14 Nov 2016

Hitler Bothers Me As Much as a 3-Second Violation

Humor, Scott Sumner, Trump 34 Comments

[UPDATE: I intended this post for humor value, for the regular readers who know the history of my exchanges with Scott Sumner. Let me clarify for newcomers: I am very wary of what could happen with civil liberties under Trump. (In the piece we discuss in this post below, I mentioned that if he builds a wall, it could be used to keep dissidents in.) If there’s another attack on US soil, I would not be surprised if Trump starts rounding people up, FDR style.]

A few weeks ago, Scott Sumner at his blog quoted a news story about voter stress and then responded in this manner:

And talk about “first world problems:

For all their sharp differences, supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have one thing in common: election-related stress.

David R. Henderson was surprised by this, and said over at EconLog that “[t]his shows that Scott and I have very different views about the importance of politics and government in people’s lives. He appears to think that they matter very little. I think they matter a lot.”

In the comments at his original post, Scott clarified in response to David’s objection:

David, There are 1000s of awful things in the world. Most far more awful than this election. I can’t even imagine being stressed out by everything in the news. Yes, intellectually I know it’s important. But so is drug legalization and kidney market legalization and ending the war in Syria. But I can’t get stressed out over everything wrong in the world, or I’d go crazy…I’m resigned to the fact that the next president will likely be worse than Obama. But that’s a first world problem, not like Aleppo. Life goes on–the NBA season starts tonight!!

OK that’s fine, but then you can imagine my shock when I see Scott has devoted an entire post to my inadequate denunciation of the Holocaust, when I wrote a blog post for the Independent Institute where I explicitly said upfront that since I’m an economist, I would be talking about economics. Here’s a taste of Scott’s reaction to my post:

Bob Murphy (who doesn’t support Trump) has a post reflecting on the lessons of the election. I disagree with much of it, but I suppose all the points are defensible, taken one at a time. Unfortunately, the overall impression is that libertarians are tone deaf.

No discussion of the vile racism, misogyny, anti-disabled, anti-POW or anti-Muslim bigotry, beyond an allusion to Trump’s “boorish comments about women”.  Nothing on his pandering to the alt-right, or hiring the publisher of a leading alt-right outlet to be his campaign manager.  Nothing about his support for much worse types of torture than waterboarding.  Nothing about his comments that we should steal the oil of countries when we conquer them. Nothing about his support for assassinating the family members of terrorists.  Nothing about his embrace of brutal authoritarians like Putin.  Nothing about his promises to stop the media from printing anti-Trump stories. Nothing about his bizarre embrace of numerous nutty conspiracy theories.  Or his comments in favor of nuclear proliferation.  Or his contempt for facts, which I’m afraid goes far beyond the lies we see with even Hillary/Nixon-level politicians.

Look, I’m also opposed to tariffs on Mexican goods.  But when people read posts like Bob’s they are going to think that libertarians just don’t get it.  One defense is that Hillary is also horrible.  I agree, she’s much worse than Obama.  So put in a, “To be sure, Hillary also has many faults like militarism and support for the war on drugs” or something like that.  But Trump’s outrages go far beyond anything I’ve ever seen in American politics, and if we write posts mostly attacking his critics and then throwing in a few lines about tariffs, we are just giving ammunition to the people who troll libertarians as insensitive on issues such as race and gender (I don’t recall specific examples, but I’m thinking of people like Noah Smith, Brad DeLong, Paul Krugman, etc.)  Lots of female GOP intellectuals (who earlier criticized Bill Clinton) are disgusted right now with the GOP, and their reasons go far beyond “boorish comments”.  They don’t understand why the men in their party don’t get it.

Moving beyond Bob’s post, I’m glad those “sore losers” are out in the streets protesting Trump; I wish there were millions of people protesting (peacefully of course.)  I’d be disgusted with this country if people simply bowed down to Trump because he won.  The fact that he won more states than Hillary doesn’t magically transform him into another person; he’s still the appalling, disgusting, evil person he was on November 7th. A man with literally no good qualities (with apologies to Musil). All that’s changed is that he’s now a government employee.

Sometimes I wonder why we even have a public education system.  When I think back to all the “social studies” classes I took in high school, there were lots topics covered.  But much of the history (back in the 1960s and 1970s) we covered actually boiled down to one basic point: “Do not ever, ever, ever, ever vote for a demagogic politician who engages in the big lie, is contemptuous of civil liberties and demonizes minorities and foreigners. Just don’t do it.”  And if we can’t even get that one basic point, then can someone tell me what these civics classes are for?  What’s the point?  And please don’t tell me that all politicians are demagogues, of course that true to some extent.  But Trump’s a textbook definition of what we were warned to shun at all costs.

If libertarianism doesn’t rise to the occasion and loudly proclaim that Trump is completely beyond the pale, then we are going to make the same mistake those leftists made in the 1950s and 1960s, when they spent more time criticizing anti-communists than they did criticizing the unprecedented evil of global communism.  Of course Trump’s not that sort of threat, he’s probably too incompetent to do much harm (one key difference from Hitler), and our democracy is quite strong (another key difference).  Maybe he won’t even impose those tariffs—I have no idea what he’s going to do.  But in symbolic terms the issues are just as stark, and we need to reject Trumpism without any qualifications, even if Trump were to bring about small government and NGDP targeting.  Otherwise libertarianism will be tarnished by this sad episode of American history. [Scott Sumner, bold in original.]

