Chronicle of the Conspiracy
Thursday, May 15, 2003
But in more recent years Schiller's work to understand the psychology that drives markets has led him to the conclusion that everybody is stupid and irrational, and that government should intervene to protect people from themselves. He has promoted a couple of his books now by claiming to be the one who coined the expression "irrational exuberance" and planted it in Alan Greenspan's mind -- triggering perhaps history's largest-scale example of government intervening to influence market valuations.
Now, on a day when President Bush has finally assembled a razor-thin congressional majority to support his revolutionary reform of the unfair double taxation of dividends, Schiller is out with an op-ed in the New York Times suggesting that the US tax code should be fundamentally re-engineered in such a way as to prevent: "income inequality." The man who thinks we're all irrational says that income inequality "could create resentment and even violence." The Schiller solution:
In other words, he would have the tax code structured to freeze in place any and all of today's relative incomes. If you made a lot a more money than you did last year, it would be taxed away (unless everyone else made as much more as you did).
One question, if I may... If we're all so irrational, what cognitive faculty does Schiller believes he possesses that qualifies him to decide (considering that he, too, is no doubt irrational -- since we all are) that freezing today's level of equality (or anything else) is something we should even want, and that any particular level of equality (or anything else) should be enforced by the tax code? How would we know, if we are irrational?
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:32 PM | link
I continue to believe that if the Bush administration wants to create a better environment for entrepreneurship in America, it should cut the systemic tax imposed on all US business by the power of the antitrust nazis.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 6:17 AM | link
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Lance Sugden writes,
And for those of you who think I've been selling Krugman short, be sure to read this one on our Letters Page.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:27 PM | link
Dave Ogilvy, David Bethune and Ken Crosson all sent me emails noting that the lie was repeated in E. J. Dionne, Jr.'s column in the Washington Post Monday. Dionne cites as his source last week's New Yorker column by David Cassidy (which I pointed out last week) -- in which Cassidy didn't have the plain decency to cite Krugman as his source. Here's the media house-of-mirrors operating in top form -- the New Yorker repeats a lie from Krugman's New York Times column, and then the Washington Post repeats the same lie citing the New Yorker! And the best part of it is that Dionne's Post column was all about how the Bush administration would stoop to "say anything" to promote its tax cuts.
My National Review colleague Ramesh Ponnuru caught the lie repeated yet again Monday by no less a truth-seeker than Ralph Nader -- on CNN's Crossfire. Here's Nader talking to an ever-vigilant Robert Novak:
In case Nader drove that Corvair too fast for you to see the trick, that was Liberal Media Rule Number Four in action -- when caught in a lie, change the subject to class warfare. Gets 'em every time.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 6:06 AM | link
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Richard Zimmerman, a FOX spokesman, told me that "Neal's statement was made during his daily 'Common Sense' commentary segment, and labeled as such." But Cavuto himself gets to the point just a bit more forcefully:
Cavuto could have rolled all the way to Baghdad. He could have -- and should have -- blasted Krugman for daring to preach about "codes of ethics" at a time when the New York Times' reputation has been shattered by revelations of pervasive negligence that permitted the journalistic fraud of its reporter Jayson Blair. And he could have -- and should have -- blasted Krugman for daring to preach about "blatant partisanship," when Krugman himself is easily among the most relentlessly partisan journalists in America.
Oh... and then there's that matter of Krugman's truthfulness, or lack thereof. Krugman began his column by stating that "during the Iraq war...many Americans turned to the BBC for their TV news. They were looking for an alternative point of view — something they couldn't find on domestic networks."
The truth is that during the war many Americans turned away from the BBC. FOX's Zimmerman provided me with A.C. Neilson's authoritative television viewership statistics, which show that BBC-America's primetime audience actually fell from 93 thousand households in February to 88 thousand in March. At the same time, FOX TV's audience nearly doubled from 1.7 million in February to 3.2 million in March.
It wasn't just American households either. Matthew Hoy reminds us that "The crew of the British aircraft carrier Ark Royal turned off the BBC and switched to Rupert Murdoch's Sky News." That's right, the same Rupert Murdoch whose News Corporation owns FOX. "According to a 'senior rating' on the Ark Royal: 'The BBC always takes the Iraqis' side. It reports what they say as gospel but when it comes to us it questions and doubts everything the British and Americans are reporting. A lot of people on board are very unhappy.'"
Krugman not only lied about the growth of the BBC's audience, he omitted to mention the decline in the New York Times' own audience. According to a recent report by the Audit Bureau of Circulation, the Times' circulation has fallen 5.3% year-on-year for the six months ended March -- and that of its sister publication the Boston Globe has fallen 6.3%. For the same period, though, the New York Post -- yes, the newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch -- saw its circulation rise 10.2%.
