Niall Fergusen, Hack and Harvard professor, is moving up on the list of most mendacious, annoying conservatives, pulling even with David Brooks. Ferguson was truly born out of his time -- He really wants to be a colonial officer in the British Raj in 1880. However, he'll have to settle on being Upper Class Twit of the Year.
When I last wrote about Fergy, he was accusing Paul Krugman of being so mean that the meanness must come from childhood trauma. Before that, he had written an epically false attack on Obama, blatantly lying about the costs of the ACA.
Fergusen has written another book, and is promoting it by articles like this in the Wall Street Journal, and now it's Dean Baker's turn to (dare I say) eviscerate Ferguson in his post More Mistaken Musings from the Land of the Excel Spreadsheet Error.
Baker, whose blog "Beat the Press," is essential reading, destroys Ferguson's attempt to show that evil regulation limits growth, with the ACA was the main villain. With Krugmanesque refreshing bluntness, Baker writes:
It's fair to say that just about everything in the piece is wrong. Starting with the meat, rather than being some horrible burden for small businesses, the main effect of the ACA on the vast majority of small businesses will be to provide them with a subsidy if they offer their workers insurance. The mandate only applies to firms that employ more than 50 workers, most of whom already provide insurance that would meet the mandate anyhow. So these engines of innovation will grind to a halt if the government offers them subsidies for insurance? Interesting theory.Unbelievably, Ferguson attempts to argue that excessive regulation is proven by the number of pages taken up in the Federal Register by a particular regulation. Baker notes that the original Volcker Rule was shorter, but more stringent. The later one was longer, but the regs were looser. But "by Ferguson's measure, the watered down Volcker Rule means more regulation than the strong Volcker Rule because it involves more pages."
Finally, Baker exposes Ferguson's false argument about regulations and growth -- citing growth of 33.8% growth due to Reagan's wonderful de-regulation without comparing the rate of growth under Reagan with the higher rates of growth in the more regulated '60s, '70s and '90s.
Ferguson is a charlatan posing as historian posing as an economist. He makes Megan McCardle look like Keynes. It is infuriating and depressing that his talking head appears ubiquitously, and often uncontested, spreading arrant quackery.