Maddow Guest Krugman Cites Cause for End of Great Depression -- and Doesn't (Egad!) Credit FDR

Don't you love it when a liberal lapses into candor?

Here's a recent example of this delightful phenomenon, courtesy of Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC this past Wednesday, with New York Times columnist and Princeton economics professor Paul Krugman one of Maddow's guests.

Maddow and Krugman talked about a speech given by Sarah Palin to investors in Hong Kong, and of Krugman's new book, "The Return of Depression Economics," when Maddow asked him this (click here for audio)--

MADDOW: What did the Depression teach economists about how to get out of one or avoid one?

KRUGMAN: Well, it told us a lot about how to avoid one, which is that you really have to, you have to put some constraints. I mean, to put it roughly, banking is very useful but extremely dangerous and banks have to have all kinds of, you know, fencing put around as a protection. They have to have some guarantees so that we don't have bank runs, so people know their money is safe, but then they also have to have regulation so that bankers don't take huge risks with other people's money, on a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose basis. We forgot all of that. A lot, the short line about how we got into this crisis, is we forgot what our grandfathers learned at great expense.

Getting out of, now that we're in the mess, that's much harder. I mean, the last time we got out of it with a world war, which is not something we hope to repeat.

... As opposed to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal getting us out of the Great Depression, which every American has heard from infancy, on a daily basis, for most of the last century. 

To paraphrase Krugman, central government planning did end the Depression -- albeit in Berlin and Tokyo, not Washington.

Hearing Krugman's remark, I envision him taking the place of mail carrier Cliff Clavin on the sitcom "Cheers", who upon making a similarly awkward observation would ask his fellow barflies, "Did I say that out loud?" That you did, Professor Krugman, and your students for the moment are most appreciative. Feel free to break from dogma in the future.

Also worth noting is Maddow's characteristic response to Krugman --

MADDOW: But a world war that wasn't as a war useful. It was useful because it was a huge economic outlay by government.

KRUGMAN: That's right. It was an enormous fiscal stimulus.

Got that? World War II was "useful," as Maddow puts it, "because it was a huge economic outlay by government" -- instead of the conflict's arguably more important role in ending the Holocaust and Japanese barbarity in Asia.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts