14 Nov 2014

More Commentary On Gruber

Health Legislation, Scott Sumner, Tyler Cowen 66 Comments

I realize I am biased since I can’t stand his monetary policy views, but does anyone else find these remarks from Scott Sumner a bit…unsettling?

There are degrees of dishonesty. When I say I support policy X, I actually do support that policy. I could pass a lie detector test. But when I first started blogging I would occasionally use arguments or data that I knew was slightly misleading. Not false, but slightly questionable. Or data that could be interpreted in another way. For a worthy cause–the greater truth. I had been doing this my entire life in face-to-face discussions, and almost always got away with it. But the blogging world was different. Within a few months I discovered that I almost never got away with it. So I stopped doing it, or at least stopped as much as I could. (I’m sure I still err now and then.) I did not stop because I am a highly moral person. I stopped because it was counterproductive. I was getting hammered in comment sections, and had to repeatedly backtrack. Ever since 2009, whenever I write a post I try to make my argument defensible, if people were to challenge the accuracy or relevance of my supporting evidence. I see other bloggers who also do this, and some that don’t. If you are famous and don’t respond to commenters then you can get away with cutting lots of corners. But in the long run I believe that honesty is the best policy.

I suppose it depends what Sumner means by “slightly questionable,” but I’ve read the above a few times now and it sure sounds like he’s saying, “I used to use misleading tactics to get people to agree with me, but I’ve since stopped because I got caught so many times misleading people.”

From the comments of Tyler Cowen’s shrugging over GruberGate, John Schilling writes:

If open discourse involves lying, hypocrisy, and open contempt for other participants, and if promoting open discourse requires not calling people out on their lying, hypocrisy, and contempt lest we frighten them away or shame them into silence, I am unconvinced of the value of this “open discourse”.

Or possibly it’s a class thing – it’s OK to lie to the contemptable [sic] masses, and we should promote open discussion among us elites about how and why we are lying to the contemptible masses, we all do it, so the real hypocrisy would be calling out another of the elite for doing the same. And don’t go blabbing to the masses about any of this, that’s Just Not Done.

Several people in the comments were (understandably, in my view) reacting harshly to Cowen’s post, but this guy John crystallized it quite nicely (and with more civility than some of the others).

66 Responses to “More Commentary On Gruber”

  1. Major.Freedom says:

    Looks like Grubergate is encouraging confessions in the blogosphere.

    Deceitful pragmatists who have contempt for “the masses” suffer from an element of self-contempt. For many academics, it is being discomforted, or hateful, that one is not more intelligent than one actually is. So others less intelligent continually open that wound and remind the academic of their misguided ideal of imperfections. Stupidity in others is loathed to the point where they are perceived as deserving having their individual rights violated. Sumner has a hatred for stupid people, not violent people.

    IMO, EVERY individual who does not harm anyone else’s person or property deserves to have their property rights respected. Even if they are relatively stupid. It starts in their childhood. Their parents lied to them, so that is how they believe society should work. Smarter people play the role of adults, and the stupid people play the role of the children. Lie to the children “for their own good.”

    We have an epidemic of bad parenting. That is what it boils down to.

    How did it come to this? Philosophy has become politicized. Knowledge has become a weapon. Truth for its own sake has become dominated by truth only when it helps acquire power in the short term, and lies and deceit otherwise.

    I do not have any will to dominate my fellow man. I have a will to dominate what ought to be dominated, and that is all that is a means to human ends. It just so happens that I am best fitted to dominate the material world when the maximum number of rational beings around me are free to use their own person and property how they see fit.

    • AcePL says:

      Oh, I wouldn’t be so harsh. I lay blame on education. Or. to be precise, on “education”, which is more like “indoctrination”. [BTW., I find this hilarious. I am Catholic. I’m supposed to be indoctrinated…]

      If one is convinced (or taught or any other word of similar meaning) that schools are to educate AND raise, then that is what it ends like.

      “The first order of business in resuscitating a collapsed society must be the restoration of the proper meaning of words”. Confucius had it right.

      It is ideology’s first order of business is to hijack them. After that lying is piece of cake.

    • Z says:

      I lay blame on the nature of the universe. You are trying to imbue the world with values it doesn’t have and you cannot impose. Morality is a myth. Truth is not valuable other than as a personal preference. This is a problem both religion and secular humanism have.

