Matthew Yglesias is an Idiot

Today, I’ve decided to highlight more economic stupidity.

Here is something from one Matthew Yglesias (whose name I always want to spell Yggdrasil). He is the economic “expert” for Slate magazine. In other words, he is paid solely to “think”* and write about economics. Some of you may also know that Matt is a vulgar Keynesian of the Krugmanite variety. You could almost call him a lesser Krugman.** Because of his vulgar Keynesian, Yglesias has never met a government program and government spending he does not support (except when it inconveniences him personally).***

With that small introduction to this professional master of economics, we can turn to what he wrote recently on Amtrak:

In the main part of the country where people actually ride intercity trains and where intercity trains form an important part of the transportation infrastructure, we have operating profits. In a decent national rail policy, those operating profits could finance infrastructure improvements in the northeast corridor where rail is important and useful. Everyone knows that the Acela is a joke version of high-speed rail by European or Asian standards, and there’s a lot that could be done incrementally to improve that with upgraded rolling stock and targeted improvements to straighten tracks or improve tunnels and grade crossings. Instead we’re stuck in a dynamic where all these trains are running in places where nobody rides them and the local voters and elected officials aren’t supportive and Amtrak ends up sigmatized for its dependence on federal subsidies. But operating passenger rail where people want to ride intercity trains turns out to be perfectly viable without huge subsidies. And it could do a much better job of serving the needs of the communities where rail is useful and valued if those operating surpluses were used to cover infrastructure costs rather than soaked away covering operating losses elsewhere.

It’s almost like the train system could benefit from being put in places where people value it and not put in places where people do not want to use it.

This train system would make excess operating surpluses from extracting fares from people who value it. These fares could then go to whomever decided to provide the trains as an incentive to provide trains where needed. The provider of trains could use these surpluses to profit himself and to reinvest in more and better trains for greater surpluses in the future.

If only we could think of a system where people with resources, incentivized by the possibility of profiting off of providing trains, would invest those resources in providing trains in places people valued them in exchange for being able to take an operating surplus from collected fares. It would solve all our train system problems and the government wouldn’t even need to subsidize the train system, saving those tax dollars for something more important, like buying homeless people heroin.

Where, oh where, could the government possibly find a system like this?

What kind of system could possibly cause people to invest resources in providing valued services to others in an efficient manner solely so they can profit from operating surpluses?

A system that utopian must be impossible to create. I guess we must all suffer by paying taxes for trains no one uses.


In case you’re oblivious, that was sarcasm.

There wasn’t much of a point to this post, but this: Matthew Yglesias is an idiot.

I would generally use some superlatives here, but I don’t think my limited writing talents could possibly do justice to his ignorance, as his stupidity is positively Krugmanite.

If his head wasn’t rammed so far up his vulgar Keynesian ass, the supremely obvious solution to this supposed quandary might be able to penetrate his inordinately thick skull and he might actually be of some use other than as a paid stooge of the internet wing of the Cathedral press corps.

On the other hand, if his head wasn’t buried so deep in his rectum that methane and anaerobic bacteria were his primary means of subsistence, Slate wouldn’t hire him for the cushy job of confirming idiot liberals’ a priori emotional beliefs with a few hundred daily words of scientific-sounding economic nonsense.

So, maybe he’s smarter than I thought.

I wish I got paid for the nonsense I write and the Cathedral probably pays better than anonymous blogging.

Maybe I should start writing academic-sounding blather that validates the unthinking prejudices of the economically illiterate and makes them feel smart.


* In this case, the word ‘think’ is used in the loosest definition of the term possible.

** Yes, I know you’re wondering if it is actually possible for there to be a something intellectually lesser than Paul Krugman since he became a paid shill for the Cathedral in the NYT. In this case lesser refers to popularity with fools and usefulness to the Cathedral rather than to any intellectual or analytical (in)abilities.

*** Hint: The definition of a bad government program in the Coocooland of vulgar Keynesianism is any that is personally inconvenient to a liberal shill. The definition of a good government program is any that increases the power of government but does not inconvenience a vulgar Keynesian or a friend of the same.


  1. If you are interested in the recent facts, stats, professional reports, and ongoing examples of government planning failure, then the Antiplanner is where its at.

    I seem to recall reading that the Tokyo-Osaka passenger train is the only one in the world who’s user fees cover its operating costs. The NYC subway does the best in America, with its user fees covering only half of its operating costs.

    That is a good blog written by a professional.

  2. I’ve been on a kick with the term “degenerate” but it’s starting to get played out. “Vulgar” is my next go-to word.

  3. Paul Elam, A Voice for Men- the biggest conjob in the MRA and disinfo agent

    A short commentary on MRA leaders

    The so called “Leaders” of the MRA area are lying to you all. They are telling you that governments make legislation that you HAVE to obey and that they can FORCE you to obey using the police FORCE. This is a lie. They know it is a lie. And they are telling you lies that they know are lies.

    The TRUTH is that legislation is NOT LAW and you do not have to obey ANY legislation. Here are links to videos that go into this in detail. This is not a new idea. Many people KNOW that legislation is not law and have been telling you so for a long time.

    The excuse offered is usually “well the guvment can hurt you if you do not obey” is just that. An excuse. The only reason that guvments do hurt men who do not obey is because men have TOLERATED these crimes and not formed new courts to put criminals in guvment on trial. Men only have themselves to blame.

  4. Yglesias isn’t an idiot, he just has no common sense. This is how some transmission guy who barely graduated from high school can understand economics better than dillholes like Krugman who could paper the wall with their degrees. Supply and Demand? No, it’s way more complicated than simply people paying what they want for stuff. You’re too stupid to understand how raising the minimum wage could possibly be more expensive for businesses. We have research! Studies! Value theory! The Nash Theorum and Veblen! You can’t understand all that, you just went to Idaho State.

    With a couple of small caveats, economics is the study of common sense. Simply understand that people respond to incentives, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and a few other truisms and you’ve got it. No degree required.

    Therein lies the rub. If any schlub can get it, there’s no use for Krugman. We’ve got to invent the fantasy that special people can make our decisions for us better than we can so that people like Matt Y can run our lives for us and be important.

    The greatest truths are simple and can therefore be grasped by the common man, for its more a question of values than intelligence. Wisdom supersedes intelligence, and wisdom is something these jackasses will never have.

  5. @Tim: Looks interesting, I’ll check it out when I have time.

    @Aurini: Both words are apt.

    @Martel: True enough. Over-educated, intelligent fools might be more apt.

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