Understanding The Other Side

Paul Krugman thinks liberals understand conservatives but not vice versa. He's half right.

Paul Krugman makes a bold claim: liberals understand conservatives but not vice versa. He’s half right.

In my experience with these things – which I find both within economics and more broadly  – is that if you ask a liberal or a saltwater economist, “What would somebody on the other side of this divide say here? What would their version of it be?” A liberal can do that. A liberal can talk coherently about what the conservative view is because people like me actually do listen. We don’t think it’s right, but we pay enough attention to see what the other person is trying to get at. The reverse is not true. You try to get someone who is fiercely anti-Keynesian to even explain what a Keynesian economic argument is, they can’t do it. They can’t get it remotely right. Or if you ask a conservative, “What do liberals want?” You get this bizarre stuff – for example, that liberals want everybody to ride trains, because it makes people more susceptible to collectivism. You just have to look at the realities of the way each side talks and what they know. One side of the picture is open-minded and sceptical. We have views that are different, but they’re arrived at through paying attention. The other side has dogmatic views.

Bryan Caplan terms this an “Ideological Turing Test” and enthusiastically agrees that “the ability to pass ideological Turing tests – to state opposing views as clearly and persuasively as their proponents – is a genuine symptom of objectivity and wisdom.” He’s highly dubious, however, of Krugman’s claim that liberals are better than conservatives at it.

Don Boudreaux wisely observes that we should compare liberal intellectuals to non-liberal intellectuals, and liberal entertainers to non-liberal entertainers, not say Krugman to Beck.  I’d add that we should compare people in the same field: Rand’s inability to explain Keynesian economics would be no more telling than Krugman’s inability to explain Nozickian political philosophy.  (Of course, if Krugman could correctly explain Nozickian political philosophy, that would be fairly impressive).

With all these caveats in mind, let’s return to Krugman’s empirical claim.  If we did an apples-to-apples comparison, would liberals really excel on ideological Turing tests?

If we limit our sample to Ph.D.s from top-10 social science programs, I don’t see how Krugman could be right.  You can’t get a Ph.D. from Princeton econ without acquiring basic familiarity with market failure arguments and Keynesian macro.  At least you couldn’t when I was a student there in the 90s.  In contrast, it’s easy to get a Ph.D. from Princeton econ without even learning the key differences between conservatism and libertarianism, much less their main arguments.*  And frankly, it shows.  I’ve known many liberal Ph.D.s from top-10 social science programs – and even those who know me best can’t articulate my views well.

[…]

My challenge: Nail down the logistics, and I’ll happily bet money that I fool more voters than Krugman.  Indeed, I’ll happily bet that any libertarian with a Ph.D. from a top-10 social science program can fool more voters than Krugman.  We learn his worldview as part of the curriculum.  He learns ours in his spare time – if he chooses to spare it.

Boudreaux’ caveat is very important. We too often compare our best with the opposition’s worst, proving nothing. Caplan’s right, too, that the liberal worldview is baked into the social science and humanities curriculum, which would seem to give conservatives and libertarians thus educated a leg up on understanding the other side.

Ultimately, though, my experience tells me that Krugman and Caplan are both wrong on the larger comparative point.

Educated elites on both sides of the aisle understand the basic arguments of the other side and could likely answer objective questions. At the same time, neither will do a good job of articulating the view of the other side, since they tend to hold it in disdain and will thus couch it in the most negative terms possible–usually by violating  Boudreaux’ caveat.

Meanwhile, not only will few in the mass public be able to identify the arguments of the other side, most won’t be able to articulate the views even of their own side. Instead, they’ll focus almost entirely on the personalities of the politicians involved and, to a much lesser degree, define arguments in terms of current policy debates. Most conservatives in this group see liberals as anti-American, pro-criminal,  crypto-commies who don’t love Jesus while liberals see conservatives as racist religious nuts who hate the poor.

The shame of the thing is the political elites on both sides of the aisle actively pander to and reinforce the mass views, perpetuating the ignorance.

Hat tip: John Personna

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. hey norm says:

    “…conservatives in this group see liberals as anti-American, pro-criminal, crypto-commies who don’t love Jesus while liberals see conservatives as racist religious nuts who hate the poor…”
    And you really don’t see the false equivilancy in that statement?

  2. john personna says:

    I like this article mainly for the challenge it provides. It reminds us to form the best argument for a competing idea, before rejecting it.

    But certainly, politicians play at “streamlined” arguments which don’t hold to that test. While trains aren’t about “teh socialism” neither is high speed rail a rational path to American prosperity.

  3. Eric Florack says:

    Krugman is an idiot. That’s well understood.
    You see, the issue is not that we don’t understand liberals, but that we do. It’s that understanding that causes us to object to liberalism…. and liberals, themselves, thereby.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Says, Eric, making the following point:

    Meanwhile, not only will few in the mass public be able to identify the arguments of the other side, most won’t be able to articulate the views even of their own side. Instead, they’ll focus almost entirely on the personalities of the politicians involved and, to a much lesser degree, define arguments in terms of current policy debates.

  5. Jay Tea says:

    Ace of Spades had a similar idea a couple of months ago…

    Let me propose a thought experiment. Imagine ten liberals and ten of us. We’re each asked a series of political questions. Our task is not to answer as we ourselves would answer, but instead to guess at what our liberal counterparts will say, and not just as far as conclusions, but also as far as reasoning and assumptions and secondary premises.

    Who do you think would do better at this task– we or they? We would. Because while we are fed a steady litany of liberal assumptions and assertions on a daily basis, a liberal is entirely free to ignore the conservative movement’s beliefs altogether by simply never consuming any conservative media.

    Ace’s theory is superior to Krugman’s, simply by watching liberals. How many times have we heard from Obama, Pelosi, et al saying that their biggest failures were communication — that they simply didn’t explain themselves adequately.

    The underlying assumption is that if they simply spell things out clearly enough, anyone with a lick of common sense will go along with them. It never occurs to them that they did communicate clearly enough. A lot of us heard what they said, understood it — and made a fully informed decision to reject it.

    It’s not just that they don’t understand the principles and philosophies and attitudes behind that rejection. It’s that they either can’t conceive of principled opposition, or can’t bring themselves to admit that it might exist.

    Which is why the “racism” charge is so prevalent. It serves liberals on several fronts. For one, it shifts the argument to somewhere where they feel comfortable, where they can look back in pride on a history of winning. For another, it allows them to dismiss the other side for reasons utterly unrelated to the actual issues being discussed. For a third, it dismisses the arguments themselves as being unworthy of discussing, as they are obviously only cover for racism.

    It used to be a good rule of thumb: conservatives think liberals are stupid, liberals think conservatives are evil. Nowadays, it seems that both sides think the other is both stupid and evil.

    When they’re not being diabolically clever, of course.

    But Krugman is merely riffing on Ace’s observation, inverting it to suit his purpose. And it really doesn’t work for him.

    J.

  6. Jay Tea says:

    Whoops, fair warning: Ace’s piece runs about 3K words. I picked out two key paragraphs, but the whole thing is well worth reading.

    J.

  7. Modulo Myself says:

    <Educated elites on both sides of the aisle understand the basic arguments of the other side and could likely answer objective questions. At the same time, neither will do a good job of articulating the view of the other side, since they tend to hold it in disdain and will thus couch it in the most negative terms possible–usually by violating Boudreaux’ caveat.

    The difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals try to rebut what is being said about them, while conservatives assume that no liberal can ever be right about a conservative.

    And from what I can tell, very few educated conservatives seem to wish to understand the Ryan Plan. Next year, no doubt, we are going to be treated to the spectacle of educated conservatives giving up trying to understand what happened to the economy, and sinking into the fantasy of blaming government spending and minorities. But, as all educated conservatives will no doubt assure us, pointing this out will be another act of not-getting what the conservatives are really saying.

    Take it from Brian Caplan: And frankly, it shows. I’ve known many liberal Ph.D.s from top-10 social science programs – and even those who know me best can’t articulate my views well.

    The poor man has gone through his entire life misunderstood by every liberal, and all because they hate him.

  8. Modulo Myself says:

    There should be italics in that first paragraph.

  9. john personna says:

    I don’t think anyone needed to reply to Eric. It was such an Epic Fail.

