Books I Read and Liked in the Second Half of October 2013
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Paul Krugman Is Tired of Trying to Reason with You People: John Taylor's Award-Winning Paragraphs: Noted


Paul Krugman: Award-winning Paragraphs:

John Taylor has accomplished something sort of amazing: he has managed to write the two worst paragraphs I’ve read this week. Here they are:

Federal debt held by the public has increased to 73% of GDP this year from 41% in 2008—and according to the Congressional Budget Office, it will rise to more than 250% without a change in policy. This raises uncertainty about how the debt can be brought under control...

Despite a massive onslaught of legislation and regulation designed to foster prosperity, economic growth remains low and unemployment remains high. Rhetoric aside, many both inside and outside the government quite reasonably seek to return to the kinds of policies that worked well in the not-so-distant past. Claiming that one political party has been hijacked by extremists misses this key point, and prevents a serious discussion of the fundamental changes in economic policies in recent years, and their effects...

Start with the first paragraph, and notice the lack of a time frame. When, exactly, does CBO think the debt will rise to 250%? Actually, I’m not sure where Taylor gets that number from; CBO has stopped doing ultra-long-run projections in its long-run budget outlook, on the grounds that we really have no idea what the world will look like in 50 or 75 years. What it does do is 25-year projections... CBO is projecting a debt level well within historical experience for advanced nations. By conveying the impression that explosive debt growth is just around the corner, Taylor is actively and deliberately misleading his readers.

But what I really found noteworthy is Taylor’s declaration that we must not say that the GOP has been taken over by extremists, because it prevents a serious discussion. Suppose we just posit the possibility that the GOP really has been taken over by extremists; are supposed to pretend otherwise, for the sake of discussion? When does it become OK to acknowledge reality?

And of course the GOP really has been taken over by extremists....

Anyway, congratulations to Taylor, who wins some sort of prize this week.