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Monday: Why doctors of thinkology don’t get it.

Paul Krugman is in despair. He simply cannot understand why Obama and his economics team are taking the country off a cliff in order to protect bankers and investors from absorbing their losses.  It’s a puzzlement why taxpayers are subsidizing the private investors who will gladly take bad assets off of the bankers hands for more money than they are actually worth.

Paul, Paul, Paul, where have you been?  This $@#%’s been going on for a couple of decades now.  If we weren’t in danger of being called “crude populists”  some of us would complain loudly and vociferously about a class war.

Remember Pittsburgh in the late 70’s?  Of course you do.  Back then, the Japanese dumped steel on the US market and drove prices down.  The US steel manufacturer’s used that as an opportunity to get rid of the pesky unions and diversify.  I used to wake up in the middle of the night to a bright orange sandblasted sky and the comforting sounds of clanging steel.  My uncles worked for US Steel and made pretty good money.  Then, they were suddenly out on their own.  The mills went silent.  The milltowns fell into disrepair.  Giardia crept into the water systems that municipal authorities couldn’t afford to fix.

Then there came PATCO.  Ah, yes, I remember it well.  It happened just before my first trip to the Bahamas.  Lucky for us there were just enough management to take over running the airports to get us safely off the ground and back again.  But it was OK.  We hired new air traffic controllers who were willing to work for less money and wouldn’t complain so much.  Probably laid off steelworkers.

The 80’s were full of stories about lockouts and Caterpillar workers on strikes and people living off of their union dues and sadness and heartbreak in reazlizing the only job they knew was gone, gone, gone.  These were not high-falutin’ doctors of thinkology.  They were just your average Joe’s who enjoyed a beer on their front stoops after work and spent the weekends tending to their gardens and their cars.  The people you want to spend Thanksgiving dinner with, eating pumpkin pie in front of a football game.  Little people who liked watching the sunset over the river on a summer evening and telling stories to their neighbors.

I was in college in the 80’s.  I saw the rise of the MBA lifestyle, the business majors, the resurrection of Greek culture, the beginnings of networking.  We G-d damned independents thought we were so much smarter than them, hunkered over our P-chem textbooks and sodium sand organometallic reactions.  There would always be a job out there for those of us who used our brains.  Money?  Well, yeah, we expected to be paid well.  Maybe not stellar salaries but enough to enjoy the American Dream.  Greed wasn’t what we were after.  And there weren’t that many of us anyway.  My college graduated exactly 8 Chemistry majors in 1986.  Besides, wasn’t a college degree the path to success?  That’s what everyone told us.

But we were wrong.  It’s the people who handle the money who have a path to success.  While we were busy thinking, they were busy rewriting the rules.  And we were so busy.  Those of us who are female had careers and husbands who didn’t help out as much as they should have and children and daycare and forty things to do before we fell into bed at night.  The pace of life picked up and went at lightspeed.  Who has time to manage the money?  We trusted people to do that for us.  Even when we got our first 401k’s, most of us were content to just “set it and forget it”.

And the college educated toiled away while the MBAs and the marketers and sales people flourished and gave themselves bonuses and promoted themselves over and over again.  And the investors bought stock and frowned when the quarterly earnings didn’t endlessly increase their dividends.  And they demanded cutbacks and the MBA’s obliged and reduced the number of people who actually did the work.  And the remaining workers cheered because their portfolios grew.

And here we are.  The college educated are now the new working class.  We are expendable.  I heard an HR person at my company slip recently and tell a bunch of high school students that a starting BS scientist could expect to make $35K at my company but people who came in with marketing degrees made the top salaries.  Well, we’ve suspected this for a while now.  They also get the attention of the CEO’s.  If a marketer can’t figure out a way to protect his own job, he should find a new career.  And the MBAs sit in their offices and move the chess pieces around and try to figure out which production units to cut in order to increase their bottom line. We are all expendable.

So, now Tim Geithner and Barack Obama are working on a plan to stick hard working, soon to be out of work taxpayers with the bill for the investors who are going to take on the massive bad assets that the bankers cooked up to make money for themselves.  We should not expect these bankers and shareholders to take a haircut because that would be “crude populism” and class warfare.  Why is it any surprise to you that Obama would go this route, Paul?  As long as those of you in the media say it’s OK to treat us like the wretched refuse of our teaming shores, why shouldn’t Tim, Larry and Barry do whatever the hell they want with our money?

In order to get the economy back on track, we workers have to reclaim our dignity and demand accountability.  So, Paul, if you can’t say anything nice about us “crude populists” out here, please, say nothing at all.

182 Responses

  1. I have just been reading the WaPo and their economic analysis is like reading an Obama infomercial. His advisors get his message confused, apparently. And while I agree with them that the people who keep harping that the economy takes precedence over everything as a way of avoiding other issues, I also think the economy needs to get the attention of the administration. Not the bonuses. The ECONOMY. The whole kit and kaboodle that is wiping out our livelihoods, savings, security, etc. And hell, yes, tax those bonuses.

    Has a president ever left so many cabinet positions unfilled for so long? It seems unprecedented, but maybe it isn’t. No one wants to join up. Not that I blame them.

  2. I think his crude populist remark was referring to those tea party events that Republicans and Michelle Malkin are flogging. I don’t think Paul Krugman means to diss working people.

    • Don’t be too sure. Paul lives in Princeton. I know Princeton. Anyone without a PhD there might as well be a janitor.

      • The world needs janitors too. I will never in a million years get why people believe that a degree imparts superiority. There are all kinds of essential skill sets and not all of them require a degree.

    • You know the anger at the waste of taxpayer money being given to people who created this mess crosses political lines.

      I’ll say it again, I despise Malkin. I have since she posted a name and address so that a person could be harassed and threatened. She’s a bully. I think it is a mistake though to close the door on Republicans in general and angry moderate Republicans in particular. If we want to get policy that benefits the bulk of the population we need to find common ground where we can and work toward that common ground and at the same time make our argument for a particular philosophy.

      • I agree, my ancestors took part in the original boston Tea party and I would be interested in taking part now. These bail outs are at our expense and we aren’t going to get a damn thing for our investment.

  3. RD,

    you are beating up on the wrong guy.

    I don’t think you’ll find ANYONE and I mean ANYONE to the level of Krugman who has been more populist. He has put his reputation on the line over and over to advance a populist agenda.

    I also noticed that you beat up on MBAs (my folks), probably rightfully but don’t forget the lawyers and the lawmakers.

    • Am I, MABlue? I’m not so sure that Paul can really tell the difference. He has put his reputation on the line to advance a liberal agenda but populism is a different thing altogether. It can get out of control. It’s potentially messy. But he has to be very careful who he condemns as a crude populist. Last year, we PUMAs were the closest people were going to get to populism and we were called old, uneducated, working class menopausal females. There is no group in America with less power.
      All I’m saying is that Paul has to parse his words carefully so that he doesn’t unintentionally squash the good populists by condemning all of them.
      And yes, lawmakers and lawyers are just as guilty as MBAs because they let the money people get away with murder.

      • And we were condemned, ridiculed, demeaned, and dismissed for sharing our doubts. Too late now to dwell on the possibility that Hillary Clinton would have, could have, should have made a difference. But altogether, this guy does not have a clue nor do I see him willing to educate himself further. He is “beholden” and for that we pay the price.

