Ep. 9 Is Conservative Rhetoric Making White Men Kill Themselves? Krugman Thinks So

14 November 2015     |     Tom Woods     |     30

On the one hand, Krugman says we really don’t know why mortality rates for middle-aged white men have been on the rise. On the other, it’s probably because of his political opponents.

We have a much more plausible explanation for this rise, and it isn’t because conservatives have been warning about bad economic times. Listen in!

Krugman Column

Despair, American Style,” November 9, 2015

Related Krugman Item

Cheese-Eating Job Creators

Study Mentioned

Rising Morbidity and Mortality in Midlife Among White non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st Century,” by Anne Case and Angus Deaton

Contra Column

Military Suicide Rate and the Importance of Demographic Controls,” by Matt Bruenig

Charts Mentioned


job growth1

Opioid Prescriptions Dispensed


Related Episode

Ep. 8 Does the Economy Perform Better Under Democrats?

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  • Tyler Wombat

    Krugman has a low I.Q. There is no way around this simple fact. He is aided in his enterprise of being a public knucklehead by his legions of admirers, who seem to possess no critical faculties whatsoever.

    • Brad Thomas

      Thanks, Captain Obvious!

      • Tyler Wombat

        Thanks for thanking me. And Thank You for your service.

    • RobertRoddis

      I don’t think Krugman is stupid. But like all Keynesians, socialists and Neocons, he suspects that we are right. In fact, he’s so scared by the thought that we are right that he refuses to even run our basic analysis through his head. Otherwise, he and our other opponents would fairly examine our analysis and calmly refute it. His response to us borders on hysteria. This response to us appears to me to be almost universal and it’s about time we realized it.

      • Tyler Wombat

        I would say your analysis is correct except that I don’t want to use the word “analysis” again. (Just kidding.) But of course, he can’t be seriously stupid. He is a very clever propagandist. But there is that undercurrent of hysteria you have identified, caused by fear. I think you have hit the nail on the head.

      • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

        I don’t think Krugman cares about right or wrong; truth or fiction. He just wants to say what the Left wants him to say to get cash.

    • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

      Krugman might be a partisan hack, but he does not have a low IQ. It’s at least 130, by anyone’s measure. He’s just deliberately lying to stay in the top 1% by income.

  • Ling Silberbaum

    Another drug angle on this phenomena. A huge number of middle class people are on SSRI anti-depressants. Those cause some people to engage in suicidal or homicidal thoughts. I have seen any number of articles pointing out that many of the high profile mass shootings have been done by people on SSRIs.

    I think one reason for the dispair of the middle class is the economy. However many people have jobs, they are not the well paid middle class jobs that support a middle class life style. A lot of people are not able to have the lifestyle they were told would be theirs if they went to school and worked hard. I believe this is caused by excessive regulation of the economy, and that state and local government is a major culprit.

    Another is the divorce epidemic. While the educated class has enjoyed stable families, the working class has had a huge increase in their divorce rates, and this causes a lot of stress, which is a major drivers in using anti-depressants, drinking, other drug use, and suicide.

    And as you mentioned, white Christians have been demonized and their culture is being ridiculed and outlawed.

    Not to mention the world falling into chaos. I get depressed every time I think about it.

    Plus a choice between Hillary or Trump/Bush/Rubio as our rescue party? That right there is good for about 4 extra drinks after dinner every night, even without watching the news.

    • Tyler Wombat

      Your post contains many good points. It is true that SSRI’s cause suicidal thoughts in many. SSRI’s even state this on their labels. But thousands – or hundreds of thousands – keep taking them because they are prescribed by authority figures. This is especially true of those who have served Uncle Sam in a military capacity. And a large segment of the population in general, having been propagandized by TV and “public” school, still takes a religious view of the Federal government.

    • Its Me

      “A huge number of middle class people are on SSRI anti-depressants”

      Nailed it. This also fits the military deaths and they are given SSRIs as soon as they come home for PTSD.

  • http://www.letgoyoga.com/ David Scott Lynn

    I Am One Of Those Guys … Almost …

    RE: Quiet Desperation as the Old American World Slips Away …

    I’m of the age where when I was growing up, I directly observed when everything changed. For Example, the women’s liberation movement dissolved many of the bonds between men and women, even setting us at odds with each other, if not an outright but covert war between the sexes. And consensus is (as far as conversations I’ve had) the situation does not seem to be getting any better.

    For a while in the 1980s in Chicago, I taught a public seminar titled “The Schism In Male-Female Relationships,” and was, in very small circles, acknowledged as having some very good insights about what had happened and the costs involved. Yes, I blamed centralization at the hands of The State for many of the problems. … But unfortunately, I had no real solutions. Still don’t.

