Paul Krugman is getting a bit fed up with all of this “right-wing huffiness.”
The Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist criticized conservatives in a blog post Saturday for accusing left-leaning Slate blogger Matt Yglesias of hypocrisy for, of all things, buying a condo. In fact, as Krugman sees it, the right-wing bloggers are the ones acting hypocritical in this case by “attacking success” after they told everyone to lay off the super-rich during the 2012 presidential campaign.
“These guys don’t actually believe in any rules at all,” Krugman wrote. “Whatever rule they may lay down in one case, they’ll break in an instant if they think they see an advantage.”
Conservatives have seized on Yglesias’ $1.2 million condo buy largely because they believe his past support for some form of wealth redistribution implies that he doesn’t believe anyone should own private property. But that interpretation skews Yglesias’ argument, New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes:
His argument about ownership does not imply that nobody should own anything. It merely implies that people don’t have a right to the entirety of their market income so absolute it makes redistribution immoral.
And as the Atlantic's Elspeth Reeve argues, advocating that rich people should pay higher taxes and then buying an expensive condo doesn’t constitute hypocrisy. Yglesias would “be a hypocrite if he opened a P.O. box in Florida to avoid paying some income taxes,” Reeve writes.
It’s also worth noting that the conservative blogosphere may have honed in on the wrong target in this case. While Yglesias has advocated for raising taxes on the rich as a way to boost funding for public services, he doesn’t think it should necessarily be the go-to solution. In addition, he even offered a sort-of defense of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s low tax rate, writing in September that many economists agree that capital income, which accounts for much of Romney’s wealth, should be taxed “more lightly than labor income.”