    • I agree with you that lawmakers need to share in the responsibility The hypocrisy of the railing I have heard as of late is astounding.

  4. It would be interesting to know the average age of the “boy geniuses” who thought up these convoluted plots to rob the rest of us. Bet they are somewhere in the early to mid 30’s range whereby taking these risks would not impact on their careers or down the road retirement.

    The absence of ethics and integrity have eroded the confidence of the nation who were more than willing to turn over their hopes and dreams to a man who offered “change” without the knowledge of just who he is and what he actually believed. As far as I could tell, he stood for nothing and his lack of experience was glaring enough to question. Anyone who did was automatically labeled and was taken to task as a fool.

    Obama is nothing more than the weight of the cardboard cutout I received as a Christmas gift joke (and for which I am more than ready to offer to anyone who wants it) and represents all that is wrong and has been wrong with our current system of government.

    He can giggle and grin for the next 4 years but he will be doing it alone since there is nothing amusing about losing job, home, healthcare, and pension as Wall Street becomes even more entwined with Foggy Bottom.

    “Words matter” but not more than integrity, principles, and experience. Unless, of course, you continue sipping the Kool Aid.

    • Giggle and grin. I read a transcript of Obama on 60 Minutes and that is all he did. The interviewer finally asked him if he was “punchdrunk”. Is he is becoming increasingly nervous or is having a breakdown? He said he was using “gallows humor” which is not going to go over very well either. I cannot watch him on TV but this interview read very strangely.

      • Did he really?
        I can’t bear to watch BO on tv.
        So is he losing it or is he high? WTH?

  5. May Cthulhu piss on the grave of Ronald Reagan, after taking big fat dumps on the graves of Ayatollah Khomeini and Leonid Brezhnev, who in my opinion are more responsible than any other two men for making the Reagan Assministration possible.

    Krugman is basically on our side, but he does need to work on his choice of words. He should have emphasized that he was referring to proto-fascist sentiments of the militia-movement variety.

  6. Excellent rant, RD. I have nothing against Paul Krugman, but the “crude populism” comment showed that even a real liberal picks up on the conservative memes that rule our culture now. If this economic meltdown can’t be stopped, I hope it results in a lot of puffed up people waking up to the need to “promote the general welfare,” as the framers of the Constitution put it.

  7. At least since the Industrial Revolution, the fondest dream of the upper classes has been to find some way either to restore the feudal system, or to transform it into a form that will work in the modern age. I see fascism as one example of the latter strategy, and USA-style plutocracy as another example of it.

  8. I don’t like or have much use for PK after what he said about our rising economic crisis and Hill back this time last year.

    PK slams HRC for wanting a commission to analyze the mortage crisis:

    • Did you actually read the story you linked to?

      PK was unhappy about the fact HRC was suggesting Alan Greenspan for the commission although it was becoming clear that Greenspan was one of the culprit in the whole mess we’re in.

      The people at Puffpost were also happy to mention it because PK was strongly pro Hillary in the primaries.

      PS: I can’t believe I have to spend so much time here defending PK.

      • HuffPo is in the tank for Obama. PK writes an article for HuffPo. The first line is:

        “OK, this is pretty dumb. Hillary Clinton wants a high-level commission to analyze ways to resolve the mortgage crisis — including Alan Greenspan.”

      • You don’t need to defend Paul Krugman here. He is generally loved at TC. I don’t see what is wrong with pointing out that he used a poor choice of words in that column.

        • Nail on the head . I think we can agree with someone on a good number of issues and still take exception with him/her from time to time.

        • You guys made me read the column again.

          What did he write that is so bad or condescending to “populists”? Seriously.

          I still don’t see it> I’m sure we all don’t have the same sensitivities but can someone here excerpt the passage for me?

          If I can disagree with my folks here at TC, I certainly can disagree with PK, so eternal agreement is really not the issue.

          • Calling people crude is not generally considered a compliment.

            Frankly, I don’t mind being considered raw and basic but I can and do understand why people who consider themselves educated and complex but find themselves drawn towards populism would take exception.

          • It was a different column that PK made the reference to ‘crude populism’, by which I think he was referring to the right wing tea party types and the people screaming fir Congress to do something about the bonuses. PK could do a lot of good if he would carefully differentiate between nutjobs like Malkin and people like us. I had a hard time seeing the difference because the minute we get mad, *someone* is going to link us with mob rule.
            We’re on Paul’s side. Is he on ours?

  9. The word “crude” can either mean “raw” or “rude.”

    So which meaning did Krugman apply?

    From the context of his article I’m guessing “raw.”

    But I could be wrong.

    • I agree that he meant “raw,” SM, but it still sounds patronizing to me.

  10. Thanks RD – but I wouldn’t beat up on Paul – perhaps his choice of words was poor but I believe he has the good of the country at heart and can see the forest for the trees.

  11. Krugman comes from the “elite” class which has him walking a fine line to some degree. But I think he means well overall. The definition of this bail out is suspect and is heavily loaded toward the banking and investment industry. So far it has little bearing on the average person who will be forced to live with the decision makers, like it or not.

  12. Why do certain words, like “populist” get such a bad rep? It seems politically minded people are the most label-conscious beings on the planet. Nobody cares what people really believe as long as they claim to be the right “-ist,” “-can” or “-ite.” They’re worse than fashion conscious wannabes overpaying for bootleg designer labels because they think it buys them entree into some vague non-existent plane of influence they wouldn’t be welcome in it if did exist. I don’t care where a politician sits, or how many guns they own, or what college they went to or how much Daddy or Dead Husband left them to do with what they will. All I wanna know is, do they say and do sh*t that makes sense? I’m no more willing to let “progressive” “liberals” piss away the future their way than I am to tolerate “conservatives” screwing me over in their fashion. They should all stop posing and start making freaking sense.

  13. Great post, RD, tho I still cringe when you beat up on Greeks. Some of us belonged to great sororities (my sisters include Margaret Chase Smith (senator), Rhea Siddons (astronaut who took our badge into space) Sarah Weddington (Roe v. Wade) and Fay Whats-her-name (Invented weight watchers) as well Carolyn Caudell Teiger (2008 Public Relations Award Winner)as our fair share of beauty types. As Paul should not condemn all populists, please remember that not all Greeks are sleazy elitists (I spent 35 years working in public hospital ERs).

  14. I’ve taken Krugman’s choice of words with a grain of salt ever since he told us that if we weren’t dancing in the street at the election of Oblahblah that there was “something wrong with us”. That bit of drivel miffed me off a tad. Who the hell is he to tell me who I must be happy about having been elected. Same old elitest nonsense.IMO. If you/we don’t think like them then there’s something wrong with us.

    I read and respect Krugman opinion on the economy. the rest, not so much.

    And do not those who are organizing “tea parties” and such have a right to protest in their own way? Aren’t their voices important too?

    I may not agree with them in some instance but I sure as hell have more respect for them than for the Obots who were supposed to be knocking on our doors on Saturday and doing oblahblahpropaganda. If Krugman was referring to those citizens then he was still wrong. IMO.

  15. RD, you have written the story of my “second adulthood.” I am older than you, and I went back to school in the eighties. I was still working out of the mindset of the sixities and seventies,when if you got a law degree, you set up a little practice in your home town and were not superrich but comfortably middle class. Big mistake. I just love your name of the “MBA lifestyle”. It had already begun to infiltrate the law schools where the greedy are now on Wall Street and rewrote the laws that got us into this mess. The “MBA” lifestyle took over jurisprudence, medicine, and mowed down anything in its path. We are in the age of post-professionalism. Real professionalism is labor intensive and ethical, and therefore not profitable. Bravo, RD! Plaster that “MBA: lifestyle” phrase across the top banner.

