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My frustration with Krugman

The problem is he is only one of a very few prominent liberals with access to a microphone. Today, he wrote some things I can personally relate to in his piece Twin Peaks Planet:

Furthermore, the travails of workers in rich countries are, in important ways, the flip side of the gains above and below them. Competition from emerging-economy exports has surely been a factor depressing wages in wealthier nations, although probably not the dominant force. More important, soaring incomes at the top were achieved, in large part, by squeezing those below: by cutting wages, slashing benefits, crushing unions, and diverting a rising share of national resources to financial wheeling and dealing.

Perhaps more important still, the wealthy exert a vastly disproportionate effect on policy. And elite priorities — obsessive concern with budget deficits, with the supposed need to slash social programs — have done a lot to deepen the valley of despond.

Unfortunately, there is an older generation of Americans who think there is nothing that can be done to stop this trend. They have been convinced by popular media that corruption is inevitable. These are the same older Americans who are benefitting from the Social Security that was  hard won after the last catastrophic depression. They were children back then. They benefitted from the post war economic expansion that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that conditions for working class Americans do not have to be one step away from destitution. It is not the natural order.  But these older Americans fail to make the connection time after time. They have been taught to disbelieve their own past prosperity and the conditions that were necessary to keep the predators at bay.

I blame TV.

But I also have to blame Krugman for some serious rationalization of very bad policy in the last 6 years. He states:

So who speaks for those left behind in this twin-peaked world? You might have expected conventional parties of the left to take a populist stance on behalf of their domestic working classes. But mostly what you get instead — from leaders ranging from François Hollande of France to Ed Milliband of Britain to, yes, President Obama — is awkward mumbling. (Mr. Obama has, in fact, done a lot to help working Americans, but he’s remarkably bad at making his own case.)

Obama hasn’t been bad at making his own case. He hasn’t got a case to make.

I’ve been harping on research for awhile now and people have pointed out to me that my industry has not been the only one to suffer during this downturn and I get that. But it is a perfect example of how this country has allowed our leadership in science erode away and that science has provided benefits globally over the past century. I have watched as this administration and Congress has done absolutely nothing to stop the demolition of the American research industry and that is going to come back to bite this country.

Well, I’m beating a dead horse here but I’ve become convinced that our president, Senators and Representatives have been getting some very bad advice from lobbyists and other industry representatives who deceive them into believing that globalization of a very complex industry was beneficial and inevitable. They are going to regret it before long. We can’t get jobs, can’t make a living and can’t contribute to the welfare of this country anymore. You’d think that would be of interest to this White House but there has been very little interest in creating policy to address this problem. And if the best educated in this country can’t get the attention of the most powerful people in the world, then what hope do the rest of the struggling Americans have for having their concerns addressed?

It doesn’t help when Krugman insists that Obama has done great things but he’s too modest to talk about them. Maybe he’s not talking about them because Americans are finally seeing through the PR machine about “green shoots”, Lilly Ledbetter and Obamacare. We’re all asking ourselves, how stupid do they think we are? Anyone not living off their investments in this country is trapped. It’s a real life Ballad of the MTA with no way to exit the train because we’re always a nickel short and the meter keeps running.

One thing Krugman does have right though is the specter of a return to an ugly malignant narcissism that is creeping into our public discourse. The rise of nationalism and the tendency to kick disadvantaged groups when they’re already down is a bad, bad sign.

Once again, I blame TV.

22 Responses

  1. Economics was trotted out as the catch-all justification for these policies, but economics was always secondary to expanding the Empire and maintaining the existing USA ruling class at the top of the heap in perpetuo.

    Outsourcing and demolishing trade barriers without regard to any kind of consumer or worker protection were preferable to allowing foreign economic elites to accumulate enough capital to seriously rival the USA ruling classes’ economic clout. If corporate America hadn’t relentlessly outsourced, the skilled workers in East Asia and India would have established their own businesses or gone to work for domestic corporations instead.

    Even those things weren’t sufficient to do the job in and of themselves; it also required systematic collusion between Washington and the big US financial firms to blow a titanic real estate/financing bubble to suck up and vaporize the savings being deposited by East Asia’s middle classes, and thus ensure that that capital would not get invested in US multinationals’ East Asian rivals.

    • Krugman supported the concept of Free Trade in general and he strongly supported the NAFTA conspiracy against American jobs in particular. He has been a threat and a menace for longer than just 6 years.

