(Click here to watch on YouTube.)
Sixteen years ago, Slate Magazine was launched, with Paul Krugman and me as the alternating economics columnists. At the time, Paul was fond of observing (with considerable dismay) that most of the time, highly educated and intelligent non-economists appear to be completely incapable of distinguishing between compelling arguments and utter nonsense in the field of economics. His essay on “Pop Internationalism” is a brilliant series of riffs on this theme — a guided tour of sheer balderdash that gets a respectable hearing even though no economist could possibly take it seriously. “Pop Internationalism” (the lead essay in the book of the same name) is high on my recommended reading list.
The lesson I took from this observation was that we (Krugman, I, and economic commentators in general) had a responsibility to explain not just what economists believe, but why we believe it — to help readers understand that there’s a rigorous underlying logic to the discipline, and that there are good reasons for insisting that people adhere to that logic. Nowadays, when he’s at his most obstreperous, I sometimes suspect Krugman of having drawn a very different lesson — that because nobody understands the real logic of economics, we can get away with saying any damned thing we want to. It’s a frustrating thing to watch, because when he’s good, he’s very very good. But when he is bad he is horrid. I won’t list examples here, but you can find quite a few by browsing my Paul Krugman archive.
There is, however, one area in which Krugman’s commentaries have my unequivocal approval, and that’s his habit of posting links to music videos. I don’t always agree with his choices, but nothing in economic logic precludes diversity in musical tastes. In fact, there are good reasons to applaud that diversity.
So in this one dimension, I aim to emulate Paul Krugman. I’m going to start posting occasional links to great (in my opinion) music videos. Also, occasionally to music videos that are not necessarily great, but at least greatly weird, because I like things that are greatly weird. Unlike Paul, I’m not going to wait until the music is somehow relevant to the news of the day. I’ll just post them when the mood strikes me.
Today’s video (see the top of this post) is from Danny Kaye and Louis Armstrong. Music doesn’t get much better than this.