Larry Summers on Inflation and 'the New McCarthyism'

m.knox

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Aug 20, 2003
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Bari Weiss with another stellar piece.

https://www.commonsense.news/p/larry-summers-on-inflation-and-the?triedSigningIn=true

BW: In 2021, you were trying to warn everyone about the threat of inflation. The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said you were wrong. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said you were wrong. Jared Bernstein, chief economist during the Obama administration, said you were wrong “in a pretty profound way.” Now it’s August 2022, and we know they were wrong. And you were right. What did you see that they did not?

LS: The secret sauce of economics is arithmetic. After I did the arithmetic, it looked to me like the amount of water we were putting in the bathtub was far bigger than the capacity of the bathtub. But I didn’t know exactly what the capacity of the bathtub would be. I thought there might be various kinds of bottlenecks. But even if all that went well, I thought we were overstimulating the economy. So I forecasted that we’d have excessive inflation.
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On the new McCarthyism and the future of higher education:

BW:
You and I both know that the list of unsayable things and verboten subjects has grown unbelievably long since you gave a speech in 2005 about the lack of gender diversity in STEM that caused a lot of controversy. Now, even basic ideas like human biology or the idea that merit is a good thing are considered circumspect. What do you think of the war on merit?

LS: I think it’s a profound problem that it’s much more difficult on university campuses to venerate excellence, to celebrate accomplishment, to assert that there are greater and lesser truths, and to welcome iconoclasm. This is not a new phenomenon. In the 1950s, McCarthyism ran rampant. Those who had had past Communist affiliations, even if what they were doing was teaching chemistry, came into question. There were serious efforts by alumni to cancel the teaching of Keynesian economics because it was seen as subversive to the American way. All of that was terrible. It was the original McCarthyism.

The new McCarthyism around a different set of subjects is no less troubling, and it is a profound threat to American universities. When something profoundly threatens American universities, it, in turn, threatens the formative experiences of the people who will be leading our country a generation from now. It threatens the ability to develop the new ideas and conceptions that ultimately shape society, whether those are new cures for cancer or new understandings of human relations that led gay marriage to be widely accepted—something that would have been inconceivable a generation ago. It’s very dangerous for universities to become epistemically closed communities dedicated to social comfort. I worry about that every day.
 

junior1

Well-Known Member
May 29, 2001
6,773
7,469
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Bari Weiss with another stellar piece.

https://www.commonsense.news/p/larry-summers-on-inflation-and-the?triedSigningIn=true

BW: In 2021, you were trying to warn everyone about the threat of inflation. The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said you were wrong. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said you were wrong. Jared Bernstein, chief economist during the Obama administration, said you were wrong “in a pretty profound way.” Now it’s August 2022, and we know they were wrong. And you were right. What did you see that they did not?

LS: The secret sauce of economics is arithmetic. After I did the arithmetic, it looked to me like the amount of water we were putting in the bathtub was far bigger than the capacity of the bathtub. But I didn’t know exactly what the capacity of the bathtub would be. I thought there might be various kinds of bottlenecks. But even if all that went well, I thought we were overstimulating the economy. So I forecasted that we’d have excessive inflation.
----

On the new McCarthyism and the future of higher education:

BW:
You and I both know that the list of unsayable things and verboten subjects has grown unbelievably long since you gave a speech in 2005 about the lack of gender diversity in STEM that caused a lot of controversy. Now, even basic ideas like human biology or the idea that merit is a good thing are considered circumspect. What do you think of the war on merit?

LS: I think it’s a profound problem that it’s much more difficult on university campuses to venerate excellence, to celebrate accomplishment, to assert that there are greater and lesser truths, and to welcome iconoclasm. This is not a new phenomenon. In the 1950s, McCarthyism ran rampant. Those who had had past Communist affiliations, even if what they were doing was teaching chemistry, came into question. There were serious efforts by alumni to cancel the teaching of Keynesian economics because it was seen as subversive to the American way. All of that was terrible. It was the original McCarthyism.


The new McCarthyism around a different set of subjects is no less troubling, and it is a profound threat to American universities. When something profoundly threatens American universities, it, in turn, threatens the formative experiences of the people who will be leading our country a generation from now. It threatens the ability to develop the new ideas and conceptions that ultimately shape society, whether those are new cures for cancer or new understandings of human relations that led gay marriage to be widely accepted—something that would have been inconceivable a generation ago. It’s very dangerous for universities to become epistemically closed communities dedicated to social comfort. I worry about that every day.
Is that like someone calling "nazi" every time he disagrees with you?
 
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