    Jay, are you really aiming high enough? It isn’t about “what will my opponent say,” because that often produces the opposite result, answering a straw-man.

    You want to build the best rational case for something like “tax cuts create jobs (in this environment)” and then shred that best argument.

  10. LaurenceB says:

    I agree completely with what Joyner says on this subject. And I have nothing to add. I have no further insight or personal experience, nor do I have a different angle. If you are reading this, please feel free to move on to the next comment.

  11. Modulo Myself says:

    Jay Tea happens to illustrate a point here.

    When he thinks about liberals, he thinks about a throw-away line a politician gave in a speech and then goes off about liberals and how arrogant they are. He doesn’t mention the reasons he rejected the ACA. He just says he rejected it, and then it immediately morphs into blaming liberals for not fully understanding him. Of all the things he is talking about, the least important is the one thing that would actually affect other humans.

    If I’m asked about what I think about the Ryan Plan, I’m responding with details about how it will throw seniors into a market that was not able to cover them before Medicare, and will not know. I’m going to say that this either will destroy health care for the elderly, or it will turn into a joke when the government rushes to push seniors back into some sort of insurance plan, solving none of the real issues concerning rising Medicare costs.

    The difference is in the ability to focus and to be serious. I think Paul Ryan is a joke, but I’m thinking that because I think the plan is a joke. Jay Tea, on the other hand, has been taught repeatedly by conservative intellectuals that the best and only thing to to do is focus on what irritates you about liberals and how much the liberals hate you, and then go from there.

  12. Eric Florack says:

    Meanwhile, not only will few in the mass public be able to identify the arguments of the other side, most won’t be able to articulate the views even of their own side. Instead, they’ll focus almost entirely on the personalities of the politicians involved and, to a much lesser degree, define arguments in terms of current policy debates.

    Ah, yes the old “civil debate” meme, again. At exactly what point in the past has that ever occurred? Ah, yes. McCain. And we see where that goes. Huntsman’s going to try the same trick and will get the same result.

    Reagan, meanwhile:

    “A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.

    Oops. Landslide. Remember?

  13. James Joyner says:

    @Eric: I’m not sure I understand your point. You counter my statement that the mass public doesn’t understand intellectual frameworks and instead focuses on personalities with a reference to “the civil debate meme,” which really doesn’t seem applicable.

    Then you cite an example of a politician–decidedly not part of the mass public–making a non-personal joke about the sitting president, against whom he was campaigning, losing his job. Reagan wasn’t being uncivil. And he perfectly well understood the liberal argument, having spent years thinking and writing about the debate and shifting from being a Democrat to a Republican.

  14. hey norm says:

    “…Which is why the “racism” charge is so prevalent…”
    Or maybe it’s just because the racism is so prevalent. I mean seriously – do you need a list? Birthers. Mau Mau Colonialism. Barack the Magic Negroe. Macaca’s. Herman Cain and Muslims. The erroneously termed Ground Zero Mosque. The Alabama Aboribines. C’mon. It’s not even hard.

  15. george says:

    “…conservatives in this group see liberals as anti-American, pro-criminal, crypto-commies who don’t love Jesus while liberals see conservatives as racist religious nuts who hate the poor…”
    And you really don’t see the false equivilancy in that statement?

    You mean they’re equivalent because they’re both false?

    Actually, any generalization about conservatives and liberals is guaranteed to be wrong – we’re talking of a hundred or so million in both camps – anyone willing to make detailed generalizations about groups of that size can be safely ignored.

  16. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Actually very few people really understand leftism.

    Leftism is a non-focal organic brain defect, similar in various respects to DSM-specified dementia. Leftists are dissociated from reality in much the same way as dementia patients.

    Now let’s be clear that by leftism in this context we’re not talking about some 25 year-old grad student parroting what they’re hearing in class and what they’re seeing on the Daily Show. That’s simply immaturity and inexperience. Odds are that kid eventually will grow up and no longer will be a liberal.

    In a fully-developed adult, however, the holding of leftist viewpoints and actually believing in those viewpoints simply means that individual is sick in the head; literally.

  17. Wayne says:

    I don’t think most on either side understands the other that well. I don’t think most could argue the others sides point of view very convincing.

    Looks at most of the posts. Most including myself thinks their side understands the other side better. The world turns on.

    I would make one caution though about being a good devil’s advocate. People will think you believe that way even after you tell them you were just playing devil’s advocate.

  18. Raoul says:

    Get conservatives to get off supply side economics (the most destructive policy the last thirty years) and we can talk; or explain to me if low taxes lead to reduced deficits how come we do do not have a zero tax rate? Do conservatives even now what optimum means?

  19. hey norm says:

    “…the holding of leftist viewpoints and actually believing in those viewpoints simply means that individual is sick in the head; literally…”
    I think that pretty much wraps up this thread.

  20. HelloWorld! says:

    I do not agree with Krugman….just this morning I heard some republican senator on CSPAN talking about the free market, and I thought to myself “What is he talking about? In what country does this free market exist?”. I truely do not understand the conservative mind, its as if they live in a different world. When they say “tax cuts create jobs” and I say “from 2003 to 008 the Bush tax cuts saw 5 million jobs lost”….I just cannot understand where they are coming from.

  21. ponce says:

    We too often compare our best with the opposition’s worst, proving nothing.

    I agree.

    Krugman is a genius, Caplan is a sociopath.

    The right hasn’t produced a decent thinker since Buckley went to the all white country club in the sky.

  22. The Q says:

    The problem I have with conservatives is not that they don’t understand my viewpoint, the problem is they don’t even understand their own politics.

    Why the racism moniker planted on conservatives? Well, gee how ’bout we start with this:
    in 1980 reagan an ex governor of california born in illinois annouces his candidacy for prez, not in Sacramento, LA or Springfield illinois, but rather that well known town called Philadelphia, home of constitu…….oooops,sorry wrong Philadelphia.

    You see conservative clowns, he announces his candidacy in Philadelphia MISSISSIPPI, you know the place where the communist jew freedom riders Goodman and Schwerner where murdered for daring to register blacks to vote.

    But, to the true believers, Reagan just can’t possibly be a racist nor are there any in the Republican party…its all made up by liberals in a grand scheme to unfairly tarnish them.

    Also, this incessant mantra of tax cuts stimulating the economy and producing more tax revenue….ahh, lets see we pass then extend the bush tax cuts and we are in a depression. Their answer? of course, more tax cuts.

    Its like arguing with a six year old about quantum physics….

  23. Seems like progress if Krugman is only calling conservatives and libertartians stupid instead of stupid and evil. Guess we can stil rely on OTB commenters to mind the gap.

  24. As far as Krugman goes, this is just another variant of trying to silence any opposition. So much for dissent being patriotic.

  25. Wayne says:

    Most of the above post just shows that left don’t understand a fraction of what they think they do. They defiantly don’t understand the right.

  26. john personna says:

    lolz, to make the grade on this one you can’t just say “the other side does it more.”

    You actually have to show you can create a rational argument an opposing position. I offered to do it above, with “tax cuts create jobs (in this environment)”. I can expand on that. It goes to the idea that human behavior is shaped at the margin, and that if people are basically always ready to invest and hire, then giving them a reduced tax burden tips the equation in the hiring direction.

    Of course, even as I frame it fairly, we see the questionable assumptions. Are people always ready to invest and hire? Are they never fearful, or suspicious of return on investment?

    To the extent that this is not a good time to invest, then cutting tax may not be able to compensate for other negatives.

  27. john personna says:

    (And of course, if we have shown by fact that tax rates have been higher while investment has been higher, and unemployment lower, it pretty much shreds the rational argument that even lower tax rates are all that’s required.)

  28. Jay Tea says:

    Modulo, I used that single point as an example. It was merely the most recent one that came to mind, but I could name quite a few more. For example, the proposal to let tax rates go back up to the pre-9/11 levels after being at a stable level for most of a decade. Or Bill Clinton’s health care reform move. Or Cap And Trade. Or the case for UnWar with Libya. (Whoops, my bad — that one hasn’t been debated at all. At least, not within the US.) Or Cash For Clunkers. Or the ARRA.

