The Geithner plan

Megan McArdle writes:

Tim Geithner reveals that the Treasury has a plan to fix the problems in our broken capital markets by . . . er . . . fixing them.

Paul Krugman writes:

An old joke from my younger days: What do you get when you cross a
Godfather with a deconstructionist? Someone who makes you an offer you
can’t understand.

I found myself remembering that joke when trying to make sense of the Geithner financial rescue plan.
It’s really not clear what the plan means; there’s an interpretation
that makes it not too bad, but it’s not clear if that’s the right
interpretation.

Here is Brad DeLong on same.  Get the picture?

Comments

I think Krugman "misremembers" the joke. In his form, the answer should have been

Someone who makes you an offer you couldn't care less about.

The original version that I've heard all my life is:

q: What do you get when you cross a Mafia Don with a Semiotician?

a: A Godfather who makes you an offer you can't understand.

Much better joke IMHO.

A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon you're talking real money

Almost every time I leave a comment on Brad Delong's blog that is slightly critical or calls into question his reasoning, my post is deleted. Am I the only one who has this problem or does Brad regularly delete "inconvenient" comments?

Jayson,

I've posted critical comments before, its probably the tone of your post and whether your criticism has any sophisticated arguments and substance.

Am I the only one who has this problem or does Brad regularly delete "inconvenient" comments?

He regularly deletes inconvenient comments.

I was deleted by Brad DeLong and my URL was tagged as belonging to a rabble-rousing trouble maker because I questioned his assumptions on two separate posts. I was civil in one, and joking in the other (the other, as I recall, ended with "Why oh why can't we have more thorough media criticisms?").

rg, what drug are you on?

Because all of us are going to need it soon....

Brad DeLong regularly deletes any comment that disagrees with him. Occasionally, if a comment is so stupid as to be self-refuting, he leaves it. He is a really disgusting human being. In order to punish him, I have stopped donating to the University of California, one of my almae matres.

Brad Delong deleted Steve Hsu's perfectly factual comments while leaving up others responses to him, which ended up looking funny. I had a comment that linked to a debunking of the standard (mis)perception of Herbert Spencer.

The banks got punk'd by the speculators and sub-prime borrowers who had no credit scores to lose. They can't lend their way out of it because noone wants to borrow to consume anymore, interest rates are low, and their capital reserves have been marked to zero. Now the gov't is hunting around for a story to get them off the hook. This show is almost worth the price of admission.

MHodak,

It is a liberal thing. "The time for talk is over" so anyone pointing out these guys factual errors or logical fallacies is simply an "ethics-free Republican hack".

I was rather worried BdL had a habit of it. I didn't even claim he was wrong - just gave an alternate interpretation to someone's comments and said it was possible that he meant that.

Given how personal his arguments (when he does more than quote someone else) and name-calling are and how he blocks off the debate on them (certainly within his right - it's HIS blog) it makes me wonder more and more why more open, polite, thoughtful bloggers keep referencing him.

"It is a blessing that we finally have someone in office that is at least promising some kind of market regulations after 8 long reckless years of deregulation."

Yeah Sarbanes-Oxley was "deregulation".

First, I don't think DeLong deletes comments because he's a liberal and I think claiming that he does is misreading the situation. Instead, what I think is going on is that DeLong's blog has traffic and he does not want his traffic, especially young readers, to be influenced by ideas and outlooks he disagrees with or might disagree with if he had time to consider them. DeLong is imitating what he sees as a successful FOX News strategy: allow views from the opposing side, but only so long they don't make too much sense and conform to caricatures. Always let your own side have the last and most informed word. Hence Delong has the tendency to delete informed comments, since this is much less labor intensive than arguing with them. If you want to have the last word and don't have the time to argue you need to delete comments.

I am not too disturbed by the fact that Delong wants to use his blog to promote his views and does not want to provide a platform for his political opponents to promote their view or even to argue with his view. What disturbs me is instead that

1) DeLong's stated comment deleting policy is dishonest.
2) DeLong's actual comment deleting policy is to delete many civil, evidence based and well argued comments that disagree with him but to leave uncivil, evidence free and crazy comments that disagree with him up. This policy seems to be directed at misleading readers of DeLong's blog about the quality of the views of those who disagree with him.
3) DeLong's comment deleting policy in my view creates a less interesting and useful blog even for people like me who agree with DeLong on many things. Only cranks will read the comments in the end and people who like a well reasoned civil discussion aren't going to look at the comments or contribute to them. I can see that DeLong might want to drive away cranky Austrians, but it is my impression that he's also driving away your median Berkeley grad student by now.

Also, once upon a time DeLong did have some sympathy for certain Austrian views, see for instance

J. Bradford DeLong (1990), "`Liquidation' Cycles: Old-Fashioned Real Business Cycle Theory and the Great Depression" (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Department of Economics).

The abstract reads:

"The Federal Reserve took almost no steps to halt the slide into the Great
Depression over 1929–33. Instead, the Federal Reserve acted as if appropriate
policy was not to try to avoid the oncoming Great Depression, but to allow it to
run its course and “liquidate† the unprofitable portions of the private economy.
In adopting such “liquidationist† policies, the Federal Reserve was merely
following the recommendations provided by an economic theory of depressions
that was in fact common before the Keynesian Revolution and was held by
economists like Friedrich Hayek, Lionel Robbins, and Joseph Schumpeter. This
paper reconstructs the logic of this “liquidationist† view, and argues that the
perspective was carefully thought out (although not adequate to the Depression)
and may have held some truth as applied to business cycles that came before the
Great Depression."

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