So, can I just explain that I would have done all that, except the game was on?

P.S. Does anybody actually want me to address the substance of Scott’s post? I get the sense that his regulars in the comments think I’m either crazy or a Nazi, and I get the sense that most of you guys think Scott is crazy and/or a Social Justice Warrior (the bad kind). Is there any point to this argument? I personally don’t think one needs to point out that trying to placate Krugman, DeLong, and Noah Smith is a huge mistake, but is this obvious to all of you?

34 Responses to “Hitler Bothers Me As Much as a 3-Second Violation”

  1. Maurizio says:

    I like Scott but I don’t understand why he turns into a retard when dealing to you.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      In fairness Maurizio, I think Scott thinks the same of me when I deal with him (and the gold standard).

      • Dexter Morgan says:

        It’s probably a waste of time to even respond to his post.

  2. Maurizio says:

    Sorry, “dealing with”

  3. Per says:

    “Does anybody actually want me to address the substance of Scott’s post?”

    Yes, I’m looking forward to it!

  4. Khodge says:

    Watch the game.
    At this point, the election is over and the fun stuff is the election and Democrat party post-mortems, already being replaced by transitioning decisions.

    I was around at roughly the same time as Scott but there were no warnings in my civics classes about lying demagogues (perhaps Scott had a prototype PC teacher).

    Several observations contra Scott: yes, the war stuff is bad but Trump got to where he is by shooting off his mouth and bribery, not through muscle. We have the election results and polling suggests that he fared well with women, so “beyond boorish” is Scott insulting women. The GOP elite abandoned him, that was his point. The riots are happening in blue states, so that one is on Hillary.

    Finally, no one ever claimed Trump was a libertarian but all indications are that the current GOP is moving in a solidly federalist conservative direction (Obama hasn’t accomplished anything in four years). Trump is not an ideologue so there is lots of room to work with a Congress that he did keep from losing to the Democrat/progressives.

    There really are worse things than a Trump presidency, so Scott is right about not stressing over it. Hardcore libertarians, however, are used to not seeing their desires implemented so, for the afore mentioned reasons, he is misreading both Trump and libertarians. Probably becaus he hangs out with – and is – among the elite.,

  5. Darien says:

    You’re just missing out on the importance of various levels of virtue signaling. Being too cool to care about the election is positive hipster cred, but one of the top hipster credos (outside the alt-right, anyhow) is that one must never shirk an opportunity to disclaim the Nazi regime in the strongest possible terms.

  6. Ricky James Moore II says:

    Frankly, the class of people he belongs to are, if not as bad as Hitler, as bad as Streicher. They are threatened because their cultural hegemony and bigoted nonsense has finally gone so far that even normal Americans are starting to hate his kind of smug ‘liberals’. This hate is well deserved.

  7. Fiddlinmike says:

    Bob, I love it. A one sentence missle that destroys his jab – and I didn’t know you were the all-powerful voice of libertarianism. Congrats.

    Scott wasn’t stressed about the election because he was he was confident in a Clinton victory.

    It’s clear that Trump is just an over-confident and unpolished dolt who has no particular guiding principles and from time to time has one to many beers – like the guy at the bar next to you watching the game. That’s what people liked about him (though I don’t.) He’s soon to find out that he’s been elected President, not CEO. That’ll sober him up – and maybe help reduce Scott’s stress.

    • Gene Callahan says:

      Trump has never had a drink. Literally: his brother was an alcoholic, and it scared him off alcohol.

      • Transformer says:

        Maybe its time for him to start.

        • Harold says:

          The idea of a drunk Trump is really something I don’t want to think about!

          • Craw says:

            Don’t sweat it. You’re too busy not thinking about too much already.

  8. Dan says:

    No chance would I waste time defending myself from nonsense like that. It takes the joy out of watching these people lose their minds if you actually take them seriously (at least when it comes to their election material). Instead watch this and get some good laughs. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UiWY0iRLV94&sns=fb

  9. Craw says:

    You should not dignify this with a response. I think that more incumbent upon David R Henderson, as the adult at EconLog.
    If anything brings discredit upon libertarians it’s discreditable behavior from libertarian sites.

  10. Andrew_FL says:

    Very hard for me to decide whether Sumner or Trump is a more dangerous human being at this point, but I won’t let this obnoxious inflationist utilitarian market socialist make me hate Trump any less no matter how irritating he is.

  11. Andrew Keen says:

    When it comes to Trump, I don’t think there is a stance you could take without having someone accuse you of tone deafness. Either you’re “ignoring the legitimate grievances of middle America” or “failing to stand up against the rise racism/sexism/fascism/etceterism.”

  12. Tim says:

    Hey, I actually really enjoyed/appreciated your article. There was so much out there on Trump as a person, and I was really interested on Trump and his Economics.