    As a result, today, most of the women I meet are FAR more on the left, and my politics don’t sit well with most of them. Some of them still think “libertarians throw bombs at federal buildings” or must be racist!

    Or their own income depends on taxation, so the idea of no income taxes seems anti-human to them.

    And even yoga teachers, who claim to be advocates of “Ahimsa” (Hindu non-violence) think nothing of enforcing the tax laws (or most other laws), even if you point out the blatant implications of direct or implied violence.

    It’s CBS: Compartmentalized Brain Syndrome. One side of the brain lives happily independent and unaware of the other side.

    And back then, the time was already arriving when people could no longer rely on a handshake and “Your/My Word” as a contract; you had to have a written agreement and be able to afford an attorney to enforce it if things went bad. And even if you won a court case, collection of monies owed was a whole other matter.

    As some teenagers told me in the mid-1990s, “keeping one’s word” was an “outdated concept.” ( !!! ) Now, it’s who has the best attorney, and can afford him.

    The Liberated Mother of these same teenagers told me she did not teach her children about Right & Wrong, but about Consequences. I understand there is SOME merit to the consequences thing. But the problem there is if the child can figure out how to avoid the consequences, then they think it’s OK to do the deed. … Basic Morality is not an even issue in their minds.

    It’s as Robert LeFevre (*Fundamentals of Liberty* and the old *Freedom School*) said, there is a BIG (though mostly unacknowledged) difference between Morality and Ethics. Short term Ethics have won the day … at the expense of Morality.

    In the 1970s, Trade Unionism plus quotas for hiring “ethnically challenged” men coming out of the Vietnam war made it impossible for me to get into the 5 year ironworkers apprenticeship program in Chicago for several years, even though I was ALREADY a highly skilled ironworker foreman by the time I was 18 (and my employers loved me). So my Dad (he’s the one who taught me ironwork) sent me to Iowa where they were selling union “books” (now plastic cards) under the table. But whenever work slowed down in Local 1 (Chicago), I was laid off, even though I was the top guy in my company. My employers tried to “pull strings,” but to no avail.

    In my view, there are SO many stories about how unionism (a left wing institution) slowed down progress in society and increased costs it isn’t funny. And I witnessed quite a few of them First Hand, such as when one of my new crew members told me the job steward told them he was going to make sure I did not finish the job on time so as to stretch the work out as far as possible. (I finished ahead of schedule, but I had to do a lot of the work myself!)

    There are so many stories like that it isn’t funny. But those countless “anecdotal” stories don’t seem to make it into the scholarly journals that discuss things like economic consequences of trade unionism.

    Then later, in a short stint in a business doing technical charting for private market makers on the floor of the Mercantile Exchange, as well as some tax shelter work, I discovered from some of the Old Timers and Very Heavy Hitters on the Merc floor just how things REALLY worked and how corrupt the monetary system already was. And of course, my studies told me that was mostly from left wing degeneration of the monetary and regulatory systems, as well as the degradation of fundamental morality. So i bailed out of there, looking for ANOTHER new and less corrupt career.

    (I was already reading Gary North, R.E. McMaster, Harry Shultz, and many others of the kind way back then. My #1 favorite thing to do was read all those “right wing” economic and investment newsletters floating around the market trading operations!)

    THEN, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, my new profession, Massage & Bodywork Therapy (what a switch, huh?), was increasingly coming under pressure to become licensed by the individual states. Now, whereas I was successfully teaching as early as 1989 in various massage schools a clinically successful system of muscle therapy I had developed in the mid-80s, and was considered to be a Leader in the Field, today, I have to have a state license just to teach in massage schools, let alone practice.

    And I think state licensing & regulation (an updated form of mercantilism) is anti-American, anti-Constitutional, and anti-Human. So I’m having a VERY tough time going along with all that.

    And as far back as the mid-1980s, I was writing articles, teaching seminars, and successfully lobbying in Springfield at the Statehouse in Springfield, Illinois against the effects of state licensing in the medical and health care professions. I even wrote various articles as well as a chapter on professional licensing for a book on economics published by the Heartland Institute — a free market think tank in Chicago — back around 1992.

    Around that time, one of my clients and friends was then president of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and co-founder of one of the leading massage schools in the country (in Chicago). In 1988, he asked me to make a keynote presentation for a national conference of the AMTA, presenting the downsides of licensing. I did. And MANY of the attendees (at very least ten percent) personally came up to me and expressed support for what I had presented. Yet I was labeled by subsequent presidents and exec board members of the AMTA as “the leader of the isolated pockets of resistance.”

    This made me a “person non grata” to many centralists & statists in the AMTA, and made it very difficult for me to teach at their massage schools, mostly for political reasons.