    It’s just that ObamaCare featured that brilliant quote from Nancy Pelosi, “we have to pass the bill so you (peons) can see what’s in it.” The stultifying arrogance of that one alone will forever be seared, seared into my memory.

    J.

  29. john personna says:

    Jay, can you explain the rational argument for why letting “tax rates go back up to the pre-9/11 levels after being at a stable level for most of a decade” is both safe and necessary?

  30. steve says:

    I think that Krugman is probably correct in one circumscribed area, macroeconomics. At the freshwater schools to which he refers, I think EMH and RBC were being taught as established fact. My sense is that there was very little exposure to different POVS. Saltwater schools have had to teach both since EMH has been a dominant theory since Greenspan. The belief that businessman, specifically bankers, would not act against their best interests was the official view at the Fed for almost the last 20 years.

    Beyond that, Krugman is wrong. Reading widely across the spectrum, I find that the best writers on both sides understand the other side, they just disagree. For the rest, most people misunderstand their own side and the other side. At the bottom of the barrel, at places like Red State or Daily Kos, there is not much interest in the views of the other side and often an active ongoing attempt to misrepresent the other side.

    Steve

  31. Steve Verdon says:

    You can’t get a Ph.D. from Princeton econ without acquiring basic familiarity with market failure arguments and Keynesian macro. At least you couldn’t when I was a student there in the 90s.

    This is true of lower ranked schools as well, IMO. When I went through the graduate program we learned first about the Keynesian models, IS-LM, aggregate demand and so forth. Of course, we also did rational expectation models, real business cycle models, New Keynesian models, Solos type growth models, endogenous growth models and so forth.

    We did not cover Austrian thought, Supply-side economics, etc. The closest we could get would be the rational expectation and real business cycle models.

    And liberals can fail the ideological Turing test, case in point Raoul,

    Get conservatives to get off supply side economics (the most destructive policy the last thirty years) and we can talk; or explain to me if low taxes lead to reduced deficits how come we do do not have a zero tax rate? Do conservatives even now what optimum means?

    The final comment is utter rubbish. The idea behind supply side economics is not a novel one–the so called Laffer curve. In fact it is not something Laffer came up with, he merely explained it in a fairly simple easy to grasp manner. Much like how Robert Lucas and Leonard Rapping did not come up with the concept of rational expectations (that would be John Muth who first used the concept in regards to agricultural futures prices), they merely used it in a more interesting setting. In fact, the “Laffer curve” was described by John Maynard Keynes, IIRC.

    The reason why Raoul’s position is rubbish and why it demonstrates that liberals fail to understand conservatives, at least some of time, is because the revenue generated by a zero tax rate is zero. Zero * any number = 0. So Raoul also fails to understand a basic concept of arithmetic as well.

    And here we can see that the commenter has a problem with basic facts:

    I truely do not understand the conservative mind, its as if they live in a different world. When they say “tax cuts create jobs” and I say “from 2003 to 008 the Bush tax cuts saw 5 million jobs lost”….I just cannot understand where they are coming from.

    No. The number of people employed in 2003 ranges from 137,417,000 to 138,424,00 and in 2008 the range is 143,324,000 to 146,407,000. Similarly if we look at unemployment from 2003 to 2008 there is a similar picture. Unemployment is a lagging indicator, that is it did not really start to rise until after 2008. So, how easy it to understand the mind of this liberal when they are not even in command of basic facts that they are claiming knowledge of?

    And I have no doubt we can find conservatives failing to understand the basic ideas behind Keynesian macroeconomics and stimulus spending.

    in 1980 reagan an ex governor of california born in illinois annouces his candidacy for prez….

    You mean 1979 right? And Wikipedia puts the announcement in New York, New York.

    So you were saying about people understanding what?

  32. The Q says:

    Wayne says “Most of the above post just shows that left don’t understand a fraction of what they think they do. They defiantly don’t understand the right.”

    And Wayne, you don’t understand anything.

    One of my favorite stories illustrating just how out of touch the right is concerns the assassination of reagan.

    After he recovers, he gives a thrilling speech to congress, He mentions this

    “And now I want to tell you a story. Its about two immigrants from Italy, who come through Ellis Island and settle in New York city. the father runs a small deli and works dawn to dark, 6 days a week while the wife cleans houses and darns clothing to make ends meet. They have a son and they instill in him a hard work ethic and preach to him that in America all things are possible. And that son of humble immigrant parents goes on to graduate first in his class from Harvard Medical School, becomes the chief surgeon at George Washington University Hospital and then saves the life of the President of the Unites States!”

    Well, there isn’t a dry eye in the house. The story of hard work, bootstraps, immigrants, Ellis Island, saving the life of the president, what could be more American?

    But wait wingnuts, there is more to the story. Watching on his couch, the doctor, Joe Giordano immediately drafts an op ed piece and sends it to the New york times which runs it the next day.

    He says that he was crying as reagan lauded his parents and yes they were hard working and did everything they could to instill that same drive in him and he owed all his success to this upbringing, but they could have worked 100 hours a week and could never have afforded the tuition necessary to send him to school.

    The only way he was able to get though undergraduate studies was through GSLs (Government backed student loans) which reagan the president and the republican party wanted to abolish. That it would be impossible financially to graduate if the conservatives would have had their way.

    Since the conservatives would rather have some half wit with money (Bush Jr.) enrolled in school and not the best or brightest who were poor and couldn’t afford it, the repugs wanted to kill the GSL program and make it harder to have a meritocracy

    I think of this story when I encounter the incredible stupidity of wayne and other loons on the right because they have no clue about history and the rejection and failure in the past of their ideology. Hence, because of their moronic clinging to flawed policy, we have to spend the last, lost decade in America proving tax cuts to billionaires is disastrous, yet again.

    So, their response? Double down on the crazy, by eliminating capital gains, inheritance taxes and reducing the top rate by half.

    And Wayne, you wonder why we detest thinking like yours?

  33. ponce says:

    So you were saying about people understanding what?

    I’d say the real belief that divides normal people from the fringe right is their belief that a 14 year old girl that is raped by her father should be forced to give birth to her father’s child.

  34. Eric Florack says:

    @Eric: I’m not sure I understand your point. You counter my statement that the mass public doesn’t understand intellectual frameworks and instead focuses on personalities with a reference to “the civil debate meme,” which really doesn’t seem applicable.

    The counter on that point was to Reynold’s complaint, which focused on making it about personalities, not your own.

    But, to both your points, what gets missed here is that the public understands the intelectual debate quite well, and many from a first hand perspective. Unemployment, and soaring prices tends to focus the mind rather effectively. Such focus, however tends to be very personal. So who can blame if the attacker against a certain political philosophy tends to focus on the largest target that is of that philosophy? IN this case, liberalism and yes, socialism, and Obama?

  35. The Q says:

    Steve verdon.

    According to wiki, “On August 3, 1980, Ronald Reagan gave his first post-convention speech after being officially chosen as the Republican nominee for President of the United States at the Neshoba County Fair

  36. Raoul says:

    SV- the use of zero was an hyperbolic conceptualization and no doubt, increase in deficit by spending or by tax cuts can have a stimulative effect (the best models I have seen have a .10 return on “investment” or increased economic activity) – but this is a far cry from what he have heard the last 30 years-e.g., Pawlenty’s new supply side budget.

