” and when facing silly posts he’d say, “Is that boy on the pot?”

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