The Ideas We Need


Paul Krugman observes:

Many people have noticed that Obama’s address seemed to include a shout-out to John Maynard Keynes. But I think there’s a revealing difference. […] Keynes, in effect, declared the crisis a failure of ideas; Obama makes it a failure of will.

The ellipsised part of Krugman’s post is blockquotes from Keynes and Obama that illustrate the contrast. But I think it’s the contrast that changes this from being an echo to being a shout-out. Obama is saying, in effect, that there is no crisis of ideas—that we have Keynesian ideas to guide our response and all that’s needed is to apply them. And to apply them well, rather than allow the concept of a stimulus to get turned into a porkeriffic disaster. Certainly it’s an appealing idea, though I’m not 100 percent certain it’s correct.