Monday, June 29, 2020

Why Did Larry Summers Just Write a Batshit Crazy Lefty Op-Ed for the Washington Post?

Joe Biden and Larry Summers
It appears that Larry Summers is going out of his way to restore his lefty credentials after setting them on fire when he was president of Harvard University.

The tone-deaf Summers said, in comments at a conference held by the National Bureau of Economic Research on January 14, 2005, while he was the university's president, that the fact there are few women in top positions in science may be because of  "issues of intrinsic aptitude."

He was gone by 2006, one of the first known successful victims of the now burgeoning cancel culture.

Summers, who was a senior U.S. Treasury Department official throughout President Clinton's administration, concluding as  Treasury Secretary, and for a time director of the National Economic Council for President Obama, appears to want in on a potential Biden administration.

He has reportedly been on several internal Biden campaign calls.

But the radicals around Biden are in attack mode. The Nation in April came out with a major hit piece on Summers titled, Larry Summers Is a Dead Albatross Around Biden’s Neck.

Here's a key excerpt:
[S]ome of Biden’s top advisers are anathema to progressives. As [Politico’s Michael] Grunwald notes, “This week, Biden has taken flak from the left for including the corporate-friendly Democratic economist Lawrence Summers on internal calls.”...

There are two main objections to Summers: his personality and his politics. He has a well-documented history of being an overbearing boss, a know-it-all with a habit of publicly humiliating his underlings and colleagues. Christina Romer, who served as chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama administration, complained that Summers treated her like “a piece of meat.”...

As appalling as Summers might be on a personal level, his politics are even worse. Joe Biden might be ready to bid adieu to the era of Milton Friedman, the right-wing economist who was one of the major architects of neoliberalism, but Larry Summers most definitely is not
Friedman is far from consistently sound on free-market economics, especially when it comes to monetary policy, but linking Summers to Friedman is like linking Kim Kardashian to Kim Jong-un.

And as if to prove it, Summers has written (with Anna Stansbury) an op-ed which appeared in Sunday's Washington Post.
Among the anti-Friedmanite policy proposals, Summers and Stansbury make in the essay are these  (my highlights):

 A traditional economic argument is that policy should let markets function competitively and then rely on progressive taxation and spending to redistribute income afterward. It is this kind of thinking that lies behind advocacy of negative income taxes or, more recently, for a universal basic income. But progressive institutionalists have long argued for pre-distribution alongside redistribution, strengthening worker power by changing the structure of labor market institutions.We believe both ingredients are required.

 When something is a big problem — as is inequality in America today — it is appropriate to tackle it from multiple angles.

 There is reason to believe, for example, that allowing bargaining at a broader level than just the individual firm — such as sectoral collective bargaining — would reduce the negative effects of unionization on unemployment.

Overall, we believe that increasing worker power must be a central and urgent priority for policymakers concerned with inequality, low pay and poor work conditions. If we do not shift the distribution of power toward workers, any other policy changes are likely to be short-term and insufficient.
Wow, after that, even senile Joe would get that Summers is no Friedmanite. If that doesn't establish you as a lefty nut job central planner I don't know what will.

But what is most concerning is that Summers believes this is the position he has to get good with the Biden team. He has an inside glimpse as to what is going on around Biden and its secretive economic team and it must be packed with extremely radical central planners.

So from an economic policy perspective, the 2020 election may come down to Trump, who doesn't have a clue about economics, or Biden who is even worse--maybe much worse.



  1. "...that the fact there are few women in top positions in science may be because of 'issues of intrinsic aptitude.'"

    Which in my humble opinion is correct, just as the fact that there are relatively fewer whites than blacks in the NBA reflects a statistical superiority of blacks over whites in the physical characteristics needed to excel in that sport. Saying this is considered incendiary among many, of course, and Summers was indeed being "tone-deaf" to bring it up gratuitously in a speech. Still he was at least making sense, unlike what he's doing with this recent paean to government meddling.

    I'd love it if there were more passionate editorials advocating leaving people alone, with their own money in their pockets to spend as they please. Instead all we seem to get is the theme, "Yes, all the other ways the government runs your life are well and good, but I've identified a NEW urgent need that the government must stick its nose in NOW."

  2. Is it only my observation that men in the American academia have all been gelded?