      • Major.Freedom says:

        So you’re saying I ought to change my mind because I ought not consider the beliefs I currently have as truth?

        That I ought to believe that what you said is correct, right after you tell me oughts are a myth?


        I never claimed rocks and trees have inherent values by the way. To behave according to moral codes does not imply I believe there is a secret ought hidden in rocks and trees.

        Morality is not a myth. Morality is objective to action. Action implies a morality.

        All you did in that comment is state some off stated, tired mantras that do not always address every argument on morality.

  2. khodge says:

    Isn’t that why professional papers are refereed?

    With the kind of atitude Gruber is showing, he should, at the very least, be blacklisted from professional journals. The Democrat party would do well to hire him for PR purposes.

  3. William says:

    It is annoying and distracting to insert “[sic]” into text you have copy-pasted from the internet. Silently correct the spelling mistakes yourself or just leave it alone.

    • Yancey Ward says:

      I agree. One can even insert the parenthetical mention of a corrected typo/misspelling if one wants to cover ones ass.

      • JimS says:

        I disagree. To make the correction would be dishonest, which is what this whole thread is about.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      William, FWIW, I find it annoying when people issue orders to me on my own blog.

      That particular misspelling was tricky. No, I’m not going to change someone’s quotation without noting that I changed it; that makes me feel icky.

      In general if it’s obvious (like “your” instead of “you’re”) I might leave it alone, for the very reason you bring up, but on this one I didn’t want to reinforce bad spelling.

      • William says:

        Just as some people might mistake “friendly advice” or “one person’s opinion” for an “order,” some people interpret “[sic]” as saying, “let’s all pay attention to this person’s bad grammar and/or spelling” rather than a simple warning that a quote contains an uncorrected error.

        But it’s certainly true that I ought to work harder to phrase my advice in such a way that it is unlikely to cause annoyance or offense.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Right William, I totally get what you’re saying. Believe it or not, I spent a few moments deliberating on the decision.

  4. Z says:

    Stop liar-shaming our hero Mr. Gruber, Bob. He is a strong and empowered liar.

  5. Forest anarch says:

    Platonic technocrats. Leo Strauss would be proud of them.

    Don’t forget, they think of the world as a pyramid of composed of
    philosopher kings, communistic guardians and the capitalist rabble.

    This world view is ancient and it is the ideology that moves these

  6. Bob Roddis says:

    I seriously can see no difference between Obamacare and “The General Theory” which, according to Hayek, was written to induce a policy to lower British wages without the victims knowing was what going on.


    And the preface to the German edition is like Gruber speaking the truth.

    • LK says:

      Except Hayek admitted Keynes was right on the need to avoid deflation and that some inflation is more desirable than crippling deflation:


      • guest says:

        Crippling to the artificially stimulated cronies.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        Hayek’s primary point on the topic was that these problems were always caused by funny money and central banks. One need not fret about what central bank policy should be after having induced a crisis and massive price distortions. Without funny money and central banking, these problems would not come into existence in the first place. See page 8:


        Further, there remains THE GREAT SILENCE regarding Hayek’s assertion that the problem that Keynes was trying to solve in 1936 was:

        a) Caused by central banks beginning with WWI (and not “the free market”); and

        b) The voters being so unwise, irrational and failing to understand the actual and truthful basis of their predicament that therefore Keynes needed to devise a policy to trick them. That trick was “The General Theory”.

        • LK says:

          The idea that asset bubbles, business cycles or deflationary shocks would disappear if central banks or credit money were abolished is ridiculous.

          Any large enough increase in the demand to hold money would induce deflation in any Rothbardian world where prices are highly responsive to demand .

          Capital account movements could easily blow asset bubbles, and as long as fundamental uncertainty and subjective business expectations exist investment in a capitalist system can fluctuate.

          • guest says:

            “Any large enough increase in the demand to hold money would induce deflation …”

            Demand for purchasing power is infinite, and purchasing power is the only reason to have a money; So, for the Keynesian to be consistent, he would have to say that there is always deflation. Reductio ad absurdum: If we’re always “suffering” from deflation no matter how much money there is, then deflation isn’t a problem.

