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September 16, 2003

AN INTERVIEW WITH PAUL KRUGMAN....You probably think you know Paul Krugman, the liberal New York Times columnist with never a kind word for George Bush. Think again.

Is Krugman merely someone who dislikes Bush and thinks his policies are horribly misguided? Oh no. In fact, in his most recent book, The Great Unraveling, he makes it clear that he thinks it's much, much worse than that. Here's a set of excerpts from the introduction in which he spells out exactly how he feels. Be sure not to skip past this if you want the interview that follows to make sense:

Most people have been slow to realize just how awesome a sea change has taken place in the domestic political scene....The public still has little sense of how radical our leading politicians really are....Just before putting this book to bed, I discovered a volume that describes the situation almost perfectly....an old book by, of all people, Henry Kissinger....

In the first few pages, Kissinger describes the problems confronting a heretofore stable diplomatic system when it is faced with a "revolutionary power" — a power that does not accept that system's legitimacy....It seems clear to me that one should regard America's right-wing movement...as a revolutionary power in Kissinger's sense....

In fact, there's ample evidence that key elements of the coalition that now runs the country believe that some long-established American political and social institutions should not, in principle, exist....Consider, for example....New Deal programs like Social Security and unemployment insurance, Great Society programs like Medicare....Or consider foreign policy....separation of church and state....The goal would seem to be something like this: a country that basically has no social safety net at home, which relies mainly on military force to enforce its will abroad, in which schools don't teach evolution but do teach religion and — possibly — in which elections are only a formality....

Surely, says the conventional wisdom, we should discount this rhetoric: the goals of the right are more limited than this picture suggests. Or are they?

Back to Kissinger. His description of the baffled response of established powers in the face of a revolutionary challenge works equally well as an account of how the American political and media establishment has responded to the radicalism of the Bush administration over the past two years:...."they find it nearly impossible to take at face value the assertions of the revolutionary power that it means to smash the existing framework"....this passage sent chills down my spine....

There's a pattern...within the Bush admin-istration....which should suggest that the administration itself has radical goals. But in each case the administration has reassured moderates by pretending otherwise — by offering rationales for its policy that don't seem all that radical. And in each case moderates have followed a strategy of appeasement....this is hard for journalists to deal with: they don't want to sound like crazy conspiracy theorists. But there's nothing crazy about ferreting out the real goals of the right wing; on the contrary, it's unrealistic to pretend that there isn't a sort of conspiracy here, albeit one whose organization and goals are pretty much out in the open....

Here's a bit more from Kissinger: "The distinguishing feature of a revolutionary power is not that it feels threatened...but that absolutely nothing can reassure it (Kissinger's emphasis). Only absolute security — the neutralization of the opponent — is considered a sufficient guarantee"....I don't know where the right's agenda stops, but I have learned never to assume that it can be appeased through limited concessions. Pundits who predict moderation on the part of the Bush administration, on any issue, have been consistently wrong....

I have a vision — maybe just a hope — of a great revulsion: a moment in which the American people look at what is happening, realize how their good will and patriotism have been abused, and put a stop to this drive to destroy much of what is best in our country. How and when this moment will come, I don't know. But one thing is clear: it cannot happen unless we all make an effort to see and report the truth about what is happening.

Whew. Alarming enough for you?

What more can I say after all that? A couple of things: first, in person Krugman hardly fits his image of a fire breathing demon of the left. In fact, he's got a hint of the geeky air you might expect from a Princeton professor of economics: slightly harrassed, stuff in his shirt pocket, a bit of a nervous speaking style.

Second, although there's some repetition in the book — an occupational hazard of column collections — it's a great read (currently ranked #12 on Amazon and likely to soon join the five other liberal books currently dominating the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.) And you really do have to read it to truly understand where Krugman is coming from. It's one thing to hear him say that the Bush administration lies continually, it's another to read column after column in which he documents it. The lies are relentless, brazen, and indisputable.

When I caught up with Krugman he had flown into town to appear on Bill Maher's show the previous night — "with Jesse Ventura, if you can imagine that" — and had just driven from Hollywood down to Del Mar to appear at a book signing at a local independent bookstore. I got to speak with him for about 25 minutes before making way for a reporter from the San Diego Union-Tribune. Here's the interview.

