That was a joke, dammit!

Paul Krugman responds to a mildly scary experience — someone forwarded to him an email from someone signing himself “drstrangelove” offering cash for dirt about Krugman — with a good-naturedly humorous post in which he lays out all the details himself, and concludes by asking for the promised check. One of the questions had to do with Krugman’s consulting arrangments; Krugman describes them, and adds, “I’ve done missions for the UN, consulting for the World Bank and IMF, etc., but those things aren’t lucrative. I’m also a “Centenary Professor” at the London School of Economics – it doesn’t pay me anything, but might be a helpful connection when I’m forced to flee the country.”

The post overall isn’t funny enough to keep Garrison Keillor up nights, but it’s an astonishingly temperate response to something that would have left me pretty angry. In context, the “flee the country” remark is obviously tongue-in-cheek. (Krugman’s suggestion that the Bush Administration has probably already checked him out to see if he has any personal vulnerabilities appears to be serious, but it’s also quite plausible: Krugman is certainly a considerable thorn in their side, and you can ask John McCain whether Karl Rove is willing to play hardball at times.)

Daniel Drezner — who acknowledges that the snooping expedition was something worth getting angry about — describes this as “border[ing] on megalomaniacal paranoia.” Would it be rude to suggest that Mr. Drezner borders on terminal humorlessness?

[Not, however — unlike some of Krugman’s critics — from terminal Bush-worship and wilful blindness about basic economics. Drezner isn’t happy with the new round of tax cuts at all, at all.]

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: