By now, there’s little to add to the criticism of Donald Kennedy’s absurd statement regarding Princeton economist Paul Krugman that:
And yet maybe Krugman is not really an economist — at least not according to the definition offered more than a century ago by Francis Amasa Walker, the first president of the American Economic Association, who wrote that laissez-faire “was not made the test of economic orthodoxy, merely. It was used to decide whether a man were an economist at all.”
Most modern economists continue to celebrate Walker’s orthodoxy, and behind it, the classical doctrines of Adam Smith, whose fabled “invisible hand” regularly works wonders of production, distribution, innovation and efficiency, provided it is kept free of the meddlesome “nanny state.” Against the constant threat of encroachment from that benighted quarter the free-market faithful are ever vigilant.
Except one thing does occur to me: by that criterion, neither John Maynard Keynes nor John Kenneth Galbraith were ‘real’ economists, even though no honest economic history of the twentieth century could possibly avoid discussing their influence on theory and policy. I’ll make the point again: when we dumb down our discourse, arguments like Kennedy’s are actually taken seriously. And Kennedy is supposedly a historian…
Linked from one of your links, probably worth noting upfront: Holy crap, Kennedy’s quotation of Francis Amasa Walker is an honest to goodness quote-mine!
Walker was actually saying the dead opposite of what Kennedy depicts him as saying:
And Kennedy seems to be basically engaging in the exact behavior Walker is denouncing here– when Kennedy uses Walker to attack Krugman. Wow.
David Kennedy, a historian, not Donald Kennedy, a biologist; both are at Stanford. I was wondering why Donald Kennedy would be making this sort of comment.
Thanks, erp, for the clarification; I was likewise confused. Donald has always seemed to be a mostly reasonable person, whereas David’s nonsense is not.