It certainly generated amusement among critics of Paul Krugman when Gawker reported that he was being paid $25,000/month to do very little work on behalf of the City University of New York’s new program on income inequality. I truly wasn’t going to say anything about this episode on these pages; I mentioned it on my personal blog, and merely asked my readers if they thought it was hypocritical, without weighing in one way or the other.
Yet it is the defense of Krugman by his supporters (e.g. here and here) that has pushed me to comment. Krugman’s defenders are claiming that he hasn’t really been lambasting “the 1%” so much; rather, he’s been attacking the “0.01%.” They also explain that his $225,000 spot at CUNY is probably a pay cut (though we don’t know exactly what he was getting paid from Princeton).
Well, Krugman just appeared on Bill Moyers’ show for an episode that had “the 1%” in its title. (I don’t know when the interview was actually recorded; it could have been before the Gawker story broke.) During the first 3:00 minutes of the show, both Moyers and Krugman refer to “the 1%” as being the bad guys. Krugman never stopped to clarify, “Oh by the way, if we’re talking about income (as opposed to wealth), then I fall into this group whom we’re going to demonize for a half hour.” Anybody casually watching this conversation would certainly walk away thinking we were talking about “the 1%,” and not “the 0.01%.” To repeat, that term was in the very title of the episode.
(Incidentally, as far as I can tell Krugman’s income isn’t public knowledge. But, according to the latest publicly available IRS data, “the 1%” threshold in the United States was an adjusted gross income of about $389,000 in 2011. With his professor salary, royalties on his popular books, high-dollar speaking fees, and income from financial assets, I would be very surprised if Krugman isn’t in “the top 1%” if we’re going by income, which many people in The Occupy crowd have in mind.)
While I’m on the subject, one other quick update: In a previous post I showed how Krugman didn’t even bother mentioning the very sick patients (including those getting cancer treatment at NYU) who were “furious” about the effect ObamaCare was having on their ability to keep their doctors. In a later post Krugman actually wrote this about some of the ObamaCare critics:
[T]he benefits of Obamacare, for all its imperfections, are immense. Millions of people who lived extremely anxious lives now have far more security than before. Compared with those benefits, the complaints of some already insured people that they have less choice of doctors than before, or that they’re no longer allowed to retain minimalist plans, look like whining. (And of course not one of the more serious-sounding stories about soaring premiums and all that has held up under scrutiny.)
Got that? He is literally calling cancer patients whiners. (Or actually no, that’s not right: He is saying that their complaints “look like whining.” Krugman characteristically has left himself an escape hatch. No matter the evidence, you can’t disprove what complaints “look like” to Paul Krugman.) And note that in a country with hundreds of millions of people, not only is Krugman confident that not a single case exists of someone who has been truly hurt by ObamaCare, but he is so confident that he says “of course” no such story has been documented. I mean if there were a single human being really hurt by ObamaCare, Paul Krugman would know about it, since he’s the compassionate yet empirical one.
Anyway, I will return to more substantive issues in future posts, but these two incidents were so brazen I had to comment.