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Friday, May 01, 2015

Paul Krugman: Ideology and Integrity

 "Never being able to say that you were wrong is a serious character flaw":

Ideology and Integrity, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: The 2016 campaign should be almost entirely about issues. The parties are far apart on everything from the environment to fiscal policy to health care, and history tells us that what politicians say during a campaign is a good guide to how they will govern.
Nonetheless, many in the news media will try to make the campaign about personalities and character instead. ... But the character trait that will matter most isn’t one the press likes to focus on. ...
You see, you shouldn’t care whether a candidate is someone you’d like to have a beer with. Nor should you care about politicians’ sex lives, or even their spending habits unless they involve clear corruption. No, what you should really look for, in a world that keeps throwing nasty surprises at us, is intellectual integrity: the willingness to face facts even if they’re at odds with one’s preconceptions, the willingness to admit mistakes and change course. ...
As you might guess, I’m thinking in particular about the sphere of economics... Did I predict runaway inflation that never arrived? Well, the government is cooking the books, and besides, I never said what I said. ...
So what’s the state of intellectual integrity at this point in the election cycle? Pretty bad, at least on the Republican side of the field.
Jeb Bush, for example, has declared that “I’m my own man” on foreign policy, but the list of advisers circulated by his aides included the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, who predicted that Iraqis would welcome us as liberators, and shows no signs of having learned from the blood bath that actually took place.
Meanwhile, as far as I can tell no important Republican figure has admitted that none of the terrible consequences that were supposed to follow health reform ... has actually happened. ...
We’re talking about never admitting error, and never revising one’s views. Never being able to say that you were wrong is a serious character flaw.... But moral cowardice should be outright disqualifying in anyone seeking high office. ... We really, really don’t want the job of responding to that crisis dictated by someone who still can’t bring himself to admit that invading Iraq was a disaster but health reform wasn’t.
I still think this election should turn almost entirely on the issues. But if we must talk about character, let’s talk about what matters, namely intellectual integrity.

    Posted by on Friday, May 1, 2015 at 07:52 AM in Economics, Politics, Press | Permalink  Comments (17)


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