            It’s not deflation when the supply of money-substitutes had previously exceeded the supply of the actual (commodity) money they represent (and are therefore enabling artificial purchasing power for some at the expense of others) and are now being reduced to the real number of loanable commodities; Rather, this is a ceasing of the theft of counterfeiting.

            Actual deflation occurs through theft of commodity money – where you own it but your right to it is being suppressed. Deflation can only occur in terms of commodity money.

            The supply of money is irrelevant. What matters is to what extent the money represents the subjective use-values of individuals, since economic calculation is not performed on numbers, per se, but on the preference ranks of individuals (which is why, technically, you don’t need money prices for economic calculation).

            • LK says:

              “Demand for purchasing power is infinite, and purchasing power is the only reason to have a money;

              You evidently don’t even understand the meaning of “demand”.

              “Demand” means not just desire for something but the ability or means to pay for it. To say that “Demand for purchasing power is infinite” would just mean people desire to have an infinite amount of money, but it is not the economic definition of demand, and certainly does not refute anything I have said above..

              “So, for the Keynesian to be consistent, he would have to say that there is always deflation. “

              = bizarre nonsense.

              • guest says:

                ““Demand” means not just desire for something but the ability or means to pay for it.”

                You were speaking about demand to hold money.

                I was addressing the hoarding argument you were making.

                Hoarding does not lead to deflation: The higher marginal use-value for a reduced supply of goods (or commodity money) *is* the new market value:

                Hurricane Sandy and Gas Lines

                The Mises View: “Price Gouging” | Joseph T. Salerno

                Assuming there’s no violations of individual liberty, the higher prices during so-called “deflation” reflects the goods’ marginal use-value in the context of a reduced access to artificial stimulus (cronyism).

                And since economic calculation is performed on individuals’ preference ranks, you want prices to reflect that rather than reflect what happens when the government is stealing on your behalf – assuming one wants to avoid violating individual rights.

              • Major.Freedom says:
              • Major.Freedom says:

                “While essential, the overthrow of Keynesianism is insufficient for being able to implement the policy of a free labor market. It is insufficient because Keynesianism constitutes merely the outer ring of the defenses of the policy of government interference in the labor market. The inner ring, which Keynesianism has served to protect up to now, is the errors and contradictions of Marxism.

                “Marxism holds that a free market in labor is a vehicle for the exploitation of labor. It claims that in the absence of government intervention in the form of pro-union and minimum-wage and maximum-hours legislation, employers would be free to drive wage rates to or even below the level of minimum subsistence, while lengthening the hours of work beyond the limits of human endurance, and imposing conditions of work that are nightmarish.

                “Because of Keynesianism, the immense majority of economists have been able to avoid having to confront Marxism. They have been able to hide behind the Keynesian doctrine that even if a free market in labor existed, it would not be able to eliminate mass unemployment. And thus they have been able to believe that there is simply no point in fighting for a free market in labor.

                “Being able to believe this, I’m convinced, has been a source of great comfort and relief for most economists and thus a major source of their readiness to accept Keynesianism despite the obviously absurd nature of some of its claims, such as that “Pyramid-building, earthquakes, even wars may serve to increase wealth, if the education of our statesmen on the principles of the classical economics stands in the way of anything better” (General Theory, p. 129). Keynesianism has spared them from having to do battle with practically the entire rest of the intellectual world, which has accepted Marxism as constituting a full and accurate description of what happens under laissez-faire capitalism.

                “In the absence of Keynesianism, economists who understood such elementary propositions as that quantity demanded rises as price falls would be obliged to argue for the repeal of pro-union and minimum-wage legislation. They would perceive such interferences as causing and perpetuating mass unemployment. But to do this, they themselves would have to understand why laissez-faire capitalism does not in fact result in any exploitation of labor and how, indeed, it is the foundation of progressively rising real wages, shortening of hours, and improvement in working conditions.

                “The immense majority of today’s economists — and those of the past several generations — has lacked both this essential knowledge and any will, or even mere willingness, to acquire it. They lack the will because they have no philosophical commitment to the value of individual rights and individual freedom and thus no basis for being prepared to challenge claims that these must be sacrificed for the sake of avoiding poverty. They are light years from understanding that it is precisely respect for individual rights and individual freedom that is the essential foundation of prosperity, including, as leading examples, full employment and high and progressively rising real wages.

