Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Too much fiction to even be revisionism

Paul Krugman's NYT op-ed from last week was a thing of beauty, for people that are big fans of fantasy world-building. A sample of Mr. Krugman's prowess in the realm of fictional histories:
The attempt to create a common European currency was one of those ideas that cut across the usual ideological lines. It was cheered on by American right-wingers, who saw it as the next best thing to a revived gold standard, and by Britain’s left, which saw it as a big step toward a social-democratic Europe. 
It’s true that all European countries have more generous social benefits — including universal health care — and higher government spending than America does. But the nations now in crisis don’t have bigger welfare states than the nations doing well — if anything, the correlation runs the other way. Sweden, with its famously high benefits, is a star performer, one of the few countries whose G.D.P. is now higher than it was before the crisis.
I had a great deal to say about these portions of Krugman's piece, but unfortunately I didn't do it right away. Much to my chagrin, I've now also read Nile Gardner's excellent response in the Telegraph to the Krugman fantasy and I just wouldn't feel right making pretty much the exact same arguments that Mr. Gardner has already made. So I won't, I'll just quote a bit of his piece and clap loudly from the sidelines:
Krugman cites Sweden as an example of a social welfare success in Europe, but fails to mention two important points. Firstly, in recent years, Sweden has begun rolling back the welfare system and government expenditure while adopting important free market reforms. Secondly, Sweden decided to stay out of the eurozone, another key reason why it has so far kept out of the financial mess engulfing southern Europe. As Johnny Munkhammar, a Swedish member of parliament noted in a piece for The Wall Street Journal in January, Sweden owes its success not to welfare statism but to reforms that have increased economic freedom, including greater competitiveness in the provision of health care and other public services... 
I don’t recall “American right-wingers” cheering on the rise of the single currency, and the growth of a European superstate. Quite the opposite, in fact. British-style Euroscepticism has always been fashionable among US conservatives who have long admired Lady Thatcher’s views on Europe, but mocked and derided by the State Department and by the Left. American liberals in contrast have long been among the biggest supporters of the European Project.
Yep, that's about it. Sweden is not the poster child of socialism and American conservatives really weren't all that enamored of the Euro. Really, they weren't much interested in it at all, except as a foil for the occasional joke.

For years now, it has been the American Left that has glorified the Euro as a means of "tsk-tsking" proponents of free-market capitalism, arguing that the Euro would supplant the Dollar as the world's chief currency, arguing that China would dump its Dollars for Euros and thereby destroy the U.S. economy.

Krugman--in his continued wild-eyed attempts to remain relevant--has entered the fiction business full bore. Too bad there aren't any vampires or boy wizards in there.

Cheers, all.

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