  37. Rob in CT says:

    I do think I could write up best-face right-wing arguments for:

    Tax cuts (spur growth, keep it out of the stupid/wasteful government’s hands, fairness).
    Flat tax (fairness, simplicity, and – if it’s a sales tax – harder to avoid)
    Entitlement spending cuts and/or a wholesale abandonment of the welfare state (unsustainable, don’t work anyway, charity is morally superior and/or should work better)
    Anti-Keynesian economics (not clear that fiscal stimulus has ever really worked, 9 times out of 10 the government fails to run surplusses during economic expansion so what’s the point of supporting counter-cyclical policy?)
    Reduced regulation (stifles economic growth, enables rent-seeking)
    Hawkish foreign policy, though this might be a stretch for me!
    Less Hawkish FP (though this is the minority right-wing view, it’s there)
    “Pro-life” (abortion is the killing of an unborn innocent who gets no say in the matter)
    Anti-affirmative action (attempts to right a wrong via another wrong, devalues success of those who benefitted from it, Obama! – just kidding)
    Anti-cap & trade (either “carbon tax is better” or “the costs outweight the benefits”)
    End the drug war (the minority – libertarian – position on the Right. This is easy, since I’m in total agreement. Prohibition doesn’t work, is terrifically costly, and is morally wrong).
    Environmental regulation is/can be overbearing (enviro regs should concentrate on direct impacts to human health, not go off protecting the precious somethingorother sand lizard)

    I don’t think I could do so for:

    Anti-gay marriage (this, in the end, boils down to Religion, or just “tradition” which circles back to religion. I can’t make the argument w/a straight face).
    Anti-socialized medicine (I’ve read a bunch of arguments from the Right on this, but none that to my mind grappled seriously with the experience of the rest of the wealthy world)
    Global Warming is a hoax perpetrated by evil leftists (obvious)
    Environmental regulation sucks in general (this may be an argument that the intelligent Right doesn’t make, but I’ve seen it a lot online).
    Return to the Gold Standard (minority position, probably best left alone)
    Pro-Drug war (majority position, maybe I could argue it, but I don’t think I could do it well)

    I’m sure I’ve missed an issue or two, but you get the idea.

    I read OtB, Bruce Bartlett, Andrew Sullivan, FrumForum, Radley Balko, Megan McCardle, The Vokloh Conspiracy, The American Scene (mostly to see what Manzi has to say)… just to name a few sites that certainly aren’t liberal. I think I’ve got a decent handle on what intelligent right-wingers have to say. I deliberately seek them out.

  38. MarkedMan says:

    My problem with the modern Republican leadership (aka people who refer to themselves as “conservative” and have real power) is that they worship faith over all else. Not just religious faith, but faith in tax cuts, faith in the poor performance of government workers, faith in not teaching kids about sex, faith in anyone of 100 things. Any betrayal of absolutist ideology results in the stoning of their own. (Maybe that’s not fair. Grover Norquist, the Tea Party, the Evangelicals, they do the stoning. The Republican leadership just looks the other way and thinks, ‘Dang, I’m glad that wasn’t me’.) Any appeal to logic is met with a nasty sarcastic remark and an appeal to “common sense” and “everybody knows”.

    To pick one little example, because of my industry I happen to know something about the health care reform acts of the past couple of years. And I can’t tell you how often I hear someone in the Republican leadership say “the president’s health care reform act is a sham. If it were serious, it would address ‘X'”. But in fact, the act does address that very concern. And when this is pointed out to them? It makes no difference. They keep repeating the falsehood.

  39. Eric Florack says:

    Then you cite an example of a politician–decidedly not part of the mass public–making a non-personal joke about the sitting president, against whom he was campaigning, losing his job. Reagan wasn’t being uncivil. And he perfectly well understood the liberal argument, having spent years thinking and writing about the debate and shifting from being a Democrat to a Republican.

    But he was making it very personal… it was not a debate society… he was laying the blame for the nations troubles… and rightly so… at the feet of Jimmy Carter.

  40. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t think conservatives are stupid. I think they are incapable of imagination. The lack of imagination renders them incapable of any sort of extended empathy beyond themselves or their clan, and incapable of imaging any sort of better future. What imagination they have takes the form of paranoia, a rather different attribute.

    We drag conservatives along into the future, like dragging a stubborn toddler through Target. We’ve spent the last century having to convince conservatives that black people are actual people. That so are women. And so are gays. And that it really doesn’t matter much how long someone’s hair is, or how they dress, and it’s not really all that hard having a Jew in your club. We’ve had to show them that saying “damn” on TV doesn’t open the gates of hell, and that burning the flag doesn’t burn the country, and that accused poor people should maybe still have lawyers, and that it’s not fascism to make Ford put seatbelts in their cars, or to require Eli Lilly to test their drugs, or to monitor attempts to manipulate the stock market.

    In each case we finally dragged these dumbasses conservatives, along, but it’s exhausting having to explain the f**king obvious to people again and again and again.

    If they were capable of imagination conservatives would catch on a bit quicker. Then again, just think: if conservatives were capable of imagination, I’d have so many more people competing for my job.

  41. ponce says:

    he was laying the blame for the nations troubles… and rightly so… at the feet of Jimmy Carter.

    Because Jimmy Carter was history’s greatest monster.

    And it wasn’t Nixon who froze wages to fight inflation!

  42. Steve Verdon says:

    Some have asked if there aren’t conservative sites I read regularly. Well, no. I will read anything I’ve been informed about that’s either interesting or revealing; but I don’t know of any economics or politics sites on that side that regularly provide analysis or information I need to take seriously.

    Guess who.

  43. ponce says:

    I think Steve Verdon is proving Krugman’s point about wingnuts.

    As if fringe right blogs are the only place a Nobel Prize winning economist could discuss economics with with conservative economists.

  44. The Q says:

    Reynolds has it right….all the wasted energy of the last 30 years proving that minimum wages are a good thing, that cleaning the environment won’t destroy the economy, that raising taxes on the rich won’t ruin their incentive to make more money, that the planet is indeed getting warmer (whether man-made or naturally), that there weren’t any WMDs in Iraq etc.

    And their response to these obvious negations of their flawed thinking?

    Just read the comments by the denial artists on this blog. Steve Verdon glossing over the real message and intent of reagan’s speech at Philadelphia Mississippi by quibbling over dates.

    Kinda like Nazi’s playing up the “jobs and hope” agenda and forgetting about KrystallNacht.

  45. Dave Schuler says:

    In fact, the “Laffer curve” was described by John Maynard Keynes, IIRC.

    A lot farther back than that. It goes back to the 14th century, Ibn Khaldun.

  46. Steve Verdon says:

    I’d say the real belief that divides normal people from the fringe right is their belief that a 14 year old girl that is raped by her father should be forced to give birth to her father’s child.

    WTFAYTA? Where have I, since you are quoting me, made a claim at all resembling this nonsense?

    Oh…BTW I’m pro-choice.

    The Q,

    I know, but you said that is where he announced his campaign, that is not true. He announced in New York. He spoke at the County Fair in Neshoba, but he was already the Republican Candidate by then. Your facts are wrong.

    SV- the use of zero was an hyperbolic conceptualization and no doubt, increase in deficit by spending or by tax cuts can have a stimulative effect (the best models I have seen have a .10 return on “investment” or increased economic activity) – but this is a far cry from what he have heard the last 30 years-e.g., Pawlenty’s new supply side budget.

    No doubt, but if you want to be taken seriously it would be a good idea to not make a nonsensical claim. After all, if you post nonsense how am I know know you were joking or being sarcastic. Sarcasm is a tricky thing in the written form. And serious economics types, such as myself or those much more knowledgeable such as Greg Mankiw, have noted this problem. Again it goes to Caplan’s point that comparing Krugman to Beck is like comparing Mankiw to Olbermann on economics.

    Oh and note that both Mankiw and Krugman are “Keynesians”.

    Rob in CT,

    Entitlement spending cuts and/or a wholesale abandonment of the welfare state (unsustainable, don’t work anyway, charity is morally superior and/or should work better)

    There is also an incentive issue too.

    I read OtB, Bruce Bartlett, Andrew Sullivan, FrumForum, Radley Balko, Megan McCardle, The Vokloh Conspiracy, The American Scene (mostly to see what Manzi has to say)… just to name a few sites that certainly aren’t liberal.

    Puts you way ahead of Krugman, for whatever that is worth.

    And yes, I agree with you that much of the Right’s economic policies are at least coherent. The supply side stuff is junk, but only a handful believe that or are deluding themselves. And don’t get me started on the economics of immigration stuff.

    As for the social policies, I just don’t get them. I don’t care if two dudes want to get married, or two women. I really don’t. Good luck I’ve got my own problems, so if you don’t mind…

    And I don’t care if they adopt kids. A home with two loving parents is a good thing.

    Healthcare: I don’t think punting it off to the gov’t is going to be a magic bullet. Everywhere I look except for 2 cases that doesn’t work. This doesn’t mean the market is the solution either. What is the right answer? I really don’t know.

    Global Warming: I believe it is happening, I think the magnitude is in question, and policy responses should be carefully considered, but I’d gladly support Mankiw’s Pigouvian tax on gasoline.