                “Keynesianism has been a refuge for masses of economists badly deficient in understanding of economics and equally lacking in essential aspects of moral character, namely, in abhorrence of the use of physical force for any purpose but that of self-defense, and in an equal abhorrence of blatant irrationalism, such as manifested in Keynes’s claims about the economic value of wars and earthquakes. Content with the unchecked growing use of physical force by government in all aspect of the life of the individual, and often taking delight in the ability to confuse the minds of students by convincing them that the absurd is true, they are completely at home in Keynesianism.

                “Hopefully, the overthrow of Keynesianism will set the stage for the appearance of a body of intellectuals with a far better understanding of economics than that of today’s economists, an understanding which they will join to a philosophical commitment to the values of Freedom and Reason. Thus armed, there will be a group of intellectuals able to take on the rest of the intellectual world and start to overcome the ideas that have made today’s colleges and universities more into centers of civilization-destroying intellectual disease than centers of knowledge and education.” – Reisman

              • Bob Roddis says:

                I nominate Reisman for this month’s “Keynes as Gruber” award.

              • guest says:

                “Marxism holds that a free market in labor is a vehicle for the exploitation of labor.”

                The basis for this belief is that, not being able to go back in time to redo work, a laborer’s time and effort is robbed from him if he does not receive “equal value” in return for it.

                In this view, value is “added to” a resource, giving value to the final good.

                The critical mistake Marxists make is overlooking the fact that before they labor for anything, they first have to value the ends *of* that labor: Value creates labor, not the other way around.

                When laboring in trade, there is another person’s set of preference ranks to consider. *They* may not value the same things as another, and so the amount of labor they would be willing to expend on something can be different.

                Value is subjective, and therefore labor as a means of realizing a valued end will be different for different people.

                True, it’s undesirable to labor for something and not get what one expects in return; But the way to solve this is by expending labor on what consumers actually want – not by violating the rights of others.

                In this way, the laborer doesn’t tend to waste his time and effort. He becomes an entrepreneur with his own labor. He gains skills at satisfying the wants of others at a profit, and eventually acquires capital of his own.

                Best starting place for the takedown of Keynesianism/Marxism: Menger’s Theory of Imputation, which can be learned from this video:

                The Birth of the Austrian School | Joseph T. Salerno

              • LK says:

                “Hoarding does not lead to deflation:

                Better the break the sad news to Murray Rothbard:

                A second cause of price deflation in a free economy is in response to a general desire to “hoard” money which causes people’s stock of cash balances have higher real value in terms of purchasing power.”

              • guest says:

                “Better the break the sad news to Murray Rothbard …”

                But by “deflation”, didn’t you mean what you refer to as “supply shock”?:

                LK: “The idea that … deflationary shocks would disappear if … credit money were abolished is ridiculous.”

                I.e., “not enough money”, is what you meant, right?

                (I think that’s different from what Rothbard was talking about. I think you and I are talking about money supply deflation as opposed to price deflation.)

                Absent “credit money”, prices reflect consumer preferences rather than misguided investments caused by misrepresentation of what it is the money-substitute is supposed to represent.

                So, the distortion which makes the correction such a shock never occurs, absent the government protecting the banks from runs.

                (One of the purposes of money being to lower the cost of satisfying preferences, it seems odd to me to classify “credit” as money.

                (Credit is a contract, and you can’t make economic calculations on promises, per se (that is, the promises, themselves, aren’t valuable, but rather the thing that is promised).)

          • Major.Freedom says:


            That fact that in free markets there might be sudden large scale increases in the money supply, or sudden large scale increases in the demand for money, does not prove that government intervention is justified, nor does it disprove what Austrians argue about the destructiveness of government intervention in money.

            To show that governments kill people in large numbers does not imply that there will be no killings in anarchy.

            What free markets do is prevent government caused business cycles. Only a fool would argue that governments played no role in the business cycles since 1913.

          • Bob Roddis says:

            And to clarify, Hayek also said in the 1977 video that the main reason why British wages could not adjust to reality was due the political power of the labor unions (and that Keynes understood this).

            Keynes as Gruber.

            • Tel says:

              That’s a good point, LK won’t be able to admit it but his “sticky wage causes involuntary unemployment” only operates when there’s a union involved.

