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Time to TAP Your Krugman Library

August 18th, 2003 · No Comments

Just as I’m dipping into Paul Krugman’s acerbic (and therefore fun) collection Pop Internationalism, I see TAPped offer the following in a discussion of federal funding for higher education:

The truth is, it is in the interest of every citizen — that is, every citizen who wants to see the U.S. maintain its edge among the service- and ideas-driven economies of the world — for higher education opportunity to be spread as widely as possible.

Now, Bob Kuttner’s occasional disparaging remarks notwithstanding, the folk at TAPped love to quote them some Paul Krugman. In fact, they recently defended Krugman as a top-flight economist against the attacks of the right:

More important, however, is Kudlow’s slur that Krugman’s academic reputation is in decline. You hear this often on the right, especially from Andrew Sullivan, who likes to quote anonymous “economists” who assure Sullivan and his readers that Krugman is considered a hack by his peers. It’s just not true. Ask Alan Blinder, Robert Shapiro, Brad DeLong or any of the other first-rate economists in the country, and they’ll tell you it’s baloney. Little of what Krugman writes about the Bush administration’s tax and budget policies can be disputed. It’s not rocket science.

The amusing thing here is that the liberal Princeton economist’s primary purpose in Pop Internationalism is precisely to debunk the faddish but useless notion that countries should be “competitive” in some macro-level equivalent of the way that two firms in the same industry are “competitive.” That’s not to say education isn’t a benefit to the economy, but I had to suppress a chuckle upon seeing Krugman’s professed fans deploying the same empty rhetoric that he savages so brutally and effectively.

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