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I wouldn’t count on complacency

Krugman wrote a post on The Political Economy of Permanent Stagnation pointing out that the economy just plods along with high unemployment and sluggishness and people are just getting used to it:

But won’t there be an ever-growing demand from the public for action? Actually, that’s not at all clear. While there is growing “austerity fatigue” in Europe, and this might provoke a crisis, the overwhelming result from U.S. political studies is that the level of unemployment matters hardly at all for elections; all that matters is the rate of change in the months leading up to the election. In other words, high unemployment could become accepted as the new normal, politically as well as in economic analysis.

I guess what I’m saying is that I worry that a more or less permanent depression could end up simply becoming accepted as the way things are, that we could suffer endless, gratuitous suffering, yet the political and policy elite would feel no need to change its ways.

Given that I am sort of *living* the rude awakening from the American Dream and see many people in similar distressing circumstances, I can tell Krugman that there is definitely not complacency out here.  There’s anger, bitterness and resentment.  The resentment is not because we want to be rich or have two or three nice Lexus SUVs and a Pied a Terre in Lower Manhattan.  It’s that some of us can’t afford rent on a small row house in a 70 year old affordable housing development and pay for a health insurance policy on an exchange.

The administration should not get complacent and assume that the great unwashed masses out here have no idea what a raw deal they’re getting with Obamacare.  I am quite surprised at the number of people making a lousy $11/hour at their less than full time jobs who know better than some bloggers exactly how much they’re going to have to pay in taxes and penalties if they can’t afford a policy. I’ve met young healthy guys who can’t afford a doctor and physical therapist to treat their possibly dislocated, inflamed shoulders that they use every day to dig trenches.  They know exactly how the bonus class is screwing them.

All they need is a charismatic, take-no-prisoners, energetic politician to speak for them and there will be plenty of change.  That’s why the moneyed elite will fight back tooth and nail and smear any such politician who challenges it.  That’s why we have Obama.

They’re going to try to run a woman next time.  The Republican campaign against modernity will make her extremely attractive.  I don’t think it will be Hillary for the same reason that Krugman feels that stagnation is something we have gotten used to.  Hillary’s best chance was 2008. Her policy wonkiness, knowledge of the executive branch and vision would have been well suited to tackling the financial collapse and turning back the worst of the Bush policies.  That’s why she didn’t get the nomination in 2008.  The moneyed class didn’t want experience, knowledge and competency.

By the time 2016 rolls around, Republican policies will be more firmly set and it’s going to take someone who is bold enough to shake the foundations to really make a difference and roll back 16 years of stingy conservatism and bad financial and business decisions.  Can she do it?  Sure she could.  But the forces who kept her out in 2008 will either make her kiss their rings, in which case, she’d be useless to us, or they’re going to try to take her out again.  If the establishment Democratic party starts pushing her as their nominee genuinely, I’d have to question how much she’s been co-opted.  She’d almost have to run against her own party.  I haven’t seen that yet and given what a loyal Dem she is, don’t expect to.

Anyway, my point is that there’s plenty of discontent.  The people in charge might want to seriously consider what they’re doing.  The people I’ve been talking to are majorly pissed off right now at their prospects and we’re talking about manual labor all the way to the most educated among us.  A whole swath of Americans of all socio-economic levels are just waiting for a sign.  At this point, I don’t know if it’s going to come from the right or the left but when it happens, it’s going to be big.

One other thing: The bonus class shouldn’t sit on its laurels after the Voting Rights Act was gutted last week.  The discontent has spread so wide now that it is no longer confined to the generational poor and minority voters.

13 Responses

  1. We need new Krugmans too. It’s sad that someone who should know better (and I used to THINK he knew better) is babbling insensitive crap like that. But, I guess that’s the sort of stuff he has to write to keep his slot in the Modern Version of the NY Times. In any case, it’s been a long time since I nodded along with one of his columns.

    Is it possible that there is confusion about what is “right” and what is “left” … possibly based on a difference between economic right/left and social right/left with libertarians tossed in just to make things fun??? Oh, and do ecological issues fit into the right/left model?

    I’m thinking (today anyway) that a huge barrier keeping lefty-types from working with righty-types is that traditionally lefty-types (please notice the double qualifier) think Government can work well, effectively and economically. Righty-types don’t.

    Is that true? Ish?

    • I don’t think Krugman is being insensitive here. I think he just lives in Princeton.