              The function of the union is to throttle the supply of labour, keep wages high, and actively prevent employers from hiring at lower nominal wages. So there’s your involuntary unemployment.

              Keynes’ plan was to Gruber the union bosses.

              • LK says:

                “…“sticky wage causes involuntary unemployment” only operates when there’s a union involved. “

                False. The empirical evidence is clear: Hanes, Christopher. 1993. “The Development of Nominal Wage Rigidity in the Late 19th Century,” The American Economic Review 83.4: 732–756.

              • Major.Freedom says:

                That paper shows wages are significantly flexible.

              • Tel says:

                Wage, price, and output indexes suitable for comparing cyclical movements across decades show a decrease in nominal wage flexibility (the change in wage inflation associated with output fluctuations) after the 1880s, following an increase in strike frequency linked to the spread of large-scale manufacturing. Cross-sectional data show that firms in industries experiencing more strikes in the 1880s were less likely to cut nominal wages in the depression of 1893. This and other evidence suggests that the nineteenth-century decrease in wage flexibility was caused by an increase in workers’ bargaining power in the absence of binding wage contracts.

                Yup, the evidence is pretty clear to me. I wonder if that stuff about strikes coincides with the rise of unionism in the USA?

                The National Labor Union (NLU), founded in 1866, was the first national labor federation in the United States. It was dissolved in 1872.

                The regional Order of the Knights of St. Crispin was founded in the northeast in 1867 and claimed 50,000 members by 1870, by far the largest union in the country.


                With the rapid growth and consolidation of large railroad systems after 1870, union organizations sprang up, covering the entire nation.


                The first effective labor organization that was more than regional in membership and influence was the Knights of Labor, organized in 1869.


                The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions began in 1881 under the leadership of Samuel Gompers.


                Well gosh darn, all those dates do seem to point to the late 19th Century don’t they? How about that, good research that man!

                So there we have it, Keynes was all about Grubering the unions, which fully explains why he needed a completely crap economic theory to hide behind while he inflated away their wages and savings. Keynes really was a genius. Sadly for the rest of us, a whole generation of “Progressive” economists grew up believing the cover story, and thinking Keynes was on their side. Hilarious in a black humour kind of way.

                “Keynes as Gruber”, I take my hat off to you Bob Roddis. I hereby award you the Nobel Prize for Blog Commentary* which unfortunately has only a small stipend attached but very large kudos. Not many people get one of these.

                * DISCLAIMER: The more strictly correct name is “The Tel Prize in Honour of Another Prize in Honour of Alfred Nobel” but most people find it easier to call it a Nobel Prize.

              • LK says:

                A comment which proves you didn’t read the paper, Tel, for Hanes’ finding is that the higher incidence of strikes was not because of unions, which remained very weak and very limited in this period:

                “The spread of unions over the 1930’s and 1940’s is usually explained as a result of New Deal reforms in labor law, that is, changes in legal constraints on organization and collective bargaining. The spread of strikes in the 1870’s and 1880’s cannot be accounted for in the same way. “
                p. 750.

              • Major.Freedom says:


                You mean your whole point is that we can’t assume 1930s new deal legislations took place in the 19th century?

                Unions were relatively less affectual during the 19th, but that does not mean they had zero effect on wage rigidity, or that you can explain wage rigidity as caused by free markets.

                Strikes in non-unionized industries and companies are often encouraged by unions, and by labor market regulations that artificially increase wage bargaining and prevent wage rates from falling when the nominal demand for labor falls.

                The paper you cited is clearly poorly researched.

            • LK says:

              There is plenty of evidence that wages can still be highly inflexible downwards even when labour unions are weak: Hanes, Christopher. 1993. “The Development of Nominal Wage Rigidity in the Late 19th Century,” The American Economic Review 83.4: 732–756.

              It’s a similar story today too: labour unions have become much less powerful, yet wage stickiness is still very strong

              • Major.Freedom says:

                That paper shows wages are significantly flexible.

              • guest says:

                JSTOR Members only.

              • Tel says:

                guest, you don’t have to read the whole article. Christopher Hanes spells it out right there in the abstract… it is directly related to strike activity, right at the time when unions were forming in the USA, and also the time when industrialisation left capital intensive business exposed to the “Hold-Up Problem”.

                The observations fit the theory very nicely indeed.

