Friday, April 18, 2008

Paul Krugman is bitter

I usually like Paul Krugman. But, as with most economists, well, "measurement" is not his strong point. let's take today's column on whether Senator Obama's theory about small-town midwestern voters is correct. Krugman tries to argue that Senator Obama is wrong. Well, I live in Indiana, which is full of the kinds of small towns Senator Obama was talking about, and I'd say he is more correct than he is wrong.

Despite Prof Krugman's data, he is not measuring the right thing. For instance:

In fact, the Clinton years were very good for working Americans in the Midwest, where real median household income soared before crashing after 2000.

If things are so great in SMALL towns, then why are they shrinking. Sure, Midwestern household income went up. In the cities. Chicago, Indy, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Cincinatti, even downtown Detroit has improved. And the suburbs around these areas are fabulous. But the small towns, like Rosedale, Indiana, or Kansas, Il, they are losing population, seeing their schools crumble and all during the Clinton years. So, Prof Krugman is conflating the MIDWEST with small-town, rural areas.

Let's move on: Now Krugman tries to stumble into sociology, having already stumbled on econonmics, he breaks a leg with his sociology.

The crucial word here isn’t “bitter,” it’s “cling.” Does economic hardship drive people to seek solace in firearms, God and xenophobia?

It’s true that people in poor states are more likely to attend church regularly than residents of rich states. This might seem to indicate that faith is indeed a response to economic adversity.

Is church attendance the same as being religious or believing in a faith? Church attendance is down across all groups, but belief is not, nor is spirituality. Equating a belief in God with church attendance is just sloppy operationalization. What Senator Obama was really talking about is "fatalism," but that requires too much sociological sophistication for most lay readers.

Then Prof Krugman changes the story line, away from whether Senator obama's is right about small-town midwestern voters and offers his colleague Prof Bartel's up as the truth, that Republican's haven't owned the Presidency becuase the working class votes Republicans but because the South went Republican following the Civil Rights Movement, what suggesting that Republicans are racists?

I read Dr. Bartel's op ed that Prof Krugman refers to in his column. I can't argue with the statistics, but if things are as he claims the data indicates, then why are there so few democrat elected officials in the midwest rural areas?

Too bad neither Prof Krugman or Bartel cared to acknowledge one of their colleagues at the NYT. I urge anyone reading this blog, to click here and read this analysis. I think it is much, much more "on" than the armchair analysis of the Princeton Professors.

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