Avoid a Government Shutdown

April 2nd, 2011

The conventional wisdom is that if the Federal Government shuts down because of the inability o thef Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratically-controlled Senate to reach an agreement on the 2011 budget, that Republicans will be blamed. This conclusion is reasonably based on the experience of 1995. When the Republican Congress and the President Clinton could not reach a budget agreement, Republicans were blamed.

Few remember that there were extenuating factors then that may not be duplicated now, differences that made bode better for Republicans. First, the titular head of the Republicans, House Speaker New Gingrich, was a conspicuous and to many an unpopular target to which the media could point. In addition, there was the story that perhaps a petulant Gingrich wanted a government shutdown in part because he was disrespected by being given a bad seat on Air Force One.

The story now is a little different. Some Democrats like former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean look forward to a government shutdown calculating that it would help the Democrats. Republican House Speaker John Boehner is not the character of Gingrich and will likely not appear petulant. Moreover, the House has passed a 2011 budget. The Democratic Senate has not, so there is no alternative budget to split the difference with.

If Republicans can manage to portray the debate properly, the Senate can appear to have acted irresponsibly. Moreover, if the Democrats had passed a budget last year, when they held both houses of Congress and the Presidency, there would be no chance for a government shutdown now. Instead, Democrats avoided their responsibility. They feared passing a 2011 budget that was so unpopularly large before the elections in 2010.

Despite the different situation now, Republicans would be prudent to take the best offer they can get on the 2011 budget and settle. The differences are relatively small. On Sunday, House Budget Chairman Republican Paul Ryan will layout the Republican 2012 and the long-term Republican budget vision.

The new budget will likely call for significant reform of entitlement programs. Republicans will need all the political capital they can muster to make their case. A government shutdown would be a unnecessary diversion. If given a choice of acting responsibly to come to some agreement on entitlement reforms and scoring political points, history suggests that Democrats will choose the latter. Indeed, some are in denial that any such problem exists. In preparation for the media-assisåted demagogic assault, Republicans need to focus on the new budget.

A Real War of Choice

March 27th, 2011

Some who criticized the Iraq War maintained that it was a war of choice. Whatever the merits of that argument, there can be little doubt among those who support or don’t support the current action in Libya that it is a matter of choice. It the broadest sense all wars are wars of choice. However, the intervention of the US in Libya is a war of choice in that the sense that the US is not acting to protect the US or US interests. It is not a war of self-defense. It is war conducted for humanitarian reasons.

Unfortunately, justifications for the action are not as well articulated as they should be. Are we there to remove longtime tyrant Muammar el-Qaddafi? Is it to keep the “rebels’’ from being overrun? Is it to protect civilians? Do we protect civilians if the rebels threaten them?

Just War Theory requires that before engaging in the evil of war, there must be convincing evidence that the likely outcome of the war is less evil. Will the Libyan people be more free? Will less civilians be killed?

One can imagine circumstances where there would be a moral obligation to use military power for humanitarian purposes. However, given the blunt instrument that military action is, it is necessary to have a high degree of certitude that the the outcome will be positive.

In such circumstances clarity is necessary and the Obama Administration has not lived up to this standard. When euphemisms like “kinetic military action’’ action instead of “war’’ are invoked, moral clarity suffers. When missiles deliver large amounts of ordinance on the ground it is an act of war. When B2’s fly from Missouri and drop bombs on military targets, it is an an act of war. Perhaps the acts are justified, but they are acts of war, nonetheless.

When the Bush Administration took the country to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, it went to Congress, explained its purposes and was granted authorization to use force, a de facto declaration of war. The advantage of going to Congress is the discipline that it imposes. It forces an Administration to place its reasons on the record in a clear and consistent way. Moreover, if we are going to commit US service personnel, a commitment that may cost their lives, they should enjoy the full support of the country. One step in solidifying this support is obtaining Congressional authorization. If the Obama Administration had sufficient time to make their case for action in Libya to the United Nations, there was time to consult Congress.

It would be easy to score political points, by pointing out that then Senator Obama said that his interpretation of the Constitution required Congressional authorization to use force unless US citizens or interests where under immediate or imminent threat: a case no one is arguing for Libya We could indulge in guilty political amusement by playing back the video of an sanctimonious Senator (now Vice-President) Joseph Biden bravely declaring that he would support impeachment of President Bush if Bush used military action against Iran without Congressional authorization. More important, however, is whether a Congressional authorization would have made the action in Libya more likely to succeed. We submit here that the clarity of intention required to obtain such authorization would have benefited the Obama Administration and made success more likely.

If actions drag on in Libya, the US and the US Administration will suffer politically and Libyans may physically suffer. The US military may find country-building difficult, but it is has proven adept at deposing of governments and destroying other military structures. We may be fortunate if Qaddafi is deposed and there is not too much disorder after his fall. Victory heals wounds. In victory, Americans will forget exactly how the action began. However welcome such an outcome would be, it will not affect the validity of the case that Congressional authorization should have been sought.

Growth May Not Be Enough

March 13th, 2011

This year the budget deficit will be $1.6 trillion. Total spending will be $3.8 trillion. For every dollar we spend as a country we will have to borrow 42 cents. This level of debit accumulation does no seem prudent or sustainable.

A budget deficit is the consequence of the difference between the amount of spending and the revenues generated. A plot of revenues and spending over time, shown below may be revealing. The red curve represents spending, and the blue curve represents revenues. Since 1980, the spending has been generally higher than revenues. Fortunately, at the end of the 1990’s there was a surplus. During the period of the surplus, spending increases moderated, but not much. The increase in revenues caused by increased growth bringing in increasing revenue largely accounte fro the surplus.

The recession in the early 2000s reduced revenues, and spending did not abate, so we had widening budge gap. However economic growth kicked in an we approached a balanced budget. For all intents and purposes we were in near balance. It is hard to believe that the budget deficit was only $160 billion in 2007, less than the budget deficit accumulated this month alone.

A combination of high gas prices and an over-leveraged mortgage market caused a large decrease in GDP with a loss of revenue. The government decided to increase spending to stimulate economic growth, but growth has been anemic, with only very modest increase in federal revenues. Spending rolls on and the deficit balloons.

If we had revenues equivalent to what we had in 2007, this years deficit would be $1.2 trillion. If we maintain the same revenues as 2007, and same rate of increase in spending from the previous few years, the current budget deficit would be $500 billion, very large, but a third of the current deficit. Therefore, spending increases more than revenues shortfalls have been the primary cause of the current deficit.

It is clear from the graph, that spending has risen too quickly and revenues have not. It would seem that the wisest course at this point to reduce the rate of spending increase. However, even if we had no increase in spending for the next few years, we would require very high levels of economic growth to narrow deficit to more historic levels.

We have a $14 trillion GDP and the federal government brings in revenues equivalent to 20% of GDP per year. We gain an increase in revenues of about $30 billion per year for every 1% increase in GDP growth. If we can grow by 4% a year over 10 years that would represent a $1.4 billion revenue increase. Remember, the long-term growth rate of the US has been about 3.5% and it may be hard to achieve such a rate as more people move to retirement.

In other words, a very high ten year growth rate of 4% per year would balance the budget only if we froze spending at current levels for a decade. However, given that Social Security and Medicare costs will inexorably grow just because of the entrance of new retirees into those systems, and the increase debt payment will have to be paid, all other government programs from the military, to education aid, to food stamps would have to undergo dramatic decreases to maintain a freeze.

No one expects government spending to be constant over ten years, given only modest increases we will still need extraordinary rates of growth to bring total debt levels to even a more reasonable fraction of GDP. It used to be we could endure deficits, because growth would rescue us from ourselves. We are rapidly approaching spending levels , where no reasonable rates of growth can bends the two lines in the curve back together.

A Little Education Math

March 6th, 2011

With the on-going controversy in Wisconsin about teacher compensation and collective bargaining issues, the sides seemed to have hardened. One side sports the green eye shades claiming there is no more money and teacher compensation needs to be limited. The opposite side claims compassion for teachers and concern for the students. We submit here that the entire structure of public education with a state monopoly teamed with public service unions is inefficient and results in lower compensation for teachers than would otherwise be the case.

