Monday, December 03, 2012

Two Krugmans Enter, One Krugman Leaves

Paul Krugman likes to contradict himself but never have I seen it happen within a single column. Writing on health care costs, he states:
But even as Republicans demand “entitlement reform”, they are dead set against anything like that. Bargaining over drug prices? Horrors!
I agree, being able to bargain over drug prices is a good thing. Makes sense: being able to bargain and not blindly accept forced prices is a hallmark of free-markets. But later he writes:
If they were serious about deficits, they’d be willing to consider policies that might actually work; instead, they cling to free-market fantasies that have failed repeatedly in practice.
Ah, but you might say that the goal is to allow the government more bargaining power and since the government increasingly has monopsony power (like a monopoly but there're few buyers rather than few sellers), it's not a free-market. In other words, Krugman tells us that monopsonies are actually desirable, which is endorsing a law which states only Microsoft gets to hire engineers. Even non-economists should understand why that's a bad idea.

That's not the only issue with today's column--the claim that private firms apparently have no incentive to reduce costs is equally strange and the point that an underfunded voucher system won't work is equally obvious (since it's underfunded!)--but those are for another post.