I only have time for quick blogging today, so how about a brief observation.
Here is Paul Krugman’s latest column. It is a characteristically lucid and informative column about some bad economic ideas that are circulating around Washington these days. Here’s a sample:
What ideas am I talking about? The economic historian Peter Temin has argued that a key cause of the Depression was what he calls the “gold-standard mentality.” By this he means not just belief in the sacred importance of maintaining the gold value of one’s currency, but a set of associated attitudes: obsessive fear of inflation even in the face of deflation; opposition to easy credit, even when the economy desperately needs it, on the grounds that it would be somehow corrupting; assertions that even if the government can create jobs it shouldn’t, because this would only be an “artificial” recovery.
In the early 1930s this mentality led governments to raise interest rates and slash spending, despite mass unemployment, in an attempt to defend their gold reserves. And even when countries went off gold, the prevailing mentality made them reluctant to cut rates and create jobs.
But we’re past all that now. Or are we?
Next to him on the op-ed page is Ross Douthat, the Times‘ resident conservative. Given space on one of the most read op-ed pages in the world to make a case for conservative principles, he instead serves up this tripe. What has him worked up today? Obama’s Nobel Prize.
Meanwhile, the prize makes every foreign-policy problem Obama faces seem ever so slightly more burdensome. Now he’s the Nobel laureate who has to choose between escalating a counterinsurgency in Afghanistan or ceding ground to a theocratic mafia. He’s the Nobel laureate who’ll either have to authorize military strikes against Iran or construct an effective, cold-war-style deterrence system for the Middle East. He’s the Nobel laureate who’ll probably fail, like every U.S. president before him, to prod Israelis and Palestinians toward a comprehensive settlement.
Ever so slightly more burdensome? Deep insights, there.
Folks, that’s the difference between liberals and conservatives. From one of America’s premiere liberal columnists we get a strong argument on an important issue based on a level of expertise that most of us do not possess. On the conservative side we get boilerplate and talking points, and nothing that has not already been said by dozens of talk-radio blowhards and empty-headed pundits.
Small wonder that these days “conservative” is basically synonymous with “lightweight.”