    And now, the OTHER system of therapy I use along with massage / bodywork is pushing for state licensing too. (That’s Yoga Therapy, and I use or practice NOTHING from the Eastern mystical or religious traditions AT ALL, so I call it “Yoga for the WEST of Us” and “Conscious Stretching.” But I will not be able to claim a “spiritual” exemption as I follow none of that line of East Indian thinking or practice.)

    In parallel with all that is for the last 30 years, I’ve probably studied, in depth, AT LEAST 2 hours per day on many or most of the things Tom teaches in Liberty Classroom. I even attended Mises Institute Summer Seminar at Dartmouth in 1988, and FEE’s summer seminar the week before that, and Advocates for Self Government a few weeks before that. And a few weeks before that, Robert LeFevre’s old Freedom School as now taught by Kevin Cullinane.

    I met Hans Sennholz and Bumper Hornberger at that FEE conference. And one of the Great Tragedies or Missed Opportunities of my life is at that Mises Conference, Murray Rothbard was sitting alone after dinner one evening, and as I passed by him I said “Hi,” and he said “HI” back, but I had too low of a self-image to sit down and talk to him. I had NO idea the missed opportunity that was. …

    When Tom tells the story of his first conversations with Murray, I could kick myself. My life could have been very different, I think.

    (I remember thinking that if I added up all those hours of study and seminars it might actually mean something. Let’s see, two hours per day times thirty years? That’s lot of hours. And does NOT include keeping up on current events!)

    Although I’ve probably bought into far more Conspiracy Theories and Revisionist History than many libertarians, it seems clear to me there has been a severe degeneration in many, if not most, aspects of society. And as far as I can see, contrary to Bernie Krugman (yes, I know, but I could not resist), it is in GREAT degree due to “left wing” politics, or the “new (anti-classical) liberalism” or (anti-)”progressivism” that has been infecting America since before the ink was dry on the U.S. Constitution. (Yes, I agree with Dilorenzo on Hamilton, Lincoln and etc.).

    I also believe that the Republicans or most of the so-called “right wing” is actually “left” of center compared to the political standards and definitions of a hundred or more years ago. So, even if the Republicans ARE to blame, the result is more-or-less the same.

    And yes, MOST of this has led to a certain level of Quiet Desperation in me.

    I remember that when Robert Ringer’s book (Restoring the American Dream) came out, I had a big blast of hope the the freedom uprising was just around the corner. Today, i’m expecting something like a three-way civil war, if not worse.

    And yes, this has led, very personally, to a lot of near depression and despondence. And although I do not drink as much as a lot of people, 3 glasses of beer or wine almost every day do help make things go a bit better. (Thank God the research now says two to three glasses a day can actually be beneficial to many people!)

    Yet I can only speculate as to what it feels like to be one of those who is even less hopeful than *I* am about prospects for the future. Because I can personally and directly see the “why bother” potential in such a life.

    Or people who’ve had REAL troubles in their lives. In comparison to some, I think I’ve been pretty lucky. … So if *I* feel this way, how must THEY feel?

    • caso0

      Interesting life David. I enjoyed the read. I spent some time on the floor at the [new] Merc myself. Currently a Lincoln Park resident in Chicago. Are there any worthwhile libertarian organizations in Chicago? Always wanted to get involved somehow.

      I can’t imagine narrowly missing a chance to meet Murray Rothbard. Was he as huge a legend back at that time as he is now?

      • http://www.letgoyoga.com/ David Scott Lynn

        Hi caso0 !

        Thanks for Your Comment! … Yes, it has been a very interesting life, if not much fun. I’m glad you found it entertaining!

        My stint at the “Old Merc” was VERY educational, although mostly in a negative way, unfortunately. I was getting from the Old Timers the bad news about how the markets really operated (corruptly), and not much about the positive side. But of course, “the last bastion of free enterprise” was only a mere shadow of old, truly free enterprise when I got there.

        To my knowledge, a guy named W.D. Gann was one of THE most famous of market traders back when he retired in the 1950s. His work was based on some very esoteric systems of technical market analysis he discovered or developed. He said his systems were not working well any longer. (I worked with some people who had bought a tractor trailer load of Gann’s old papers, charts and research.)

        So if Gann was correct, true “free enterprise capitalism” was nearly dead already in the 1950s, and Gann had not yet figured out how to use technical analysis to incorporate the market movements of the bureaucratic mind into his charts.

        The stories surrounding that chapter in market history is much of what led me to to get the heck out of there. And of course, those insights led me to develop some pretty strong opinions about the whole thing.

        After taking 50 million dollars (a fair amount of money back then) out of the markets, Gann determined that the government had gotten so involved with the markets that the fundamentals, as measured by technical analysis, had gotten too out of whack with reality due to the bureaucratic interventions. So his more foundational style, based on technical analysis of fundamentals, timing, etc., of trading was not yet adequate to incorporate the new, government induced factors.

