18 October 2008

More On Krugman, NYT, & Nobel

From the Weekly Standard:

Paul Krugman, a professor at Princeton University and an Op-Ed page columnist for The New York Times, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences on Monday.
-- The New York Times, Oct. 13

Krugman Awarded Economics Nobel Prize
In Unprecedented Times Sweep of Honors

By R. Selig Postlethwaite

Stockholm —The Nobel prizes have yielded some strange bedfellows in the century since Alfred Nobel’s invention of dynamite, but scholars here in the Swedish capital agree that there has never been anything like this year’s list of honorees: All of them are New York Times Op-Ed page columnists.

This virtual grand slam home run of the world’s most prestigious award was made possible by the announcement last night that Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman had won the Economics prize for, in the words of the Nobel Committee, “having shown the effects of economies of scale on trade patterns and the unrelenting lies and thuggery of the miscreants and goons in the criminal conspiracy that is the Bush White House.”

Krugman now joins New York Times colleagues Thomas Friedman (Peace), Frank Rich (Physics), Gail Collins (Chemistry), Maureen Dowd (Literature) and Bob Herbert (Medicine) as newly-minted Nobel laureates for 2008. According to the Nobel Foundation web site, this is the first time in the award’s history that journalists have won all six prizes; but that is not surprising, according to Foundation president Axel Hjergstrand, since “the mission of journalists is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”

Last week Maureen Dowd was awarded the Literature prize for her “unrelentingly sophomoric puns, schoolyard nicknames, and laser-like instinct for the superficial” while Gail Collins snared the Chemistry honors for “the explosive effect achieved by her combination of banality and short-term memory.”

Late last month the Nobel Committee bestowed its Physics prize on Frank Rich for “his pioneering work in demonstrating the parallels between American foreign policy and selected episodes of T.J. Hooker, as well as the relationship between U.S. transportation policy and the old Jerry Van Dyke sitcom, My Mother the Car.” The Medicine award went to Bob Herbert for what the committee called the “soothing sensation of his awkward prose, as well as the demonstrated therapeutic effect of the laughter his columns frequently inspire.”

Among colleagues and Nobel observers, there is widespread agreement that the Peace Prize for two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman is long overdue, especially since, in the Norwegian Nobel committee’s citation, Friedman’s “lifetime of service to conventional wisdom, gross simplification, and mass hysteria has benefited countless executive retreats, Aspen Institute panels, and roundtable discussions on Charlie Rose.”

Here's the rub: I don't care for Paul Krugman or his view of the world as found in his NYT columns. I'd like to be able to separate his work on economics from his much publicized opinions, but I don't think it's impossible.

Whatever one thinks of the Nobel Prize (apart from the tax free $1.4million, I think it's worthless), this type of thing imbues those opinions with an added gravitas which they do not merit. Because they are crap (his columns, I mean).

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.