Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why I don't read Krugman anymore. 

Because he's become Bob Herbert. (If you don't know Bob Herbert, well, never mind.)

After a friend sent a note about Krugman, I looked at his last column and read this...
Last weekend, the lobbying organization America’s Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, released a report attacking the reform plan just passed by the Senate Finance Committee ... health-care experts quickly, and correctly, dismissed it as a hatchet job...

... the report threw every anti-reform argument the authors could think of at the wall, hoping that something would stick. [etc., etc.]
Which is a lot of ... what's the word? ... oh, yeah: bullsh.. bunkum.

The AHIP report explicitly covered no more than four (4) items -- and I can right now name a lot more than four arguments I've heard against Obamacare and its re-working of 16% of the entire economy. So can you, I'd wager.

And if Krugman ever gets as a bright idea for a column, "Top 50 Lies Told Against Health Care Reform", you know he'll add 46 to the list himself and complain about how space limitations keep him to only those.

Moreover, as noted in Keith Hennessey's capable analysis of the report, AHIP avoided mentioning cost-raisers in the proposed reform (potent political arguments against it) that it likes because the costs raised go into insurers' pockets.

(Anti-reform arguments not merely overlooked but buried!)

Which on its face -- as Hennessey and other health care analysts I've read have pointed out -- makes the AHIP report not an attempt to kill reform, but rather an attempt to shape it more to its liking. Just exactly as is being done by every other interest group that's either a Democratic constituent or has used a side deal to buy a seat at their bargaining table (Phamra, the AMA, unions, and all rest).

Which is consistent with the head of AHIP being a former labor-leader Democrat who's worked with the Obamaites so far, rather than against them.

All of which apparently is far, far too subtle and complex for the Krugman of today to comprehend or report on in his column.

I mean, it's useless even to any in the choir of pro-reform advocates he preaches to who might want to actually understand what is going on.

(Once there was a Krugman who could describe things like the Savings & Loan collapse of the 1980s quite analytically, showing how all the parties acted rationally in light of their self-interest and the incentives placed upon them by the larger system at the time -- rather than as embodiments of good and evil. But an economist friend once told me that he believes that Krugman was kidnapped and tied up in a Princeton basement sometime in the early years of the Bush Administration -- and if so he must surely be dead by now.)

Krugman today gives us whopper-wrong pretend facts combined with analytical fantasy, all "good-guys" versus "bad guys", which = Bob Herbert.

Why should I read him?

Face it, he's an addict, a junkie.

No, I'll take that back ... Krugman always had these tendencies, apparently inborn. But, much like Bobby Fischer, upon attaining the pinnacle of fame in his profession along with ample financial security, he seems to have decided he had no more need to compromise with the rest of the world by disciplining himself to be reasoned, and has let the self-indulgence flow.

It's his good friend Brad DeLong who sorely needs detox.