August 29, 2005
Professor Krugman should have his tenure revokedBy Noel Sheppard
Fresh from his ground—breaking performance on ABC's This Week last Sunday, New York Times economic fiction—writer, Paul Krugman, has penned an op—ed filled with more insipid economic distortions than most people can take with their morning coffee.
In this most recent novella, Professor Krugman is once again trying to instruct his class —— which consists exclusively of folks addled enough to believe his faux statistics —— as to why the economy isn't doing as well as the Bush administration is saying, and, sadly, why people should feel bad about their improving financial condition regardless of the outstanding economic data that continues to be released day after day.
With that in mind, why don't we audit Professor Krugman's class this morning, and see whether we can help correct some of the fallacies in his lecture?
Excuse me, Professor: Why does that matter? Not everybody that is of working age is actually looking for a job, correct? Some folks retire early, are full—time housewives or househusbands, or students. As such, the more appropriate measure of employment is how many jobs are being created compared to the growth in the labor force, correct? In fact, don't we measure unemployment by dividing the number of folks that are not working but are interested in doing so by the size of the civilian labor force and not the size of the working—age population?
Therefore, if we look more accurately at this statistic, we see that as the economy has added four million jobs in the past 24 months, the labor force has only grown by three million. Isn't this why the unemployment rate has dropped from 6.2% to 5.0%?
Well, that's not really a valid comparison, is it Professor? After all, due to a variety of demographic changes occurring in our population, the labor force isn't growing as quickly this decade as it did in the previous one. In fact, the velocity of the growth in the size of our labor force actually peaked in the 70's, and has been declining ever since.
For example, from Clinton's first inauguration to July of the first year of his second term, the labor force in our nation grew by 6.2%. Since Bush's first inauguration through this July, the labor force has only grown by 4.4%. Obviously, it's easier to add to payrolls when the labor force is growing more quickly, isn't it Professor?
As such, a more appropriate way to compare the last two years' job growth to any under Clinton would be to determine a ratio between the increase in jobs versus the increase in the size of the labor force. For instance, from July 1995 through July 1997, there was a 5.658 million increase in the number of non—farm workers while the labor force increased by 4.234 million. This means that workers grew at 133% of the rate of the labor force.
Well, guess what, Professor: In the last two years, the number of workers has grown at exactly 133% the rate of growth in the labor force. This means that the last two years' job growth is precisely what our nation experienced under the same two corresponding years when Clinton was president. How does that impact your premise that the best two years job performance under Bush is worse than the weakest two years under Clinton?
Now Professor, are you intentionally trying to mislead the class? After all, the average workweek has been declining in our nation for 40 years. Surely as a highly regarded economist you must be aware of this.
Well, in case you have forgotten, in 1964, the average non—supervisory worker in America logged 38.7 hours per week. By the end of 1970, that had dropped to 36.8. By 1980, this was down to 35.3. By 1990, 34.2, which is also what it was when Clinton took office. However, in December 2000 when he left office, it was 34.0.
That means that this statistic declined during Clinton's tenure, doesn't it Professor? Moreover, this number now stands at 33.7, which means that this statistic has just continued to decline under Bush as it has for four decades, correct?
Given this, why don't you tell the class why the average workweek has been declining for so long, Professor? Isn't it because more and more people —— housewives, househusbands, senior citizens, students, etc. —— want part—time jobs instead of full—time ones, and more and more companies want to hire part—time workers instead of full—timers so that they can avoid paying them benefits? And, isn't it true that both of these conditions have existed for decades, and are by no means a recent occurrence?
But you knew that, didn't you Professor? So, why didn't you tell the class the truth?
Unfortunately, students, the answer is a hard lesson to learn: Many economists in our nation have allowed their political ideologies to interfere with their work, and instead of helping people understand all of these intricate factoids and datum, they use their knowledge to confuse the electorate for the benefit of the political party they support.
Sadly, in this instance, such assistance is in the form of trying to convince the population that the economy is so bad that folks will vote differently in future elections.
Seems like a waste of a good education, doesn't it boys and girls?
[Editor: The same Krugman column contained a "correction" of earlier Krugman lies, that itself contained further untruths, as detailed here.]
Noel Sheppard is an economist, business owner, and member of the Media Research Center's NewsBusters squad. He welcomes your feedback at email@example.com.