Science fiction writer and journalist Jerry Pournelle likes to call American politics Kabuki Theater. Kabuki is a traditional Japanese form of theater that uses stylized drama, and elaborate costumes and masks to entertain. Pournelle uses Kabuki as a metaphor to describe a political environment in which everything that is dressed up as important is not really worthwhile.
For instance, millennials are buzzing about the upcoming debate between Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly. Both men could be fairly described as the great pundits of their respective political ideologies.
The problem is that neither of them ever discusses anything that is really important, let alone engages in anything remotely related to intellectual honesty. Monetary policy, economic theory, or even the Federal Reserve probably will not even be mentioned, let alone debated. Both sides will pat themselves on the back, but nothing will be accomplished except wasted time and money. This is a fine example of what Pournelle means by Kabuki political theater.
People looking for a more worthwhile debate should check out Robert Murphy's challenge to a public debate with Paul Krugman over Austrian economic theory. Murphy has even started a pledge drive to support the debate. His campaign has raised $60,000 in pledges so far. The money will go to a New York food bank if the debate happens; no money will be collected if the debate does not happen.
Paul Krugman is very critical of Austrian economic theory, describing it as a “great leap backwards,” in his syndicated New York Times column. He obviously believes he knows better than Austrian economists. Krugman is well known and will likely come out on top even if the debate is a draw.
So why won't he accept Murphy's debate challenge?
American voters, and particularly millennials, want those in the spotlight to discuss real issues. The economy is in trouble, people are out of work, and recovery seems far off. Murphy and Krugman will debate the most crucial issue of them all.
Bring it on. Talk about something important rather than giving more limelight to an overpaid comedian with delusions of grandeur and a so-called conservative blowhard.