              • LK says:

                False. Hanes does not ascribe increased nominal wage rigidity and strikes to increased union power. You have no idea what you are talking about.

              • LK says:

                “That paper shows wages are significantly flexible.”

                Do you deny that it also shows increased and significant downwards nominal wage rigidity in the 1880s and 1890s,you laughable clown?

              • Major.Freedom says:


                Do you deny the positive correlation between changes in wage rigidity and changes in union activities during the late 19th century?

                Where is the wage rigidity during the 18th or early 19th centuries?

                Laughable clown? You mad?

      • Major.Freedom says:


        “Even Hayek believed…”

        You say that like it is not expected or surprising.

        Hayek was a social democrat, not a libertarian.

        Citing Hayek to justify your statism is like Krugman citing Keynes to justify his. “Even Keynes supported central banking…”. Well duh.

        • LK says:

          I am not “citing Hayek to justify …statism”, since Hayek’s “statism” was pretty weak, but showing how roddis deliberatively leaves out aspects of Hayek that don’t suit his ramblings.

          • Bob Roddis says:

            I didn’t leave out anything. Hayek expressly mentions his strange views on “secondary deflation” in the interview which I have scanned in full. I fail to see the relevance because he then says he wishes people would listen to him before there is a boom and bust so people won’t have to ask him how to cure the bust that wouldn’t otherwise occur.

          • Major.Freedom says:

            You are only citing Hayek’s talk on central banks preventing aggregate spending declines to suit YOUR ramblings.

            Hayek contradicted himself. For he also wrote a book on monetary denationalization, and to have competitive currencies instead.

            You are citing only those portions that suit your agendas, and yet you accuse Roddis of that very thing.

            • Bob Roddis says:

              I frankly do not understand Hayek claiming that some types of “deflation” are bad or of no use. How can anyone know in advance what an undistorted price might be? The only way to discover that is to give the market free play. See page 7:


              • LK says:

                Even in a world with no FR banking or government, if the demand to hold money increased to such an extent that wage and price deflation became severe, it would wreak havoc if private debt levels were high. because debts and indeed nominal contracts in general tend to be fixed, and debt deflationary forces would occur.

              • Anonymous says:


                I thought, according to you, wages and prices tend to be extremely rigid. But now you can imagine a world where they aren’t rigid, yet private debt contracts are?

                So in this world, people can’t say, “Hey guys, since we’re letting prices and wages fall and everything else, shouldn’t we also renegotiate debt contracts?” Seems unlikely.

              • LK says:

                Prices were far more flexible in the 19th century, yet when deflation occurred 1873-1896 many debtors did not have their debts adjusted, as the free silver and bimetallist movements show.

                Yes, it is highly unrealistic to think debts and other nominal contracts will all or mostly be properly adjusted even in a world run along Rothbardian lines.

              • Ben B says:

                So why do collection agencies send settlement offers which tend to be much less than the original debt?

                I would think that creditors would want to collect some debt rather than none at all. If debtors can’t pay, then they can’t pay, so it seems like debt renegotiation would be unavoidable.

              • Major.Freedom says:


                Why would lenders and borrowers not agree to a reduced principle or interest rate when borrowers can’t pay the debt back as contracted?

                What evidence do you have that most debt contracts that require adjustment won’t be adjusted in Rothbardia? What Rothbardian economy have you collected data for that shows evidence of what you claim?

              • Bob Roddis says:

                Yes, it is highly unrealistic to think debts and other nominal contracts will all or mostly be properly adjusted even in a world run along Rothbardian lines.

                Right. Because in a world without funny money loans, no inflation, no need for inflation hedges, no subsidies, no bailouts and accurate pricing over the long term, loans and debt will get all get completely out of whack! And we all know that the cure for when loans and debt get out of whack under a regime of sound money and laissez faire is funny money dilution and unpayable government debt, don’t we?

              • Bob Roddis says:

                Presently, it is US bankruptcy law that prohibits the modification of mortgage loans secured by a residence (apparently because US voters are totally clueless). All other loans can be modified by the court in a Chapter 13 plan.

