I guess it’s only fitting around the one time I happen to be discussing economics and political philosophy here that someone makes perhaps the most ridiculous argument of the year so far.
If you don’t follow economics
ignore this you aren’t likely aware Art Laffer, he of “Laffer curve” fame, made an argument in the Wall Street Journal that Estonia, perhaps the country most suddenly internationally famous for its austerity policies during this economic crisis (including in the Wall Street Journal!), proves that financial stimulus doesn’t work.
It’s one thing to argue against a policy you find ineffective, or to make an ineffective argument which stumbles in logic, but it’s quite another to just say the facts are the opposite of what they are and use this reversal of the reality to argue for policies you favor.
This is the equivalent of the anti-vaxxers saying vaccines are alternative medicine and it has rightly been pilloried by economists everywhere from the left to the right. However in a hilarious and clear explanation of the situation for non-economists journalist Matthew O’Brien captures the absurdity of this argument in a single sentence:
When the facts change, Laffer changes the facts back, so he won’t have to change his mind.
Even regularly dealing with the arguments of conspiracy theorists, homeopaths and religious fanatics had not prepared me for so obvious a reversal of the facts as that which Laffer accomplished. That such an “2 + 2 = 5” argument actually got published in a respected paper on a topic that’s supposed to be scientific, and made by a professional in the field, has to make this the favorite for the unfortunately fictional award of Orwellian argument of the year.