Guest Post: Letter To George Washington, Regarding Paul Krugman

Tyler Durden's picture

By Gonzalo Lira

Letter To George Washington, Regarding Paul Krugman

I wrote a letter to George Washington, the pseudonym for a well-known finance and economics blogger, with regards to a blog post he wrote on August 15.


The letter might sound a bit like score-settling—but there is a serious point to it, a point that applies to both the Left and the Right. So be patient.


Here is my letter to him in full, with a few light editorial touch-ups:

Hi GW,

It’s been so long!

I’ve been skiing like a madman down here in Chile—but I did catch something you wrote, which I’d like to comment on, now that a blizzard has hit the slopes and I’m stuck inside with not much to do.

Paul Krugman

You wrote a post yesterday, picked up by Zero Hedge and others, pointing out that Paul Krugman is advocating war as a fiscal stimulus solution.

You pointed out that this position he holds is not only blatantly immoral, it is a position Krugman seems to have no problem openly pushing—your unspoken implication being that this is disastrous, considering how influential Krugman is in major policy circles.

With regards to K. pushing for war as the ultimate Keynesian economic solution: I hate to say “I told you so”—but in this case—

I told you so!

(Cheers, mate.)

I pointed out the exact same thing almost a year ago: That once you strip away all the B.S., it turns out that Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, Keynesian par excellence and darling of the Wonk Left, is essentially pushing for war as the ultimate Keynesian stimulus solution.

For pointing this out, I got slimed by the Krugman Defense Industry (KDI).

My original post, pointing out that Krugman advocates war as the fiscal stimulus and solution, was called Why I Despise Krugman. I posted it on September 28, 2010.

And the response—i.e., the sliming—by the KDI was pretty severe and swift, considering that at the time, I was a lowly blogger with not much of a following:

• The sliming by Andrew Leonard at Salon: The Dumbest Attack on Krugman—Ever

• The sliming by Brad DeLong, Krugman's main flunky: Something Totally Batshit Insane Shows Up on Henry Blodget's Clusterstock

DeLong’s reference to Henry Blodget is because that’s where my piece was picked up. Fact is, DeLong seems to have lobbied Blodget to drop me from Clusterstock and Business Insider—and it worked, too, because although Henry didn’t cut me, my relationship with Joe Weisenthal, Blodget’s editor, was permanently soured because of this incident.

Joe Weisenthal

Weisenthal would go on to make my life fairly unpleasant insofar as Business Insider was concerned: Arbitrary edits that hurt my posts, yanking my pieces on a whim, then running pieces by other people that plagiarized my work.

Yeah, you read right: Weisenthal knowingly ran posts by other people that blatantly plagiarized my work. I mean Weisenthal did everything an editor can do to antagonize a writer without actually having the balls to drop him outright.

Naturally, I stopped writing for their outfit shortly thereafter.

What DeLong did was pretty mean, if you think about it: Lobbying to get an up-and-coming blogger to lose his spot at the table. BI and Clusterstock were running my pieces with my name in the title—a featured editorialist. Hey, that’s something: That’s the start of name-brand recognition.

But DeLong especially didn’t like me—because I nailed his precious Krugman. So I got shafted by some back-door shenanigans, which I experienced as passive-aggressive nonsense from Weisenthal.

Think of it from especially poor Weisenthal’s position: As a professional editor, he wants a job in the future. Business Insider might fold some day, but Weisenthal will still need a paycheck—after all, he wants a career, and he’s a young guy: In his estimation, he can’t stand on principle. He can’t afford to antagonize putatively well-respected, influential people like DeLong and Krugman. Hell, he might need to interview them some day—he might need to ask them for a job some day.

So from Weisenthal’s position, what’s passively-aggressively sabotaging a relationship with a new blogger, compared to antagonizing people who will influence your career?


Now, if I’m being honest—and I try to be—my first piece wasn’t without fault: Both Leonard’s piece and DeLong’s piece nailed me on something that was actually true—and a severe weakness in my original post:

I had not carefully cited any sources showing that Krugman was advocating war as a fiscal stimulus. It’s obvious that that’s Krugman’s position—but I hadn’t cited sources. Thus my piece could be attacked and dismissed as a mere rant, rather than an argument.

