Thursday, July 23, 2009

Immunity from Reality

The Maddening Times Op-Ed Page by Kevin Williamson, appears at the National Review site. The second paragraph:

Krugman leads off with a stolen base: "O.K., Thursday’s jobs report settles it. We’re going to need a bigger stimulus." I don't think Krugman is right about that, but he could be; I wonder if it ever occurs to Krugman that he could be mistaken? Krugman indulges the vice that liberals attributed to George W. Bush and hated him for: absolute immunity from doubt. That settles it? One unemployment report on a Thursday morning settles the enormously complex questions of national-level macroeconomics?

Williamson has put his finger on two key points. I touched on one of them in an open thread at Telic Thoughts. Leftists are immune to evidence that runs counter to their ideological narrative. That narrative includes the belief that government spending is needed to jump start the nation's economy during a recession. That article of faith was the impetus for the almost 800 billion dollar stimulus bill passed in February 2009. The fact that the bill has not achienved its purpose namely, to stimulate the economy, is not seen by liberals as a reason to doubt the wisdom of its passage rather, it is viewed as the reason why we might need a second stimulus bill. No real world evidence can change the thinking of one committed to the government spending approach. If the economy turns around it vindicates the spending strategy. If it does not it means we did not get enough of a "good" thing; meaning we need another stimulus bill.

The answer to Williamson's question about Krugman thinking he might be mistaken is: no way. Krugman is wearing ideological blinders. The only thing Krugman and like minded thinkers believe they could have been mistaken about was their diagnosis of the problem's severity. The solution is never in doubt. It can't be. These are political and economic fundamentalists whose core doctrines and narratives are beyond empirical reproach.

Williamson's point about the source of liberal hatred for George Bush is right on target. Bush was not a self-doubter. People often loath a trait they possess when they find it in others. It's easier to hate Bush than it is to come to grips with real problems. Stuck in stimulus mode is not an intelligent response to our economic malaise. It puts posterity in hock and for what? Nothing good that can be gleaned from economic reality.



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