    • Before my retirement, nurses began to be exhorted to obtain MBA’s as “career accelerators” Please ‘splain to me how this makes me a better nurse. Yes, I already know that public hospitals have no money. Their budgets are little differrent over the past 35 years.

      • chatblu, I hear you. Most nurses know more medicine than half the physicians out there. I’d trust a good nurse with my life anyday. I suspect the plan was to offer nurses administrative positions, and drive the expensive doctors out of practice. This is what the insurers want. When they couldn’t get the nurses to take the bait, they invented “physician assistants’, many of whom are very competent. But the overall goal is to eliminate what we grew up thinking of as professionals, that is, the family doctor, family lawyer, and social workers, therapists and all are taking a heavy hit from the insurers too as their rates get cut.

      • My daughter is a CICU nurse. They keep urging her to do the same. For what, she says, it may involve making more money but they are then guaranteed that I work 24/7 and in no way makes me a better nurse?

        Agreed. She would not be on that unit if she did not have what it takes to begin with.

      • Chatblu – the problem is not that a masters degree will make you a better nurse – it won’t – it will allow you to teach nursing -and that we deperately need. We need more nurses but don’t have enough professors to teach and our colleges require masters prepared instructors – at least in NJ they do.

        • All colleges require a Masters to teach nursing, but it woud be an MSN or a MSEd. Those I could see. And we are runnin g quickly out of nuirsing instructors. Most of them are in their 60’s.

    • MBA lifestyle = Yuppies.

    • The casino-capitalist fools first ruined the working classes, and now they’re ruining the professional classes. A great power cannot remain a great power without its skilled workers and professionals. Our country could not repeat the production surge of WW2 if we had to do it again now. The casino capitalists have pissed away our base of professionals, technicians, skilled workers, and family farmers. This country now leads the world in nothing but bullshit; our propagandists–oh, excuse me, “public relations experts”–are still the world’s best.

  16. Speaking of Obots, Mika of Morning Joe seems to be detoxing from the Koolade. She cringed while Bob Shrum (still way high on the stuff) gave Obama a 10.0 for his performance thus far. Joe just looked nauseous.

    • Shrum is an idiot! Are they still hauling his sorry butt out as someone worth listening to? He is waaay past his shelf life. Not because of age, but because of credibility.

      Begala and Carville must have been too busy with their morning call to Emmanuel and George Stephanopoulos. And is PrimaDonna Brazille still sitting home and waiting for the call with some “Top Job” for her sterling performance as an Obot?

    • Mika was cringing but she is still clinging.

  17. Over at HuffPo they are chiming in with the same stale accolades. For the candidate they insisted would be “ready on Day One”, they are now lobbying to just “give him more time”.

    Really? This guy ran for this office for two solid years. He kept the daily road show going with few Senate appearances yet supposedly surrounded himself with over 300 advisers at any given time so I would assume he had, or should have had, a pretty tight grasp and understanding of what this financial crisis involved. Now as he flounders and flips we are all supposed to wait until he is ready to take off the training wheels before we level criticism.

    No, no, no! We were promised filet mignon with this guy, the perfect antitdote to Bush. What we got was hamburg.

  18. I am in moderation. AGB is looking for SM.

  19. I’m okay with being called a crude populist. It certainly isn’t any worsethan being called an uneducated Appalachian.

    • As an Appalachian, I have always resented that. My accent has always deducted 100 points from my IQ, per the elitists.

      • I’m an Appalachian transplant(I’m originally from NY and you can never take that out of the gal). They are good folk with excellent bullshit detectors. They know where their priorities lie and are not distracted from those priorities. They may not have Harvard degrees but they have a heavy foundation of core values such as honesty, sense of responsibility to their families and friends, and a strong work ethic. I think it is absolutely awful that they were slandered simply because there was disagreement with their position.

        Furthermore, I think it was the educated class that got this wrong. There were plenty of us that said Democratic choice a, b and c were not all the same basically. We pointed out there were economic differences for all the good it did. Sigh.

        Anyways Appalachia is beautiful. It’s a different way of life then citified folk are used to but different is not a bad thing. Sometimes it is good to take time to stop and smell the roses and that is a sentiment that I find Appalachian folk embrace.

        • I was born and raised in the area and also attended App State in Boone. I have always resented the implication that if you have an accent – you must be dumb and you are right, the people that I grew up around have a BS detector that is off the charts. There is a lot to be said for having common sense.

          • I’m a proud graduate of Franklin HS back in the day that the population was 1200. I did not go to school in NC as I wasn’t about to go to Woman’s College, and App State was a teacher’s college back then, so I went to UGA. Several classmates went to App State, and I own a timeshare not farv from there in Linville, sorta near Grandfather Mtn.

        • My own background is not Appalachian, but I lived for a few years in an Appalachian community in Newport, KY. My PUMA leanings were solidified during the primary when Appalachian voters were reclassified as r@cist voters by 0bots everywhere. And the fact that Obama didn’t even bother to make campaign appearances in KY or WV really rankled me, particularly when I had to put up with 0bots declaring him the new RFK Jr. These people are simply clueless about the history of this country and the people who inhabit it.

      • Beats being an educated crook!

  20. Maybe Krugman genuinely can’t understand why Plastic Jesus and friends are taking the USA off a cliff, but it seems obvious to me that PJ is simply doing the bidding of the casino capitalists who financed his campaign, the cherished myth of the Web-based network of small donors notwithstanding.

    Of course, maybe Krugman does understand, but prudently fears having the scarlet “R” hung around his neck if he calls PJ the corrupt political hack that PJ is.

  21. I won’t rag on the teaparties, and here’s why:

    1) They are Americans, and justifiably angry at what is happening, so have at it.

    2) I’ve looked at the pics from some of them, and have talked to my neighbors. Those are not all neo-con wingers. Some have signs trashing both Bush AND Obama. Yeah, they are organized by wingers, but the people who go are not all wingers.

    3) One of the reasons that Bush got away with his war and his patriot act was that many of the moderates or not-batshit-crazy Republicans did not protest. And why? Could it have been because most of the protests were organized by Lefties? And so it became “their” cause, and even non-lefties who agreed with us were afraid to join in for fear of being associated with and labeled with every damn piece of the “leftie” agenda. We all tut-tutted and shook our heads that they were so attached to their damn ideological labels that they could not STAND WITH us on this one life-and-death issue.

    How is this “don’t promote those tea parties because you are buying into the entire conservative agenda if you do” ANY DIFFERENT from the attitudes of those on the right during the Bush years who didn’t like what he was doing? Nope, can’t join forces over a single and very important issue, because we might get cooties from the enemy.

    I call bullshit. I may just go to a tea party myself, and scream my head off til someone in DC listens. And if anyone wants to label me a Rush, Malkin, and dirty filthy neocon sympathizer because I did, have at it.

    I know who I am. And I will NOT let the fuckers and the fears define me politically.

    • You bring up a good point. It might be a good way to network(attending one of the protests). We have to get past the left and right labels and work together where we do find agreement.