And so like Talmudic scholars dismissing an obviously true statement—say, that the sky is blue—because I didn’t cite any sources, they gathered up their righteousness like the robe of an ancient sage, and nailed me for it.

You know me: I’m not one to take things lying down. But I’m also not one to go off half-cocked. I did what was retrospectively the smart thing—I waited.

Fate was kind, and gave me an opportunity shortly thereafter:

David Broder, the Washington Post columnist, wrote a piece basically advocating war with Iran, as a way to politically unify the country. (Yeah, insane, I know.)

The KDI—in the shape of a DeLong rant—went to town on Broder.

Brad DeLong

Of course, DeLong’s hit piece on Broder was completely hypocritical. After all, Broder was advocating a war for political benefit, while Krugman was advocating war for economic benefit.

DeLong—rightfully—went medieval on Broder’s ass. But insofar as Krugman’s advocacy of the same “War Is The Solution” stance, DeLong was smiling and silently panting like a lapdog in the arms of a society lady stroking his teeny-tiny head.

In other words, DeLong left the door wide open for me—so I stepped through it.

I called my piece The Contradictions In The Life of A Fluffer.

And this time around, I did the smart thing: I referenced Krugman up the yin-yang.

Hell, at Dartmouth I got taught close reading and hard-core analysis when I studied philosophy—might as well use that god-forsakenly expensive education, right?

So I did: I did a close read of Krugman’s bullshit, and I made it a point of really catching every little nuance of everything Krugman has said, showing how the K-ster Monster from Princeton Junction is essentially advocating war in order to stimulate the economy.

As a side benefit, I also slimed DeLong so bad, he actually wound up changing the name of his blog for a while, as its original title—“Grasping Reality With Both Hands”—was a bit too apropos to my point that DeLong was Krugman’s fluffer. (If you don’t know what a fluffer is, read the piece.)

Yves Smith over at naked capitalism sent me a private e-mail, telling me that some people had commented to her about the fluffer piece, saying they felt actually sorry for DeLong after they read it.

I thought, “Yeay team!” (What can I say: I’m a vindictive bastard.)

The whole experience was an object lesson in the way the blogosphere works: How the best writing in the world, the most thoughtful analysis in the world, won’t necessarily get you mainstream notice—because there are gatekeepers who keep the riffraff out.

The KDI—in the shape of people like Brad DeLong in academia, and Andrew Leonard at Salon in the world of journalism—are the people who keep out the riffraff.

It also made me realize—because of Weisenthal’s passive-aggressive reaction that directly led to my exiting Business Insider—how insidious the whole Krugman Defense Industry really is: They are the self-appointed gatekeepers, the sentries you have to pass, in order to reach the mainstream, and thus have influence on the general conversation.

Because of this whole run in with the KDI, I no longer have a place in the mainstream discourse. I write my blog, get fairly big numbers, write what most people would consider thoughtful, intelligent posts—but I’m not considered “serious”. And therefore, none of my ideas or posts are discussed at levels where they might actually make a difference.

This gatekeeping by the KDI and other such cliques—mind you, on both the Left and the Right—keeps strong ideas from reaching the people with power: Ideas which might potentially help our society. And thus our society is poorer for it, because it cannot draw upon the best ideas in order to form a solution to a problem besetting us all: Only the ideas these cliques on both the Left and the Right allow to reach the table are considered—while everything else is automatically regarded as “fringe”.

For instance, I wrote a major piece of political philosophy—Why Democracies Will Always Go Bankrupt—which is essentially a valid, sound proof of something that’s been eluding economists for a couple of hundred years.

Yet nobody discusses it—in a very real sense, it doesn’t exist. Which is a shame, because it might help the discourse, and get our society closer to adopting a sane macro-economic standing.

