(I am sitting in a session of the Austrian Scholars Conference in Auburn, which means I am not exactly sitting with members of the Paul Krugman Fan Club. Tomorrow, I present a paper in which Dave Kiriazis and I argue that the Jim Crow laws were not a "blind spot" of the Progressives that historians always present as "reformers," but rather they were part and parcel to the system that was created.)
Anyway, back to Krugman. In a screed against House Republicans today, he declares that the U.S. Government really is in no fiscal danger at all, so no budget cutting is necessary. Second, he once again tells us that "costs" are purely administrative affairs, and that central government planning can lower costs of medical care.
But first, he starts out with a bit of interesting hubris, writing:
Like anyone who writes regularly about what passes for economic and fiscal debate in American politics, I’ve developed a strong tolerance for nonsense. After all, if I got upset every time powerful people were illogical and/or dishonest, I’d spend every waking hour in a state of raging despair.Funny, but a lot of his columns and blog posts really do look like episodes of "raging despair." But, there is more:
Yet there are still moments when I find myself saying, “They can’t really be that stupid,” or maybe, “They can’t really think the rest of us are that stupid.”Now, while he is talking about Republicans -- who really do manage to say Really Stupid Things -- I cannot help but apply Krugman's words to his following declaration:
...you have to realize two things about the fiscal state of America. First, the nation is not, in fact, “broke.” The federal government is having no trouble raising money, and the price of that money — the interest rate on federal borrowing — is very low by historical standards. So there’s no need to scramble to slash spending now now now; we can and should be willing to spend now if it will produce savings in the long run.This is worthy of an entire blog post itself, but nonetheless, you have to understand what Krugman is saying. Interest rates for government bonds are low because the opportunity cost of investment also is very, very low. The very policies of bailing out banks, housing, the U.S. auto industry, and numerous other entities, along with the government's other policies have ensured that the economic "recovery" will be anemic at best.
To put it another way, the non-government sector of the economy is not producing enough goods and services to be able to fund the current rate of government spending, so the Obama administration then runs gargantuan deficits. According to Krugman, this is due to the fact that the government does not have high enough taxes and because government needs to spend, spend, spend in order to end the depression.
So, Krugman claims that we can "pretend" that everything is just fine, as though this blizzard of government spending will create "future savings." It is mind-boggling to me, and maybe IT will drive me to "a state of raging despair."
Krugman then turns to medical care:
Second, while the government does have a long-run fiscal problem, that problem is overwhelmingly driven by rising health care costs. The Congressional Budget Office expects Social Security outlays as a percentage of G.D.P. to rise 30 percent over the next quarter-century, as the population ages, but it expects a near doubling of the share of G.D.P. spent on Medicare and Medicaid.On the surface, this seems to make sense. However, what Krugman actually is saying is that the spread of bureaucracy over ALL medical exchanges and procedures somehow will result in lower costs AND better medical care. This is madness, as I see it.
So if you’re serious about deficits, you shouldn’t be pinching pennies now; you should be looking for ways to rein in health spending over the long term.
Bureaucracies do not make things less costly. At the present time, our family is pursuing an overseas adoption, and over the past decade (we last adopted in 2001), the bureaucratic tentacles over international adoptions have greatly expanded. I can tell you from personal experience that bureaucrats are vastly raising the costs that we have to incur.
Keep in mind that these bureaucracies are operating on the premise that they are lowering the probability that a child will be taken from a foreign children's home to a worse situation with another family. That does happen, but it is pretty rare.
However, by forcing up costs on the adoptive family's end, the government is vastly increasing the probability that a child won't be adopted at all, which means that when these children turn 16, they are booted out into the streets. Thus, the bureaucrats are GUARANTEEING that there will be more fodder for international prostitution rings. All in the name of "making people better off."
Talk to a doctor and find out just how ObamaCare has vastly increased the paperwork and bureaucratic oversight which govern their practices. Any doctor will tell you that this has raised his or her own costs, and doctors must now direct resources to satisfying the bureaucratic monsters.
Yet, Krugman claims that this will "lower" costs. Well, I will tell you how this will work, just as it has "worked" elsewhere: governments will "lower" medical costs by increasingly denying care, which is nothing more than passing off costs to the consumers of medical care. The costs don't go away; they just are shifted.
In economics, we speak of costs as "opportunity costs." However, in Krugmanland, costs simply are administrative numbers that the state can manipulate. That is fantasy, not economics.