2012-12-04

Stepping Into Someone Else's World

One more quickie on this debate going down at The Money Illusion...

Robert Murphy adds the following comment:
For curious onlookers, I *think* I figured out what is going on: What Austrian guys have in mind, in terms of “of course it matters who gets the money first!!”, is classified in Scott’s mental model as “fiscal policy.” See his comment above, where he said something like if the Fed just printed money and bought cars with it, that would help the auto industry, but it would be fiscal policy, not monetary policy.
In contrast, I think most Austrians think of “monetary policy” as something that the monetary authority does, like print money and buy stuff with it.
This comment struck me because it reminded me of something that I have previously committed to with respect to engaging in good-faith discussion. As I put it then:
Rather than assuming that whatever they're going on about is a window into their own personal inventory (or "wallet," as Phaedrus would have it), I suggest that we all consider what it is driving a person to their faults.
When reading The Money Illusion - or anyone's blog, for that matter - if you want to understand the point somebody's making, you have to "step into their world." Robert Murphy's comment above reflects a good handle on this concept. He's not just wading into a debate, he's genuinely trying to figure out what the impasse is. His take seems to be "Why doesn't Scott Sumner agree with me?" rather than, "On which point is Scott Sumner totally wrong?"

Wisely, Robert Murphy manages to crack the case. His comment reminds me that Scott Sumner's primary motivation in maintaining The Money Illusion blog is to promote his own, personal way of viewing things.

In many instances, I have read Sumner's blog and recoiled, aghast, as he seemingly willfully ignored the points others were making and instead reiterated his own thesis again and again. Sumner takes time to reply to nearly everyone who comments, but often his replies don't amount to much more than repetition of his point. This can be very frustrating to one who wishes to engage Sumner on a particular point (as can be seen by Greg Ransom's recent comments on Sumner's blog).

But people like Greg Ransom can avoid further frustration if they accept the fact that, on Scott Sumner's blog, Sumner's only motivation is to re-state all issues in the language of Market Monetarism and then re-cast the issue in terms favorable to NGDP level targeting.

In short, you can't expect Sumner to have a level-headed discussion of Austrian School economic concepts on The Money Illusion, because the purpose of the blog is to discuss Market Monetarism.

It would be like trying to discuss something intelligently with Paul Krugman.