David R. Henderson  

Econ Blog Humor

Why Is Democracy Tolerable? E... Somin on Libertarians and Jim ...

Noahpinion has a great send-up of the people who comment frequently on blogs. It leads with, guess what? Libertarians. And the primary blog for libertarians is--you guessed it--our very own Econlog.

The one on libertarians is hilarious, as are the others.

Here are, in italics, the five characteristics he gives for libertarians, with my comments on each:

Favorite dead economist: Milton Friedman

Will appear in response to posts regarding: Trade, the environment, third-world labor, patents, immigration, education, the environment, sugary soft drinks, anything really

Craziest idea: Eliminate public education and legalize crack
Check, although I'm not sure why it's crazy. The government schools are doing so well, you see, and who cares if the criminalization of crack causes a lot of black people to be thrown in prison? Which brings me to:

Special attack: Soaring rhetoric
Yes. He might want to check out the meaning of the word "rhetoric," though.

Secret weakness: memories of the parties they didn't get invited to in college
Doesn't work for me, at least. Now, if he had said "high school" . . .

HT to Paul Krugman.

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CATEGORIES: Economic Philosophy

COMMENTS (17 to date)
Yancey Ward writes:

Now that was hilarious, but one can see why Krugman gets the HT. Smith chickened out at the end, and that was a pity.

Downsize DC writes:

That's surprising about Friedman. In the Ron Paul Age (2007-present), it seems that lots of neophyte libertarians bypass Milton Friedman and go straight to Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard.

guthrie writes:

I believe if by 'craziest idea' he means, 'ideas which garner the least popular support', he ought to have gone with 'ending the War On Terror' or 'Open Borders'... IMO far more folks would support education and drug enforcement reform.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Yancey Ward,
True, Smith did balk by not including Krugman.
@Downsize DC,
I think it would have been Rothbard or Mises if the category had been Austrian. You’re probably right about the neophytes but they’re a subset of libertarians. I agree with you that Hayek is a contender, though, and if the goal had been accuracy, he probably would have beat Friedman.
Very good point.

johnleemk writes:

Maybe the reason open borders didn't make the cut is because more economists (of any political persuasion) believe it's a good idea to let people choose where they want to live or work than believe it would be a good idea to abolish public schools or legalise crack...

Bob Murphy writes:

Yancey Ward, what do you mean? Noah wasn't ripping on economists, but on their fans. So he couldn't have made a general category of Krugman Fans, because they're actually not as well-defined as those for the other schools. He basically would have merely said "Daniel Kuehn" as a separate category, which would be weird.

johnleemk writes:

Sensible Krugman fans who know something about economics are hard to parody (maybe Daniel Kuehn comes closest). But there are a tonne of economically-illiterate Krugman fans who would be rather easy to parody. Though that parody would probably be more sad than funny...kind of like the "Republican Party" bit that did make it into Noah's piece.

Noah Smith writes:

I would have included Krugmanites if they had ever trolled my blog, but actually I didn't even know such people existed...do Mankiw and Cowen also have troll legions?

Yancey Ward writes:

Oh, they exist, though you might be forgiven if you don't usually read the comment threads on other Econ Blogs, though I will make one observation about them- they tend to stay at home and not read other economists blogs.

Bob Murphy writes:

Noah Smith, if you're still reading, well yes there are certainly Keynesian analogs of the behavior you're describing. Obviously being very respectful of Krugman yourself, it's not surprising that you don't see them at your blog. If you ever look at the comments at my blog, you'll see them.

Noah Smith writes:

Well, if I ever see the Keynesian trolls in action, I'll add them to the Bestiary...

Jonathon Hunt writes:

I lol'd at the Sumner comment.

Shayne Cook writes:

Noah's post is entertaining. While reading it, and the comments to it, I couldn't help thinking he was describing economics religions and religious sub-sects though.

And as a non-normative (agnostic, in this context), I'm more than a little bitter at having my troll category completely ignored - as usual. (It may well be that I'm the only one left in this category.) Fear not, though. Perhaps I can provide a draft entry ....

The Non-Normative (Positive) Economist

Favorite Dead Economist: Any dead economist who was an actual economist, and not just a self-glorified accountant*.

Will appear in response to blog post concerning: Normatives ridiculing other normatives.

Craziest Idea: That what the normatives think, do and inflict upon us all really doesn't matter very much.

Special attack: Ridiculing normatives.

Secret Weakness: The resentment borne of the knowledge that we'll (I'll) never get invited to be policy-wonks. (Not to mention the ENORMOUS intellectual effort and self-control required to actually be non-normative.)

* We positive-types are convinced that the continued emphasis on bounding economics by arithmetic results in degradation of economics into mere accountancy (GAEP?), rather than elevation of economics into a science.

Feel free to ignore all this, by the way.

Daniel Kuehn writes:

Bob -
I'm not sure how I'm a troll. The bar for troll is a little higher than "someone who disagrees with you in a comment section", I think.

I agree with Noah, I'm not sure there are really Krugmanite trolls out there. There are, of course, a ton of "Krugmaniacs" - people who go nuts at everything he says. There are whole blogs set up to disagree with Krugman, and blogs like Cafe Hayek usually have a piece a day on him. And you can't write about him without bizarre accusations coming up. That's trolling.

I assume Noah didn't mention the Krugmaniacs because they usually fall into one of the other categories he did mention.

Becky Hargrove writes:

About that "secret weakness": Yup, college was fine and high school was the problem!

Vangel writes:

Favorite dead economist: Milton Friedman

I disagree. While some libertarians would put Milton at the top of the list most seem to have moved on to Mises and Rothbard. For them Milton was too much of a statist and supported a fiat money policy that seemed illogical and immoral.

UnlearningEcon writes:


I think it's quite easy to parody the idea that economists think their discipline can be entirely positive.

Now, if you are talking about econometrics, maybe.

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