Several weeks ago, a most intriguing exchange occurred on Bloomberg News wherein presidential candidate Ron Paul, the foremost voice for Austrian School economic policies, faced off against Paul Krugman, New York Timeseconomic columnist and recent winner of the Nobel Prize for economics. While the entire debate is noteworthy, one particular portion of the exchange stands out:
Paul Krugman: “I am not a defender of the economic policies of the emperor Diocletian. Let’s just make that clear.”
Ron Paul: “Well, you are. In a way, you are. That’s exactly what you’re defending.”
Fortunately, this is an easy assertion to test given Krugman’s copious writings and the fairly extensive historical information available regarding the Roman emperor Diocletian. A look at Krugman’s New York Times blog and op-ed pieces allows for a fairly easy summation of his positions: on January 8, 2009, he disparaged President Obama’s proposed “stimulus package” of $775 billion as “not enough”; on April 19, 2009, he called for a “credible” commitment to higher inflation; and on October 7, 2010, he cited such programs as the Hoover Dam, the Erie Canal, and the Interstate Highway System as examples of the type of projects required to revitalize the moribund economy. More recently — including during his April 30, 2012, debate with Dr. Paul — Krugman has strenuously expressed the view that the continuing slump owes largely to insufficiently interventionist monetary and fiscal measures undertaken by the government and the Federal Reserve. But while the ongoing stagnation of the US economy — now in its fifth year — has been wrenching, the Roman Empire facing Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd century CE was dwindling rapidly; a shadow of its former might.
CONTINUED at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Written by Peter C. Earle.