Monday, May 16, 2011

Contradictory Thinking

Paul Krugman comments on his blog this morning that it has occurred to him that some people in the financial commentary strata seem to be able to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time. I believe that shows that Doctor Krugman is a little slow on the uptake, because I noticed that proclivity quite a long time ago.

His particular point involves “tax the rich” and means testing for “entitlement programs” and, as is par for the course with him, he rather stretches the point on both arguments. He says that proponents of one are “by and large” the same as proponents of the other; a point which I would not really argue.

He ends, “So apparently the universe of people so affluent that they don’t need Medicare is a large segment of the population, while the universe of people who can afford to pay even slightly higher taxes is a tiny segment.”

I have not seen any claims that means testing of Medicare would eliminate a “large segment” of participants, merely that it would be a step toward alleviating the problem. As to “tax the rich,” almost no one other than Barack Obama cares how many of them there are, the prevailing sentiment seems to be, “Sock it to them because they can afford it.”

In any case, his postulate actually requires that three ideas be held at once, because it also requires that the “tiny segment” of people who can “afford to pay even slightly higher taxes” will pay enough additional taxes to eliminate a huge deficit. The combination of “tiny segment,” “slightly higher” and “huge deficit” just doesn’t seem to make for believable rhetoric.

Paul Krugman has apparently failed to notice that the entire nation has believed since Ronald Reagan that we can cut taxes and increase spending simultaneously; that politicians of both parties promise it and voters of both parties demand it. If that isn’t “being able to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time” I don’t know what is.

No comments:

Post a Comment