      • Yep. What I’m talking about is not 0bama-style fake “reaching across the aisle” and kumbayah-ness. What I’m talking about is speaking TRUTH, and judging individual issues based on TRUTH, and standing with one another against our corrupt government where we agree. The next week, I may well be in an opposite group of protesters railing against the people I stood with last week. SO???? Who says I can’t???

        So a bunch of sensible common-Joe republicans did not resist Bush’s war, because if they attended an anti-war rally their tender ears might have heard not only railings against the war, but railings against all things Republican, and it would have made them uncomfortable. Big fat hairy deal. Sorry excuse for allowing Bush to run unchecked, huh?


        • Absolutely WMCB – someone has to ask the “hard questions” the unspeakables that no one has been willing to step up and ask because they might be looked upon as “one of them”

          When I retired one of my colleagues said she was really sorry to see me leave – not just because of our friendship but because I was always willing to ask the question that was on everyone’s mind.

          Sometimes that takes courage – sometimes it just takes common sense – by no asking the questions we allow a covert activity to continue – someone has to call it what it is.

          And Lord knows we old, uneducated, working class menopausal females and those who have the courage to hang out with us have the courage to ask the right questions.

        • You make some good points. And at least these people are out there protesting while we lefties stay home and complain or, obots keep hoping, or giving him a pass, while our money is given away to the sasino capitalists. (love the name).

    • I agree. Anyone who wants to get out and protest and try to get some attention for their point of view is fine with me. It’s the American way, right?

  22. Does populist mean liberal. Does liberal mean poor. There are poor conservatives who also care about getting by. There are rich liberals who can be as oppressive as rich conservatives. What the hell is a “real” liberal. It’s a dusty anachronism to think of liberal or conservative as class definitions. Is Stalin a liberal. Mussolini a conservative. When Krugman wrote crude populist, he was referring to class, not parties. He was wrong to use the term.

    My favorite course in college was organic chemistry, but I got turned off by the kids who only thought of doctorhood and money. I was not destined to be a pure scientist like you RD. Course by my Junior year, everyone had shifted to econ and the investment banking track. I’m sad for all the pre professionalism in school, but these days I can’t blame the kids for looking out for themselves.

    Btw, in the marketing field during recessions, research companies do best, PR companies do worst. RD, if the marketing people are squeezing the pure research people in your company, you have bad leadership, imo. They should be outsourcing the marketing jobs to the vendors.

    • Heh. These days you need to look out for yourself. It’s pretty clear there is little government safety net so to speak left and what is left is being talked about being disassembled as we write.

      It’s sad. We’ve come right back to Darwin and survival of the fittest.

  23. I agree with those who state that names mean nothing and do nothing but divide and conquer. If this past election proved anything, it proved that actions speak louder than words and if we don’t move BEYOND terms used to keepus down we are doomed for sure.

    If the war is survival, and the bad guys are in charge, the good people need to band together for overthrow. Good encompasses everyone we are going to need–rich,poor, educated, not, formerly left, formerly right, formerly nothing–to survive.

    I use only three words to describe myself these days…I am a American woman who is independent. and bitter doesn’t even come close. not by a long shot.

  24. Holy Jeebus, C & L is actually blasting some of the Obama plans! Is the kool-aid wearing off?

    In the meantime, an article in USA Today says Americans lost 18% of their net worth in 2008. That is staggering.


    • That is one of the reasons I have some misgivings about the quantitiveeasing. It seems to me if real dollar value in wages are going to plummet then deflation wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. The median housing price actually appears to be more online with the median wage right now if you are calculating housing as 30%.or less.

  25. Kim, that is staggering. But where did that 18% of Americans’ net worth go? It couldn’t have evaporated.

    • My 401k did worse than that, much worse. Basically I’ve lost ten years of investment and the growth on those investments. Gone, just like that. One could say that those funds aren’t real until cashed out, and that’s true, but on the other hand, that was my retirement money, and this is a huge loss that will influence all of my decisions from here on out. Plus, the money I put in each month is money I will now never get to use.

  26. Amazing post RD, thank you.

  27. Krugman works for Princeton and the NYT. Upper Crust HQ. He’s not going to shit on his lunch pail’s parade. Given that , it’s amazing he says as much as he does…. I admire him, however I will also point out IMO he got fully on board the O-train just around the time he got his prize. He’s an important voice to us because he’s reality based…but it seems at the powers that be level, Paul is not listened to or perhaps the rush to the cliff would be at least slowed down.
    But no.

    • The upper crust is rather flaky. :mrgreen:

    • What are you talking about?

      Krugman couldn’t care less about the upper crust. This is a guy who barely meets his colleagues and rarely goes to DC because al he needs for his work is public information plus his razor-sharp mind.

      He was NEVER EVER fully on the O-Train and he didn’t need Obama for his prize. It was clear to almost everyone that Krugman was a future Nobel prize winner right after he won the John Bates Clark medal, I think in 1991.

  28. I was so beffudled by this whole “controversy” that I have to find where Krugman committed the “crude” offense. I really had to look for the las couple of op-ed and blog posts from PK. And voila!


    Preliminary thoughts on the tax bill:

    1. It’s not the way you should make policy — it’s clumsy, and it will punish some innocent parties while letting the most guilty off scot-free

    2. But — there wasn’t much alternative at this point. And for that I blame the Obama people.

    I’ll leave to others the question of who knew or should have known that the bonus firestorm was coming; but it’s part of a pattern. At every stage, Geithner et al have made it clear that they still have faith in the people who created the financial crisis — that they believe that all we have is a liquidity crisis that can be undone with a bit of financial engineering, that “governments do a bad job of running banks” (as opposed, presumably, to the wonderful job the private bankers have done), that financial bailouts and guarantees should come with no strings attached.

    This was bad analysis, bad policy, and terrible politics. This administration, elected on the promise of change, has already managed, in an astonishingly short time, to create the impression that it’s owned by the wheeler-dealers. And that leaves it with no ability to counter crude populism.

    How is Krugman being condescending here and where is the bad choice of words? I think the whole text captured the actionism (by the Administration and the Congress) on the AIG brouhaha very well.
    The Obama economic team has screwed up on the Bank rescue plan and TARP so that they are taking refuge in the AIG bonus, where they meet the people at the “tea parties”.

    And yes RD, PK is on our side.

    • Why does the President need to “counter crude populism?” It seems to me it would be helpful if the President would try to see things from the point of view of ordinary Americans once in a while, rather than just trying to please the richest, most powerful Americans. Obama reminds me of that little Looney Tunes cartoon dog who idolizes the big, powerful boxer and takes his side–even though the big dog constantly slaps him down.

      And I don’t thnk Riverdaughter has ever argued that Krugman is not our side.

      • BB;

        I was responding to RD’s question “We’re on Paul’s side. Is he on ours?”

        What PK needed here is that the Obama has bungled his political capital on bad economics that he couldn’t stand there and say “The AIG bonus are small potatoes to me, I have much bigger fish to fry.”

        Having the Congress and the administration spent enormous time on that story was nothing but “crude populism” in that context.

        • I disagree that the bonuses are smallpotatoes. AIG is one firm and it doled out 200 million roughly. How much of taxpayer dollars went to Merrill and to these other banks as bonuses? I’m betting we are looking at a billion in waste. That is one billion that could have been used to pay for reduced or free lunch for kids whose parents are unemployed due to the collapse of the economy, a collapse largely orchestratedbythose collecting bonuses.

