But Foolish *In*consistency Can Also Be Problematic…

Paul Krugman is at it again, bemoaning the mendacity of politicians who, for “careerist reasons”, will never admit their mistakes and therefore lock themselves into bad policies. He even quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,
adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

And Krugman’s solution to this problem? More power for the politicians, of course.

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14 Responses to “But Foolish *In*consistency Can Also Be Problematic…”

  1. 1 1 Roger

    Krugman: “the GOP, by contrast, is an extremist organization whose extremism is almost solely responsible for the bitterness of the partisan divide.”

    What is he talking about? Budget sequestration? How can that be extremist?

  2. 2 2 khodge

    Not politicians, just the centrists like Obama.

  3. 3 3 Ken B

    If we offer Krugman some M&Ms will he make better arguments?

  4. 4 4 Eric Nilsson

    Is not Paul Krugman waxing philosophical in his assay? Should he not vbe spooked by the Emerson’s hobgoblin? His consisitency seems hearken to his time spent on Animal Farm (where the Tigers roam): “Spending Good; Saving Bad!”

    Would he like peanut or plain M&Ms? (That wasn’t stated in “Sweet!”)

  5. 5 5 iceman

    Didn’t we just have a sizable revenue deal at year end with NO spending cuts? Whenever you find yourself believing that one side is “better” than the other it’s time to check yourself. Some just play the game better than others, but it’s best viewed as the same game.

  6. 6 6 Ted Levy

    I’m confused…Is Krugman assaying the M&Ms?

  7. 7 7 Patrick R. Sullivan

    Is there a guy less willing to admit error than Krugman? And, in this case, is he right that ‘austerity’ isn’t working in Britain

    with its recent strong job growth

    ‘The employment numbers continue to be surprisingly strong, with a rise of 154,000 to 29.73 million in the October-December 2012 period, and a huge 584,000 increase over 12 months.’

  8. 8 8 Eliezer

    Somebody once told be that if you have strong beliefs, its the sign of a strong mind. If you have strong beliefs that means you’ve thought about the issues carefully. Only a person with a strong mind can do that.

  9. 9 9 andy weintraub

    If “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” does that mean that inconsistency is the hallmark of a genius?

  10. 10 10 KS

    I don’t think he ever states that *all* politicians are like that. This to me doesn’t seem like a strong argument against government or politicians here. It’s like saying, hey, Franklin Pierce was a horrible president, so why should I trust Abraham Lincoln?

  11. 11 11 Ken B

    @10: Indeed, but there’s a different, related, better argument.
    “X did terrible things with the powers he had, maybe we should limit the powers since we cannot guarnatee we won’t get another bad apple like X.”

  12. 12 12 David

    @9: The hobgoblin isn’t consistency, it’s *foolish* consistency.

  13. 13 13 KS


    The problem isn’t as simple as some one-dimensionalization of “power” on a single axis which must then be reduced. I think most people on this blog would agree Bill Clinton was a good leader. I also think most would agree George W Bush was an irresponsible blowhard (at least if they stick to their principles, they would). The problem in this case wasn’t that Clinton had more or less “power” than Bush. It’s that he was smarter at what he did.

  14. 14 14 Ken B

    The problem is in your terms, power for Clinton is power for Bush is power for Obama. If you don’t want a future Bush to do damage you need to constrain the powers of his office. That’s why we don’t want to grant the local sheriff the power to kill at will. Bad sheriffs happen.

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