Krugman’s blog, 1/5/16

There were two posts yesterday.  The first was “Summarizing the Trialogue:”

Martin Sandbu has a summary of the three-cornered discussion over models and policy; Brad DeLong has excerpts for those without FT Premium access. I have some quibbles, basically amounting to “But I’m right in the end!” But never mind.

One important meta-thing to note, however, is that discussions like this are basically only a possibility thanks to the internet. Getting three well-known policy-oriented economists in the same room with time for a substantive discussion is, as Brad notes, very hard. And to-and-fro discussions in the journals are (a) relatively stiff and formal, (b) v-e-r-y s-l-o-w compared with what just went down.

In effect, the web has recreated in a virtual way the kind of coffee house discussions out of which the modern scientific journals emerged, without the necessity of all of us being in London and drinking incredibly terrible coffee.

Yesterday’s second post was “Deadly Snits:”

Josh Marshall has a great term for what is happening in Oregon:white privilege performance art. We have people engaging in armed insurrection over the vast oppression of being asked to pay a small fee when grazing their animals on public land; surely an important part of the story is the fact that the perpetrators know that they won’t face the consequences that would follow if, you know, some nonwhite group pulled a similar stunt — and they’re be Fox News heroes forever after.

Something that strikes me, however — and which I don’t fully understand — is that when people like this turn to angry rhetoric, with at least a hint of violence, the trigger events tend to be trivial. There are plenty of real grievances that could be motivating working-class whites; but what sets them, or their would-be spokesmen, off are things like the belief that Obama is giving debt relief to Those People (which basically never even happened), or this. Here’s Erick Erickson engaged in what could be considered an incitement to violence:

At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?

So what motivated this rage? Regulations banning phosphate in dishwasher detergent, which Erickson believed was causing his dishes to get inadequately cleaned.

There has to be some significance in the awesome triviality of the things that induce rage. But I don’t understand it.



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