Monday, October 5, 2015

Is Paul Krugman a Decent Person?

Saturday night, I attended a Bay Area gala event that had a crowd of about 300 people.

While minding my own business at the event, off to the side, with champagne glass in hand and taking in the crowd, a lady wandered over to talk to me. She told me she was a  volunteer at a charter school. I gave her a quick look over and decided I did not want to engage and tell her my views on charter schools and all other government schools. There seemed to be others in the crowd with whom it would be more interesting to talk to.

But she persisted. She was a nice older lady and she asked me if I wanted to hear the elevator pitch about the charter school or the longer version. I told her the elevator pitch.

Her elevator pitch seemed to last more than 10 minutes. I listened politely while continuing to scan the crowd.

When she finished, Lynn asked what I did. Lynn is her name. I told her about EPJ. She replied, "My husband is an economist."

I have heard this one from wives before. Being polite. I asked her where he worked. I braced myself, fully expecting that her husband was a Keynesian at some third rate school that I would have no interest in knowing anything about.

She replied, "Well, my husband is retired now, but he taught at Princeton."

The conversation suddenly got interesting.

I asked her if she knew Paul Krugman, who also had taught at Princeton.

She replied, "My husband hired Paul Krugman." Her husband is Michael Rothschild, who  was dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University from 1995 through 2001.

Suddenly the crowd disappeared from my mind. Thoughts of a major scoop danced in my head. I was going to get the full dirt on Krugman.

"What was he like?" I asked.

She replied, "He was a very nice, decent and generous. We were also neighbors. He was a great neighbor."

Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I pushed ahead.

"Well, did he ever get into any trouble? How about something funny that happened to him?"

"No, I can't think of anything. Maybe, my husband can tell you. I will introduce you."

We broke off the conversation at that point, I had spotted some people in the crowd that I needed to talk to. But I planned to return to talk to her some more.

Which is exactly what I did about 20 minutes later.  Still hoping to get some dirt I said, "Can you think of any funny event that might have happened with Krugman? We like to report the human interest side of economists at EPJ."

She told me again  that he was very generous. "When we needed him to speak at an event he was always willing to do so," she said. "One time he even spoke at two different events for us on the same day. And he was a good neighbor," she went on.

We looked, but we couldn't spot her husband in the crowd and Lynn was quite popular that night, with many milling about to talk to her, so I let her alone at that point.

But there you have it, there is a little old lady, far, far north of Pasadena who thinks Krugman is just a swell guy because he is willing to spread his economy destroying propaganda twice a day.



  1. I do not agree with Lewis' apparent negative view of the so-called robber barons but, for some reason, your account reminded me of the following quote:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    ― C.S. Lewis

  2. The husband who hired Krugman at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton has the last name Rothschild, eh? Just a coincidence, I'm sure...

  3. RW, based on your own statistics cited in numerous articles, is it beginning to look like maybe Krugman and the Keynesians are right after all? Employment is growing, tax receipts are growing, the stock market isn't tanking, etc. And while it may crash in a heap one day, it doesn't look like it will be anytime soon. It could keep going on for many decades.

    1. Right about what? Employment in the prime-age population is way down, tax receipts really don't matter (they looked great during the Tech Bubble too), and the stock market is only about 5-6 years into expansion (and it shows serious signs of cracking right now). The idea that this expansion will last decades is laughable (and more or less unprecedented). The fed was too nervous even to raise rates by 0.25% in September, for fear of ruining the "expansion".

      If you don't take your eyes off the stock market, everything is rosy.

    2. Maybe, but all the dire predictions resulting from unlimited money printing and unlimited government spending seem to be very far away. Maybe postponed indefinitely. So that is why I'm thinking that maybe the Keynesians are right after all.