February 20, 2016
Your suggestion that “personal ambition” in any way influenced my analysis of the Sanders
economic plan is as insulting as it is wrong and you owe me an apology.
You don’t know me. We did not quite overlap in graduate school and our paths have diverged
since. We have never met or spoken. The closest we came was when my department attempted
to bring you to Amherst to give a guest lecture. Never happened because we could not afford
While you don’t know me, you seem to feel free to speculate about my values and interests. You
assume that an outsider economist like myself must be considered not particularly “insightful or
even technically competent.” And, elaborating this theory, you conclude that envy would lead
me to jump on an opportunity for self-advancement by shilling for an outsider politician. Now
this theory might be tested empirically. You could easily have tested your theory by investigating
my motives empirically. You could have called me and asked. Or you could have read any of
the news stories where I explained how I stumbled on this research project, and where I
explained my (lack of) connection to the Sanders campaign. You might have asked people who
know me. Had you done so, you would know how much I value my privacy, enjoy living and
working in Amherst. And, I assure you, people would have laughed at any suggestion that I have
political ambitions or want to go to Washington to hobnob with the powerful.
Since you did not bother to do the empirical work: let me do it for you. I undertook this study
from simple scholarly curiosity; I did it without any connection to the Sanders campaign; and I
have no expectation of reward. I have no desire to be involved in a Sanders Administration. I
am completely happy teaching at UMass-Amherst and have no wish for anything more in the
world than to do my work where I am.
Finally, if I may point out another flaw in your envy-ambition model: why would the Sanders
camp ever appoint someone who has publicly acknowledged that he donates to the Hillary
Clinton campaign and is undecided about for whom to vote in the upcoming Massachusetts
In its lack of empirical grounding, your column is like the CEA-chairs’ letter: substituting attack
language and ad hominem argument for reasoned discourse. If you had taken the time to read my
paper, you would find, as others have, that I evaluate the Sanders program using standard
assumptions and methods. Rather than jumping on my conclusion, a more constructive
discussion would focus on identifying possible errors in my method that may have led to
conclusions that may seem implausible. Certainly, we can agree that it is illogical to reject
conclusions without finding fault with method.
By the way, you also owe me an apology for another smear. I have never in any way vilified or
blackened “the reputation of more insider types.” If you had taken the time to do empirical
research, you would know that when asked to respond to the CEA-chair letter, I have expressed
genuine respect for them and their work, and have refused to comment on their motives, saying,
like a broken record, “you have to ask them.” I do not know why they wrote that letter, will not
speculate, and have not speculated. Nor will I speculate as to your motives.
Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Amherst, MA. 01003
RW note: Oh this is good. Friedman's analysis is of course nonsense, using absurd models, which even his defender Jamie Galbraith admits have serious problems---and Galbraith only understands about 1/10 the problems with such models. That said, Friedman is absoulutely correct in pointing out the vicious manner that Krugman attacked him, "substituting attack language and ad hominem argument for reasoned discourse." This is Krugman's modus operandi and it is high time that it be exposed in mainstream circles!
There is a lot Austrian economists will be able to use here as reference points in the future as the warring lefties expose the weaknesses and often dishonest techniques of their adversaries.
(Friedman letter via Naked Capitalism)