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Projecting Projection: Paul Krugman

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Tags Philosophy and MethodologyPolitical Theory


Paul Krugman, an official ranter at a blog hosted at the New York Times, recently wrote a hilarious column on (what he calls) libertarians. As usual, it is not very clear what Krugman is actually talking about, but some of the statements are spot on. At least if we take a step back to look at what Krugman seems to really be saying. It is quite insightful. The column at first appears to be about some kind of surge in libertarianism within the republican party. But it is really a critique of blind political rants. Writes Krugman:

Libertarians ... tend to engage in projection. They don’t want to believe that there are problems whose solution requires government action, so they tend to assume that others similarly engage in motivated reasoning to serve their political agenda — that anyone who worries about, say, environmental issues is engaged in scare tactics to further a big-government agenda.

He then goes on to talk about Paul Ryan, which makes the use of the label libertarian quite confusing, but the general point that people involved in the bickering of political parties tend to project opinions onto their opponents is made quite persuasively. Krugman also writes:

libertarians deal with the problem of market failure both by pretending that it doesn’t happen and by imagining government as much worse than it really is

All we need to do is replace "libertarian" with any label that Krugman uses and "government" with "the market" (and vice versa) to see that there is fundamental truth in these words:

"Keynesians/progressives/[whatever] like Krugman deal with the problem of government failure both by pretending that it doesn't happen and by imagining the market as much worse than it really is."

But perhaps this is unfair? Well, maybe not:

"Keynesians/progressives/[whatever] like Krugman tend to engage in projection." Of course, my stating this is but a scare tactic.

Per Bylund is assistant professor of entrepreneurship & Records-Johnston Professor of Free Enterprise in the School of Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University. Website: PerBylund.com.

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