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War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is Strength. Mandates are Choice.

In a little-noticed surprise, it turns out that George Bush is in favor of abortion. Okay, maybe he isn't in favor of abortion, but he's pro-choice, anyway. At least according to Paul Krugman's logic, he is.

In his neverending quest to bash the Bush administration, Krugman tries to explain that the French aren't really faring worse than Americans, economically. His argument? That even though French workers work many fewer hours than Americans, and even though many more French workers are unemployed, this isn't a problem because they're just substituting leisure for work/income.

The point is that to the extent that the French have less income than we do, it's mainly a matter of choice.
Hmm. Sounds fair. The only problem? It's complete bullshit.

When Krugman uses the word "choice" here, he doesn't mean that French workers are taking lower-pay, lower-stress jobs in return for more free time. He means that the French government has chosen tax and regulatory policies which make it impossible, sometimes illegal, for French workers to do otherwise. By that same "logic," if Congress outlaws abortion, then "to the extent that Americans don't have abortions, it's mainly a matter of choice." Isn't rhetorical sleight of hand great? A complete lack of choice is reframed as "choice." It would be comical if it weren't ludicrous.

That's not even touching upon the fact that Krugman regularly goes through contortion after contortion to try to explain why America's currently-low unemployment rate is really much higher than it appears, but he handwaves away the French unemployment rate with a mere:

There are several reasons why the French put in fewer hours of work per capita than we do. One is that some of the French would like to work, but can't: France's unemployment rate, which tends to run about four percentage points higher than the U.S. rate, is a real problem.
You might say that. The French unemployment rate is closer to double our rate than it is to our rate. And that's without any fancy "adjustments" to the unemployment rate to take into account discouraged workers and the like. If the American unemployment rate was similar to that of the French, Krugman would be screeching and shrieking about it every waking moment -- not even taking time to pontificate about the need for a military draft or to use fake quotes to invent phony trends about Japanese jobs moving from America to Canada. But since his main goal is proving that the U.S. needs to be more socialist, like France, he glosses over that point.

To recap: the French can't generate many jobs, and the ones they generate aren't very good. And French workers' "compensation" (*) for this is that they get to be unemployed. But because George Bush isn't president of France, this isn't a reason to criticize France.

(*) Krugman also describes other forms of "compensation":

But there are compensations for this lower level of consumption. Because French schools are good across the country, the French family doesn't have to worry as much about getting its children into a good school district.
Does Krugman really believe that "French schools are good across the country"? Or is this just yet another throwaway line bashing the U.S.?


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 2, 2005 7:47 AM.

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