Arguing with Zombies is the title of a new book by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Although the “book” is actually a collection of his newspaper columns, the title gives us real insight into the thinking behind those columns.

Who are the Zombies? And why argue with them?

Zombies are economists who believe that every tax cut pays for itself with increased revenue. They believe that social insurance has created an army of welfare addicts who would rather live off the dole than support themselves. They hate the poor. They are closet racists. They do the bidding of billionaire puppet masters who pay their salaries and fund their research. Their goal in life is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Where do you find these zombies? You can’t. They don’t exist. Like the creatures of fiction, they are the product of a vivid imagination. Krugman delights in creating straw men. He verbally beats them about the head and shoulders and then walks away thinking he has won the Golden Gloves.

But wait a minute. Aren’t there serious public policy issues over which economists disagree? Isn’t Krugman outside the mainstream on many of them? And on some issues, hasn’t Krugman’s been embarrassingly wrong?

The answers are: yes, yes and yes. But you won’t learn about any of that by reading Krugman’s columns. Or by reading his book.