The main theme of The Great Unraveling is how much Bush lies. But Reagan lied, Clinton lied, Johnson lied, all presidents lie. What's the difference between them and Bush?

Actually, I miss Reagan. I never thought I'd say that, but....

Reagan lied a little bit, and his policies were often crazy, but they wouldn't do 2 -1 = 4. They'd say, if we have our tax cut we'll have this wonderful supply side thing and the economy will boom and it will pay for itself, which was a crazy theory, but it wasn't a blatant lie about the actual content of the policy.

Bush says, I've got a tax cut that's aimed at working people, ordinary working people, and then you just take a look at it and discover that most of it's coming from elimination of the estate tax and a cut in the top bracket, so it's heavily tilted toward just a handful of people at the top. It's just a flat lie about what the tax cut is.

So this is different, this is really more extreme. We're not talking about disagreements about policy at this point, we're talking about people who insist that things that are flatly not true are true, that black is white, up is down.

One of the points in your book is that "reasonable" liberals aren't taking this seriously enough, that they just don't see the things you do. But doesn't that make you sound like a crank? How do you…

Well, you just keep on hammering it, and you try to document it.

During the 2000 campaign I was inspired to get radicalized. You know, this was not your ordinary average slightly misleading campaign, this was something off the scale, but most people just wouldn't go at it. And that's when I started saying that if Bush said the Earth was flat, the resulting article would say "Shape of the Earth: Views Differ." And then after September 11th it was really impossible, because people wanted to believe good things that just weren't true.

So you just keep on hammering, and I think it's actually changed a lot. In fact, when I wrote the intro to the book the guys at Norton were worried, they were saying, that's pretty tough stuff. But at this point it doesn't seem that far out anymore, there are a fair number of people saying the same thing. In fact, I almost felt as if we missed the window when this stuff would still be shocking, because a lot of people are starting to see it. The scales are falling from people's eyes.

The introduction to your book was tough. It almost sounded like, just in case you still haven't figured out how Paul Krugman feels about things....

Well, I wanted a context. I was having a little trouble with the editors who kept on pushing the book to be about the bubble and its aftermath. And while there's a fair bit about that, that's not actually the central theme. The central theme is, we're being lied to by our leaders, and I just felt I really needed to put that very strongly in context.

If you look at what the introduction is about a lot, it's partly about what these guys are doing, but it's partly about why reasonable people have such a hard time facing up to what they're doing. The Kissinger quote is not about what the France of Robespierre was doing, it's about why the diplomats of Austria couldn't handle what the France of Robespierre was doing, and that's why they just couldn't understand that such a thing was really possible. And that's what it's addressed to, the intro is really addressed to the liberal or moderate who just can't believe that Bush isn't another Reagan, that this is something really much more radical even than that.

What do you think is the difference with Bush? The movement conservatives, the Grover Norquists of the world, they've been around for 20 years plus....

They're much more organized and the funding has increased to a level that wasn't there before. Basically there's a lot more money behind it, there's a lot more organized fanaticism. The strength of the hard religious right — even though the numbers are probably smaller than they were in the 80s — is higher because the fanaticism of those who remain is much greater.

And of course September 11th, which gave them the ability to turn national security into a club with which to dash down opposition to this radical agenda, has made it much more severe than it was. Basically, they just got better at it. The "compassionate conservative" front is something that they learned their lessons about. They learned not to run people like Steve Forbes, but to run people who could talk a better game while actually doing the same stuff.

What do you think are their underlying motives?

If you think that income inequality is one of the things that drives this – and I do believe it's part of the story – then you have to look at the self-reinforcing process in which growing concentration of wealth at the top feeds into the political power of the people who serve that class's interest. I don't want to sound like a Marxist here, but there's some of that going on. What we thought was an explosion of inequality in the Reagan years was nothing compared to where we are now.

Of course, that happened all through the Clinton years too.

