Monday, January 23, 2012

Final Result: ZH Mob-417, PK-4

I will sheepishly admit that I occasionally read the odd ZeroHedge post. Sometimes, it is because they provide some useful information (such as a reprint of a Richar Koo research article). More often it is out of some morbid fascination with demagoguery and how it palpably impacts people's belief structures. 

Today, the post  entitled United Welfare States of America 2011 - Nearly Half Population Received Some Form of Government Benefit caught my attention. Not because I thought it overstated the case, but because I reckon it UNDERSTATED the case. Indeed, the number is closer to 100%. The post was highlighting entitlement recipients, and their rise as a apercet of the population and a percent of GDP. Indeed, since the beginning of the crisis from an average of 12% of GDP for the preceding three decades to a conspiratorial 15% of GDP post crisis.   
The numbers reveal a reasonably counter-cyclical pattern of rising during recessions and falling (even if slightly) during recoveries.  

I would argue for fairness, it should be 100%, as they have conveniently forgotten or ignored those receiving other benefits or subsidies. For if taxpayers are incensed, they should be as outraged, not by the extra five percent thrown onto the benefit rolls during hard times, but by the other 50% of the people whose non-welfare benefits are received 100% of the time, such as those using mortgage interest deductions, and all manner of tax-reducing loop-holes, grants, and other deduction to reduce their level of tax, and therefore keep the federal income statement deep in the red. Indeed, there is likley no one in the country who did not receive some benefit - in kind, or service - be it a road, defense of the nation, hospital or educational grant, or beneficiary of technological or medical research financed in part or whole by the government.  But this is subject matter for another post.  

More interestingly, it appeared that Dr Paul Krugman made a surprise appearance in the comments section, pointing out, that, such countercyclical sensitivity was not only to be be expected (as in the past) but needed, and debating with other commenters. It could have been a ruse or hoax, but it actually appeared veritable, with the correct language and timbre of Dr PK himself (not that this would be too difficult to fake).  I would like to say that Dr Paul Krugman emerged unscathed today from this Zero-Hedge-sponsored rumble with the likes of YogiBear, AlienIQ, JPMHater001, SHEEPFUKKER, Satan2Liberals, Blindman, and HarBanger and a horde of apparently brown-shirted zealots, but it was akin to what one might imagine of Dr Martin Luther King trying to chat to the hooded-chapter of a KKK at a midnight cross-burning.  And he did not fare well. While the PK was calm and measured, the crowd, in not unexpected ZH fashion tarred and feathered him, pissed downwind upon from behind the bushes, before the lynch-mob hoisted him up by a rope into the tree. 

The final tally was a disappointment for those interested in informed debate. I felt sorry for Dr Krugman - if it WAS PK - sorry that he felt it necessary to try and debate folks that have no interest in discussion, little grasp of the facts, and that his calm discourse only inflamed seeming hatred and rage already burning our of control. I wonder aloud with some dread whether THIS is the precursor of what awaits America, the mob of Atwood & Roth's dread. 


RichL said...

It begs the question as to what percentage of Mr. Durden's readership is composed of the 1% or their wannabes.
It's a bit topsy-turvy that a finance blog is the fodder for "Wild in the Streets", and almost akin to a Republican presidential nominee being rejected for being too successful and, heaven forbid, keeping his tax rate low.

Would the "mob" take from the poor and give to the rich?

Anonymous said...

IIRC, Doctor Krugman has stated that he doesn't participate in website comments other than only rare exceptions on wonker economics sites.

Furthermore, as the doctor consistently repeats the same supposedly keynesian policy prescriptions over and over on his blog, in essentially the same language, it would not take much of an IQ to imitate him.

In conclusion, no way in hell was that the real Krugmeister commenting on Zero Hedge.