    Enviro regs: Good things, when done right and such. Some should be regulations on output, others should be taxes, in some cases maybe even subsidies. I like clean air, clean water, and clean beaches.

    Gold standard: WTF I don’t even….

    Drug War: Waste of time, energy, resources, human lives, etc. Stop it. Stop it now! Not to mention the problems regarding civil rights and militarizing our police forces.

    I’m also in favor of gun ownership if somebody wants to own one. Not my thing though.

    And as already noted I’m pro-choice.

    I’m not much of a conservative, but looking at some commenters I am, in the worst possible way. I’ve also been labelled the worst liberal in the world. And if I really look I might find some commenters calling both liberal and conservative at different times.

    Michael,

    In each case we finally dragged these dumbasses conservatives, along, but it’s exhausting having to explain the f**king obvious to people again and again and again.

    I understand, but it is equally exhausting explaining how the FDA’s policies have also prevented people from trying out drugs that could help them. Even when the people know full well the risks. That when you subsidize something you tend to get more of it. That incentives matter when crafting policy and so forth.

  47. anjin-san says:

    he was laying the blame for the nations troubles… and rightly so… at the feet of Jimmy Carter.

    Carter was a poor President, but to lay the blame for all of our woes in the late 70s is simplistic at best. (well, look at the source) The economy sucked throughout the 70s. We had 8 years of poor leadership by the GOP leading up to the Carter era, and the consequences of LBJs guns and policies as well.

  48. ponce says:

    WTFAYTA? Where have I, since you are quoting me, made a claim at all resembling this nonsense?

    What makes you think I was talking about you, Steve?

    Having spent the last ten years reading and commenting on right wing blogs, i feel qualified to offer a more detailed taxonomy of right wingers.

    I was just pointing out that the wingnuts who would force 14 year old girls to give birth to their fathers’ kids are at the extreme far right of the scale.

    The vast majority of right wing bloggers are just self loathing “conservatives” who have spent their entire lives suckling at the government teat(Reynolds, Caplan, etc.).

  49. The Q says:

    Steve Verdon, how do you fit in the republican party? your views are certainly not in line with the current GOP

  50. george says:

    Then again, just think: if conservatives were capable of imagination, I’d have so many more people competing for my job.

    You’re a novelist, correct? What do you want to bet that I can’t name any good novelists, including Nobel Prize winners?

    There are hundreds of millions of liberals and conservatives around the world; it always strikes me as fascinating that people think its possible to generalize about them, or to feel superior (more intelligent, more moralistic, more imaginative) than all of the “other”. This is done by individuals in both camps.

  51. george says:

    Oops, meant to say, any good conservative novelists. Really need an editing feature.

  52. Steve Verdon says:

    Just read the comments by the denial artists on this blog. Steve Verdon glossing over the real message and intent of reagan’s speech at Philadelphia Mississippi by quibbling over dates.

    Your facts were wrong. It wasn’t quibbling, you were wrong. And apparently you can’t admit an error. You want understanding, but f*ck the facts, right?

    And the real intent? Yeah I know state’s rights is code for racism and racial policies. It is also something quite common from libertarian minded people. Was Reagan making a cynical play on the racial feelings of white southerners? Maybe. Or maybe not. His view that government is not solution, but in fact often the problem was a major theme in his campaign. I know you are convinced, and I see your points, but I’m not entirely convinced. And to provide as much information and facts as possible, two days after the speech at the Neshoba County Fair Reagan spoke at the Urban League.

  53. Steve Verdon says:

    What makes you think I was talking about you, Steve?

    You were quoting my comment Ponce.

    Steve Verdon, how do you fit in the republican party? your views are certainly not in line with the current GOP

    You are just now figuring this out? Let me guess you are new here, right?

    Anyhow ask Ponce, he seems to know exactly what a right wing fringe type is. With his PhD in blog reading I’m sure he can pin-point exactly where I am on the political landscape.

  54. Modulo Myself says:

    I understand, but it is equally exhausting explaining how the FDA’s policies have also prevented people from trying out drugs that could help them. Even when the people know full well the risks. That when you subsidize something you tend to get more of it. That incentives matter when crafting policy and so forth.

    Are there many liberals out there who are advocates of regulating everything thoughtlessly, as if there were no drawbacks? Does Krugman think that, for example In fact, I’m curious if you can find one mainstream liberal (economist, blogger, etc.) who is arguing that we should regulate regardless of the outcome…but actually, if you switch ‘regulation’ with ‘free-market’ it seems to me that you’re talking about the right, and it’s never ending Panglossian optimism about self-regulating markets.

  55. ponce says:

    Anyhow ask Ponce, he seems to know exactly what a right wing fringe type is.

    I’d say you’re in the Pedant section, Steve.

  56. Steve Verdon says:

    Modulo Myself,

    Can you find one mainstream “conservative” economist that believes in Supply Side economics?

    And it is not just thoughtless regulation, but regulation that serves little purpose. If a person suffering from a chronic illness has read research on a new drug, as seen data on trials in other countries, and would like to try it here and without it will surely die….why stop him? But we do. And we grant the FDA that power. Why not change it?

    …In fact, I’m curious if you can find one mainstream liberal (economist, blogger, etc.) who is arguing that we should regulate regardless of the outcome…but actually, if you switch ‘regulation’ with ‘free-market’ it seems to me that you’re talking about the right, and it’s never ending Panglossian optimism about self-regulating markets.

    1. Bureaucracies exist to follow their own procedures, nothing else nothing more. Policy or procedure is all that matters.

    Example

    Those brave heroes did nothing wrong. The followed policy and…let a man drown. When a representative was asked if he’d let a child in a similar situation drown the answer was, “Yes, that is the policy.”

    Michael’s post implies that regulation has been a great force good based on a few examples. But he ignores the downsides to policies the FDA has implemented. Also, bureaucracies aren’t concerned with outcomes, but with policy and procedure. That is why a suicidal man was allowed to drown. Why the same bureaucrat in charge stated he’d let a child drown. Outcome is not important, following procedure is.

    You can see similar things over at Radley Balko’s blog about police militarization. The police go into the wrong home, kill the family dogs, terrorize the people living there, find nothing, realize its the wrong house, and the response is: they did nothing wrong. They followed procedure.

    Or, how about drug policy. Why are we still freaked out about what people are putting in their bodies to alter their brain chemistry? Why are we wasting billions and watching out civil rights being slowly eroded? And this is something both Left and Right agree on.

    But f*ck it, lets go with Michael and just accept all new regulations because people in power have told us they are good.

    2. I find the claim that those who favor the market view it as some sort of utopia to be quite simply bullshit. I would dispute that it is even the best of all possible worlds.

    When markets work they work very well getting resources allocated to where they are most needed. However, they don’t always work and thus non-market solutions maybe necessary or solutions that help the market work. Sometimes it can be as simple as making previously unknown information known.

    Ponce,

    I’d say you’re in the Pedant section, Steve.

    No, no, no! The pendant aspect covers both Left, Right and everything in between. I asked you what kind of Right Winger I am you idiot.

    Now, try it again.

  57. steve says:

    “Can you find one mainstream “conservative” economist that believes in Supply Side economics?”

    Based upon their policy proposals? Almost all of them?

    Steve

  58. john personna says:

    Steve might be right, with his specific question: Economists. Just the same, I’m not sure it would be so hard to find a Republican Presidential candidate who argues that tax cuts will bring growth or jobs in this environment.

    You know, despite being in a low tax regime already, and despite having had high growth and lower unemployment in times of higher tax.

    We are supposed to study the underlying logic … but when it’s just that taxes should always be lower, it’s kind of hard to do that. Ah well, with some light starting to be visible between Nordquist and the Republican mainstream, we could see change.

  59. Modulo Myself says:

    Can you find one mainstream “conservative” economist that believes in Supply Side economics

    Why are you bringing up supply-side economics? I was talking about regulation, and thinking specifically of Greenspan, and his belief that financial markets would regulate themselves. This was an incredibly utopian viewpoint, by the way. And as far as I can tell, there are few conservatives who have the ability to focus on what went wrong in Greenspan’s utopia.