                11 USC 1322:

                A chapter 13 plan may

                (2) modify the rights of holders of secured claims, OTHER THAN A CLAIM SECURED ONLY BY A SECURITY INTEREST IN REAL PROPERTY THAT IS THE DEBTOR’S PRINCIPAL RESIDENCE, or of holders of unsecured claims, or leave unaffected the rights of holders of any class of claims;


  7. Josiah says:

    Sumner is, I believe, a proponent of Rorty’s view that “truth is whatever your colleagues let you get away with.”

    • Major.Freedom says:

      I always chuckle at that aphorism.

      Surely Rorty would have us believe that the statement is true even if nobody let’s Rorty “get away with” using it. But if he were consistent, then the statement would have to be false if I don’t let him “get away with it”. And it goes further. He couldn’t even claim that it is true that I in fact did or did not let him “get away with it” unless he “got away with” convincing me that I did or did not. And so too with that belief.

      His philosophy is just another brand of nonsense that Rationalism has refuted countless times.

      • skylien says:


        Isn’t that a side-story? Isn’t this line not just a cynic way to criticize a highly questionable morality about honest conduct in a debate?

        • Major.Freedom says:

          I recommend checking out Rorty’s “Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature”:


          It is more than a cynic quip. It is how he views all debates because he rejects the idea that any debate can lead to objective truths.

          • skylien says:

            Ok, I will see if I get to him some day, at the moment I’ll put him on the maybe reading list.

            However I just think whatever Rorty thinks, this line is certainly fit for using it as a mere cynic quip.

            • Major.Freedom says:

              That’s true for all philosophies really.

              Taking one liners and using them as rhetorical devices I mean.

  8. JimS says:

    It bothers you because you are a God fearing man who tries to live according to certain ideals. You know that to be dishonest in one aspect of your life will inevitably result in the unethical creeping into other aspects of one’s life. If you are lying about something that is near and dear to you (I sense economics is much more than a vocation for you, it is something that you are passionate about), what will you be like with things that are not? I find if I do something hastily without much care, the attitude leaks over into other things I do. THis is why people say correct grammar is important to clear or correct thinking. Likewise, I believe, and I think you sense, that if you are less than honest in one area of your life you may be so in others.

  9. skylien says:

    Gruber it seems was paid 2 millions from taxpayers for lying to them.


    And of course I guess there is no legal way for taxpayers to sue him for fraud like it would be possible if this happened in the private market…

  10. Bitter Clinger says:

    Hey Guys, I think you are trying too hard. I would like to recommend the book, “The Invisible War, Pursuing Self-interest at Work” by Samuel Culbert of UCLA (1980) I have seen it on Amazon for a penny plus S&H. For the ones of you who can parse out Hayek, Keynes, Mises, and the scriptures; you will read this book like a starving man eats filet mignon. I had a very difficult time because it develops a lexicon for describing “self-interests” and to “get” what he was trying to convey took, for me, a great deal of effort.
    In Gruber’s case, and I have been there during my 45 years working for large corporate multi-nationals, he worked on a project and got paid a ton of money to deliver:
    1. Health insurance for everyone,
    2. $2,400 worth of savings for each family,
    3. If you liked it, you could keep your plan, it would be just cheaper
    4. You can keep your medical team if you liked them, and
    5. It would not raise the deficit.
    As we know, none of the project objectives were met and we see Gruber now just covering his ass. “It’s not my fault!! I just did what they asked”. (If Paul Krugman and I had run the program we would have met or exceeded all the requirements….. prove it ain’t true!!!) As I said, I have worked on multiple projects in the private sector that were poorly conceived, had bad science, bad analysis, incompetent team members, saboteurs, obstructionists, poor planning and downright impossible objectives. What can you do? The boss calls you in and says, “I have something stupid for you to do and if it works out I will take all the credit and if it doesn’t, you will take all the blame.” You stand there and think about the mortgage, car payments, hockey equipment for your son, horseback riding lessens for your daughter, college expenses for both kids, the swimming pool needs maintenance, and your wife wants granite in the kitchen. You say, “You got it boss, give me a half hour to get my desk cleaned off and I will get right on it.” Read the book guys, it will make your day.

  11. Major.Freedom says:

    Cops don’t steal from people, they engage in “civil asset forfeiture.”

    • Tel says:

      Now sir, let’s just keep this asset forfeiture as civil as possible, shall we?

  12. Bob Roddis says:

    Here is the full transcript of Hayek in 1977 explaining how Keynes Grubered the Goobers with The General Theory:


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