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“Zombie arguments” from Paul Krugman and Aaron Carroll

June 20, 2014

Professor and Columnist Paul Krugman posted in NYTimes on June 17, “The Wonking Dead“:

Aaron Carroll helpfully reminds us that all of the arguments surfacing here are zombies – arguments that should have died in the face of clear evidence that they’re wrong, but keep on shambling along nonetheless. (I actually learned the term “zombie idea” from the health care discussion, specifically the unending attempts to trash the Canadian system.)

the reason for the prevalence of zombies in this field. Some of it is chauvinism. But the main reason for the zombies is unwillingness to accept facts that conflict with ideology.

Krugman argues that some people just can’t accept the idea paying for health care doesn’t always mean getting more. This might also apply to “care” professions in general (like education and parenting). But capitalists want to believe in profit-systems and they see the contrary evidence but think “it must not be true,” Krugman concludes:

Bring on the zombies!

Two days later, Krugman followed up, linking to the post from Incidental Economist Aaron Carrol (who also called these arguments “zombie” and titled the post “Zombie arguments defending the US healthcare system”). Krugman’s op-ed, June 19: “Veterans and Zombies“:

…conservatives don’t like the observation that American health care performs worse than other countries’ systems because it relies too much on the private sector and the profit motive. So whenever someone points out the obvious, there is a chorus of denial, of attempts to claim that America does, too, offer better care. It turns out, however, that such claims invariably end up relying on zombie arguments — that is, arguments that have been proved wrong, should be dead, but keep shambling along because they serve a political purpose.

We’re moving in the right direction, and we shouldn’t let the zombies get in our way.

zombie paul krugman nytimes zombie aaron carroll

From → economics, money

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