One person who does understand economics and who frequently writes approvingly of Roosevelt’s approach to politics is Paul Krugman. In The New York Times last Friday he had this to say:

“… the political right has always been uncomfortable with democracy. No matter how well conservatives do in elections, no matter how thoroughly free-market ideology dominates discourse, there is always an undercurrent of fear that the great unwashed will vote in left-wingers who will tax the rich, hand out largess to the poor, and destroy the economy.”

Close. Take out the word “poor” and insert “every special interest group that can help in the next election” and take out “tax the rich” and insert “tax everybody and his uncle” and I think he’s right on the mark. [Sometimes you wonder if Krugman is living on another planet. Does he really not know what happens when Democrats rule without constraints? Ever hear of Detroit?] Here is another gem from Krugman the political scientist:

“… if you worry that low-income voters will run wild, that they’ll greedily grab everything and tax job creators into oblivion, history says that you’re wrong. All advanced nations have had substantial welfare states since the 1940s — welfare states that, inevitably, have stronger support among their poorer citizens. But you don’t, in fact, see countries descending into tax-and-spend death spirals.”

True. But the reason why “advanced” countries are “advanced” is that they have managed to resist what the “non-advanced” countries have not resisted: the natural tendency of democracy to descend into a sea of special interest gluttony, like sharks in a frenzy — feeding on a dead whale.

And they have managed to resist such temptations by resisting the way of thinking that pervades so many of Paul Krugman’s columns.

This is from John C. Goodman, “Why Is There Political Stability? Because Most Voters Don’t Think Like Paul Krugman,” at

Above, I’ve quoted almost half the piece. Here’s one of my other favorite lines from Goodman’s article:

So far at least, Americans don’t believe in arbitrarily taking from Peter and giving to Paul, even if they happen to be Paul.

Dwight Lee covers some of the same ground in this last quote, in more detail, in “Do the Poor Vote Their Self-Interest?”, Econlib Featured Article, August 5, 2013.