  2. Maybe a tad off topic, but it would help if one didn’t have to go into so much debt for higher education in this country. Have seen our government bring foreign nationals here and pay their way through college as well as provide living expenses for these individuals… living expenses given to them free and clear each month was more than I made working my azz off. And what makes it even worse is these individuals were from wealthy families. Yet the US taxpayers get stuck paying the bill when many can’t afford college educations for themselves.

    • Till a couple decades ago, the publics of various states paid enough taxes , enough of which were spent on State Universities, to where any citizens of those respective states who made the grade and qualified . . . could get into their States’ Universities at very reasonable cost. Part of the extreme rise in State University tuitions has been to try making up for State taxpayers and legislatures’ boycotting those universities and massively de-funding them.

      An honest political party would describe all that and run on restoring the missing taxes and explaining exactly what those re-raised taxes would be spent on and why. Then citizens would have something to vote for or against based on truth and facts.

      A major reason Schauer lost to Snyder in Michigan I think is that Schauer and the Democrats refused to say just exactly what taxes they would seek to raise and how and why, and for spending on what.
      Complaints against Snyder were not good enough in the absence of a specific Democratic plan for people to vote about. I almost betcha it was the two referendum items to do with wolf-hunting which brought out whatever voters even came out at all. And some of them voted on other stuff too. But I haven’t studied this, of course.

  3. Bad advise lubricated with large wads of cash no doubt.

    What’s the line on pardons for Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich in Vegas?

  4. Well, I’m beating a dead horse here but I’ve become convinced that our president, Senators and Representatives have been getting some very bad advice from lobbyists and other industry representatives who deceive them into believing that globalization of a very complex industry was beneficial and inevitable. They are going to regret it before long

    No, they won’t because they’re all on the take. They don’t care, RD, because the people they’re really working for don’t care. They’re not “getting advice”, they’re obeying orders.

    • Well said.

    • Propertius, the problem with universal application of this concept is that . . . how do we apply it to the officeholders who appeared to oppose NAFTA at the time? Were they merely preTENding to oppose it according to the theory of “rotating good guys and bad guys”? Or were they genuinely opposed it and doing their best to stop it in the face of overwhelming support for Free Trade Treason Agreements emanating from the Clinton Administration and its filthy henchcreeps in Congress such as that piece of fece that calls itself Rahm Emmanuel? And para-humanoid garbage like Bowles later of Obama’s infamous Simpson-Bowles Catfood Commission? How do we know?

      We certainly know that internal enemy-traitor Pelosi aggressively supported NAFTA. But the seeming patriot Marcy Kaptur of Greater Toledo area, Ohio certainly appeared to oppose it. Do you have a way to tell if she was a genuinely not-on-the-take officeholder or merely a scriptedly rotating hero of the moment?

      • Also my own officeholder, Rep. Dingell, certainly apPEARED to be a patriot against NAFTA rather than a traitor for NAFTA. I choose to believe he really WAS a patriot against NAFTreasonA. But how would I be sure? According to your theory?

      • NAFTA was ratified over 20 years ago. I’d say there has been a generational shift in US politics in the meantime (and an unfortunate trend in the courts to legalize bribery).

  5. RD said:

    “Unfortunately, there is an older generation of Americans who think there is nothing that can be done to stop this trend. They have been convinced by popular media that corruption is inevitable.”

    Why shouldn’t they think that? Corruption is systemic and no one on the top of the heap needs to worry about prosecution. A slap on the wrist, a laughable fine and a ‘be a good boy’ warning was what happened to the financial crooks, the TBTF grifters who nearly brought the world to its knees. Have they changed their tunes? Hardly. The Ponzi game continues while ordinary citizens suffer economically and the drum beat for smaller government, tax reductions and slashed social programs is a deafening mantra. It’s not the 1% who is to blame, it’s the scroungers, the takers, the hangers on. Utopia is just around the corner because . . . Freedom!

    Obama? He gets to do his bipartisan dance and push the next catastrophic trade deal through, the TransPacific trade deal that is so secret only 600 corporations get to read it. We’ll see the Pelosi theorem in effect once more: We have to pass the law to see what’s in it.

    Guess Congress doesn’t recall [or doesn’t care about] the old folk wisdom: Never buy a pig in a poke. When you’re on the take, wisdom takes a back seat. Or is thrown off the train altogether.