          Then again, I’m a crude populist.

          • cwaltz:

            Those bonus are small potatoes for a President who has to discuss a 1 Trillion $ Bank Rescue plan and prepare for a 2nd stimulus.

            Moreover, for those in the know (Obama, his administration, the Congress), bonuses in a large public company are not such a simplistic issue. The recipients didn’t write those sums in themselves, they are subject to approval by a board, lawyers are involved, and because it was stimulus money, the Congress was involved.

            I can understand your average Joe Schmoe being angry at the recipients without understanding the whole system. For the President and all those who know better to jump in is really “crude populism”.

          • I understand the system. More often than not the upper echelon management is figuratively in bed with the board and essentially does write their own salary. I also understand the system enough to know it is broken and throwing large sums of money and rewarding the folks who exploited the breaks in the system does nothing to fix it.

            There appears to be two sets of standards. One for us regular schlubs. When we get insurance we are required to give out all sorts of personal information. Do we smoke? Do we have any preexisting medical conditions? What color is our car? What zip code do we reside in? They measure everything strait down to our credit score. Apparently though there wasn’t a single damn person at AIG who said when you are making these loans are you requiring documentation?

          • Dak

            They removed whatever it was you posted. You’ve piqued my curiousity.

          • The bonuses are small potatoes compared to the Trillion dollar fund that Bernake and Geithner have tucked away – where did that money come from and where is it going????

    • Why would he wish the admin counter populism and why does he term it crude?

      Here is populisms definition

      A political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against the privileged elite.

      In a democracy there should be no “priveged elite”.

      As I said I’ll wear the label crude populist proudly. It beatsthe hell out of supporting the notion that there should be a special class of folk entitled to more than the rest.

  29. That net worth evaporated. That is how these things work. The financial movers are trying to reclaim their loss in net worth from the American taxpayer. Daki says that the markets are not going to like the Geithner plan. This week will certainly tell us what their score card looks like.

    I watched the interview with O on 60 minutes. That segment where is affect was so out of synch with the dialogue—grinning while talking about all the losses—was very telling. It so epitomizes what disturbs me the most about Obama. There is such a huge disconnect between what he says and what he does. In that interview he was clearly trying to disconnect from his outburst about how bad the AIG bonus deal was and the reaction of congress to the mess he and they had created. Like he did not say do a rant about these guys and try to gain some populist points. It is the first time that I have ever really listened to the guy. I understand why people get taken in by this guy. He is good at bamboozling and the okie doak. He is far more removed from the truth of himself than even Bush was.

    • The problem is, Jangles that we – the American taxpayers have had large chunks of our savings disappear too – it’s like they are trying to squeeze water from a stone – we have little left to give.

    • Looks like the markets are loving the plan at the moment.

  30. Crude populism—in Krugman’s piece it is not clear what/who he is referring to with the term. It could be the incredible faux rage of the congress that was the biggest circle jerk in world history or it could be the tea parties or it could be a reference to the general angst of the masses right now. While Krugman may be very right about the economics, I do not think that he is right about not having any juice to reply to the crude populism. The one thing O is pretty good at is creating, manipulating and using crude populism for his advancement. I rest my case of the Dem. primaries and the general election.

  31. Marge has this to say….this is a great view of the current crew in DC…well, not current…more like PERPETUAL..some witty quotations from history put it all into place…

    When is Being “Reasonable” Simply “Unreasonable”? (Especially When It Comes to Our Money?)


  32. Market is up almost 300 points this am which is attributed to an upbeat mood and anticipation of the Geithner proposals on toxic assets. Markets seem to be giving the O team a big group hug.

    • Or fellatio.

    • I think the market will be quite happy. They win either way since the government is basically guaranteeing these toxic assets as I understand it. Its a big ol’ kiss to the investment class and bankers unless I read it wrong.

      • Daki said yesterday that the markets would probably not like this. They would see what Krugman sees. We need Daki to give us an update and do some ‘spalinin. Financials are leading the hunt this am so it sounds like they are happy and probably seeing this as saving the little place in the Hamptons.

        • The market likes the plan because it’s saving the Banks and not the economy. Their reaction was predictable.

          The Krugman and Stiglitz of the world are much more worried about saving the economy that saving the banks.

          As Atrios put it so brilliantly, Tim Geithner’s message to the Banks is

          “Banksters, just pull the cash out of my back pocket during our group hug.”

          So, what’s not to like?

          • Nailed it. Krugmanmaynotbelieveit but he has alot more populist in himself then he realizes. Otherwise he would beperfectly okay with aplanthat gives an elite class of folks(banks and investors) at the expense of the rest of us(taxpayers).

        • yeah, i’d say their counting their windfalls. we’ll have to see if this sticks.

        • the financials are leading the rally at the moment …

    • Another market bubble is not going to help matters.

  33. RD — this one really hit home for me. WE are all expendable. Even Krugman if he doesn’t start fighting this madness!

    And the 90’s wasn’t much better too. We were all told to get college educated or we couldn’t get work, and after graduating found their were no jobs to get. Even after getting master’s degrees.

    Glad to know that missing 4 days of Conflucian talk, I haven’t missed anything. {snarky snitty comment to the world}. I’m so POd and the steroids aren’t helping.

  34. I did not watch W2 on 60 minutes. Was it really the idiotic giggle fest it appeared to be in the replays?

    • I would not call it a giggle fest. There was one segment around 10-15 seconds. If you were clueless about what has been happening in DC for the last week, you would probably think that O did well. The major thing I noted in addition to the giggle stream was O seemed to be doing pretty well without benefit of a teleprompter. Perhaps he knew what the questions were going to be. Also, he had an opportunity to respond to the critique coming from Cheney and he was obviously prepared for that and thoroughly enjoyed the rejoinder.

      What was missing was inserts of what he had said and the congress had said about the AIG mess the firestorm on Geithner. Also caught his Econ Adviser Romer who is supposedly an economist—she was turning herself inside out praising O and Geithner. I do not think O has a single person working in his administration who is outside the world of politics and academia. Does anyone know someone of cabinet rank who comes from a background of work in the real world?

  35. There’s a quote by one of our Founders (Jefferson?
    Franklin?) about how (and I’m gonna misquote entirely here) the first generation will be stonelayers and masons so that the next generation can be…. and then the next generation will be doctors and lawyers and so the next generation can be poets and philosophers.

    I tried to google to find the quote and after 20 minutes of google-garbage just thought I’d post what I remembered of the quote.

    The point being that (1) we’re not doing so well in fulfilling this vision and (2) it’s nice to look at the vision our founders had of our country when all we get to hear is the political-garbage mouthed current politicians tell us what our country can be. Hope is not a vision.

    • It was John Adams. He wrote:

      I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

      I read his bio. He is totally underappreciated in our history because Jefferson was more “likable” than he — but he did most of the heavy lifting.

      • I absolutely agree with you on John Adams. I spent one entire vacation when the book came out and couldnt put it down.

      • I liked Adams. He was a good foil for Jefferson. Between the two they hammered out a pretty solid foundation. A strong central government(Adams) coupled with a states ability to make decisions for itself and its constituency(Jefferson). You are right though Washington tended to favor Adams’ ideas.