Krugman's lies mask, in the short-run, the brute fact that the audiences are voting with their eyeballs. They're gradually beginning to turn away from the systematic liberal bias of the mainstream media -- and columns like Krugman's. But his long-run strategy is to take away the audience's right to vote, by converting media to state control like the BBC's. Here's his rationale:
David Hogberg gets it right when he nails Krugman's twisted logic:
Yep. It's something only an Ivy League economist could have come up with. And something only the New York Times would be shameless enough to run.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 9:06 PM | link
Monday, May 12, 2003
This time Krugman's responding to Mickey Kaus's challenge that he write about the concept of the liquidity trap for his New York Times column if it's all so darned important -- important enough, that is, to serve as the centerpiece of an elaborate after-the-fact rationale for Krugman's April 22 lies. Krugman says that he mentioned the liquidity trap in a September 2001 New York Times Magazine piece -- and so he did. Krugman fairly chirps, "I almost forgot about it myself." La-dee-da... and then adds, "But I have been telling a consistent story." In other words, "Simply because I can demonstrate that, in the past, I once mentioned the concept of the liquidity trap in the pages of the New York Times, that means I meant all along the elaborate and situation-dependent rationale it otherwise appears that I cooked up after-the-fact to justify myself about the April 22 matter." Case closed. Self-esteem salvaged. Back to corrupting the youth of Princeton.
But let's not look too closely at that Magazine piece. Sure, it mentioned the liquidity trap. Big deal. It was no more accurate a depiction of reality then than it is now. The concept of the liquidity trap fit right into a piece that was in every way a typical Krugman doom-and-gloomer, predicting that America will go the contractionary way of Japan. It was written just three months before America's recession bottomed in December 2001, as measured by a subsequent rebound in GDP and corporate profits. Perfect(ly wrong) timing.
And as for Japan? Krugman predicted that its liquidity trap would shatter its public finances and that its interest rates would rise as its creditworthiness was downgraded. Japan is still deep in recession, but its long-term interest rates are lower now than they were when he wrote that (just as rates in the US are virtually the same today as they were on March 11 when Krugman warned they would skyrocket -- and got so panicked about it that he refinanced his mortgage with a fixed rate (or at least he said he did)).
Krugman's self-evaluation on that Magazine story? "Oh, and by the way, I think the piece, published in Sept. 2001, still looks pretty much on target."
What target is that... the one labeled "WRONG AGAIN"?
Oh, and by the way (as it were), now that New York Times executive editor Howell Raines is besieged by the Jayson Blair scandal, how long before he gets someone to fact-check Krugman's columns? Blair's work was accepted uncritically because he was young and Afro-American in an organization obsessed with establishing institutional legitimacy by expiating White Guilt. Krugman's work is passed because he's an effective liberal attack-dog whose work fits into the same agenda. But Raines is learning that truth is an end in itself for the "newspaper of record." You'd think that would have been obvious all along. Now even Raines will have to do something about it.
It may take a while for Raines to dig out from under the Blair fiasco and start putting some discipline on Krugman. And in the meanwhile, columns like today's will slip through. It's an hilarious pot-calling-the-kettle-black job that Raines should be shudderingly afraid to run, with Krugman accusing Fox TV's Neal Cavuto of bias because he called opponents of the Iraq invasion "sickening" (this from a man who compares President Bush to Caligula and warns repeatedly that Bush is turning America into a banana republic). But the best past is the opening sentence, when Krugman claims (oh, and by the way, with no evidence) that "...during the Iraq war: many Americans turned to the BBC for their TV news. They were looking for an alternative point of view." Krugman offers no explanation for why the New York Times' circulation is off 5.3% over the last 6 months.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:55 PM | link
Sunday, May 11, 2003
My friends, if blogging is the next killer app of the Internet -- or more important, if it is a fundamental change-the-world innovation in media and journalism, then we have our work cut out for us, and we have our opportunity. We are like the cobblers who have discovered the land where no one wears shoes -- yet.
At the dinner table I explained what a blog is. There was the usual polite, partially feigned fascination with anything having to do with the Internet. But when I said that blogs have completely transformed my utilization of media and the way I acquire information about the world -- that I basically get everything from blogs now -- everyone stopped being polite. One fellow at the table was utterly shocked that I would trust any information I acquired online. I asked him if he trusted information he got from politically biased mainstream newspapers like the New York Times, or for that matter, from any commercial media biased toward at least some degree of sensationalism, if not some particular political view. I asked him if he had ever, once, read a newspaper account of some event of which he personally had expert or eye-witness knowledge, and found it to be accurate. I asked him he had ever once been interviewed by a reporter who quoted him accurately or in context, or who didn't already have the story written before the conversation even began? Well, no, he had to admit... but still... "...not the Internet! You can't be serious!"
Of course anything that's wrong with the mainstream media -- bias, error, sensationalism, and so on -- can be wrong with the blogosphere as well. But there are six critical differences, all in favor of the blogosphere.
So if you're a blogger, or even if you just get some of your news and opinions from blogs -- take a moment to be proud of what you are part of. It really is a force for good. It really is revolutionary. And it really is just beginning.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:37 PM | link