Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who now writes alarming things for the New York Times, has just compared President Donald Trump to the Roman Emperor Caligula. Krugman showed an absolute ignorance of history, claiming for example that there was no economic crisis during Caligula’s reign. He also, in a backhanded way, seemed to imply that some way should be found to “get rid” of Trump in the same way as the Roman Senate did with the insane Roman Emperor, which was to hack him and his family to death with swords.

Who was Caligula?

Anyone who has read the classics, or at least saw the miniseries “I Claudius,” is familiar with Caligula.

He was the Roman Emperor who appointed his horse a member of the Roman Senate. He raped his sisters and murdered one of them by ripping their unborn child from her womb. He came to believe himself to be a god and slaughtered anyone who reminded him of his mortality. His assassination was less political than it was an act of self-preservation on the part of the Senate.

Trump has rightly been accused of harboring a number of character flaws. Incest, murder, and thinking that he is a god are not among them. Krugman says that Trump is cruel and since Caligula was also cruel, then Trump is worse than the insane Roman emperor. Of course, a lot of other American presidents have been cruel as well, including Trump’s predecessor.

One way Trump is not like Caligula

Getting back to Krugman’s claim that there was no economic crisis during the reign of Caligula, Tom Worstall, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, begs to differ in the pages of Forbes. Worstall points out that the insane Roman emperor, having inherited a full to overflowing treasury thanks to his predecessor Tiberius, spent it like a sailor on crack to buy the love of the people.

Most of what Caligula squandered the Roman treasury on included public games and special bonuses for the army. Two years later, the economic crisis that Krugman missed ensued and, as a result, the Roman government started to get creative in the way it raised taxes and tapped other sources of revenue, such as confiscating loot won by Roman soldiers in various wars.

He even auctioned the lives of gladiators in the games and turned the imperial palace into a brothel in which the favors of senators’ wives and daughters were sold to the highest bidder.

Mind you, spendthrift policies and tax addiction are hallmarks, as Worstall points out, of Democratic politicians. However, not even the people who run California have shown quite the creativity of “Little Boots.”

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