I’ve been shut out of the mainstream. Which is fine by me on a personal level, but sad if you think about it on the level of social discourse: Tired ideas—like the KDI’s sacred Keynesianism, like the Right’s Corporatism—are repeated round and round, while fresh new ideas are locked out, and therefore never considered.

Thus new ideas cannot help the wider society—because they’re not allowed a place at the table.

And what’s worse, patently insane, blatantly immoral ideas—like Krugman’s notion about how war would fix all our economic problems, like the Right’s notion that what’s good for the banksters is good for America, when the exact opposite is closer to the truth—are allowed to grow like brain cancer on the body politic.

So I just wanted to tell you, Great Post!, as well as Watch Out! These people will come after you, if they can.

And if they can’t, they’ll ignore you as completely as if you didn’t exist. And to them, if you don’t exist, then your ideas don’t exist—and therefore aren’t worth repeating.

And thus your work will have no impact—and at the end of the day, isn’t impact what every writer wants? Don’t we want our ideas to help build a better society for us all?

As always, all the best,


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Cognitive Dissonance's picture

WAR. (What is it good for?)

BTW I love shotgun rants. Blood all over the place, bodies parts here and there, just a tangled mess. Come to think of it, it's sort of like WAR.

anynonmous's picture

deLong lobbied Blodget

let me tell you

Business Inisder is backed by Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer

and that says it all


trav7777's picture

We have always been at war with Eastasia

The Peak Oil Poet's picture

this story is about a bloke
who thought he'd save us all
an economic genius
with vision and with gall

PY-129-20's picture

Ve vant ze gold back, Bernanke! Or ve'll cut off your chonson!

Problem Is's picture

"Yeah and maybe we stomp on it and squoosh it, Bernanke..."

"Ve vant ze gold, Bernanke..."

"Ja and no funny stuff..."

Dooud's picture

Its Down there somewhere.

mr_T's picture

There's no buisness like war buisness I know (pause chorus for my cane and hat act) .... I wish I was skiing in Chile now... I miss valle Nevada ... It's hot out here....fool

aldousd's picture

I worked for a company for 10 years (against my moral judgement, but I let my checkbook speak louder than my brain until january of this year,) that was a defense contractor that claimed to provide innovative capabilities to government... I saw a participant in the very small network of 'you hire me I hire you to hire the guy across the street to hire me' produce nothing but 'reports' and 'feasibility studies' on crap that delivered nothing but documented crap to the government burn through 12 billion dollars in government 'directed funding' in the 10 years I was there.  If the previous experience of the company prior to my arrival were the same (and I have no reason to believe it wasn't,) that means they exhausted roughly 15 billion dollars on actually... nothing other than keeping local people employed in an election buying boondoggle.  We don't need 'official' stimulus to burn cash on creating ditch digging jobs... just look at your local government contractor... and their sub-sub-sub contractors... who sometimes end up being themselves... on the same projects.


edit: and I'll add that the 'quota' system established by the government to ensure that 'minority companies' and 'small disadvantaged businesses' also receive a chunk of the action... also sets up a bunch of middle men to receive some of the action... but they in turn source the prime company for some of the work and this actually means that a shit ton of extra money goes into the politically correct matrix, and ends up feeding the same mouths that would have had the money in the first place.  Note that feasibility studies (a specialty of my former employer,) are actually equal pay for those who produce nothing (and say it's impossible) as those who figure out a way to solve the problem.  How incredibly 'egaitarian' of our government!

tarsubil's picture

It would be interesting to see how much money is spent on reports. I worked at NIH and was amazed after reading a fairly worthless report that the price tag was $500K. Why not just print off 150 blank pages with a nice looking cover page and buy me a Ferrari? That would be more productive.

Ahmeexnal's picture

War, the ultimate goal of the welfare state.

Socializing death and destruction.

To the benefit of the ruling elite.

Fish Gone Bad's picture

Death is always better when it happens to someone else.

Cheesy Bastard's picture

bodies parts here and there, just a tangled mess. Come to think of it, it's sort of like WAR

Or twister.

knukles's picture

One man's pet stained carpet is another man's Twister.

