Wednesday, January 16, 2013

OMG: Krugman vs. Jon Stewart

My two favorite opinionators are fighting. It's like being a child of divorce!

First Krugman suggested the idea - and to my surprise the first time he mentioned it was all the way back in July 2011:
Well, there do appear to be legal loopholes. Jack Balkin gives us the platinum coin option:
Sovereign governments such as the United States can print new money. However, there’s a statutory limit to the amount of paper currency that can be in circulation at any one time.
Ironically, there’s no similar limit on the amount of coinage. A little-known statute gives the secretary of the Treasury the authority to issue platinum coins in any denomination. So some commentators have suggested that the Treasury create two $1 trillion coins, deposit them in its account in the Federal Reserve and write checks on the proceeds.
... These things sound ridiculous — but so is the behavior of Congressional Republicans. So why not fight back using legal tricks?

Wow. But he also brought it up more recently, and the meme spread. So last Thursday, Jon Stewart addressed the idea:

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Trillion-Dollar Coin
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

...Above all, however, what went wrong here is a lack of professionalism on the part of Stewart and his staff. Yes, it’s a comedy show — but the jokes are supposed to be (and usually are) knowing jokes, which are funny and powerful precisely because the Daily Show people have done their homework and understand the real issues better than the alleged leaders spouting nonsense. In this case, however, it’s obvious that nobody at TDS spent even a few minutes researching the topic. It was just yuk-yuk-yuk they’re talking about a trillion-dollar con hahaha.
Hey, if we want this kind of intellectual laziness, we can just tune in to Fox. 
Update: Some people are asking why I don’t go on TDS to explain. Um, first I have to be invited — which hasn’t happened since, I think, 2005.
But it wasn't only Krugman. New York Magazine weighed in:
He’s totally missing the point here. The platinum coin is obviously a ridiculous-sounding idea that is natural fodder for The Daily Show. There are lots of ways to do it. You could try to educate the audience about why people are advocating this ridiculous-sounding idea. Or you could do bits about how the coin is a terrible idea.
But the issue is the premise. Pretending that the plan is to mint a coin and pay off the national debt is just flat out false. The premise is the true part of the story, before the punch line. And when the premise is wrong, you’re just cheating.
Now the Daily Show segment was shown last Thursday, and over the weekend the Treasury Department nixed the idea anyway. So I thought Jon Stewart would drop it - but the first segment of the Monday Daily Show was this:

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Paul Krugman & the Trillion Dollar Coin
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

So on Tuesday afternoon, Krugman struck back again:
Still lazy. Also, can dish it out, but can’t take it. Sad.
Although I love TDS and Jon Stewart, I have to side with Krugman on this.

The ironic thing is that Krugman already said he thinks it's a silly idea. But Krugman's point is that in spite of the ridiculousness it's a valid action to take because Congressional Republicans are behaving in a ridiculous manner. And what disappoints Krugman (and me) is that we have a high opinion of the Daily Show because it so often DOES go beyond the shallow yucks to find the important point through intelligent analysis. And the bit could have actually been much funnier - not to mention more educational - if TDS had gone that step further to examine why the most important economist of this generation is advocating the idea. Krugman is not just screwing around and he's certainly not being stupid. TDS missed an opportunity here.

The Daily Show needs to invite Krugman on. According to Krugman he hasn't been on the show since 2005. Do we really need some actor pushing some crappy movie on TDS when we could have KRUGMAN?