    As far as the rest of what you’re saying, it’s hard to know how to respond. You seem to be angry that bureaucracy exists. Are you an anarchist? Do you want to do away with all procedure, any rules that may lead to unforeseen outcomes? This is a serious question, but it’s hard to think of any ideological answer to this question that does not open another set of problems.

    It would be one thing if we were emerging from some Eastern European monolithic state dystopia and talking about government bureaucracy and free enterprise and what to do next. But we’re clearly not. We are instead in a highly stratified immobile deregulated capitalist society which had the government not bailed it out would have blown itself up like any good bureaucracy following its procedures and missing the end result.

    The weird thing is that you seem to be perfectly able to reconcile a servile acceptance of one system–the market–as long as you get to be a vocal hater of another system–the government. You get furious about one bureaucracy, while you can say about another, “Sometimes it can be as simple as making previous unknown information known.” Really? That’s straight out of any bureaucrat’s lexicon.

    And my original point, which you completely dodged, is that very few liberals believe in government like conservatives believe in the markets. I have no problem with admitting the limits of what can be predicted. I don’t want to accept all regulation because it says Regulation. And there aren’t any mainstream liberals who are this uncritical.

    Unfortunately, politically, we can’t talk about anything of this now. It’s a dead issue. And when the picture was better, instead of being actually exceptional and dynamic and sharers of information, as all of the pro-American bs says, we got Bush, tax cuts, purposely inflating a bubble, and two wars.

  60. OzarkHillbilly (used to be tom p) says:

    I, for one. understand the other side all too well.

  61. john personna says:

    Wait, Norquist has a BA Economics from Harvard.

    Also:

    Not to Norquist. To him, supply-side economics has never been more relevant. “The left has been arguing this since forever,” he says. “When I was in college, [John Kenneth Galbraith] would come and give a lecture every year to Harvard students about how we were just about to enter the Great Depression again. Because he never had as much fun as he had during the Great Depression.”

    So the requirement to find an economist might have been a quest set for us(*) by Steve, it is satisfied.

    * – as in “bring us a shrubbery.”

  62. OzarkHillbilly (used to be tom p) says:

    I, for one. understand the other side all too well.

    and in case you did not get it…. SARCASM!!!!!

  63. ponce says:

    The pendant aspect covers both Left, Right and everything in between.

    I agree.

  64. michael reynolds says:

    Verdon is a principled libertarian, not a Republican. I disagree with him on a lot of things, but he ain’t Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum.

    Lots of issues between me and libertarians, but liberals have not had to drag them along on abortion, gay rights, civil rights, etc… They’ve been with us on all that, which is why I was, way back in like 1970 or some ancient date, an early teenage supporter of the LP.

    And Steve V, this may amuse you: I think my 14 year-old geek son is going LP. He will not shut up about the TSA and net neutrality and the overuse of copyright and bitcoin. . . He tweeted to friends that he was watching the GOP debate for Ron Paul.

    Cosmic justice. Or something like that.

  65. Jay Tea says:

    john personna:

    Jay, can you explain the rational argument for why letting “tax rates go back up to the pre-9/11 levels after being at a stable level for most of a decade” is both safe and necessary?

    Sorry for the delay; reality sucks sometimes.

    First up, the phrasing was clumsy, I admit. I was trying to counter the standard BS talking point “we can’t afford to extend the Bush tax cuts.” I reject the idea that tax rates left alone for about a decade are the aberration, and the previous level was the “norm.” If I’m paying more this year than the last several, then that’s a tax hike.

    Next, I reject the idea that tax money is somehow rightfully the government’s, and not the individual’s. The idea that “we can’t afford tax cuts” is repugnant to me; it has the underlying presumption that tax breaks are the government giving money to people, instead of letting them keep more of their own money.

    Third, I think that money left in private hands instead of taken by the government is better for the economy overall than government taxation and spending. In addition to the inefficiency in the collection and distribution process, it allows politicians to use that money to reward their friends and punish their enemies. We’ve all seen that at play. So between the overhead of running the government programs and the corrupting influence, I’ll pass.

    Finally, even if the money is redistributed honestly, efficiently, and fairly (each with some very subjective definitions of those terms), it’s still a matter of principle for me. I rankle at the thought of how a lot of folks define “generosity” as “I’m going to take your money and spend it as I think best.” Charity begins at home, not in Washington, DC.

    That answer you, john?

    J.

  66. rodney dill says:

    Of course I understand the other side, as I define it to be whatever I want it to represent at the time.

  67. Rob in CT says:

    Well, Steve, it seems that you and I aren’t far apart at all (not that I had you pegged as a crazed wingnut, given your posts are clearly too high-quality for that, even if I disagree with a given point).

    I think I’m slightly more receptive to government action than you (though I retain what I regard as healthy skepticism of such), but otherwise I don’t see any huge differences between us… maybe healthcare, but actually I share your “I don’t know” frustration too. I think the experience of the rest ‘o the West should be an example to us, but there is no magic bullet (healthcare costs are rising for them at the same rates, on average, as they are rising here. It’s just that we started at much higher costs). Then again, what adult really thinks you solve a thorny problem with a magic bullet. I don’t think either of us believe in magic.

    What we have here is something like Liberalatarian convergence. Sadly, that never seems to hold (though the folks over at Bleeding Heart Libertarians are trying).

  68. User Loser says:

    Conservatives want everybody to drive cars to give them the illusion of freedom while keeping them thoroughly enslaved.

  69. Oh, and here’s something that should help indicate that some on the Left, and seemingly some commenters here, don’t understand libertarians and libertarianism nearly as much as they like to think they do.

  70. Scott O. says:

    @Jay Tea, I think you need to reread the question.

  71. Jay Tea says:

    OK, Scott, lemme give a very quick and flip answer.

    “Safe.” You wanna argue that the government doesn’t take in enough money already? That its real problem is that it doesn’t have enough money to spend?

    “Necessary?” The default question should be “why does the government need to take more money,” not “why shouldn’t the government take more money?”

    J.

  72. bains says:

    JayT, I think JohnP was asking you to prove your allegation that the right understands the left better than visa verse by arguing the left’s POV re raising taxes.

  73. Scott O. says:

    @Jay Tea, Maybe I’m missing something. I thought the point was to see if you could demonstrate that you understand the other side by explaining their argument.

  74. Jay Tea says:

    Scott, sorry. “The question” was a bit ambiguous. I thought you were referring to john personna’s question.

    I gotta run off to the Day Job, but I reiterate Ace’s point: the right is better at grasping the other side’s arguments because we’re relentlessly bombarded with it. Finding the right’s arguments, though, takes an active effort.

    Things get pretty free-wheeling here, as well as at Wizbang. But three places where I’ve been banned for going against The Man have been Democratic Underground, Daily Kos (well, technically not banned, but blocked from commenting or starting my own diary), and Little Green Footballs. Are there any right-leaning sites so free to silence dissent as those three echo chambers?

    Larger sites, that is. On a peer with those three.

    J.

  75. User Loser says:

    You know one of the biggest weakness’s of the right is their insistence that the government takes. I think they would be better served if they instead dwelt on the misapplication of resources. Maybe they wouldn’t seem so selfish and insensitive. As it is they are on Nantucket slay-ride to a dystopian future.

  76. bains says:

    JohnP’s question is of course a trap of sorts, for he is asking you to provide the rational argument using his terms. That is a whole lot different than understanding why someone would think that one can “explain the rational argument for why letting “tax rates go back up to the pre-9/11 levels after being at a stable level for most of a decade’ is both safe and necessary’.

    Rational implies that such argument is provable, which it is not. I can understand why someone on the left would think that articles of faith are immutable fact , such as Roosevelt’s policies, in and of themselves, brought the country out of the great depression, and that Clinton’s raising of tax rates, in and of themselves, created the biggest growth boom in decades (and, in and of themselves, left the federal Gov in bugetary surplus). Tied with these, I can understand why the left believes that the Keynesian idea that the Gov needs to prime the pump, or infuse the economy with huge amounts of money is absolutely necessary in down economic times. But these two fundamental ideas, crucial in making the case John is asking for do not rationally lead to the conclusion John would have you make, namely that raising taxes in a down economy is both safe and necessary.

