Mankiw, 1 – DeLong, 0

In response to a post at Professor Mankiw’s blog, Professor DeLong makes an analogy for the federal budget deficit:

I, full professor Brad DeLong, am having lunch with lecturer Dariush Zahedi today. After lunch, I presume Dariush will say we should split the bill–$10 each. Suppose I say: “That isn’t fair. Berkeley pays you less (a lot less: what we do to our lecturers is shameful) than it pays me. I should lay out more cash for this lunch. How about this: I put down $5 cash, you put down $0, and we put the balance on your credit card. That would be fairer, wouldn’t it?”

Dariush would then be an unhappy camper. He would think–correctly–that I was mocking him.

But what if was an undisputed fact that all lecturers end up getting full professorships at Berkeley. On top of that, what if it was a fact that those young, former lecturers, now full professors always ended up making more money than the old professors like Professor Delong? Then no, Dariush wouldn’t be an unhappy camper and Professor DeLong wouldn’t be seen to be mocking him. That arrangement might make sense. You might even call it progressive.

I’m no fan of budget deficits, but actually, the analogy is just really bad. Rather than bringing light to the issue, it just elucidates the deep, irrational hate Professor Delong has towards anything remotely Bush-related and the clouded judgement that hate creates.

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