I live in Prince George’s County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC with a median household income of nearly $72,000, substantially higher than the $52,000 median household income of the entire US. By any reasonable definition, the county can be considered affluent. Perhaps, it is not as affluent as other counties in the Washington, DC area, but it is certainly affluent by national standards.

With the weak economy, the county like others is struggling to maintain spending. Part of the problem is decreased local revenues and part of it is reduced revenues from the similarly pinched state of Maryland. However, a closer look a the numbers is revealing.

The restricted school system budget of Prince Georges County this year is $1.6 billion dollars, which represents a $155 million shortfall. The school system has an enrollment of about 128,000 students for a per student expenditure of about $12,500. In the county, the average class size (although there is variation at different grade levels) is 27 students. Hence, each class room represents an expenditure of $350,000. An average teacher earns about $55,000. Let us make the extremely generous assumption, that total compensation including medical care and retirement is about $100,000 per teacher. It still means that a classroom costs at least three and half times the cost of the primary education provider, the teacher.

These numbers are very approximate. There are legitimate costs outside the classroom including school buses and bus drivers, school nurses, and counselors. In addition, some students have special needs that require greater-than-average spending. Nonetheless, it seems that a disproportionate amount of spending is not going directly into the class room.

If we offered as a choice a voucher to parents, even a smaller amount per student of $10,000 to spend at any school, public or private, my guess is that parents would find options for which teacher compensation would be greater both relative to total expenditure and in absolute terms. This system would offer better education at a ower cost and probably with higher teacher compensation.

The Right Level of Income Inequality

February 27th, 2011

Overtime, income inequality in the US has experienced an increase, at least in comparison to other Western countries. Some of this has been the consequence of high income women marrying high income men spreading the household income distribution, as well as the move away from heavy industry to a emphasis on new high-tech skills sets. The question posed here is: If people are freely able to sell their labor at whatever price others freely accept – a natural meritocracy – what would be the level of inequality?

One traditional measure of inequality is the Gini index. The index varies from 0 to 1 where 0 is total equality, everyone makes the same income and 1 is one person making all the income. The index is not linear and one can find its definition here.

There must be a natural Gini index associated with a open meritocracy. If the actual Gini index is much higher or lower than this natural value, it takes an outside force like that of the government to compel a different result. At one end, a government could claim all income and distribute it equally, yielding a Gini of 0. At the other extreme, a government could force most people to receive little income and a bulk of the income could be distributed to a few people, probably with political pull. A government could also force an intermediate result.

The US Gini index for income was stable, a little less than 0.40 from the end of World War II until about 1980. From that point, there has been a steady increased to about 0.47 in 2006. More recently there has been a small dip in the Gini index.

The US is always compared unfavorably to our European friends for having a higher Gini index. Their Gini indices tend to be in the 0.30 to 0.35 range, with notable exceptions like Sweden in the 0.25 range. However, that complaint begs the question. What would the optimum Gini index be? The actual Gini index is a complex function not only how much the government determines wages, but of the age and cultural distribution of a society, of the variety of different industries, of geographical diversity, and whether there exist new industries growing rapidly with the need for specialized labor. A growth in the Gini index could be a positive or negative result depending on the cause.

One way to estimate the natural Gini index is to look at sports, which is as close to a meritocracy as we can expect. For Major League Baseball with no salary cap and with free agency, the Gini index is about 0.50, far more unequal than the US general population. In individual sports like golf and tennis the inequality can be greater. Indeed, in some studies the more unequal the distribution in a team’s payroll, the better its performance.

The point here is not to argue exactly what the level of inequality there should be in a society, but simply to caution that it is not necessarily true that the narrower income distribution the more equitable or more optimal.

Random Thoughts

February 20th, 2011


If you happened by a newsstand on Tuesday morning February 15, you might have sighted the headline of the Washington Post “Obama Budget Makes Deep Cuts, Cautious trades.’’ The irony is the the first sentence of the article by Lori Montgomery was at war with the headline . She more cautiously explained that, “President Obama submitted a budget blueprint for fiscal 2012 on Monday full of surgical cuts and cautious trade-offs…” Which is it? Were the cuts “deep” or “surgical?”