  2. Kaufman does not mean to say that the 99% are complacent. He simply states the obvious which is that the 1% is convinced that we will no rebel. They’re right. He’s correct. We will just slowly subside into our role as peasants, permanently. It’s very pretty to think otherwise but that’s the way feudalism works. Sorry.

    • His name is Krugman.
      You haven’t been paying attention to the news lately, have you?

  3. The Soviet Union was very helpful to American workers because it served as a cautionary tale to the capitalist pigs (you know who you are) in the US.
    And, no, I don’t think that all captains of industry are immoral, greedy pigs, but many are.
    RD, I love you to death, but why are you so prickly?
    Mutantmule may never stop by again.

  4. Many of the American Presidents who pursued change tried to appear “moderate” until they reached office. Lincoln was considered more moderate than Seward or Chase until he was elected and proved firmer against secession and slavery than either . FDR tried to picture himself as semi-moderate in 1932 (though not in 1936 or 1938) and still generated a coup attempt and maybe an assassination attempt before he took office. Teddy Roosevelt was shoved into the Vice Presidency to keep him from damaging the pluticrats as Governor of New York.

    The malefactors of great wealth will certainly go far to slander the reputation and possibilities of any real reformer.

    On a totally off topic topic: Wimbledon women’s winner Marion Bartoli was maligned by a BBC radio commentator at the moment of victory as “certainly not a looker.” No, but she had just won the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament and reportedly has an IQ of 175, higher than Einstein or Stephen Hawking and way higher than the commentator. Good move, Marion, to avoid going into pharma research and pick the more lucrative tennis career.

    • Wimbledon women’s winner Marion Bartoli was maligned by a BBC radio commentator at the moment of victory as “certainly not a looker
      Holy shit, you’re kidding.
      Doubtless, Ms. Bartoli doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what some Beeb twit has to say, but what about all the young listeners who just heard ” It doesn’t matter what you accomplish if you don’t give me a boner.”

      • LOL. The sad thing is that he probably doesn’t realize he’s being a sexist ass when he says things like that. Women are meant to be ornamental in his mind.

        • And the woman he’s maligning is a world class athlete with a 175 IQ. Unfortunately, all the twit wants to see is an attractive body and he cares little or nothing about her talent and intelligence. Unfortunately, we seem the same thing in other areas. Singers , at least women, need to be lookers these days as well. That’s why we have no Mahaliah Jacksons on TV but are plagued by Brittany Spears.

          Lest we forget, neither Billie Jean King or Martina Navratilova would have met this fools standards either.

          In a world where woemn have a host of serious personal and professional roles you would think we would have advanced. Guess not.

  5. Re Pied à Terre in lower Manhattan: “Downtown is livelier — we feel as though we have been in Milan for the weekend,” said Brooke Garber Neidich, a chairwoman of the Whitney Museum, a founder and chairwoman of the Child Mind Institute and a trustee of Lincoln Center Theater.

    Maybe she would have liked to visit my modest working class home these last two blistering days…it’s like being in sub-Saharan Africa for the weekend.

  6. I agree with you. I don’t think Krugman is correct on the country settling for a depression. The policy elites he confers with probably see it that way, but there are way too many tinder boxes out here that require the smallest spark to set off a raging fire. Obamacare is one. I remain convinced we’ll see another financial crisis before long. What’s interesting is how few academic economists see that risk. As more people realize the oligarchs see them as disposable, they will revolt. They’ll have no choice.

  7. Hillary or not I’m voting third party this go around. Our best chance at actual change IMO is to get rid of the bad-worse dynamic that the Democratic and GOP offer and that supports the status quo of bought and paid for policy by monied interests. At this point I really think we need a new Constitutional Convention where amendments can be offered that say money is not speech(where more money means you get to stand at the podium all day) and that corporations are not people(or there’d be a whole lot of them in prison instead of paying ridiculously small fines for stealing.)

  8. Why is China doing this? It doesn’t have the kind of social safety net one sees in the developed world, so it needs to keep its economy going at any cost. Millions of people have migrated to its cities, and now they’re hungry and unemployed. People without food or work tend to riot. To keep that from happening, the government is more than willing to artificially stimulate the economy, in the hopes of buying time until the global system stabilizes. It’s literally forcing banks to lend — which will create a huge pile of horrible loans on top of the ones they’ve originated over the last decade.

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