    That is not to say I dont understand how many on the left get to that conclusion; all it requires is a political leap of faith, or rather a number of leaps. No, John would have set a more intellectually honest tone had he asked, “why does the left think that raising taxes in our current economy will not be harmful, and is required to pay for many of the necessary and new spending and regulatory plans.

  77. Jay Tea says:

    User, you give yourself away. The “resources” you’re talking about being misapplied are NOT yours to say that they are misapplied, nor are they the government’s. If their owner is happy with how they’re applied, who are you — or the government — to say otherwise?

    “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

    J.

  78. MarkedMan says:

    Jay Tea, since you don’t have time to respond to the questions, I’ll fill in for you. I’m a progressive, but I think the rational answer (not “conservative”, “liberal” or “progressive” but overall rational) to your question “Why should the government take more of my money?” is simply this: the government has committed to spending that money. You could argue that they shouldn’t have, and that’s fine, but at the end of the day they did. By not raising the revenue to fulfill these obligations they are a) increasing the debt, and b) more importantly, they are creating the illusion that you can have these things at our current level of taxation. If taxes rose to actually pay for expenditures the people’s representatives have approved there might be more of a movement to cut those expenditures . (Or maybe not. I don’t know.)

  79. Moosebreath says:

    Jay Tea,

    “Are there any right-leaning sites so free to silence dissent as those three echo chambers?”

    Redstate comes to mind, where they (at least used to — I haven’t read it in several years) take pleasure in symbolically shooting anyone who dissents from their party line.

    And of course, many of the bigger right leaning sites, starting with Glenn Reynolds, do not have comments, so no dissent is possible.

  80. An Interested Party says:

    I can understand why someone on the left would think that articles of faith are immutable fact , such as Roosevelt’s policies, in and of themselves, brought the country out of the great depression, and that Clinton’s raising of tax rates, in and of themselves, created the biggest growth boom in decades (and, in and of themselves, left the federal Gov in bugetary surplus).

    Who believes that FDR’s policies alone brought the country out of the Great Depression? And who believes that Clinton’s raising of tax rates alone created the growth boom in the 90s? It certainly is easy to argue against your ideological opposition when you invent strawmen…

    “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

    Speaking of strawmen…in this country, and particularly talking about people in actual power, just as it would be silly for those on the left to try to paint those on the right as fascists, it is equally silly for those on the right to try to paint those on the left as socialists…

  81. mantis says:

    Are there any right-leaning sites so free to silence dissent as those three echo chambers?

    Redstate has banned me. Gateway Pundit has banned me. Michelle Malkin has banned me. Powerline, Glenn Reynolds, and many other large wingnut sites don’t allow comments at all. Other than Kos, I believe all of those are higher profile sites than the those you name (and DU? Really? Get real).

  82. bains says:

    Who believes that FDR’s policies alone brought the country out of the Great Depression? And who believes that Clinton’s raising of tax rates alone created the growth boom in the 90s?

    The leftist laity. And that is why so much of this sorts of red-meat is thrown out on the campaign trail and when controversial legislation is contended. Along with all the other convenient caricatures (and with out doubt, the right uses similar caricatures – the right however is not aided by the MSM in foisting their caricatures).

    Doubt that? Then tell me when a Dem candidate points to WWII as a strong component of the eventual recovery from depression? Or show me where the the left admits that the 94 welfare reform, and government spending restraints, or the easing of regulatory burdens aided Clinton’s economic miracle?

  83. An Interested Party says:

    Then tell me when a Dem candidate points to WWII as a strong component of the eventual recovery from depression?

    Tell me when a Dem candidate points to FDR as getting the country out of the Depression before and/or without WWII…

    Or show me where the the left admits that the 94 welfare reform, and government spending restraints, or the easing of regulatory burdens aided Clinton’s economic miracle?

    You originally wrote that people on the left claim that the raising of taxes alone created the 90s boom, find anyone who actually believes that…but there is a flip side here…also find anyone on the right who admits that raising taxes in the 90s didn’t hurt the boom of that decade…as for easing regulatory “burdens”…the repeal of the Glass–Steagall act has worked out so terribly well, hasn’t it…

  84. ponce says:

    Tell me when a Dem candidate points to FDR as getting the country out of the Depression before and/or without WWII…

    The American economy has never grown faster than it did under that commie FDR, both before and during WWII.

  85. The American economy has never grown faster than it did under that commie FDR, both before and during WWII.

    Another great victory through the use of relative statistics. If housing starts suddenly go up 25% next month I assume you’ll think Obama has fixed the housing construction problem too. Nothing like destroying the village first to magnify your weak successes in rebuilding it.

  86. ponce says:

    Another great victory through the use of relative statistics.

    It’s true Republican Hoover tanked the U.S. economy with his austerity measures, but real GDP growth has been an accepted measure of economic growth for quite some time, chuck.

    No president’s record for real GDP growth even comes close to FDR’s.

    A lesson the Chinese Communists have embraced wholeheartedly over the last 30 years…

  87. Jay Tea says:

    mantis, Malkin I consider an exception — she’s one of the most hated people on the right. I give her a lot of leeway on protecting herself.

    Red State? To be honest, don’t read it. I’ll take your word for it.

    Reynolds’ lack of comments is just part of his style — all rapid-fire, brief stuff, nothing to linger over. And it works for him.

    PowerLine: their mistake.

    Hot Air? I dunno how one registers there, but they’re pretty tolerant. Used to be a lot more before one of Charles Johnson’s pets did a whole lot of feces-smearing in the middle of the night.

    Oh, and let me toss in Media Matters. I got sick of my comments being “held for moderation” and never getting published. And my position towards Oliver Willis’ site is like yours at Wizbang — a self-imposed exile.

    I’ll stick with the general principle, though — and add in Ace of Spades and Hot Air and The Other McCain.

    J.

  88. john personna says:

    I think Jay and Bains both punted. The question was:

    Jay, can you explain the rational argument for why letting “tax rates go back up to the pre-9/11 levels after being at a stable level for most of a decade” is both safe and necessary?

    Trivial.

    It’s safe because rates have very commonly been higher, without disaster.

    It’s necessary because a cuts-only budget balance is impossible.

    Now, you might attack each of those claims in turn, but that isn’t the point in this thread. The point is that you be able to state them yourselves, and understand them. Then you go off to make whatever BS claim you want that this point in time is unique and that traditional tax levels would be death. Or some BS claim that congress is just about to pass a cuts-only budget that will be all rainbows and butterflies.

  89. Eric Florack says:

    he was laying the blame for the nations troubles… and rightly so… at the feet of Jimmy Carter.

    Because Jimmy Carter was history’s greatest monster.

    And it wasn’t Nixon who froze wages to fight inflation!

    Ah, yes, Nixon. Perhpas you’d better really look at Nixon’s record. He was no more a conservative than was Bush. (Either one) No conservative would ever hatch a plan for soviet-style price and wage controls, for pity’s sake.

    It’s true Republican Hoover tanked the U.S. economy with his austerity measures,

    Um, no. The fact is that Hoover behaved as a classic Keynesian after the stock market crash. When the crash happened, he immediately cut income tax rates by one percentage point (applicable to the 1929 tax year) and upped federal spending about 42 percent (30-32)

    An even closer look…. That increase in spending happened even while tax receipts fell off, a combo which lead to peacetime deficits under the Hoover Administration- that were unheard of previously….. and it was something FDR used as a prop in the 32 campaign.
    (So is Obama the next Hoover?)

    But what really caused business to fail? Watch this:
    Hoover, like Nixon was no conservative. He insisted businesses not cut wages in response to the economy… a move which made the situation worse as companies went under trying to obey the edict.

    You have crashed. Try again? (Y/N)?

  90. An Interested Party says:

    Poor Eric…still waiting on the next Calvin Coolidge…sorry you’ll never get that…

  91. Moosebreath says:

    AIP,

    Exactly. Bithead apparently believes simultaneously that his brand of One True Conservatism represents the views of the vast majority of the country, and yet practitioners of One True Conservatism have managed to capture at most 3 major party nominations in the last 70+ years (Goldwater once and Reagan twice). Lesser minds might notice the inconsistency and change one or more of those beliefs, but not our Bithead.