Yardstick of Civilization's picture

That was the title of my law review note . . . .


A Nanny Moose's picture

Kruggybear seems to be forgetting the 5 or 6 wars we are alerady fighting.

If war is what he wants, then Kruggybear can go first. I will be right behind him.

wisefool's picture

Yeah, I am one of the villiage idiots here, but this had me scratching my head too.

5+ hot wars. Dozens more intelligence theaters. 24x7 spy game grab ass over technology with our "freinds" and our "enemies". Plus homeland operations against tea party terror causing, hostage taking, hobbits. Then there are the folks that drink raw milk. Plus the war on drugs.

663.8 blillion defense budget in 2010. according to wikipedia, probably 30% more in actuality. And thatis just DoD.

Hillary and Panetta had a foriegn policy press conference today, that really looked like a awards banquet for the "whose who" of the NoVa defense/intelligence executives.

How much money do we need to spend and how many people need to be getting snuff'ed before kruggers things we are in proper war?

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

How much money do we need to spend

All of it.

and how many people need to be getting snuff'ed

Enough of the bottom ninety percent to result in an unemployment rate of three to four percent.

before kruggers things we are in proper war?

Krugs is posing and posturing for a second Sveriges Riksbank "Nobel" Prize in Economic "Sciences".


Oh regional Indian's picture

Surprised no one mentioned the Broken Window Fallacy so far. It is after all the Keyensian Bedrock.

Destroy so you may rebuild, designed obsolosence so you must re-buy.

Broken Windows, FTW!


combatsnoopy's picture

Krugman, like Dubya- show how easy it is to run logical fallacies by the general public.  The main one is "appeal to authority".  Then of course we have the very popular "appeal to ignorance", this sounds like a possible straw man, False dichotomy and begging the question.  

An Intermediate English writer can have a hayday by making their students point out ALL of the fallacies in Krugman's work.  It should be required in place of a GPA score for college admissions.  

V10's picture

Same kind of economic brilliance that trumpets construction starts in California after an earthquake or Florida after a hurricane.

By that logic, I have a guaranteed plan for economic recovery:

Step 1) Evacuate several major cities

Step 2) Bomb them to rubble

Step 3) Rebuild them

With my plan, we get a double dose of stimulus, first from the massive expenditure on munitions for the military, followed by demand on the construction trades that make the best years of the housing boom look like a Saturday afternoon spent building a tree fort.

You're welcome.

tarsubil's picture

My God man! Don't give them any ideas!

old naughty's picture

so it is why cheapos from China were made NOT to last so they can sell more...implicit in buying them is acceptance. And so both/all parties are CON-spired to the design.

So it is with the broken windows...wondered if that was the reason no one mentioned it.

Thanks for sharing.

knukles's picture

Echos the uber-leftie line apropos QE and Shovel Ready Stimulus.  Had we done more, the Messiah Coulda Healed Us By Now (Heal. Heal I say, Heal!) we'd be not be in this fucking mess, all'd be well, holding hands, singing Kumbayah.

One more war, one more war, one more war.

nmewn's picture

"One more war, one more war, one more war."


TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

One more war, one more war, one more war.

Just one more hit and I'll feel better. Just one more hit and I know I'll feel alright. Just one more hit...


jo6pac's picture

I'm the far left and these are not my friends. I asked delong once if he’s ever had a real job before.

Thanks for the video CD


Dick Fitz's picture

Just curious Jo6pac-

Are you inclined to support Ron Paul? I've got several leftish (and one VERY left) friends, and several of them are so disappointed with Obama that they have brought RP in conversation, saying that as long as he will get us out of Iraq and quit giving money to the banksters, they will vote for him.

Debtless's picture

Though it's only top of the third inning - i'd be willing to give Paul a serious look from my leftist view. Obama was obviously not the right answer - and given the otherwise substantial lack of choice. Liberty is quite catchy.

