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Why won't Paul Krugman post on Bill Black watch


Regarding what Steve Benen calls "the war on arithmetic", Paul Krugman writes today:

[T]he clear and present danger isn’t that the G.O.P. will be able to achieve its long-run goals. It is, rather, that Republicans will gain just enough power to make the country ungovernable, unable to address its fiscal problems or anything else in a serious way. As I said, banana republic, here we come.

Well, the question of our banana republic nature seems to be another abstract technical debate; Princeton academic and Nobelist Krugman thinks we're not there yet; MIT academic and IMFer Simon Johnson thinks we are already there. So, opinions differ among economists. How to resolve the matter? Let me propose a simple test:

A common and well-known characteristic of banana republics is that the elite have "impunity" for crimes. So:

In the United States, does the elite have impunity for crimes?

Of course they do. Check out UMKC professor Bill Black, who successfully prosecuted many bankster criminals cleaing up the S&L crisis* on bankster criminality during the last bubble, on Bill Moyers. Then run a Google search on "accounting control fraud." [Also see Dan PS on impunity just today.]

All this must be obvious to Professor Krugman. And yet the dog does not bark in the night. Why? Unfortunately, I think the answer is hidden in plain sight, in another part of the same column:

The late Irving Kristol, one of the intellectual godfathers of modern conservatism, once wrote frankly about why he threw his support behind tax cuts that would worsen the budget deficit: his task, as he saw it, was to create a Republican majority, “so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.” In short, say whatever it takes to gain power. That’s a philosophy that now, more than ever, holds sway in the movement Kristol helped shape.

Or, more subtly, "Don't say whatever it takes." Sadly, and so indicatively, what once was an Eschatonian parody of winger stupidity has become the new baseline: "I used to like Paul Krugman when he stuck to writing about economics, but now he's just so partisan." I wish Krugman would stop writing about partisan politics, since the Ds can pay to have their memes propagated, and they don't really need his help. And I wish he'd start writing again about political economy, since a lot of people who really do need his help could use it.

NOTE * Indicating that the body politic was much more healthy during Reagan's day than it is under a D President who is also the greatest orator of our time, bringer of hope and change, et cetera. I know I keep linking to this interview, but everyone really should read it. Especially if you think the commodity that passes for "news" in this country is in any way important or interesting, or anything other than an empty calories distraction from news that would really feed us.

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Joe's picture
Submitted by Joe on

Whether Paul demands prosecutions or not really doesn't matter. The owners of this country, and their servants (the politicians), don't give a sh*t what he says.

There's almost no one I respect and admire more than Krugman. But he's got no power. So constantly calling on him to say this or that really almost seems like a waste of time.

We ARE a banana republic. One man ain't gonna fix that problem.

Submitted by Hugh on

Krugman is what I call an Establishment liberal. He can criticize aspects of the Establishment and elites to which he belongs but he can never bring himself to question the edifice itself. I used to get whiplash reading his column. He would take an analysis up to the point where it would begin to challenge the system as a whole ... and just stop. Now I just expect him to do this.

For Krugman, he will always stop at that place where the Republicans have got nothing and the Democrats have problems. Unless he undergoes an unexpected radicalization, I don't see him ever looking past Democratic and Republican rhetoric and kabuki fights to acknowledge their common corporatist agenda.

He was at his worse when he was defending Obamacare. Or in his long term inability to really criticize his mentor Bernanke. He was at his best when he brought up the likelihood of depression, a view I share, which put him out in front of most progressive economists.

Krugman is not alone in his Establishmentarianism. Someone who drives me up the wall is Andrew Bacevich. Unlike Krugman, Bacevich will make critiques that go to the heart and soul of the legitimacy of the Establishment. Yet even more than Krugman he remains a rock solid member of that Establishment. That disconnect is a degree of intellectual schizophrenia I can not begin to fathom.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

Some leftover links from my PS post yesterday:

Shrill one:

But after this string of errors, wouldn't you at least begin to suspect that the people you find congenial have a fundamentally wrong-headed view of how the world works?

AL on Bill Kristol and a TP post to the same effect. Then Glenn on Friedman. No analysts suffer for being wrong. If you're wrong in the right way, there are no consequences (cf.).