  92. wr says:

    The only reason Reagan still qualifies as a “real Conservative” is because his acolytes deny or ignore the bulk of what he actually did and choose to pledge alleagiance to the comic book version.

  93. Tlaloc says:

    Boudreaux’ caveat is very important. We too often compare our best with the opposition’s worst, proving nothing.

    I somewhat disagree here. We should compare the people leading or motivating each side. That is Krugman has significant weight on the left. Beck has significant weight on the right. For that reason it is entirely fair to compare them since it highlights that one side has deliberately chosen a know-nothing blowhard to be a ideological leader (figuring out which of the aforementioned personalities that description fits is left as an exercise to the reader).

    It’s great to compare apples to apples but we choose to listen to apples and they choose to listen to oranges and that’s much more relevant to the issue.

  94. James Joyner says:

    @Tlaloc :

    Oh, nonsense. Krugman’s influence is almost entirely on the elites; the average Democrat has no earthly idea who he is. Similarly, while Beck has a small if rabid mass following, there’s no evidence that Republican intellectuals or party leaders see him as anything other than a bellweather or a nuisance.

  95. Eric Florack says:

    Exactly. Bithead apparently believes simultaneously that his brand of One True Conservatism represents the views of the vast majority of the country, and yet practitioners of One True Conservatism have managed to capture at most 3 major party nominations in the last 70+ years (Goldwater once and Reagan twice). Lesser minds might notice the inconsistency and change one or more of those beliefs, but not our Bithead.

    Your assertion only makes sense if one ignores the most recent elections. You would also need to ignore the numbers of people who do and do not vote in GOP primaries. Are we really to take from your statement that the micro-minority voting in such primaries, really reflects the majority’s view on the need for conservative leadership?

    Seems a stretch, at least.

  96. Eric Florack says:

    Similarly, while Beck has a small if rabid mass following, there’s no evidence that Republican intellectuals or party leaders see him as anything other than a bellweather or a nuisance.

    Oh, I’m quite sure they DO regard Beck as a problem. He’s challenging the GOP establishment… and God bless him for it. But when was the last time we saw Democrat leadership thinking the same of Krugman?

  97. Moosebreath says:

    “Your assertion only makes sense if one ignores the most recent elections.”

    Does that mean that after the 2006 and 2008 elections you believed that liberal political thought represented the majority will of the country? After all, it had been decades since either party had as many seats in Congress as the Democrats did in the 2009-10 Congress, and 2 decades since any President won as many electoral votes as Obama did? Or is your theory that when Republicans win, it shows the public agrees with them, and when Democrats win, it is only due to the political news of the day?

  98. Moosebreath says:

    “But when was the last time we saw Democrat leadership thinking the same of Krugman?”

    You could start when he said the 2009 stimulus was too small (a position which got no coverage in the So-Called Liberal Media).

  99. bains says:

    I think Jay and Bains both punted.

    Hardly. That I chose not to make the case does not diminish the fact that I pointed out the foundational basis for that case being made. I was merely pointing out that you asked a loaded question, a question which Jay Tea, or anyone else, can not answer correctly, for it requires them (us) to, more than just understand leftist thought, to believe it.

  100. Eric Florack says:

    Does that mean that after the 2006 and 2008 elections you believed that liberal political thought represented the majority will of the country?

    A fair enough question. And the answer is perhaps.
    You see, the problem here is that there was not a clear choice as regards conservatism.

    as an example McCain was certainly not a conservative. So what we had in that instance and in fact both of the elections that you mention , is a choice between a died in the wall leftist, and a centrist. Why go for a week willed leftist, big government type, which I consider McCain to be, when you can go for the real thing?

    you see, when the American electorate is actually given a conservative to choose, they will. Problem is, that hasn’t happened in recent years.

  101. Eric Florack says:

    You could start when he said the 2009 stimulus was too small (a position which got no coverage in the So-Called Liberal Media).

    But that it got no coverage is precisely the point. When we start seeing open denounce men’s of Krugman from the left and particularly from the current administration, we might have a discussion point.

  102. Eric Florack says:

    The only reason Reagan still qualifies as a “real Conservative” is because his acolytes deny or ignore the bulk of what he actually did and choose to pledge alleagiance to the comic book version.

    I ask this question fully expecting a resounding silence, but it must be asked; list for us please, exactly what he supposedly dead, by your lights.

  103. Moosebreath says:

    “as an example McCain was certainly not a conservative. So what we had in that instance and in fact both of the elections that you mention , is a choice between a died in the wall leftist, and a centrist. Why go for a week willed leftist, big government type, which I consider McCain to be, when you can go for the real thing? ”

    Wow — those terms change fast. McCain is both a centrist and a weak-willed leftist, not to mention a floor wax and a dessert topping. Again, this goes to you believing that there is One True Conservatism, and that anyone who strays one iota from that is a leftist.

    Further, 2006 was a year with no Presidential race, so I am not sure how you get to in all 435 House races and 33 Senate races there being a single unitary choice between a leftist and a centrist. Take for example, the PA Senate race between Santorum and Casey, which strikes me as a contest between a centrist and a full-out One True Conservative. And yet the centrist won by 18 percentage points in a state that elected exactly 1 Democrat to the Senate in the prior 40 years (and him only to fill out a partial term).

    “But that it got no coverage is precisely the point. When we start seeing open denounce men’s of Krugman from the left and particularly from the current administration, we might have a discussion point.”

    This makes no sense to me. Krugman’s position was effectively ignored at a time when the Democrats had cotnrol of both chanbers of Congress, as well as the Presidency.

    As for what Reagan did to make him not a One True Conservative, we can start by noting he raised taxes in all but 2 years of his Presidency. He opted to save Social Security (by providing for its long term stability) rather than killing it. Ditto Medicare. Even when he had control of the Senate and effective control of the House in the first 2 years of his Presidency (i.e., adding the number of Republicans and Democrats who eventually changed parties to Republicans totalled a majority) he took no action to outlaw abortion.

  104. Mike says:

    Several things conservatives generally believe:

    1. The tax rate that collects the maximum revenue is between zero and 100% but is not 100% or anywhere near it.

    2. The govt should not be in the business of trying to maximize revenue.

    3. The fed govt should do only what it alone can do. The rest should be done by the states.

    4. Privatization and competition should be maximized to yield the most efficient delivery of goods and services. The idea that govt can do better is due to a poor analysis or a deep hatred of profit and capitalism.

    5. People are not happiest when their needs are being met. People are happiest when they meet their own needs.

  105. Eric Florack says:

    Wow — those terms change fast. McCain is both a centrist and a weak-willed leftist,

    Go ahead…. explain to us the difference between the two. We’ll wait.

    This makes no sense to me. Krugman’s position was effectively ignored at a time when the Democrats had cotnrol of both chanbers of Congress, as well as the Presidency.

    Really? Well, go on ahead… tell us, based on what proposals are coming from the Democrats, along with the total lack of spending cuts being offered by the Democrats, how what Krugman was saying, has not been followed. All they’re doing is offering more spending, and more ‘stimulus’.

  106. Moosebreath says:

    “Go ahead…. explain to us the difference between the two. We’ll wait”

    Boy, that’s an easy one. A centrist is neither a liberal nor a conservative, but somewhere in the middle. Examples of centrist Democrats in recent decades include John Breaux and Bob Casey (both Senior and Junior). Examples of centrist Republicans in recent decades include Lincoln Chafee and Arlen Specter.

    “Well, go on ahead… tell us, based on what proposals are coming from the Democrats, along with the total lack of spending cuts being offered by the Democrats, how what Krugman was saying, has not been followed”

    Another easy one. Are you sure you actually follow US politics? Every account I have seen of the current stalemate over the debt ceiling says that the sides have agreed on $2.4 Trillion in deficit reduction, and the dispute is whether it should be $2T spending cuts and $400B taxes (Democrats) or $2.4T spending cuts (Republicans). An example of the state is link

    And your silence on the Reagan response is duly noted.

  107. Eric Florack says:

    Boy, that’s an easy one. A centrist is neither a liberal nor a conservative, but somewhere in the middle

    McCain qualifies, easily.

    But let’s examine this from a historical perspective; at what point in the last 200 years have the democrats ever given us any spending cuts outside of that applied to the military?