Why Paul Krugman Matters

Last night I was watching a news program on TV -- god knows which one; I watch a lot of news -- and came across an interview with economist Paul Krugman, who was talking about the latest wave of "bailouts" and "stimulus" plans.

Nothing new about that. Krugman is a regular among the TV talking heads. He also a columnist for the New York Times.

Indeed, he's so ubiquitous that it's easy to forget or overlook the obvious:That he's out there communicating with the general public.

Why does that matter? Because most "scholars," especially ones who've won Nobel prizes, don't do that. I mean, when's the last time you read an op-ed piece by a winner of, say, the Nobel for chemistry or physics? But Krugman is using his many talents and shrewd mind to communicate with all of us.

Yes, I know that not everyone is crazy about Krugman, who makes no bones about his political views.

But the point remains: Krugman has chosen to engage with ordinary people. As anyone who knows me knows, that matters to me. I left academia for many reasons, but one of the most important was that I wanted to "do" history for the rest of us. I know that many people leave school loathing history because it's been taught to them as a series of dates and names. I think history has more to offer and it's my mission to share my historical curiousity, and my passion for history, with others.

So, on this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for Paul Krugman.