The conflict between the headline and the article must have been noticed, because the later online editions substituted the headline: “Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal 2012 focuses on education, energy, research”

Perhaps showing a healthy separation between the news and an editorial pages, the editors of the Post did not find the budget cuts either deep or surgical. They concluded that on the subject of the budget, “the President punted… Having been given the chance, the cover and the push by the fiscal commission he created to take bold steps to raise revenue and curb entitlement spending, President Obama, in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, chose instead to duck.”

Those Signs Again

Any group of people with the energy to take time out of their normal activities to engage in protest are, by definition, the most passionate. Among these, one can find the deliberate and wise as well as angry and bitter, and even mean spirited.

During the protests this week in Wisconsin against proposals by Republican Governor Scott Walker along with the Republican state house to have some public employees contribute to their health and retirement plans, some protesters ported particularly very nasty signs. These included ones that equated Scott with Hitler and another with cross hairs centered on a picture of the governor.

It would be unfair to extrapolate from those signs that the entire group of protesters were mean spirited, rather than robustly making their feeling known. However, if those protesters were sympathetic to Tea Party, we would be directed by the Left to make exactly.those extrapolations.

Religious Oppression

Officals of the University of California-Davis recently defined religious discrimination as:

“The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.’’

This proclamation is wrong on so many levels. First, although discrimination is easier for dominant group to implement, it certainly does not preclude minority groups from exercising discrimination. Second, the fact the the university could issue such a definition indicates that the dominant view on that campus is secular humanism. If, for the sake of argument, we adopt the university’s point of view, the we could re-write the university’s definition as:

“The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion. At the university, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are religious.’’

Fortunately, the university recognized the error after Christians on campus complained and pulled the definition. I suppose we should congratulate the university, but one wonders about an institutional culture that could produce such a definition in the first place.

Egypt: Reason for Optimism

February 13th, 2011

Given the recent chaos in the Egypt, the short term outcome has been about as positive as one could hope to expect. Authoritarian strong man Hosni Mubarak was forced to leave office with little violence. The military has taken control providing stability and vowing to honor peace agreements with Israel, accompanied with the realistic hope of early elections. However, the final outcome of revolutions is difficult to predict with certainty. The American and French Revolutions occurred in the same era and employed much the same language. The American Revolution brought us George Washington, while the French Revolution resulted in Napoleon Bonaparte.

Fortunately, we have experience over the last hundred years or so that points to optimism in the case of Egypt. This case for optimism must overcome some serious concerns. Although the peaceful revolution came from the streets, that the radical Muslim Brotherhood did not seem to lead, they are perhaps the most organized and passionate party. One could easily imagine that they use the current instability to move Egypt to a theocracy rather than a liberal democracy. Moreover, if Zogby is to be believed, Egyptians cling to some disturbing ideas. About 90% believe that Israel is a threat to them, and a strong majority believe åçthat clerics should play a larger role in government. However, consider the reason for optimism.

The number of democratic countries has exploded. Polity IV, of the Center for Systemic Peace and Colorado State University, scores countries on a scale of -10 to 10, where -10 is an hereditary monarchy and +10 is a stable democracy. The plot below shows the number of countries scoring higher than eight from 1800 to 2003. Clearly, while not always successful and with setbacks, the move to governments underpinned by the consent of the governed is Zeitgeist of the last century or so.

Studies of this growth in democracies suggest that economic development and the presence of a middle class are the determining factors on longevity. A 1997 study by Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi of the world from 1950 to 1990 concluded that if the per capita income of a fledgling democracy was less than $1500, the democracy had a life expectancy of less than 10 years. Above $6000 in per capita income, a democracy essentially lives indefinitely. Indeed, they found that the “relation between levels of development and the incidence of democratic regimes’’ could explain 77% of the observations. Some of the deviations from the relation have to do if the wealth is associated with a middle class. In cases where a country’s wealth comes primarily from natural resource extraction as opposed to more diversified commerce, per capita income did not necessary translate into a middle class.

Egypt currently has a per capita income of $6200. Even with inflation, this gives Egypt a reasonable chance of achieving a long-term democracy. Despite wide-spread poverty, if the middle class is large enough the tendency to authoritarian rule can be mitigated. The depressing part of this sort of analysis is not related to Egypt. Iraq and Afghanistan have a per capita incomes of $3600 and $1000, respectively. The prospect of long-live democratically-based regimes in these countries would appear to be dependent upon rapid economic growth.

