Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist and former economist, tested our patience last week with “Trump’s Big Libertarian Experiment.” How many non sequiturs will squeak past the Gray Lady’s editorial department?
Loads — and all about how the federal government shutdown gives limited government folks what they want: less government.
Subsidy checks to farmers aren’t going out, as “libertarian organizations like Cato” have long advocated. Sure. But it’s no policy change.
As soon as there’s a budget deal, those checks will be made up.
Further, “businesspeople are furious that the Small Business Administration isn’t making loans.”
Well, it’s high time businesses were weaned off the SBA teat — and a few whiners do not a case for subsidy make.
And then there’s the Food and Drug Administration, which can no longer inspect foods. Since “there’s a long conservative tradition, going back to Milton Friedman, that condemns the F.D.A.’s existence as an unwarranted interference in the free market” libertarians must be pleased, eh?
There is also a long tradition among economists that says businesses don’t get rich poisoning their customers, and that there are many mechanisms in place — and, barring the FDA, more would be in place — to ensure customers that they won’t be infected by eating . . . Romaine lettuce.
Which then Krugman admits . . . as if he had belatedly recalled Friedman’s lesson in Capitalism and Freedom. He concedes that the shutdown is not the way Friedman would go about limiting government. Besides, “libertarian ideology isn’t a real force within the G.O.P.”
So what’s the point?
Krugman ends with talk of a smell test: does lack of food inspections smell like freedom?
Something stinks here. But it isn’t spoiled food. Or freedom.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.