Lies, damn lies, and Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman has a new deeply dishonest column, this time on cap-and-trade. Iain Murray gives the thing the full treatment; I want to focus on a single passage that one can appreciate without being familiar with the ins and outs of the cap-and-trade debate:

Instead, the campaign against saving the planet rests mainly on lies.

Thus, last week Glenn Beck — who seems to be challenging Rush Limbaugh for the role of de facto leader of the G.O.P. — informed his audience of a “buried” Obama administration study showing that Waxman-Markey would actually cost the average family $1,787 per year. Needless to say, no such study exists.

But we shouldn’t be too hard on Mr. Beck. Similar — and similarly false — claims about the cost of Waxman-Markey have been circulated by many supposed experts.

The “needless to say” is an exquisite touch. Of course nothing so damaging could be real.

Well, first let’s establish the facts: You can find the documents here. I blogged about them here.

Why does Krugman claim the documents don’t exist? He doesn’t say. Probably, he means that they don’t precisely fit the description since (1) some of the documents predate the Obama administration, (2) the documents do not exactly constitute a study, and (3) the analysis predates Waxman-Markey so it does not refer to the specific legislation. Therefore, it’s not literally an (1) Obama administration (2) study (3) of Waxman-Markey. Alternatively, he may mean that the $1787 figure, referring to the direct cost of carbon permits, doesn’t apply to the actual bill that passed the House, which gives most of the permits away. (According to the documents, the cost of higher energy prices will be comparable, but that cost is not estimated to the same precision.)

That may be what Krugman means, but he says none of this. He won’t lay out the facts and let the reader decide for himself, because the reader might not draw the conclusion he wants. Instead, he implies the documents don’t exist at all. But they do exist, and he knows it. His statement that “no such study exists” is, at best, true in only a hyper-technical way.

But Krugman goes further, and calls Beck a liar. Being wrong in a hyper-technical way does not constitute lying. (And this is assuming that Beck was wrong at all, which isn’t clear. Krugman does not offer a quote, much less a verifiable link, just his own vague summary.)

I am sick and tired of watching the Democrats falsely accuse people of lying. Making predictions with which Democrats don’t agree isn’t lying. Pointing out unintended but predictable consequences of legislation isn’t lying. Making mistakes isn’t lying, and making basically true statements that contain hyper-technical errors certainly isn’t lying. Calling someone a liar for one of the above, that is lying.

Krugman opens his column this way:

So, have you enjoyed the debate over health care reform? Have you been impressed by the civility of the discussion and the intellectual honesty of reform opponents?

Ah yes, the civility and intellectual honesty. I can hardly bear the irony. Krugman, heal thyself.

(Via the Corner.)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s