That's right, income inequality was going up the whole time, because Clinton was actually a very moderate president. Clinton was not really doing anything to lean against it except for that one fairly significant tax increase at the beginning, but the underlying trends were still going. So, in 1975 CEOs earned about 40 times the average wage, by the end of the Reagan era they were earning 130 times the average wage, and we thought that was a wildly unequal society, but now it's 500 times. So whatever it is that was going on in the 80s is now much more powerful.

But they're still pissed off.

Well, that's what I don't understand. It's odd that the better things get if you are rich or a fundamentalist Christian, the more angry they get. That's the nice thing about the Kissinger quote. I'm not sure he understands it either, but this notion that if you have this kind of revolutionary power you don't feel secure unless you have a complete monopoly of power, that seems to be the way it's playing out.

Purely on an economic basis, what's wrong with income inequality? Does it hurt? And why?

Well, I think you can't do it on a pure economic basis, you have to think how it plays through the social system and the political process…

Suppose it keeps going up. What happens?

One thing that happens is you have an adversarial kind of society, you have a society in which people don't share the same lives at all, don't share the same values. Politically, it leads to erosion of the support for public institutions that we need.

Take this catastrophe in Alabama just now. It was a dispute about taxes, but what's ultimately at stake is, are they going to do anything to improve that dismal primary education system in Alabama or is it going to get even worse because of the budget crisis? And the answer is, it's going to get even worse.

It's funny, some of the businesses in Alabama were supporting Riley's tax plan because they actually are starting to understand that a decent education level is more important to them than a couple of points off their taxes. But it gets harder to have that sort of enlightened social policy when you have a society that's so radically differentiated. Think of Latin America. The characteristic thing in Latin America is that they have lousy infrastructure and lousy education systems because they're so polarized on income, and in turn that leads to low development and polarized income. You get this kind of downward spiral. And there's something like that happening here.

But despite 20 years of this, starting in the early 80s, there's actually remarkably little class envy among the working class in America.

Yeah, and that's partly because people don't know. There's a funny thing that happened when I had that piece on inequality from the Times magazine a year ago. I had no control over the artwork and didn't see it until everyone else saw it, and they had this big picture of what they thought was a mansion. But it wasn't a mansion, it wasn't what the really rich are building now, it was a roughly $3 million house of about 7,000 square feet, and there are a few of those in Princeton just down the road from me. The people doing the Times magazine artwork just don't realize how rich the rich are these days, what the real excesses look like, and I think that's the general thing. I think most people are not well informed, and after all who is going to inform them? It's the power of propaganda: 49% of the public thinks that most people end up paying the estate tax.

Why is the Bush administration doing what they're doing economically? Obviously they want to get reelected, and they know a strong economy is important to getting reelected. So why deliberately follow policies that aren't going to help?

I think they were betting that the economy would spontaneously strengthen. They were betting that they would get their recovery — and they might still be right, though I think it's almost impossible that Bush will end this term with more jobs than when he came in — but in any case the trend might be up enough that they can still pull it off.

But they've been shocked by this, they expected that it would turn out OK, and their strategy has been to play to the base. They've just thought that that's what maximizes reelection chances. God knows. After all, on what issue have they actually said, here's a problem and we have to solve it? There have been none of those, there have just been, here's a problem and how can we use it to advance the base's agenda? And it's still better than even odds that they will get reelected regardless.

Beyond that, obviously Grover Norquist and the Heritage Foundation see all this as a way to radically downsize government by creating so much red ink that it becomes politically possible to chip away at Social Security and Medicare. I doubt that Bush understands that that's where it's going, but in effect he's allowing himself to be used by people who have those sorts of goals.

And they honestly think they can do that? I don't think politically you can cut those programs.

Train wreck is a way overused metaphor, but we're headed for some kind of collision, and there are three things that can happen. Just by the arithmetic, you can either have big tax increases, roll back the whole Bush program plus some; or you can sharply cut Medicare and Social Security, because that's where the money is; or the U.S. just tootles along until we actually have a financial crisis where the marginal buyer of U.S. treasury bills, which is actually the Reserve Bank of China, says, we don't trust these guys anymore — and we turn into Argentina. All three of those are clearly impossible, and yet one of them has to happen, so, your choice. Which one?

Well, how about your choice? What's your best guess?

