Paul Krugman Turns Down Job He Was Never Offered
In the past several weeks, fringe elements such as actor Danny Glover and Moveon.org have called on President Obama to appoint New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to replace Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary. There’s never been any indication at all that the White House was ever considering Krugman for the job, or even that his name was on the longest of the short lists. Nonetheless, Krugman announced today that he would not take the job:
Part of the reason is that I am indeed the World’s Worst Administrator — and that does matter. Someone else can do the paperwork — but an administrative job requires making hiring and firing decisions, it means keeping track of many things, and that, to say the least, is not my forte.
Oh, and there’s not a chance that I would be confirmed.
But the main point, as I see it, is that it would mean taking me out of a quasi-official job that I believe I’m good at and putting me into one I’d be bad at.
So first of all, let’s talk frankly about the job I have. The New York Times isn’t just some newspaper somewhere, it’s the nation’s paper of record. As a result, being an op-ed columnist at the Times is a pretty big deal — one I’m immensely grateful to have been granted — and those who hold the position, if they know how to use it effectively, have a lot more influence on national debate than, say, most senators. Does anyone doubt that the White House pays attention to what I write?
Now, officials inside the administration can of course have even more influence — but only if they’re good at a very different kind of game, that of persuading the president and his inner circle in behind-closed-doors discussion. And everything I know about myself says that I’m not very good at that game.
By my reckoning, then, an administration job, no matter how senior, would actually reduce my influence, leaving me unable to say publicly what I really think and all too probably finding myself unable to make headway in internal debates.
In the spirit of Krugman’s blog post, I wish to announce that I too am taking my name out of consideration for Treasury Secretary, as well as Defense Secretary, CIA Director, head of the European Union, United Nations General Secretary, and Pope.
I’m pretty sure that the Treasury Secretary position is reserved for someone who is on the Too Big To Fail approved list.
“I’m not the Pope the Church wants… I’m the Pope it _needs_.”
With the difference being, of course, that Dr. Krugman is actually intellectually and professionally qualified to be Treasury Secretary, while with regard to that and the other jobs, you…are not.
Oh well, too bad. Maybe Christine Romer, Mark Thoma, Alfred Stieglitz, or Brad deLong would be better suited and more likely to be confirmed.
Has somebody been making ridiculous assertions for you to take any of those positions? I missed that.
As for Pope, I think I would be far better at it than the present child raping enabler. I would do to the Catholic Church what so many conservatives want to do with the Dept of Education.
Why not try for some varations on these positions:
Instead of Treasury Secretary, Secretary of Buried Treasure. Comes with an eyepatch and a strangely intelligent parrot.
In lieu of Defense Secretary, you can be Da Fence Guy, in charge of demarcating property boundaries.
CIA Director? Pshaw. You should be Seeing Eye Director, in charge of training service animals, a noble profession.
And in lieu of Pope, you could always manufacture potpourri.
Let’s not be too hasty. If the universe is truly infinite then on some other earths Doug actually is the defense secretary, CIA director, Pope, etc
The difference is that no one…not even complete idiots like Glover and Move-On…is suggesting you for anything…not even janitor.
It can’t be THAT infinite….
I’m not even joking- I just canceled my Kindle subscription to the Times because of Mr. Krugman’s fawning remarks.
@Rafer Janders: @OzarkHillbilly: Yeah, I’ll just go ahead and call for Doug to be the next Pope, if that’s what this discussion needs. Or OzarkHillbilly, if you even want the job.
Beat me to it
“Does anyone doubt that the White House pays attention to what I write?”
I’m sure they read Krugman, but where is there any evidence that he has much influence on policy or the ongoing public debate? Isn’t his whole thing about how he’s Cassandra and no one listens to him?
I think that would require infinite dimensions, and not just other earths.
The physical rules in these four dimensions are just too limiting.
If string theory is correct…and there are 6 or 7 other dimensions that we cannot “see”…and where the “rules” could be very different…then maybe. Maybe. But still unlikely.
I’m not one to criticize someone’s innocuous behavior. Not really my business, but, man, your fainting couch must get a lot of use.
I agree here. They MAY read him: they certainly don’t follow his policy prescriptions.
What’s crazy is that we’ve slipped as a country so precipitously it’s not entirely frivolous to envision Krugman being nominated for Treasury. Gulp.
Fortunately, though, even Obama is not so loopy that he’d give any serious thought to what truly would be an abject farce of a nomination.
@Tsar Nicholas: During recessions people save more of their income and spend less. In 1929 people started spending less because their stock lost much of its value. In 2007 – 2008 people started spending less because their houses lost much of their value. If governments also spend less, total demand decreases, businesses sell fewer products, and they decrease hiring. That’s what Krugman has been saying. He’s pointed to the UK government’s austerity program as an example of following the wrong policy. Apparently you disagree. Why?
@John Peabody: Get ready to cancel your subscription to Sports Illustrated when the annual swimsuit issue comes out in a few weeks.
I dunno about that last one. Especially if you were to pick a cool Papal name like Lando II.
Apparently the IMF disagrees with Tsar and is closer aligned to Krugman. I’m sure Tsar is right though. What does the IMF know about such things?
The IMF is loopy.
@C. Clavin: This isn’t Forbes, this is somebody writing in Forbes. I agree with the IMF study you cited but I think it will have zero effect on editorial policy at Forbes or at the Wall Street Journal. Or on the thinking of people like Larry Kudlow or our own Tsar Nick. Orthodox economics is part of their belief system. It’s rooted in emotion rather than in intellect. Nothing will change it.
There’s a famous quote attributed to Max Planck “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die… “. It’s the same in economics.
@Stan: The IMF working paper can be, for our purposes, distilled to one sentence:
You recognize a joke, right?
One would think he would…after all, he reads your posts…
Normally, yes, but it seems from your tone that I missed one. Could you point me to where the joke was?