Wednesday, August 24, 2011

bad things can have silver linings

there has been a small hubbub this morning about an alleged posting by paul krugman on google+. the posting triggered a bunch of* criticism on the right. the post stated: "People on twitter might be joking, but in all seriousness, we would see a bigger boost in spending and hence economic growth if the earthquake had done more damage."

the problem is that krugman doesn't have a google+ account and it didn't take long before the person who created the fake G+ account under krugman's name fessed up. the prankster explained "I do not regret writing it and I hope it will enlighten many on the perverse economic views held by a Nobel winning economist writing for the New York Times who also lectures at Princeton University."

 and yet, was the fake post wrong? the outrage surrounding it is more about how the comment is outrageous per se without advancing a coherent argument that the sentiment is wrong. the statement could be economic growth often follows large natural disasters. just because something terrible happens doesn't mean that all of the consequences are always bad.

i guess i don't understand the purported krugman quote that would be automatically outrageous unless you have an extremely simplistic view of the world, where anything and everything must be completely good or completely evil. i have a hard time believing that anyone can live their life and continue to think that way. counter-examples are everywhere, big and small, from the person i once met whose grandparents met in a displaced persons camp after being freed from concentration camps at the end of WW2 (and thus would not have existed if not for the holocaust), to the ice cream cone i buy with a $5 bill that i found on the street, even though that means that someone out there lost $5.

* post now deleted.