16 Nov 2015

Contra Krugman on Despair

Contra Krugman 21 Comments

A serious subject matter but goofy analysis from Krugman. Plus the bird is the word. (I can hear the bird in the first third of the podcast. Can you?)

21 Responses to “Contra Krugman on Despair”

  1. Andrew Keen says:

    I just listened to this on my way to work. I couldn’t hear the bird, but I wasn’t really listening for it. I was too focused on what you and Tom were saying.

    When I read about this column on Zero Hedge last week, I was pretty curious how you two were going to respond to such a weird article. It sounds like you two are just a baffled as I am, both in why this trend is happening and Krugman’s rhetorical sloppiness.

    There seem to be endless possibilities as to what could be causing this when all you know is “middle aged white people” and don’t have any further distinction, such as political leaning, income, gender, or religion. But of course Krugman knows who the finger should be pointed at. No matter what the problem is, Krugman has the same culprit pre-selected. Strange that one political grouping, largely politically indifferent relative to their opponents, could be responsible for all the world’s problems.

    In this case it appears that Krugman has committed the very serious crime of “victim blaming.” But I bet the people who are usually very angry about victim blaming will let Krugman slide on this one.

    Wasn’t there a famous world leader that tried to place blame for all the world’s problems on a single group of people? Oh, nevermind.

  2. Josiah says:

    What would happen if Krugman ever wrote a column you agreed with? Would you be honor bound to still refute it?

    • Grane Peer says:

      Tune in to find out

    • Bob Murphy says:

      We talked about that in the pilot episode, we would still cover it but not necessarily refute it. But I imagine Krugman would write something like, “2+2=4, just like Hillary has been saying. Sorry Jeb.”

  3. Josiah says:

    One problem with Bob’s military hypothesis is that the increased death rate was mainly among women. Plus, the study looked at folks age 45-54, so they’re too old to have been active duty during the Iraq War.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Hmm good point on the 45-54 thing Josiah, that might throw a big monkey wrench. Are you sure about the women thing? I don’t remember seeing that in the paper, and if so, it seems that is a pretty huge element of it all.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      What about the first Iraq war?

      Maybe it’s the cruddy “music” that started in the 90s which contains no music.

      • Matt M says:

        The first Iraq war lasted about one year and was the only war going on at the time (meaning the deployment cycle of active military was significantly less). I’d also guess the total number of troops committed was less, but I’m hardly sure on that one.

        For the military, it was a small blip in an otherwise cycle of peace. Far from the decade plus of constant deployments with no end in sight and no hope of victory that Iraq/Afghanistan has been.

  4. Bob Roddis says:

    Query: Aren’t there two Krugman columns per week to eviscerate? There’s one on gold, one on Ron Paul the Grifter, one on “austerity”, one on Keynes Comes to Canada. Plus the one from today where he announces that Global Warming, not murderous terrorists, will destroy civilization.

    Sorry, conservatives: when President Obama describes climate change as the greatest threat we face, he’s exactly right. Terrorism can’t and won’t destroy our civilization, but global warming could and might.


    • Bob Murphy says:

      Roddis, we have been looking at the Monday column so far. I imagine if there is a compelling reason we would do a different one on a given week, but in terms of our taping schedule it keeps it more current to do the Monday column.

      So e.g. this week yes we’re taking on the one you mention.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        So much source material. So little time.

      • Tel says:

        Well everyone will be talking about Paris for some time to come I think. Strangely enough other brutal massacres don’t get so much as a murmur… do you think the media might have a bit of a agenda? Just putting that out there.


        It’s kind of amazing when they started bombing Syria before needing to do any investigation about who might have been responsible and where those people might be right now. So far the investigation is mostly discovering the perpetrators were European (not entirely surprising for a crime committed in Europe). The average Frenchman seems cool about this, because those government guys have done a pretty good job so far, we can just trust them to get it right.

    • E. Harding says:

      “The result was a disastrous war that actually empowered terrorists, and set the stage for the rise of ISIS.”

      -Because Syria and Libya collapsed under Bush.

      • E. Harding says:

        Jesus, how I despise Paul Krugman. But, hey, hacks gotta hack. It’s the way they put bread on the table.

    • guest says:

      “Terrorism can’t and won’t destroy our civilization, but global warming could and might.”

      Which … will end global warming, supposedly. But I guess if you want to save civilization, you have to break some civili- HEEYY, wait a minute …

      Also, even in their own paradigm, it won’t destroy *our* civilization, but some civilization hundreds of years removed (just in time to beath the “last chance” clock that’s been pushed back that whole time, mind you); We’ll be fine.

  5. Sean says:

    concerning your bird: I couldn’t help thinking of Groucho’s “Say the secret woid and win a hundred dollars” duck from You Bet Your Life.

    • guest says:

      Bob, to Sound Guy: Guess what. I got a fevah! …

  6. Greg Morin says:

    I could hear the bird in the 2nd half… although I head headphones on, don’t know if that helped. And I think you’re right, military suicides I think is a much more logical explanation than “right wing rhetoric”… Krugman is just grasping at straws on this one. but fun to hear you guys debunk it anyway.

  7. Bob Roddis says:

    Then there’s Steve Sailer and his “ethnicity is destiny” blog. I come from non-drinking northern Methodists. In the summer of 1975, I worked road construction in Erie, PA with the “Central European Catholics”. I hung out with them a lot. In fact, that’s where I was when I recorded Hayek on “Meet the Press” with a hangover (me, not Hayek). I’ve also driven to Florida about 90 times, at least 25 times through West Virginia which takes me through SE Ohio. I hang out in redneck northern Florida and in rural North Carolina a lot. I go with the cultural difference theory.

    West Virginia has long been notorious as the worst white state in the country, and the recent White Death has hit West Virginia whites harder than any other state’s whites, with death rates among whites 45-54 years old increasing 41% from 1999-2013.

    Ohio isn’t as badly off as West Virginia, but the middle-aged death rate was up 20%, worse than the national average.

    Pennsylvania’s White Death rate, however, was up only 4%.

    I get a vague impression that Pennsylvania has been in general pulling ahead of Ohio in this century.

    One reason is because Philadelphia, for all its problems, is still a giant east coast city. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh seems to have repositioned itself rather nicely to serve as a regional hub for things like medical care.

    Another reason is that Pennsylvania had better mortgage regulations than more laissez-faire Ohio, so it sidestepped the worst of the subprime grift.

    Also Pennsylvania has pockets of oil and natural gas that only recently became profitable to pump from again due to innovations in technology.

    I’m reading reporter Sam Quinones’ book on the spread of painkillers and heroin, Dreamland, and much of that is set in southern Ohio. I don’t know, however, why this quiet plague doesn’t seem to have hit Pennsylvania all that hard.

    Is there a cultural difference with Pennsylvania (more Central European Catholics) and West Virginia (more Scots-Irish)?

    But I don’t really know what else is going on.


    I’m going out on a limb and suggest that “cultural differences” are the source of Krugman’s strange analysis. I cite Walter Block and Murray Rothbard and their experiences growing up as sources.

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