      • Adams had his good points and his bad points. His biography makes for an entertaining read, but it is designed to portray him in his most favorable light. We should also recall that Adams had some clearly anti-democratic ,crypto-monarchist tendencies. For instance, he propsed that the president be called “His Highness” and that the presidency and senate seats be life-long postions. He also enacted the justly reviled Alian and Sedition acts, and when a a newspaper published by the grandson of Benjamin Franklin (Benjamin Franklin Bache) railed against Adams’ anti-democratic tendencies, Bache was jailed under the Sedition Act and died of Yellow Fever before he could stand trail.

        A good counterpoint to the McCollough book is American Aurora>, which tells the other side of the story, using mostly primary sources. It is also a fun read, and yes, it is also slanted, but in the other direction.

        • I don’t truck with any anti-Adams pro-Jefferson propaganda, sorry. Anti-democratic tendencies my eye — only someone who wanted to smear him would accuse the man who drafted the Mass. constitution (which explicitly mandates government support for the arts & education, which the US constitution does not) and who literally risked his life to start this democracy of having “anti-democratic tendencies.” Further, the whole “what do we call the President” thing is much ado about nothing, exaggerated by Adams’ critics (including Jefferson) to smear him — it was an idea, a suggestion, it wasn’t the premise of his politically philosophy. Finally, the Sedition Act? There was a war going on & the majority of congress passed it. Maybe he shouldn’t have signed it but it is HARDLY his “defining moment” (other than to his enemies and detractors). Furthermore, other presidents have signed similar during times of war.
          And yes, I think Tomas Jefferson is VASTLY overrated in our history to Adams detriment and the reason for that is because of Jefferson’s deliberate & underhanded smear campaign against Adams. Adams was way to honorable to retaliate in kind & thus our history has been written in the way it has. The fact that American Aurora buys into the Jeffersonian propaganda against Adams doesn’t make it true. Primary sources? bah — Jefferson sanctioned sources.

      • {{{{{Angie}}}}
        I’ve missed you girl!

        Yes, and HBO did a fine job on his bio series last year – I too read his bio – I should have remembered that – he indeed did all the heavy lifting to help our infant nation.

        • I really liked the series too. See, every time I get ready to cancel HBO they drag me back in by doing something like that!

    • I don’t recall that particular quote but Jefferson had a significant way with words. Some which are well suited for our situation today. The O might note:
      I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

      Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.

      The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

  36. Pat Johnson, on March 23rd, 2009 at 8:08 am Said:

    Really? This guy ran for this office for two solid years. He kept the daily road show going with few Senate appearances….

    ——–and he’s still running. It’s an endless campaign using the press that so adored him.

  37. The market is up? Really?

    This will plan NOT rein in Wall Strett’s gamblers anonymous behavior, it will encourage more of it.

    Crude analogy, but let’s say they were playing Blackjack, and going further in the hole with each hand. Instead of holding pat with a 17 like reasonable gamblers, they’ve spent the last years saying “HIT ME”, repeatedly, and getting further and further in. They keep losing, and if they win, they win $1, and if they lose, they lose $1.

    No one has stopped the game and made them take their losses yet. What Geithner’s plan does is to tell them “Guess what? The game is still in session, and we’re going to fix it so that if you take another card and win, you get the profit from your $1 bet. If you take another card and lose, you only lose .20, and the taxpayer is covering the rest.”

    Sweet deal, huh? So what will a gambler do in that situation? Amend his ridiculously risky behavior, or step it up a notch?

    Of COURSE Wall Street is thrilled with this news. Why wouldn’t they be?

    • In this case the government is essentially covering a portion of the gamblers debts should he lose.

      There has been little to no talk of regulation though you’ll notice. The m,arkets and such were born free and must remain so(unless of course it takes a loss and then we must bail them out).


  38. The real test of this is going to be if the banks start lending to businesses again. I caught a short piece of a Huckabee special on FOX in Elkhart, IN. A local community banker and one of the manufacturing businesses talked about something they called “floor planning” which I understood to be the term businesses and banks have for lending on inventory (what the business puts on the floor). Apparently, this is now done only by a few very large banks like B of A, Citi etc. They totally shut down their lending for this business stream. So businesses and customers neither one can get the financing they need to do business. I did not realize that independent and community banks are not engaged in local business financing any more. So that is what puts the national economy at huge risk to the fortunes of the likes of B of A.

  39. Great post, RD. I get a totally different read of Krugman’s article but maybe it’s because I can’t find the reference to crude populism. I thought the article was right on the money – Obama’s plan sucked in the beginning and all the retooling in the world won’t make the same plan any better. I guess I’m a day late and a dollar short..again.

  40. Right wing tea party types? Greeks? MBA lifestyle?

    What, are we now witch hunting? I was an activist Dem since working for McGovern, until the Rules Committee hearing. I am now a registered Independent. I also have a Masters in Business, and am a Greek. I used my 2008 vacation to campaign for HRC and went to Denver and protested outside the DNC.

    I am troubled and concerned that there are so many targeted “evil” groups. Instead of us uniting against the policies that we believe are harmful to ourselves and our country, we are targeting groups of individuals.

    Castigating all MBA’s and Greeks for the actions of a few are like castigating all scientists because we have the nuclear bomb. Or how about all fertility doctors because of the Octomom. Or all chemists because of thallidimide. (sp).

    I don’t think it appropriate that bonuses are given when companies are failing. But when my 401k went up 25% in two years I loved those guys.

    Obama and his policies are the problem. Capping executive pay is not.

    I will be going to a Tea Party in Philly on April 15. We should be able to beunited in our disgust with spending our grandchildrens legacy without being villified.

  41. FROM C. SCHWAB MARKET UPDATEStocks Surge as Street Mulls Plan for a Bad Asset Purge

    Stocks are solidly higher and are near the highs of the session on sentiment toward US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s announcement of a plan aimed at possibly deploying $1 trillion to help clear up toxic debt that is plaguing banking balance sheets. Financials are leading the charge, while optimism about the possible bottom of the global recession is boosting commodity and materials stocks, helping advancers outpace decliners by more than ten-to-one. The upbeat mood in the banking sector is helping trading around the globe as Europe is higher.

  42. The Boston Tea Party was crude populism, and look what it accomplished!

    • Yep, the premise of our government is crude populism. I’m a proud ,crude populist. I believe in a government of the people,for the people, by the people. I reserve my right to call for a government that works for the citizenry, not special interests.

  43. Also not funny
    read the article here :

    Female Genital Mutilation on British Turf
    By Jamie Glazov
    FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, March 20, 2009

    Latest reports indicate that approximately 500 girls a year have their genitals mutilated in Britain.
    It may come as no surprise to the knowledgeable political and cultural observer that the poor victims of these crimes are not from Christian or Jewish families, nor from Hindu or Buddhist ones. They are to be found predominantly in Muslim households. And being Muslim is a status that gives the victims, and all future victims, the unfortunate distinction of being part of a group that society can’t help, because the lib-Left has made sure that the Muslim culture can never be criticized and, therefore, that its sufferers can never be protected or saved.
    Fact: female circumcision is illegal in Britain. But this doesn’t mean that British law enforcement is doing anything about this crime that Muslim communities are perpetrating against their little girls.
    The reality: five hundred girls’ genitals are mutilated every year in Britain. Not one arrest. Not one incarceration.
    You think protecting little girls’ genitals is more important nowadays than protecting oneself from the charge of being Islamophobic? Think again. Islamic women haters, therefore, are reigning free in Britain. Enraged at even the thought of female sexuality, the self-appointed guardians of Islamic purity make sure to obliterate the clitorises of little girls before the girls begin to get the concept of their own human agency and the magic of love. In a fascistic effort to deny women even the possibility of personal happiness, individuality and sexual satisfaction, these mutilators start cutting girls at the age of seven or eight—before their menstrual periods begin—so that their sexuality will be amputated forever.

