Why I Read Paul Krugman
Two commenters on a post I did recently on Paul Krugman, MingoV and Seth, want to know why I read Paul Krugman as frequently as I do. Specifically, MingoV wrote:
Why do economists concern themselves with Krugman’s recent writings? His writings often are blatantly biased towards the left. When they aren’t blatantly biased, they’re often wrong or misleading. I don’t read anything he writes, which reduces the number of anger-triggering events in my life.
I am also interested in the answer to MingoV’s question. It has often baffled me how much attention and respect Krugman draws.
I had thought the reason I read Krugman would be obvious but perhaps not. The main reason is that he is one of the most important economics bloggers around. I’m an economics blogger. So to post about economics, it would be strange for me not to read him.
I can answer further by considering MingoV’s reasons for not reading him.
MingoV: His writings often are blatantly biased towards the left.
David R. Henderson: Sure. And so that means I shouldn’t read him? A lot of people read him. I think that alone makes it important to know what he’s saying.
MingoV: When they aren’t blatantly biased, they’re often wrong or misleading.
David R. Henderson: True, but notice that even MingoV says “often,” not “always.” What’s striking is for MingoV to have made this comment on my post on Krugman’s contradictions. Krugman often is misleading and the fact that he has a large audience makes it even more important to point that out.
MingoV: I don’t read anything he writes, which reduces the number of anger-triggering events in my life.
David R. Henderson: There’s something to that. But I have two responses.
First, I grew up in an era when the adults around me worried about two superpowers having thousands of missiles aimed at each other that could reap massive destruction in an hour. I didn’t think about it much and, while I didn’t have a carefree existence, nuclear holocaust was low on my list of worries. But if I had claimed to be a writer on nuclear war, it would have been irresponsible of me not to learn about nuclear war. I’m an economics blogger and it would be irresponsible of me not to know what Krugman says. Would I be happier not knowing? Maybe. But I wouldn’t be as good an economics blogger.
Second, I think part of maturity and, frankly, one of my characteristics I like best, is to be able to read things I disagree with, even when I think they are purposely misleading, and not get triggered. Even better is not only not to get triggered but also to separate the Krugman wheat from the Krugman chaff.
I have practiced not getting triggered for a long time. When I was 15, some students who got out of control during gym class while the gym teacher was goofing off in his office, tied a climbing rope into a noose. A bunch of them lifted me up and one of them put the noose around my neck. I realized my best strategy was to remain very calm and let them see that their little prank was just that and let them reach their own conclusion about how crazy this was. They did. That’s why I’m here.