I think financial crisis, and then how it falls out is 50-50, either New New Deal or back to McKinley, and I think it's anybody's guess which one of those it is. It's crazy stuff, but think about where I am on this. My take on the numbers is no different from Brad DeLong's, it's no different from CBO's now, and we all look at this and we all see this curve that marches steadily upwards and then heads for the sky after the baby boomers start retiring. I don't know what Brad thinks, I think he's open-minded [actually, it turns out he's optimistic that voters will eventually come to their senses and raise taxes on the rich. —ed.], but the general view is: yes, but this is America, it can't happen, so something will come up. And I'm just willing to say I don't see any noncatastrophic solution to this, I don't see an incremental stepwise resolution. I think something drastic is really going to happen.

How does all this feed in to the current account deficit? Will China keep financing that forever?

They're financing both the current account deficit, and, as it turns out, directly financing the government deficit. We were running a big current account deficit that accelerated through the late 90s, but there you could say that it was due to the strength of the U.S. economy, it was all this investment demand, technological revolution, and after all, the government was in surplus.

Now, we're back in twin deficits territory, and there are two related issues, the solvency of the federal government and the solvency of the United States per se, and both of them are now somewhat in question.

Maybe I'm a captive of my own model, but I think that what happens when the world loses faith in the U.S. as a place to invest is that the dollar plunges, but that in itself is not so bad because the lucky thing is our foreign debts are in dollars, so we don't do an Indonesia or an Argentina. But the federal government's solvency is a much more critical thing because it needs to keep on borrowing more and more just to pay its bills.

What happens if these foreign countries do stop buying U.S. bonds? Is this a real concern, or a tinfoil hat kind of thing?

Oh, I don't think China is going to do it to pressure us. You can just barely conceive of a situation where they're mad at us because we're keeping them from invading Taiwan or something, but more likely they just start to wonder if this is really a good place to be putting their money.

So what happens is a plunge in the dollar when they decide to stop buying and start cashing in, and a spike in U.S. interest rates. But you might also get in a situation where the interest rates the government has to pay to roll over its debt become so high that you get an accelerating problem, which is what happened in Argentina. What happened was that suddenly no one would buy Argentine debt unless they paid a twenty something percent interest rate, and everybody says, but if they have to roll over their debt at a twenty percent interest rate, there's no way they can pay that back. So the whole thing grinds to a halt and the cash flow just dries up.

And do you think that's a serious possibility for the United States?

Yeah, just take the numbers as they now look, and that's where it heads. And you might say, OK, we can easily handle it. U.S. taxes are 26 percent of GDP in the U.S., in Canada they're 38 percent of GDP. If you raise U.S. taxes to Canadian levels there's plenty of money to cope with all of this. But politically we've got a deadlock, and it's hard to imagine that happening.

So you say, but this can't happen, this is America, and I guess my answer is, is it? Is this the same country that we had in 1970? I think we have a much more polarized political system, a much more polarized social climate. We certainly aren't the country of Franklin Roosevelt, and we're probably not the country of Richard Nixon either, so I think we have to take seriously the possibility that things won't work out this time.

If you were king of the economy, what's the Krugman plan?

A phased elimination of all the Bush tax cuts, plus some additional taxes. I'd probably look first at some way to make the corporate profits tax actually effective again — the nominal rate is 35% but the effective rate is only 15% or so. Look at some cuts, maybe you start to talk about retirement age, and possibly some means testing of Medicare, and that's enough to bring the budget under control. And meanwhile you have to manage the economy, you have to talk about what we can do to actually get demand going faster, and there are lots of things you can do….

Are there? We're running a $500 billion deficit, interest rates are at one percent…

We're running the wrong kind of deficit. We need aid to state and local government, more checks to lower and middle income people. We need some WPA type of projects, and as it happens the homeland security stuff would be a perfect candidate. I just looked to find out how much of that $20 billion New York has actually gotten so far, and the answer is $5.6 billion. Two years after September 11th New York has gotten less than $6 billion in aid, so how about a little bit more on all of that?

In terms of a classic Keynesian stimulus, homeland security is a perfect fit.

