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Posts Tagged ‘Mises Institute

Robert Murphy vs Paul Krugman

with 6 comments

I wanted to use Robert Murphy of the Austrian School of Economic vs Paul Krugman the Nobel Laureate King of Keynesianism as the title for this post, but I was afraid that it might be a little bit too long, although it does give you a better idea of what the essence of this is.

Paul Krugman, for anyone who has ever read his pieces in the New York Times or has seen the attempts of Austrians to argue against his positions, will know that he at times has taken some swings after Austrians, for instance calling Austrian Theory “a theory that I regard as being about as worthy of serious study as the phlogiston theory of fire“. While he may very well be right to think so, one could question why he won’t debate anyone of the Austrian School. Peter Schiff has repeatedly challenged Paul Krugman straight out, saying for instance that he should return his Nobel Prize, because he doesn’t understand economics, and Andrew Schiff, Peter’s brother, has even tried to come in contact with Krugman to make arrangements for such a debate. All Krugman would have to do was to meet up and slaughter Peter Schiff in front of everyone, with the world as his witness. Instead, Paul Krugman tries to take easy jabs now and then, with pompous comments like “I do know that I keep being told that Peter Schiff has been right about everything; so, how’s that hyperinflation thing going?

The latest attempt at luring Paul Krugman out of his cave comes from Robert Murphy, a fairly ‘recent addition’ to the long line of scholars in the Austrian School of Economics, one who at several occasions has taken on Paul Krugman’s arguments in his articles and seems to be well acquainted with the content of a possible debate.  What is unique with his attempt is its appeal to emotions and moral conscience. Currently, only 5 days after the challenge has been made, almost 29,000$ has been put into the pot to see a debate between Robert Murphy and Paul Krugman happening.

“Why is there money involved?” I hear you ask. The idea is to raise as much money as possible that will be donated to the Fresh Food Program of FoodBankNYC.org.

Food Bank For New York City works to end hunger and increase access to affordable, nutritious food for low-income New Yorkers through a comprehensive group of programs that combat hunger and its causes.

There is a hunch, however: The money will only be donated if and when Paul Krugman accepts to debate Robert Murphy for one hour. These are the terms:

See Paul Krugman debate Robert Murphy on Keynesian versus Austrian business cycle theory! Moderated by Ezra Klein, or another moderator of mutual choosing.

If this objective is met, then the money (after 5% to The Point) will go to the Fresh Food Program at FoodBankNYC.org.

Why the Food Bank For New York City? Well, why not? It’s as good a cause as anything else, and since Krugman just happens to write in the opinion pages for The New York Times it probably just fits the occasion, not to mention that this would be a very nice present in the upcoming holiday season for the hungry men, women and children of New York. If 100,000$ were to be raised, that means 95,000$ cash in food for the hungry, and all Paul Krugman would have to do is meet up at the Mises Institute in Alabama, skewer Robert Murphy like a sow at the buffet, cash the money for FoodBankNYC and get back on his plane home. Even his supporters and academic equals would hound on him to accept.

That is why it will be quite hard to see how Paul Krugman could ignore this offer if it becomes big enough. Think about it, how could anyone ever say “No, I will not be ‘tricked’ into doing something I have regarded as too easy for all these years, because I do not care enough to do something that could feed the hungry of New York”? Unless, of course, it is an awful (or even evil) person, or at the very least wishes to be regarded as one by everyone else.

What do I think? It’s quite unique and it could get huge. I urge everyone to put down some money, even if it’s just a small amount. Everyone can afford 10$, and for Americans it’ll even be tax deductible. Remember, you will not lose the money unless Paul Krugman accepts the challenge. But will he? While it might be hard to see how he can ignore this, I’m quite certain the odds for you keeping your money is high. No matter how big it gets, he’ll act like this doesn’t exist, that he hasn’t had the time to read all the comments and mails he receives that urges him to accept, because he’s such an important person and hasn’t had time for that, or he’ll disregard it as some kind of hoax/set-up/scam if he ever actually gets faced with it. Let’s be frank, he’s somewhat of a coward when it comes to debating Austrians.

So I do not keep my hopes up high, but I’m as hopeful as ever. Let me make it clear that I’m not necessarily thinking this is gonna be some kinda “blood-fest” where “my Austrian guy” will shred the “Keynesian fool” to pieces. While I may think Paul Krugman is a fool, he’s also a smart one, even if he doesn’t know economics – like his “Princeton brother” over at the Federal Reserve. I’m actually hoping for an informative, educational and interesting debate where you would truly see two different ways of understanding the world try to make their cases and reveal weaknesses in each others sides, and perhaps give the audience something to think about. I for one enjoy listening to a spoken debate much more than seeing two sides battle each other over blog posts in a chaotic fashion. It’s much more dynamic and real, even if it might be viewed as unfair to some, since a lack of charisma will shine through a lot easier and will appear to weaken the power of the argument. I do have to admit my opinion that I do not find Robert Murphy to necessarily be the most charismatic of speakers, at least not compared to a person like Peter Schiff, who with his many comedic metaphors and stories would render Paul Krugman a dull zombie, but he is a genius, and while he may not have the speechcraft of a politician, it should be noted that Paul Krugman really isn’t the most eloquent speaker around either, at least not from what I’ve seen of him, so I think it’s much more fair and honest this way (not to mention more likely to happen). They’re not embarking on any political campaigns after all. Sadly, though, it will not gather the same publicity as it would with Peter Schiff, but you give some and take some.

I nonetheless think Robert Murphy is more than well up for the task, and he has at the very least found a very interesting and powerful way of making this happen. Time will tell if it will ever become a reality.

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