There are lots of good reasons to be annoyed with Paul Krugman. (Like here, here, and here). But as a cock-eyed optimist, I’m very happy to have him around. Think about it: The world’s most famous left-wing economist:
1. Blames European unemployment on labor market regulations that hold wages above the market-clearing level. (The Accidental Theorist, Part 1)
2. Publicly and articulately advocates free trade without hemming or hawing. (Pop Internationalism)
3. Identifies anti-globalization activists as the enemies of the world’s poor. (The Accidental Theorist, Part 3)
4. Titles an essay “In Praise of Cheap Labor: Bad Jobs at Bad Wages Are Better than No Jobs at All” (The Accidental Theorist, Part 3)
5. Points out that if you oppose Big Government, you should favor cutting Social Security, Medicare, and other popular programs. (“The Lost Fig Leaf”) Sure, he’s hoping to scare us away from libertarian rhetoric, but there’s no use running away from the truth.
Yes, he’s been slipping. And it’s tiring to hear an economist so much more successful than me prattling about equality! I don’t begrudge you your publications, Paul, why can’t you let Bill Gates, Monty Burns, and Scrooge McDuck count their billions in peace?
Still, I can’t imagine Paul Samuelson doing any of the above, much less Galbraith. At least in economics, the intellectual climate hasn’t been as good as it is now for a century.