Complete Whimsy, Dubiously Free Trade, Trust, Uncategorized

Why Paul Krugman Doesn’t Work: Part N

Paul Krugman has put together what is perhaps the worst argument against libertarianism I have ever seen. In his blog for the New York Times, he quotes Milton Friedman who stated that tort law could be used to protect the environment and consumers against unsafe products. Namely, if people are hurt by a product or their property is damaged by, say an oil spill, they can sue said company. Property rights will act as a disincentive to reckless corporate behavior and be more effective than government regulation.

Krugman then brings up an article that discusses how Senator Lisa Murkowski blocked a bill that would have raised the maximum liability for oil companies after a spill from $75 million to $10 billion. What does Krugman conclude from this?

“…don’t say that we just need better politicians. If libertarianism requires incorruptible politicians to work, it’s not serious.”

You can’t make up this kind of stupid. You could just as easily say the exact same thing about a welfare state supporting liberal. Hey, our government transfers a lot of money from the lower class and middle class to the rich in the form of subsidies, bailouts, inflation, no-bid contracts, monopoly privileges, industry specific tariffs, overbearing intellectual property laws, burdensome regulations that limit competition, etc. And don’t say a big government welfare state could work, but “we just need better politicians.” If liberalism requires incorruptible politicians to work, it’s not serious.

It’s certainly quite strange that Krugman would pick the extremely un-libertarian policy of a government cap on tort liability (a regulation) to take a shot at libertarianism. After all, it’s the exact opposite of what Milton Friedman would have supported. And Senator Murkowski isn’t even a libertarian, she’s a Republican who voted for farm subsidies, increasing the minimum wage and SCHIP. She also supports the Patriot Act and the Iraq War. What exactly about her is libertarian?

And Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics? Good lord, I wouldn’t even give him a gold star for attendance.


3 thoughts on “Why Paul Krugman Doesn’t Work: Part N

  1. Jerry says:

    And most of the comments make the same point you do. Most of his readers know more about economic libertarianism than he does.


  2. Hi Andrew,

    I can’t stand Paul Krugman either. He’s definitely as “establishment” as they come. An apologist for the current policies, from the Keynesian side.

    I’ve been following your postings for some time, and I’ve been meaning to ask – what do you think about Henry C. Carey? I recently read some of “The Harmony of Interests” and was impressed that there might be a version of centralized economics that wasn’t Keynesian. Still, I’m not a “schooled” economist – so, I’d love to hear your thoughts?



  3. Andrew says:

    Tracy, sorry for the long delay. Paul Krugman certainly is a tool, unfortunately, I haven’t studied Henry C. Carey much. From what I understand he was a big advocate of the “American System” which relied on a large tariff to protect industry and raise finances. I see the tariff of the late 19th and early 20th century as corporate welfare. And I think much of the projects subsidized right before and after the civil war were pretty corrupt. The railroads is the best example. All the subsidized railroads were money pits and inefficient. The one that didn’t receive government subsidies, James Hill’s Great Northern Railroad, was the cheapest and most efficient. When the Depression 1893 came, every railroad but his went bankrupt.

    But again, I haven’t studied Henry C. Carey much, so I hesitate to make a bold judgment one way or the other.


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