    Another bubble burst is coming to a movie theater near us all. Be it the fracking industry exploding or the student loan debacle swallowing everything that’s left. Derivatives rule the world! But the next financial disaster is coming, along with all the weary excuses–we didn’t know, we can’t be held responsible, bailouts and austerity are the only remedies. For ordinary people.

    Propertius is correct: the MOTU don’t care. As long as they survive. As long as they remain Kings of the Mountain, be it a rubbish heap or not. Greed is the Prime Mover. Corruption? The grease on the wheels.

    That’s the world we’re living in. And sadly, I don’t see it changing any time soon.

    Btw, TV has definitely had an effect. But this shift has been in the works for 50 years, slithering just beneath the surface. Destruction from within. It’s a time proven strategy.

    • You have proven my point.
      The reason why the middle class prospered in the middle of the last century was because we held people accountable. We put in regulation to level the playing field and to prevent predators from taking advantage of everyone else.
      The solution is not to throw your hands up in frustration. The solution is

      Do you see the connection???

      • Half of them tell you that before getting voted in.

        All of them act on that basis after getting voted in.

      • I absolutely see the connection, RD. The media/TV is one problem of many. There was once upon a time when we actually had a Fourth Estate, newspapers, even newscasters acting as watchdog for the commons as opposed to lapdogs for the rich and famous. Those days are long gone. Now we have a saturation of propaganda out of the mouths of pols, print, radio and TV. The whole Western World has turned into an echo chamber–government bad, deregulation good, taxation bad, greed heads good. Our entire value system has been turned on its head and yet a substantial part of the electorate will still chant: USA, USA, USA regardless of what is being done in our names.

        I agree we need to stop voting for the people who tell you that government and regulation is the problem. Also those who find enemies and a reason for war at every turn. Sadly, many who sound as if they’re on the right side of things, change their tune once elected. The question is why? Were they always big fat liars? Is there some shadow pressure/presence that sours even the best intentions? Or is it simply the lure of money, good old fashioned greed–I’ve got mine, I feel fine and the hell with you?

        The problem with corruption is once rooted, once practiced with impunity [no fear of punishment], the behavior inspires an endless loop of corrupting, corrosive actions. Bill Black has written to this innumerable times regarding financial institutions. If the game is rigged and the players are crooked, the honest broker has no place to go, no way to play [earn a living] without going with the flow. Or becoming a hermit. A hungry hermit, pushed out of his/her game/career/profession.

        It’s a mess, so widespread, so entrenched, I don’t know how you turn it around. Without the threat of civil unrest, that is. Which is something I would not look forward to or ever encourage. This is why, IMHO,
        so many people throw up their hands in frustration. Because they don’t know either.

        • “Without the threat of civil unrest”

          Yes, this is a major source of despair for me as well.

          I look at the present and I look at history, and I can see no “successful” violent revolution which did anything better than replace the existing misruling class of sociopathic thugs with a different misruling class of different sociopathic thugs, justified by a different ideology of exploitation.

          See every Communist revolution ever for the dreary details. 😦

          • To clarify: I don’t see voting and political action working, I don’t see peaceful protest working, and I don’t see violent rebellion working.

            More and more, I feel like giving up and waiting for the next life.

            And if there be no next life, even oblivion might be better than this hellworld. 😦

          • Though in case anyone would worry about me, don’t do that. I have far too strong an animal self-preservation drive ever to kill myself.

          • Oh come on now . . . if the I. B. Woodpecker were discovered to really truly and incontrovertibly exist along the Cache River, would you feel better about things?

  6. Great post as always and thank you for it.

  7. Something I read lately noted that numbers from the last mid-term national elections show more than the usual dip in mid-term voting. Turns out, the drop off in voting has sunk to levels not seen since the 1920s and earlier. Not only that, but a majority now identify as Independents, with only about 23% identifying as Republicans and the same low percentage identifying as Democrats.

    • Perhaps those people who would otherwise not vote at all anymore anyway should do this instead: keep registering and stay registered.
      Attend elections and cast blank or spoiled ballots, which must be acknowledged and counted as “spoiled”. If millions of people take the trouble to come out and spoil their ballots on purpose, it would be hard for the Corporate Fascist Pig MSM to pretend it wasn’t happening.

      ” Had enough? Call 1-800- IVO-TENO.”

      Those of us who still think there are specific things worth voting about . . . like wolf-hunting . . . will still come out and vote regardless.

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