Total employment

February 5th, 2011

This week were were all pleased to learn that the unemployment rate plunged to 9% from 9.4%. If the unemployment rate continues to fall at a similar pace for another year or so, the economy will be in unequivocal good shape. However, the unemployment rate value over the short term is often difficult to interpret. It represents the fraction of people of people who are actively, but unsuccessfully, looking for work. Discouraged workers are not counted.

If fewer people are looking for work the unemployment rate could go down, but that would still not be a positive economic indicator. On the other hand, if people perceive that more jobs are available and flood into the market, this could be a good sign even if the unemployment rate rises temporarily. This last month, total employment did not rise very much, while the increase in people looking for work was anemic.

Rather than the unemployment rate, It is less ambiguous to look at total employment. The graph below from the Bureau of Economic Statistic is a time history of total nonfarm payroll employment. Although, there are other jobs besides payroll jobs, payroll jobs are easy to count and good proxy for all employment. The gaph shows that the number of jobs is at least not dropping as fast as before, but it still seems to be bouncing on what we hope is the bottom. To see where the economy is going, keep an eye on total employment not the unemployment rate.

The Times Narrative

January 30th, 2011

Over time humans build up internal narratives that help explain the world and keep things in order. When observed events are consistent with these notions, our narratives are confirmed. Other events are dismissed or ignored. This is even a problem with supposedly objective scientists. Experimental results consistent with our previous notions are accepted with little thought, while results that are inconsistent with currently held theories are given additional scrutiny. This scrutiny is in direct proportion to the difference between new results and what was expected.

This resiliency of ideas and world view serves us well. Without it our lives would be all sail and no rudder. However, to this intellectual underpinning we need to bring an openness to new evidence. This is especially true in journalism. Journalists are not only constantly called upon to provide the facts about a story, but to decide what stories are important, and perhaps speak to larger truths. A news organization might always print facts, but a slanted selection of stories provides a distorted view of the world.

On the pages here, we have noted how columnist Paul Krugman leaped blindly to the conclusion that the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was caused by harsh political criticisms of Conservatives. It turns out that the shooter was delusional and of confused political opinions at best. Krugman has a world view and the shooting of Giffords so resonated with his notions, that he felt he could fill in the relevant information without bothering to wait for the details to emerge. The facts that surfaced were inconsistent with Krugman’s world view.

One can partially excuse the rash writing of a columnist. After all, they are paid to be opinionated. Why, as scientists would say, let data get in the way of good theory.

However according to William McGowan, in Gray Lady Down: The Decline and Fall of the New York Times, the Times has succumbed to the temptation to let internal narratives shape the news. McGowan is not a reflexive Times hater, gleefully jumping on the paper as its circulation plummets. The Times has been liberal for decades, but for many years this liberalism did not taint its news coverage.

Former executive editor Abe Rosenthal recognized that New York is Liberal and so are many who write for the Times. To keep the news straight he sometimes had to tack a little Right. The result was balance in the news side of the paper.

Indeed, even while the editorial page was distinctly Left and while the infamous Vice-President Spiro Agnew was railing against the press, and the Times was endorsing Senator George McGovern for President, the National Review, the quintessentially Conservative magazine, found the Times news coverage fair. They conducted an audit of stories that had a “distinct left-right line,” and concluded that:

“The Times news administration was so even handed that it must have been dismaying to the Liberal opposition… Were the news standards of the Times more broadly emulated, the nation would be far better informed and more honorably served.’’

Rosenthal was given broad authority to run the Times by publisher Arthur Sulzberger until Sulzberger’s passed on publishing responsibilities to his son Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. The younger Sulzberger is a sixties-era Liberal who has overseen the journalistic and economic decline of of the Times. He has systematically changed the Times from the national newspaper of record, to the party organ of the Left wing of the Democratic Party.

In Gray Lady Down, McGowan documents this decline, beginning with the excessive political correctness in news room hiring and followed by the collapse of journalistic standards. Sulzberger has been embarrassed by stories revealed as fraudulent, but he seems oblivious to the relationship between the reduction journalistic standards, in general, to the all too frequent sensational journalist failures.