        So he said he was leaving the markets until the government removed themselves, which of course, they never did. And I left too, for that and other reasons.

        I think the Heartland Institute is a good place to get connected to the pro-freedom & liberty movement in Chicago and the midwest. I was friends with the founders of Heartland — Joe and Diane Bast — back in their early days, and had some lunches and dinners with them, and I wrote a few things for their publications.

        Frankly, I think one of my “errors” in life was to not get more involved with them, similar to not getting to know Murray Rothbard when I had the opportunity.

        And of course the weather in Chicago had me wanting to leave since I was well before 13 years old anyway!

        RE: Murray the Legend … Unfortunately, way back then, I did not travel nor read in circles that understood or appreciated the true genius of Rothbard. I was just getting to know the libertarian mindset, and had not read much of Mises, Rothbard, or most others of that lineage.

        I remember that when I was at the one week seminar at FEE, there was not much mention of him. Yet the following week I met him at the Mises Summer Seminar at Dartmouth. Other insiders at FEE were in my mind too “conservative,” and unwilling to push the envelope too far, to support the more “radical” ideas of people like Rothbard.

        I can only say I was pretty much oblivious of who Rothard was or what his reputation was like back then.

        Big Mistake!

    • Mark

      Heh, you’re life’s been much better than mine in some ways. But I get what you mean. Liberty probably isn’t going to exist in our lifetime. We’re on the downswing right now. BUT, just do what you can to carve out your own life as best you can.

      I also believe that the Republicans or most of the so-called “right wing” is actually “left” of center compared to the political standards and definitions of a hundred or more years ago.

      You get it. I always tell people that the Rethuglicans are left of center. They only “appear” like they’re on the right because the Idiot Left isn’t that far from Chairman Mao these days.

    • Avi Marranazo

      I still have hope that the old libertarian notion of secession will be our way to hold on to a piece of territory for the historic American nation.

  • http://www.letgoyoga.com/ David Scott Lynn

    Sorry, I had no idea how long my post (below) was!

    • Stacey

      You had a lot to say. Thanks for writing.

      • http://www.letgoyoga.com/ David Scott Lynn

        Thank You Stacy! Glad you found it worth reading. I guess I’ve always been too insecure about whether what I had to say and write was readable or not!

    • Mark

      Hey you’re good man. Didn’t mind reading it at all.

      • http://www.letgoyoga.com/ David Scott Lynn

        Thank You Mark! I much appreciate your positive comment!

    • Keith Snyder

      LOL! I’m just glad *I* never get that wordy!

      Seriously, though, I enjoyed the read.

  • dagny

    All my despair evaporated as soon as Contra-Krugman column posted up. I guess I’m lucky to be female! More soberly, I’m also without data to explain the findings addressed in the column. However, in addition to ideas put forward in the program, I suggest rampant use of SSRI’s as one explanation. Everyone wants an easy pill, although scientific studies reveal that in many cases, exercise and improved diet can be every bit as effective as these drug options (without adverse side effects). A second insight may involve the widespread replacement of real, pro-social relationships in favor of empty, all consuming social media relationships (and their overwhelming drama and negativity).

  • Eileen

    Krugman’s article is fishing for a problem. As usual, Krugman offers no proof that the suicide rates are higher in certain states than in others. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the highest rate was in high cost states like California where it is easy to fall out of the system – disjointed social support, stigma for being on the dole, etc. In more rural (conservative) states, unemployed men have a much better support system.

  • Layla Godey

    “I think it’s a strange column”.

    Krugman is strange. period.

    • Mark

      Eh, Krugman is just a paid shill. He’s a conman trying to cynically make money. But if I’m wrong, and he’s dumb enough to actually believe in any of the sh*t he says then he’s truly an idiot. A useless worm.

  • 1crappie2

    Doesn’t anyone realize the issue is not politics or economics, but is the alienation from God and it is imbedded in all parts of our culture, from the family, to the public arena, and has even brought about the corruption of our religious institutions? Don’t we yet understand that it has everything to do with the despair and futility that leads people to a nihilistic world view? The cake we put into the hedonistic “dump-God” oven in the revolution against all moral authority in the Sixties has finally come out of that oven and it’s burnt like Hades.

  • http://www.zechiel.com/transcribe John Z.

    Tom, if you didn’t hear the bird, listen again on a good set of headphones. He’s definitely in there.

  • walter rosenbaum

    You guys got me read his column in advance of the podcast, now. ‘Thank you’

  • Avi Marranazo

    This phenomenon is the logical result of the hostile elite’s war on the cultural moorings of European Americans–everything from the Church, to Christmas, to the accomplishments of White men to our legitimate claim to the country built by our forefathers.

  • Mike

    Reminds me of Charles Murray’s recent book Coming Apart