Magical Thinking on the Left & Right

My friend Barry calls out the right for magical thinking about … everything, a position with which I agree. Their embrace of supply-side silliness in its most extreme forms, evolutionary nonsense, goofball religiosity, healthcare loopiness, and complete derangedment about climate are all signs of a movement that values rhetoric over reason.

Having said that, a pox on both political houses. Not to be fair and balanced, because I’m not, but the left is guilty of its own similar abuses. Its naive belief in simple Keynesianism, its fondness for the magic powers of the state, its warm belief in the essential goodness of humanity, its inability to do sums when it comes to favored energy policies … the list is endless.

Let’s just do away with magical thinking entirely. Okay?



  1. Pat Shuff says:

    Proof there is a God will be evidenced when the last cleric is swinging from a lampost.

  2. Yet Barry points to no magical thinking on the left which is why I stopped reading his blog some time ago/

    • Gear Head says:

      BR is one strange, oblivious, clueless cat. His arrogance and hubris is unique. Even for Wall Street! His market calls can be helpful from time to time.

    • I disagree with Paul's "Fair & Balanced assessment .

      While the Left is guilty of "Magical Thinking" — look at the horrific Mortgage Mod/Foreclosure Abatement programs — the Right has embraced it as Gospel (pun intended).

      This is not a HE SAID/SHE SAID debate — more than just Christian Conservatives, the Right Wing has chosen to ignore Relaity because its politically expedient to do so.

      • Whose magical thinking is it that refuses to address the structural problems with Medicare and Social Security? We’re running well over a $1trillion deficit this year and the left is blocking any kind of solution.

  3. Bastiat says:

    The political continuum in the US is stuck on statism. The left/right divide is largely fantasy, a distraction. The statist objective was to create dependency and perpetual power. Their success is unquestionable.

  4. And for those of you who believe I don't point to magical thinking on the LEFT, I suggest you read these:

    The 14 Most Strident Critics of Obama


    Why politics and investing don’t mix

    • If those are your best examples of lefty critiques, your blog is more partisan than I even previously believed.

  5. Paul Kedrosky says:

    I'm not suggesting it's “he/she” said, nor even setting up a realequivalency. I am, however, pointing out that both sides of thissterile discussion are mad.

    • "When you say "both sides", you imply an POWER equivalency which is false It's like saying "Both the US and Haiti need to learn to manage their economies better for world financial stability". It may be true in a strictly abstract way, but there's orders of magnitude difference between the current, existing, practical, real-world impact.

      The reflexive both-sides-do-it framework favors the mad, because they can go utterly bonkers, and pundits are then compelled to equivalence the humanly imperfect with the completely insane.

  6. wallyfurthermore says:

    I'm not sure what 'left' some of these comments refer to. Obama is somewhere right of center.

  7. Pat Shuff says:

    BR– awaiting Reckless Endangerment review nicely placing Franniestein front and center, dispelling one's own booklength squid ink.

    • Cement Head says:

      Federal policy had nothing to do with it! Not enough regulation. Politicians, administrators and bureaucrats are altruistic, secular saints concerned only for their fellow man. Greedy bankers are to blame, not phony rates or regulators!

  8. I agree that both sides engage in magical thinking — I can't stand either party — but if you look at the sorry state of things today, the bulk is the result of bad policy from the right, not from the left. The last three decades have been the high water mark of American conservatism, and look at where that got us …

    However, whether or not Paul agrees with my above characterization or not, I do agree with him that what we really need is the elimination of magical thinking period. Why oh why is that so hard?

  9. Just to be ornery, and, of course Quixotic, since I'm writing this 23 minutes after it's posting:
    " but the left is guilty of its own similar abuses. Its naive belief in simple Keynesianism, its fondness for the magic powers of the state, its warm belief in the essential goodness of humanity, its inability to do sums when it comes to favored energy policies"
    – What "left"?
    – What belief in simple Keynesianism?
    – What fondness for the magic powers of the state?
    – What inability to add on favored energy policies?

    This is stone-throwing with intentional bad aim, done in unatractive raiment ("not to be fair and balanced").

    What BS… One expects much more from the talented PK. And, from @ritholtz, btw, who seems to weigh in on the side of Y, the "left" sucks too, a bit on the heavy side.

    What ever am I talking about? For starters, all you well-the-left-sucks-too guys: Show me one – ONE – thoughtful comment taking down any of Krugman's posts, articles, or books from, say, 1995. One will be fine.

    I admit to giving in to disgust and ennui on the "left" thing. Why do you suppose Brad DeLong's Blog is variously entitled some perturbation of "Grasping Reality"?

    Are DeLong, Krug., Thoma, … god? No, they are realists; and, a -lot- smarter than I, and, I think, than most of you, except for maybe BR.