    To Scott, I simply say, “Cool story bro.” II mean, does Scott really think his response to your article just saved libertarianism?

  13. Transformer says:


    Scott’s correctly observes that your post had “Nothing on his [Trunp’s] pandering to the alt-right, or hiring the publisher of a leading alt-right outlet to be his campaign manager. Nothing about his support for much worse types of torture than waterboarding. Nothing about his comments that we should steal the oil of countries when we conquer them. Nothing about his support for assassinating the family members of terrorists. Nothing about his embrace of brutal authoritarians like Putin. Nothing about his promises to stop the media from printing anti-Trump stories. Nothing about his bizarre embrace of numerous nutty conspiracy theories. Or his comments in favor of nuclear proliferation. Or his contempt for facts, which I’m afraid goes far beyond the lies we see with even Hillary/Nixon-level politicians.”.

    Can you indicate what you would have said in regards to this had you not stopped to watch the game last week ?

    • Andrew_FL says:

      Bob thought he’d stick to his area of expertise and let non economists like Sumner worry about the other stuff.

      • Transformer says:

        fair enough, but there is plenty in Bob’s II post that strays from economics.

        While I get that Bob doesn’t support Trump I was wondering if he thought that those who did vote for Trump did so because of or in spite of Trump’s un-libertarian views on many things.

        • Andrew Keen says:

          I’m sure it’s a mixed basket and that most voters on both sides have very little awareness of libertarian views.

  14. Brian says:

    If Trump’s policies drive up the deficit, CPI, and NGDP, Sumner and Krugman will surely give him credit for going against the budget/inflation hawks, right?

    • Craw says:

      I think Brian has identified how to turn Sumner into a zero fractional reserve guy!

      • Andrew_FL says:

        Scott Sumner like all Chicago Acolytes as flirted with this Chicago School idea before already.

        The problem with Sumner is that he supports Central Banking.

  15. Tel says:

    The Clinton Foundation took $1 million donation from Qatar, then tried to hide the donation, even after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a promise to be open and declare all foreign donations to her foundation.

    This was later discovered and they even admitted it. On it’s own should be plenty to disqualify her from any government job.

    Response by Hillary supporters… zip. This level of corruption doesn’t even show up on their radar.

    Just spend a bit of time listening to Scott Horton on the damage that Hillary and her companions have done in the Middle East. Again, doesn’t even penetrate the surface of your average Hillary supporter.

    Do not ever, ever, ever, ever vote for a demagogic politician who engages in the big lie, is contemptuous of civil liberties and demonizes minorities and foreigners. Just don’t do it.

    Sure. That’s Hillary to a tee, but every time you point it out… crickets. I really don’t know where else to go in this discussion. You either bother looking or you don’t. The horse is wading in water, but he ain’t drinking.

    And yeah, for what it’s worth Trump is no libertarian, his policies contain a few positive nuggets here and there but I doubt he will achieve even a quarter of what he promises. The US economy is sick, the debt is impossible, and something’s gonna blow.

    I do believe that borders should be controlled, otherwise you don’t have borders, and I do believe that basic legal concepts such as whether you are working legally or illegally should be respected… otherwise you don’t have a law. A few decades back no one would have freaked out over these two things, but now they run in small circles and reach for their therapy dogs if you so much as question their new new beliefs.

  16. Major.Freedom says:

    As bad as Trump may end up being for individual liberty, what is certain is how bad Clinton would almost certainly have beenas President given how bad she already has been as Secretary of State.

    But just as importantly, the people she surrounds herself with, and those she attracts, are with few exceptions the kind of two-faced Fabian socialists who are responsible for the growth of the state over the last 100 years to the evil machinery it is today.

    The corruption and immoral, violent activities reported in the mainstream media about the Clinton Foundation is only the tip of the iceberg. What has the establishment worried is less about what kind of a Presdient Trump will be, and almost all about their own activities becoming public knowledge due to not having the control of the Presidency. Murder, rape and theft on a global scale.

  17. Sam says:

    Very interesting that Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex, who didn’t support Trump, has dismantled the idea about bigoted and racist Trump:

    • Craw says:

      It’s an excellent post. The thing is, if you actually paid attention, unlike most, you’d know all this already. There’s a lot wrong with Trump and it’s sad people fixate on the things that really aren’t. How can we sensibly discuss what his policy towards Russia should be, and legitimate worries, if every discussion is just about YOU’RE A RACIST!!!

      • Harold says:

        Complaining about the media is one way to ignore the evidence of your own eyes and ears. You can tell yourself that the media always make too much of these things, so this is probably also one of those times. The thing is, we can read and hear what Trump said. There is no need to filter it through the media. That is like saying the boy cried wolf too often, so I don’t believe there is a wolf after you can actually see the wolf

        It is one thing to say “that is not a wolf, that is a dog”, but it another to deny it exists at all.

        But if you are going to worry about this aspect, one may expect the Left to cry wolf about this stuff. Not so much stalwart Republicans. If they have said that some of the things Trump said were racist does that not give you pause?

Leave a Reply