Perhaps the clearest example of systematic and persistent narratives driving the Times to embarrassing behavior was the case of the Duke Lacrosse Team. A young black woman accused some members of the Duke Lacrosse Team of rape. It did not take too long before the woman’s story began to fall apart, but the story resonated so well with the Times’ internal narrative that it could not cover the story straight. As McGowan explained, in their coverage, “the Times’ script reflected a pattern of white supremacy deeply embedded in American culture…’’

Responsible press coverage would not have jumped to a single point of view and would have calmed the waters with careful fact-based dispassionate posts. Instead, it inflamed the situation both in news coverage and editorial comment. Ultimately, without help from the Times, the accused individuals were declared innocent and the prosecutor was sent to jail for of prosecutorial misconduct. A vigilant Times would have led the country toward the truth. Instead, their coverage dragged its feet, unwilling to give up its preferred narrative of Southern white racism by the privileged.

The Times will probably not collapse financially despite its current precarious position. It has too much momentum and respect garnered in earlier decades. In addition, there are probably too many liberals in New York whose internal narratives resonate with that of the Times for circulation to collapse entirely. However, until there is a new publisher and a return to journalistic standards of the Times under Rosenthal, the paper’s influence will wane into loud and embarrassing irrelevance.

Krugman Deconstruction

January 16th, 2011

We can mark the specific time when the political controversy surrounding the “Tragedy in Tucson’’ began. Just a couple of hours after the news broke, Dr. Paul Krugman posted a blog blaming the attack in Tucson on a “climate of hate” presumably perpetrated by the Right.

Krugman’s accusations were soon undermined by the facts, though Krugman’s own grandiosity makes him incapable of conceding an error. The alleged perpetrator, Jared Loughner, apparently suffers from severe mental disturbances. There is no political connection to any group. Loughner is profoundly delusional. The cause of his actions arise entirely from his intensely disturbed mind.

Charles Krauthammer recently wrote the definitive piece describing the Left’s predisposition to leap to accusation with little proof and with less thought, especially when Conservatives are a convenient target. Nonetheless, if only out of intellectual curiosity, it is of some interest to deconstruct further Krugman’s instant analysis.

Krugman concedes that there are extreme and intemperate voices on all sides of the political spectrum, but “Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the [R]ight.’’

From the standpoint of argumentative effectiveness, we would expect the clever Krugman to offer the clearest and most persuasive example of a prominent Conservative or a Republican inciting violence. This is what Krugman managed to conjure up: “It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be `armed and dangerous’ without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.’’

Perhaps, Krugman was ill-informed, but his example is terribly weak. It turns out that if one looks at the entire quote and not the three words carefully excised by Krugman, Bachman wanted her constituents to be armed with information with which to make their cases. —Oops. And this was presumably the sharpest arrow in Krugman’s rhetorical quiver. Is that too martial a metaphor?

Much more subtly, Krugman speaks of those on the Right of using “eliminationist’’ rhetoric to de-legitimize political opposition. The word “eliminationist’’ is not a common term and its use by Krugman is curious and revealing. The term was coined in 1996 by Daniel Goldhagen in his book Hitler’s Willing Executioners, referring to deep-seated anti-Semistism of pre-War Germany and its exploitation by Nazi propaganda to make the German people accomplices to the Holocaust. Later is was used by David Neiwert in his book The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right to draw a connection between Nazis and the American RIght.

Krugman borrows this association of the Right in the US with Nazi behavior by the deliberate use of the term “eliminationist.’’ It is is a skillful way of demonizing and de-legitimizing his political adversaries, precisely the same acts of bad faith he accuses the Right of. Perhaps this is rank hypocrisy or perhaps something more.

With the tragic events of the last week, we are all becoming more familiar with psychological terminology than we care to be. I am sure that Krugman is a fine fellow who appreciates beauty, basks in the aroma of flowers, and enjoys the sound of children at play and the softness of puppies. However, his impromptu blog last week probably says more about Krugman than it did about the situation in Tucson. When speaking of the Right, Krugman’s political mania is touched, and he reverts to the mechanism of “projection.’’