    Despite its gruesome terror, this crime is widely practised throughout world, for it is a crucial ingredient of Islamic gender apartheid and is known as female genital mutilation (FGM). Its ideological premise has been carefully constructed: a girl’s genital area is dirty and unacceptable. How much is amputated varies among cultures. In Egypt only the clitoris is amputated; in countries like Sudan the woman-haters are not so kind. In a savagery called infibulation, the girl’s external genital organs are completely removed: the clitoris, the two major outer lips (labia majora) and the two minor inner lips (labia minora). In Sudan, the term used for this is tahur—which means “cleansing” or “purification.”

    More than 130 million women living today have been subjected to this horrifying practice, and more than two million girls are assaulted by it each year. That is more than five thousand girls every day. Many girls lose their lives during FGM, which is often done with broken glass. Most victims suffer from chronic infection and pain for the rest of their lives. The mutilation robs women of their ability to enjoy the fullness of their sexuality and, therefore, the fullness of their lives. Approximately 75 percent of women cannot achieve orgasm without clitoral stimulation; thus, the possibility of sexual satisfaction has been obliterated for millions of women in the Muslim world.

    The Muslim communities who practise FGM will not easily abandon their barbarity. The Egyptian government, for example, banned FGM in 1996, but an Egyptian court overturned the ban in July 1997. The problem is that the clitoris mutilators point to traditional teachings that sanction FGM. Islamic tradition, for instance, records the Prophet Muhammad emphasizing that circumcising girls is “a preservation of honor for women.” A legal manual of the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence, ‘Umdat al-Salik, which is endorsed by Al-Azhar University of Cairo — the oldest and most prestigious university in the Islamic world — states that circumcision is obligatory for both boys and girls.

    Underlying this brutality is the obvious belief that the sexual mutilation of women will help keep the structure of Islamic gender apartheid in place. Keeping FGM legitimized and institutionalized is one of the most effective means to keep women subjugated and caged. The assumption is that amputating the clitoris will kill the woman’s sexual desire and thereby reduce the chances that she will ever toy with the notion of self-determination.

    Thanks to the Left’s policy of multiculturalism, where no value can be said to be worse or better than any other (except, of course, if American society and culture is the subject of discussion), FGM is now being widely practised on Western territory. A study estimates that 66,000 women living in England and Wales have suffered FGM, most of them before emigrating from their home country. More than 7,000 girls in Britain alone, meanwhile, are at a high risk of being victims of the crime. At present, we know that more than 500 girls in Britain are being mutilated every year.

    • Thanks to the Left’s policy of multiculturalism, where no value can be said to be worse or better than any other (except, of course, if American society and culture is the subject of discussion), FGM is now being widely practised on Western territory.

      Of course! Some heinous crime happens somewhere and Rightwing degenerates blame the vile Left.

      Actually it’s my own fault. Why did I read anything coming from that louse infestation that is Front Page Mag?

        • Much better.

          The story itself is outrageous and horrible enough.

          To have these Rightwing freaks blame that on the Left on top of that is too much to bear.

      • well I did have many arguments with people at DU and Dkos about how we had to accept this sort of thing as being part of the Muslim culture and “who are we to judge”….. you know, they kind of crap spouted by people so open minded their brains fell out years ago?

        It is not the fault of the left, because it started thousands of years ago…but the left is enabling this sort of thing to continue with their insistance that we have to mind our own business in these matters.

        My opinion is and always has been that my shared femaleness trumps some man’s (or muslim woman for that matter) shared Muslim identity. I DO NOT have to mind my own business when women are suffering because of sexist cultures around the world.

        • I agree with you and I go beyond that.

          I have always told my (non Black) friends to not EVER let me get away with something they clearly find objectionable just because that’s the way Blacks supposedly do it.

        • TeresaInPa said: It is not the fault of the left, because it started thousands of years ago…but the left is enabling this sort of thing to continue with their insistance that we have to mind our own business in these matters.

          I agree. These crimes against girls are not the fault of the left, but there is enabling going on. And after this primary election, isn’t it clear that the accusation of racism trumped all others and was used to silence, shame, and take away power from many who supported Hillary.

          The left enables these practices when supporting the notion that standing up for these girls is “anti-Muslim,” or in any way unacceptable. The left (and I’ve been part of it for a long time) has a time honored tradition of saying one thing, when it comes to women, and doing another.

    • “…How much is amputated varies among cultures. In Egypt only the clitoris is amputated…”

      “ONLY” ?


      Let’s do some “only the penis” amputations and see what happens.

      • Well, it is ONLY women we are talking about here — they don’t need to enjoy sex to produce babies. {rolls eyes}

  44. I wonder if Barack will take note of that 300+ point uptick in the market on his Treasurer’s “bold plan” to save us or if he will hold to his previous rhetoric that this stuff does not really count and we should not pay attention to it? Just wondering what That One will say.

    • Everyone and their mother is grabbing onto the uptick like it’s the straw that will save us from drowning.

  45. The term ‘crude populism’ raises an editor question in my mind: is there ‘refined populism’? PK threw in the word crude, I suspect, as a quick way to say something that really isn’t reflected in the word crude. I’d like to hear him spell it out. I also don’t think we’ve gotten an inside his mind sense of the process that led him to move from Hllary to Barak. (And on the deeper issue, I’d like to know where he stands on corporate personhood.)

    • PK didn’t move from HRC to BO.

      He supported Obama because he was going for the “D” anyway and more importantly, McCain “economic plan” was not only laughable it was aggravating.

      Moreover, if we don’t really know how Krugman used the word “crude”, I think he is one of the few people who have earned so much credit that he should get the benefit of the doubt.

      • I totally agree.

      • At least McCain had an economic plan. Obama was the blank slate which everyone projected was going to be the same as every other Democrat. How’s that working out for Krugman?

        While I admire the guy enormously I believe I have every right to criticize him.

        • There’s nothing wrong with criticizing Krugman, but I don’t think his use of “crude populism” in this particular context applies as a basis for criticism.

          Did you actually say McCain had an economic plan? You must be joking.

          Obama’s economic blueprint wasn’t bad, it had tons of “good” elements from our POV, too bad he has revealed himself to be a bad executioner and far less bold.

          During the primaries, PK did his best to show everyone that Hillary was the better candidate and he took lots of shrapnel for it.

          Just go and read some of his posts and oped between Jan ’08 and June ’08.

          • I’ve already read his posts and yes I believed McCain was the better choice because I never for a minute believed anyone who ran “Harry and Louise” ads and had his freemarket revelers out there making fun of the fact Hillary wanted to fund infrastructure in the first stimulus bill was going to actually have an economic policy that would befit the term Democrat(back when I actually thought the term meant something- Go figure).If the economywas going to tank and no one had any soluti0ons that would be important enough to interrupt the bench naming in Congress, I’d much rather it have done so under the GOPs watch.

            For all the brilliance and education Krugman had, he was fooled and I wasn’t. Guess an education isn’t a guarantee that you know everything and hanging out with them uneducated Appalachians got my bullshit detector in peak shape.

