Quick Update On The Conscience of Paul Krugman

Quick Update On The Conscience of Paul Krugman
Profile photo of Robert P. Murphy

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 Nobel Prize winning economist Krugman speaks during an interview in New Yorkincome 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.

  • David


    Do you understand the definition of hypocrite?

    [hip-uh-krit] Show IPA
    1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
    2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

    Krugman fits both the first and second definition. The article explains this very clearly, as does much of what Krugman states so clearly on his blog for everone to see. Just because you choose to be blind to it doesn't make it any less true.

  • George Hess

    What nonsense. A university hires a Nobel Prize winner for $225k a year–btw that's not $25k month by my calculation–and you are complaining that he took the job. If you have a problem with anyone it should be be university, though I'd expect that they are a better judge than you as to the best way to spend their money. Beyond that, where is it written that one must not be a member of the 1% to criticize it? If you had evidence he was doing something unethical to avoid taxes, then you'd have cause to level the hypocrite tag, but just for earning a living? I'd says it's you,as the free marketer, who are the hypocrite, for criticizing him for earning his way.

    • Ferig Ogzide

      You are right :25,000 a month comes to 300,000 a year which means he is even nearer to the 0.01% then earlier calculated.Did CUNY put a gun to his head to accept that amount?He could have asked that his salary be used to lessen all the fees of the students who go to CUNY. Or perhaps he could stipulate that he receive the same salary as the janitors at CUNY,who perhaps make close to the bottom 1%. salary.It would be justified since one can get a better education about real life economics from the bottom feeders at CUNY then any of the Nobel prize winning ,Ivory towered Professors. But hey,so long as he has lobotomized fans gulping his spew ,no need for him to practice what he preaches.

      • Jerry

        You are right. Same goes for Mr Buffet who publicly states he doesn't pay enough taxes yet he carefully invests to avoid high taxes. Why don't both donate to the poor or give to the government to relieve the high tax burden on the rest of us? Oh but I forgot that won't work. The government will simply spend it foolishly on war or just enrich themselves.

Profile photo of Robert P. Murphy

Robert P. Murphy is the Senior Economist at the Institute for Energy Research, and a Senior Fellow with the Fraser Institute. He holds a PhD in economics from New York University. Murphy is the author of Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action (Independent Institute, 2015) as well as numerous other books and hundreds of articles.

More in Blog

Should the Fed Raise Interest Rates?

Patrick BarronSeptember 30, 2016

Italy wants other European nations to pay its unemployment bills

Patrick BarronSeptember 6, 2016

There is no such thing as a negative interest rate

Patrick BarronSeptember 2, 2016

Can You Trust US Economic Data?

Peter DiekmeyerSeptember 1, 2016

Blowing Hot Air on the Wrong Target

David HowdenJuly 20, 2016

A wonderful new book about Austrian economics for the layman

Patrick BarronJuly 11, 2016

The Real Lesson of Brexit

Patrick BarronJuly 7, 2016

Wrong solution to a misunderstood problem

Patrick BarronJuly 6, 2016

The consequences of leaving the party

Alasdair MacleodJune 24, 2016