Thursday, November 29, 2007

Herbert Gintis on Krugman

From his review of Paul Krugman's new book Concience of a Liberal:

This book epitomizes what is wrong with American liberalism. Krugman was a fine, perceptive international trade theorist, but he is a political hack, with nothing new to offer. There is one problem as far as Krugman is concerned: inequality. But inequality is an intellectual abstraction, not a politically motivating issue. People hated the Robber Barons because they were robbers and barons, not because they were rich. Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates do not send the Pinkerton men out to protect their ill-gotten gains; nor [do] the other super-rich. Socialists' ringing political slogans dealt with fairness, social progress, and power to the people, not "inequality." Moreover, a truly progressive movement must built on technical progress that is impeded by the reigning powers that be (Sam Bowles and I call this efficiency-enhancing egalitarian redistribution), not the beggar-thy-neighbor, zero-sum-game sort of redistribution favored by Krugman.

--He is right in that most people votes based on what they think is just, not what they think is equitable. However, what Krugman points out over and over is that populist economic policies are popular with American voters. A majority of people view what is just and what is equitable to be one and the same. Here's the link.

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