Paul Krugman of the New York Times made a claim today that should have left many both outraged and confused. Through twists of logic that only a recent Nobel Prize winner could muster, Mr. Krugman tries to make us believe that advocates of small government are racist.
How does Krugman attempt to do this? First, he points to the G.O.P., as though Republicans are the vanguard of small government. He claims that, “Forty years ago the G.O.P. decided, in effect, to make itself the party of racial backlash.”
Then he explains that a small government policy was the way for Republicans to feed this racist agenda. Reacting to a 1981 statement by Lee Atwater on the G.O.P.’s southern strategy Krugman says, “In other words, government is the problem because it takes your money and gives it to Those People.”
Krugman is right about some things. The G.O.P. has used race to win elections. As for Lee Atwater, the man was the Karl Rove of the previous generation, a Machiavellian who placed winning above all else.
But the Republican Party and Lee Atwater have as much to do with small government as Twinkies have to do with a balanced diet.
Mr. Krugman is a smarter than this. Surely he doesn’t think that the G.O.P. and the long tradition of thinkers who believe in limited government power are one in the same. No, Mr. Krugman knows better and is hoping that smearing the philosophy of limited government with accusations of racism will save him the work of presenting real, honest arguments against a very powerful set of ideas.
Those powerful ideas were developed by philosophers and economists like Adam Smith, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman—giants of the academy.
Hayek and Friedman especially must be known to Krugman. Both were recipients of the same prize as Mr. Krugman, the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Both were also more reasoned in their opinions than Mr. Krugman.
Rather than dismissing ideas he disagrees with as racist, Mr. Krugman ought to get back to his academic roots and engage in a little constructive dialogue. Perhaps that would prevent him from producing the the kind of thoughtless drivel he’s been allowed to publish in the New York Times.