A tale of two ludicrous passages: When Kevin Drum read David Brooks' new column, he was struck by the following passage, in which Brooks rattles off an astonishing economic wish list. To read Drum's post, click this:
BROOKS (9/27/11): When you are confronted by a complex, emergent problem, don’t try to pick out the one lever that is the key to the whole thing. There is no one lever. You wouldn’t be smart enough to find it even if there was.Really? Is that all? What would we do on Tuesday?
Instead, try to reform whole institutions and hope that by getting the long-term fundamentals right you’ll set off a positive cascade to reverse the negative ones.
Simplify the tax code. End corporate taxes and create a consumption tax. Reshape the European Union to make it either more unified or less, but not halfway as it is now. Reduce the barriers to business formation. Reform Medicare so it is fiscally sustainable. Break up the banks and increase capital requirements. Lighten debt burdens even if it means hitting the institutional creditors.
Drum was struck by that astounding wish list, the longest list we have seen since Homer listed the various scenes Hephaestus, the famous crippled smith, forged onto Achilles' shield. We too were struck by that passage when we read our Brooks this morning. But for ourselves, we were even more struck by this ridiculous passage:
BROOKS: Many Democrats are predisposed to want more government spending. So they pick up on the one current they think can be cured with more government spending: low consumer demand. Increase government spending and that will pump up consumer spending.That's a completely absurd account of what the stimulus advocates said in real time. Paul Krugman says so again today, naming the pitiful Brooks by name and linking to Dean Baker.
When President Obama’s stimulus package produced insufficient results, they didn’t concede that maybe there are other factors at play, which mitigated the effects. They just called for more government spending. To a man in love with his hammer, every problem requires a nail.
What goes through the mind of an editor who is asked to put such nonsense in print? By now, Krugman has explained these bone-simple points about a thousand times. Krugman has now explained this point more often than Homer compared the sea to dark wine, the type Brooks seemsto be drinking. Can anyone seriously believe that Brooks was typing in good faith when he pimped this bogus material to his newspaper's readers?
New York Times editors rarely seem to know an excessive amount. "Everything in moderation" seems to be their classic ideal. But surely, the editor who reviewed Brooks' column knew that this passage was typed in bad faith. What goes through the mind of the fellow who waves such obvious crap into print? Who is willing to see his newspaper's readers deceived and disinformed in such an obvious manner?
How many times will Krugman explain this before the slow learners start to catch on? Before the editors at the Times tell Brooks he has to stop this?