August 12, 2003

# 113: Italian MRE's?

P. Krugman

The headline in the Wall Street Journal today is "As U.S. Shows Signs of Strength, Global Economies Look Up, Too." With news like that it is no wonder Paul Krugman in Thanks For the M.R.E.'s (08/12/03) is scrounging the earth for something to complain about. He finds it this time in a complaint department as old as the Trojan War�soldiers griping about food. Naturally, Krugman being Krugman, he tries to magnify this microscopic molehill into a gigantic anti-Bush mountain with the old "tip-of-the-iceberg" trick. The sub-standard food rations, you see, are just a small example of the administration's penny-pinching ways that extend all through government as they cut corners in a desperate attempt to pay for the irresponsible Bush tax cut for the wealthy. This guy is sooo... predictable.

There are a couple of howlers. In one he claims that our soldiers are swapping food packs or M.R.E.'s (meals ready to eat) with Italian troops. Being an economist you would think he would do some research and find out the U.S./Italian food ration "exchange rate." We suspect there are not enough Italian soldiers in Iraq to get a good sample. Anyway, we can treasure the visual image of our soldiers standing on Baghdad street corners trading their food packs for a bite of cannelloni.

The other is based on a vague, third-hand report (typical Krugman) of a "witch hunt" at the Transportation Security Administration to threaten those who would reveal cost-cutting measures with the Patriot Act. On the one hand, if true, we would join Krugman in deploring use of the Patriot Act to silence anyone. On the other, we can't help but note what a ludicrous world it would be (Krugman's world) in which bureaucratic cost cutting is a whistle-blowing offense. We don't know anyone but PK who could seriously consider anything that absurd. As a scary thought, imagine such a philosophy applied to something major�like Medicare reform. Can you see the $billions, floating away?

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at August 12, 2003 7:58 AM
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