Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why Rand Paul Needs to Read EPJ More Often

It will help him to not get embarrassed on national television (by, of all people, Paul Krugman!).

Here's a clip of what went down last week on ABC's This Week, where Rand is clueless that government employment is declining.

Krugman has been doing nothing other than brutally crowing about this moment ever since. On September 9, he wrote:
During today’s round table on ABC, Rand Paul seemed shocked at my claim that government employment is down under Obama. Of course, it is. But maybe he’s thinking of the fact that since govt employment rose under Bush, we’re still at higher absolute levels than we were a decade ago.
Eight hours later, Krugman wrote:
The Zombie That Ate Rand Paul’s Brain

Aha. It seems that I was giving Rand Paul more credit than he deserved. Think Progress has the video, and it’s clear that Paul was completely shocked at the notion that government employment had fallen under Obama, rather than soaring.

How did that happen? Almost surely it’s a case of a zombie lie that has gone unchallenged in the hermetic world of movement conservatism, so that people like Paul know, just know, something that ain’t so.
And on 9-11, Krugman comments again, as Rand attempts to put some kind of defense together:
I gather that Rand Paul has made a lame effort to defend his claim that we’ve seen “exploding” government under Obama by claiming that he only meant the federal workforce, which has gone up slightly even as state and local employment has fallen. But as I’ve pointed out, the vast majority of government workers actually are at the state and local level.
How could Rand have prevented this embarrassment right from the start? By reading EPJ and absorbing what is written here.

On July 8, I wrote:
The only significant increases in unemployment in today's report were  in the government sector. Employment in government continued to trend down over the month (-39,000). Federal employment declined by 14,000 in June. Employment in both state government and local government continued to trend down over the month and have been falling since the second half of 2008...Given there is a huge financial problem in the government sector, it is not a surprise that unemployment is climbing in this sector.
Just a couple of days before Rand went on ABC, I wrote:
 Unemployed Down Slightly Except for Government Employees

Government employment continued to trend down over the month (-17,000).  
Despite the return of about 22,000 workers from a partial government shutdown in Minnesota, employment in state government changed little in August (+5,000). Employment in local government continued to decline. Since employment peaked in September 2008, local government has lost 550,000 jobs. 
Bottom line, the increases in unemployment are coming from state and local governments. This is the tail end part of the employment picture, where declining tax revenues from earlier in the year continue to force layoffs by state and local governments. 
In other words, not only would Rand have known that government employment was down because  of state and local governments, if he studiously read EPJ. He also would have been able to smack that facts back at Krugman and explain why the decline was occurring (because of declining tax revenues).

Instead, he looks clueless against a guy who doesn't even understand the broken window fallacy.


  1. I think your too quick to jump on Rand based on this short clip and Krugman's later attempt to crow about it. I frankly don't know how up Rand is on the unemployment statistics, but I think when Krugman talks about the government workforce expanding under Obama relative to Bush that most people would assume Krugman was talking about the federal workforce as Obama has direct control over it (and indeed it has expanded). However, Krugman was referring mostly to state and local government workers which Obama and Bush would have little direct control over, and, accordingly, there isn't much basis for Krugman's point and he shouldn't be crowing about it. Also, it is indeed noteworthy that the federal workforce expanding at all when state and local governments are supposedly dramatically shrinking their workforces, and the federal government has added some 5 to 6 trillion in new debt to its balance sheet with no end in sight.

    1. Duh, Wenzel's point is that Rand would have been able to explain that if he new the numbers that Wenzel posted at EPJ.

  2. Maybe this will help Krugman get his confidence up to debate Robert Murphy!

  3. He also could have rebutted Krugman by pointing out that the number of government contractors has exploded, and they are more highly paid than gov't or private sector employees.

    1. No, it would only give Krugman more ammunition to trash the "private" sector.

  4. The context makes it clear they aren't talking about the numbers from this latest month, or the latest few months, but the entire term Obama has been in office. And Rand is right - the number of government employees under Obama today is larger than under Bush when he left.

    Bob, Rand doesn't look foolish here unless you accept the equivocation of Krugman that Obama's term is just the last month.

  5. Krugman is clearly being deceptive. Claiming that government employment has declined "under Obama" clearly implies that he is talking about FEDERAL government employees. And it is understandable that Rand Paul is incredulous over such a claim. Only when he is crowing in print after the interview does Krugman admit that he is talking about total government employment at all levels.

  6. Just compare how krugman acted in his blog to how he acted after the trashing Ron Paul gave him. Krugman whined and whined about how he did it to sell books, how he was caught by surprise, how debates don't settle anything, how it wasn't a real debate, and how he made multiple blog entries where he was clearly stressed out and embarrassed at his performance.

    Now you see a totally different tone after the exchange with Rand. I bet he thought that was how the Ron Paul interview/debate would go, and was shocked at how badly he was thrashed. Rand is certainly not his father in a number of ways - econ knowledge being one of them.

  7. What's missing is the number of outside contractors hired by federal agencies. The numbers are huge. For exampale, approximately 15,000 contractors are now present in Iraq. Most are security personnel.

  8. It doesn't matter how much Rand Paul learns about free markets, because he's on the government's side.