            Heh but those of you that voted for Barack because voting for the GOP member would be evil can take consolation in the fact that Obama’s “poor execution and his inability to be bold” will color how generations of people look at the Democratic brand. Afterall, he’s”liberal” and he’s been listening to the “lefties(orsothemedia is saying) Congratulations on the lemon you bought. Hope the bright shiny D is a huge consolation when you still have crappy healthcare and there is no money left to revamp the system because the “Democrat”gaveall your money to banks and investors.

      • To me crude has a much more benign meaning than any “look-down-your-nose” sophisticated. A crude weapon e.g. would connote one made by hand from whatever materials might be at hand. A crude shelter would convey a similar meaning. To me crude populism approaches the editorial brink of being redundant. I think of populism as what comes more or less spontaneously from the general population—it is raw rather than processed. It is almost crude by definition.

        I think the big question goes to is Krugman right. The big goal is to take care of toxic assets on bank balance sheets so they will lend again. I think Krugman is saying the G plan does this at unnecessary cost and risk to taxpayers. I think the G plan and Wall St. are saying the cost and risk should not fall totally on them even though all of us think they are the ones who made this mess. The bottom line question is “will this do the job?” I think Krugman is saying ultimately no or at least not well and the costs are too high. I guess we are just going to have to wait and see.

        • I agree with your understanding of crude.

        • I continue to like PK, but can’t be that generous with him on crude. From where he sits, at best he means uninformed, which could be taken to mean ignorant.

          I have strong doubts about the G plan. About its fairness, about its workability, about its being funded by printed money as much as by taxpayers (same thing in the end). But PK is an economist, and not one of the tinfoily variety. An evaluation and view of the G plan from him should include a cost benefit of the best alternative. Without that, he’s just another complainer in the wind, a crude populist if you will.

  46. Speaking of populism, I was reading Robert Reich’s blog. He talks about the “Potemkin populism” of Congress and contrasts it with “angry populism.” I guess he is referring to fake villages Potemkin built to impress Catherine the Great.


    • Robert Reich is partially to blame for this. He supported Obama and wasn’t kind to Hillary even after she was trying to, you know, keep people from losing their homes.

      • I was pointing out how he used “populism” and not commenting on his stance/support.

  47. lowering my shield ……. what a brilliant post !!!! ……..raising shield

    • Ha! Caught ya! Hi SimoFish. 🙂 Speak up more often! I enjoyed you in the bad old days on the now-excreble TM.

  48. JPMorgan/Chase, receiver of TARP funds getting ready to buy a new jet. Bigger, nicer, faster than the G5.


    • I see that one of the fuckers flying on them is the bastard who waxed all incensed over the “villification of corporate America” that he just “doesn’t understand” on the news a few days ago.

    • Oh, and that is JETS, plural. And a fancy new state-of-the-art hanger for them with a roof garden.

      Must be nice to be a corporate welfare queen.

  49. Do these corporations have no common sense? I apologize for asking this insanely dumb question.

  50. The roof garden will be a vegetable garden. Mechelle will no doubt wave her wand of approval. I like that “corporate welfare queen”. We should compose a list. Let’s see right now the biggest queen I think is AIG probably followed by CITI, BA, Fannie, Freddie help me out folks. We need artists to create a corporate welfare queen poster that folks can carry in the teabag parties.

    • Good idea. “I wanna be a corporate welfare queen!” signs

    • Well, while people are totally incensed about AIG and the $165 or $200 million in bonuses, it seems it’s been forgotten that Merrill paid out over $2 billion in bonuses in December.

      BofA (Merrill) has got to be on the list.

  51. Yes, I agree with you that words have to be parsed very carefully when referring to protests and populism.

    The problem is that the world has moved on since 1999. Shifts in technology, have made possible a trade-induced shift away from manufacturing, which no amount of protectionism will restore. Furthermore the current system of global trade with its wildly distorted labour costs, and trade partners that subsidize heavily, is shaking the structure to its roots. Skewed labour costs, subsidized materials and undervalued currency are causing havoc within the traditional American and European capital-labor framework.

    In a similar way the money glut (coupled with greed and deregulation) has brought the financial sector to its knees.

    The trillions of tax dollars being thrown at this financial crisis, go far beyond what earlier silverite populists could ever have envisaged within their conspiratorial view of monetary history.

    Pumas must be careful not to allow themselves to be thrown into the waste basket of history, by letting themselves be defined as crude populists.

    What will be needed is people being very quick on their feet, in parsing definitions and criticisms thrown at them. And that is something our posters such as RD, myiq2xu, and SM just happen to be good at doing.

  52. SOD — I got the mail. Talk to ya later!

  53. OT, I am a lapsed Presbyterian. But I used to go to confessionals at my Catholic elementary school outside Cleveland just to keep up with the kids. Always felt weird, like I was apologizing to some stranger, when really what I wanted to do was apologize directly to my family and close friends who were the subjects of my confessions. Well then we moved away, and I never saw the inside of a confessional booth again, and good riddance, though I miss my friends.

  54. New post up.

  55. Wow, perfectly put RD.

  56. Ahhh…. finally another satirical voice in contemporary America 🙂 Great post to you the River Daughter.

    The Closer

  57. This piece speaks to and for millions in this country RD. I could say I am your exact counterpart on the West Coast in terms of education, job and so forth.

    So succinct — the educated PUMAset did not expect what the MBA/Legal set pulled and is pulling. We don’t have that heavy industry out here — but your parts about the pie on Thanksgiving and so forth — well, that is America. As we have known her all our lives.

    The way I see this now as the country tanks? One by one those MBAs have put this country out of business by outsourcing every possible thing — every possible SHRED that we manufactured.

    I make it a point to boycott products from one country.

    The other day I had to buy some new pillows. Well?

    Even pillows are made overseas, and stuffed overseas. Sheets by the big AMERICAN DESIGNER brands aren’t made here. On the West Coast the pollution drifts across the sea into the air because the regulations are non-existent on those shores where all of it is made now.

    As kids of the 70’s we KNEW about ecology, overpopulation and pollution — these were issues for us in high school. It seems to me that the Democrats took care of the reforms. Best in those days — that party seemed to care the most back then.

    We knew politicians could be corrupt via Nixon — and so we were loyal, weren’t we?


    Now we see the LEGACY of greed we were never expecting — and even from our party. When I was finally sent to work with the homeless I realized there wasn’t any hope. You know who I saw? People like us — the great big ex-middle class — who lost a job, a house, an apartment, and finally landed in a car. Well, I’ll tell you Confluence friends — your communities may not look like the East or West Coast — the deeply Democratic coasts, yet — but, there isn’t a place for people to go — so? There are migrations going on just like the Dustbowl right now.

    No one realizes how torn the fabric of this country is until you go out into the middle of it and look. The social effects of these layoffs?

    We have spent years and billions helping other countries while ours became broken. It’s like the third world, now. Here. Once you really see it. Politicians have failed us. Corporations have failed us. Even our government has failed us — the FDA.


    Where are the politicians who can come to the fore at this point?

    They better step in, soon. With realism. About America.

    Geez. Look how your piece touched me!

    This is an OP-ED! One of the best I’ve ever read.

    Brava RD.

  58. […] Monday: Why doctors of thinkology don’t get it. Paul Krugman is in despair. He simply cannot understand why Obama and his economics team are taking the country off a […] […]

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