Dick Fitz's picture

I've gotten quite excited (and somewhat disconcerted) by the positive feedback I've gotten from my lefty friends. I was a hardcore socialist in college, and I'm still VERY liberal- hell, it's hard to be a nerdy gay Republican- but Ron Paul changed my outlook, slowly but surely. It took a while, but once I grokked the basics and simplicity (but not simplistic by any means) of the message, it really opened my POV. I have some major issues- abortion, social benefits, health care- but I'm starting to understand how all of those are tied into "the liberty thing" and am still refining my understanding.

I will say that a few years of casual study of Austrian economic theory has been far more rewarding than the years I spent toiling in college on my econ minor. I think UNlearning shit was the hardest part!

The thing that intrigued me was an argument I read about gay marriage, one of my big issues. His simple response- get government out of marriage, and make ALL marriages civil unions- hit me like a brick. How can someone be so liberal and at the same time the most conservative person in the bunch?

Bullionaire's picture

UNlearning the fake lib-con paradigm, eh?


Good for you, Richard.  Welcome aboard.



TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

UNlearning the fake lib-con paradigm, eh?

Good for you, Richard.  Welcome aboard.

Agreed. It's never been about left vs right, liberal vs conservative, or republican vs democrat. It's been about what's best for the country vs what's best for the Party. (Yes, there is only one Party, and it will do anything it can to convince you otherwise.)


Dick Fitz's picture

Yeah, I'm seeing that now. BOTH parties just want their vig, screw the rest of us. Welfare, something I deeply believe in, has had a horrible effect on society, so decentralizing it seems like a good idea. 5 minutes of Maury Povich (once I started to see the idea from another POV) convinced me of that.

Rick Perry will say ANYTHING to get elected- he's hitting Ron Paul's buzzwords so he can win. Fuck that piece of shit. Google "Gardisil Perry Merck"- he's a sellout shill.

I told a friend of mine (a republican) that I wasn't sure the right side won the civil war (back to the decentralization/antiwar thing) and he nearly bit my head off. No amount of reason or facts (this went on for days via email) would persuade him.

Reps are just as ignorant and stubborn as Dems.

Temporalist's picture

I think he explained his personal belief of the abortion issue very succintly the other night and you can watch for yourself.  One premise is that law itself is always on the side of the unborn except when the mother wants to abort it.  If he, as an obgyn, kills a baby anywhere throughout a pregnancy he's liable for murder.  If the mother is in a car accident the other driver could get manslaughter if the baby is killed (and I am using the term baby but it could be embryo or what be it). 

Starts 9:40


And while it's hard to agree with someone that doesn't belive in evolution...if these are his two perceived flaws it's far lessa problem than unethical, lying kleptocrats trying to stay in power.


What I think it Ron Pauls best asset is that he's stayed on message since the last election, was consistenly right, every Tea Partier knows who he is, the same message repeated over and over and the most people that now know his stances can explain them to people that are misinformed or brainwashed.


Incidentally during the Terri Schiavo dustup his stance was to stay out of the hospital room too.

Rodent Freikorps's picture

Did you know Perry is on record saying marriage, including gay marriage, is a state issue, and the Feds should get bent, as the 10th Ammendment intended?

tarsubil's picture

Perry will fit in in Washington.

TimmyM's picture

Dick Fitz-
This is what scares the oligarchs so much. If RP gets the nomination, the crossover vote is powerful. Ironic, claiming his inelectibilty is a fraud.

combatsnoopy's picture

You're begging the question.  A true republican will find out how to fix things in the private sector.  

Reggie Middleton's picture

So, I take it that I'm considered the "riff raff" by the mainstream, eh?

Dick Fitz's picture

Reggie, anyone outside the dialectic is RiffRaff to these people. I think you're cool!!!

Thanks for your posts- I've really learned a lot.

macholatte's picture

How can you get any new ideas when the political gang goes to the same schools and gets taught by the same professors?  Then there is the merry-go-round of professors going into government and then back to school and then back to government. Recently, many have done some time over at the Soros schools of Media Matters and Center for American Progress before allowed to infect the population.