Yeah, but they don't want to do it. Partly because they don't like government, partly because a lot of it would be going to New York and they don't like New York. It's pretty amazing.

Let me switch gears. One of the things you notice when you read a whole bunch of your columns in just a few hours is how short they are, and how little you actually get to say in each one. Is that a frustrating thing?

I've sort of disciplined myself, I have 750-word thoughts now. I started writing nontechnical stuff as 5,000 word pieces for Foreign Affairs, and then I disciplined myself down to writing 1300 word pieces for Slate, and then 900 word pieces for Fortune, and now I get 750 words. There's a lot of things you can't do, and you can't count on readers having read the last two columns in sequence, so yes, it's hard. But that's what people read.

How do you work? Where do you get your information? From people, from the web, from Lexis, from...?

I read seven newspapers every morning. I get four delivered, I read the Washington Post online, and I look at a couple of the British papers, not always the same two. I'm on the web, I read Josh Marshall regularly, and Atrios regularly, and I read you occasionally, once every couple of days so I know what's going on. People email me stuff, or tell me things I should read. I'm constantly monitoring and often talking with or corresponding with the good think tanks and research institutes — and yes, there is a tiny conspiracy between me and Bob Greenstein at CBPP. As Tom Friedman says, it's a target rich environment, there are so many things out there, there are at least six outrages a week that you ought to be poking on.

Let's finish with some quickies. What are your three favorite Bush lies?

On economics, the one that got me going was Social Security during the 2000 campaign, when Bush basically said, I'm going to take a trillion dollars away and it's going to strengthen the system. Another one is the distributional stuff, just the raw lie that this is a middle class tax cut. I could come up with another economic one, but obviously I'm really exercised about the Iraq war. Even if you think the war was worth fighting, and I think that's a diminishing perception among people, we were lied into it, and that's scary, that's never happened before.

What are the three biggest problems the United States faces right now?

The budget deficit, joblessness, and, ultimately, what really, really scares me, even though I can't write about it all the time, is the environment. That's more important than anything.

Posted by Kevin Drum at September 16, 2003 07:00 AM | TrackBack


Comments

I do think Krugman is right on about the concessions. There is no point in giving the benefit of the doubt to these guys, you must assume from the beginning that they mean the worst. It's a little pathetic to see people trying to find hope in whatever Colin Powell is doing these days.

Watching Krugman has been watching the evolution of a leftwing fanatic, and now I see how it happened to me. You are going along fine and then something troubles you. You take notice and set up a benchmark and say, if Bush does this, then he's probably normal, but if he goes beyond it then he's on the crazy side. The thing is, Bush will smash through whatever benchmark you put up, over and over. If you are true to yourself at some point you have to say -- we know now what kind of maniacs are running this country, there's no need to investigate any more. We don't need any more data points, we don't need to consider anything else objectively, it's just a fact.

Posted by: Eric M at September 15, 2003 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm beginning to see how it is that you have come to be radicalized lately, Kevin. Krugman rang your bell, didn't he?

I've had poli-sci and history and phil profs scaring the shit out of me for months, so I sympathize. My accounting PhD buddy was ranting on the barstool last week about the fiscal insanity of the Bush admin, so I can imagine what a full blown macro-expert must be like to talk to right now.

Interesting times.

Posted by: epist at September 15, 2003 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

kevin,

krugman certainly has me very worried about our economic and political situation. i especially liked to read about his prescription.

in the future, i hope he writes more about the impact of global warming and our unsustainable fossil fuel dependency. i wonder what he thinks our options are...

thank you for an excellent interview.

Posted by: selise at September 16, 2003 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

The introduction alone crystallizes a lot of previously random thoughts for me.

Thanks, Kevin.

Posted by: Linkmeister at September 16, 2003 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Great work, Kevin. You come away from Krugman thinking, "If he can paint this bleak a picture in 90 minutes, I can't imagine how he gets up in the morning knowing how bleak it is in such expert, technical terms." I mean, if he wanted to he could break out models and show you very technically why our economy is, at least right now, on a collision course with disaster.

One thing I noticed at the very end. I think that moderate people think the proper response to 9/11 is a methodical, thorough intelligence-based effort to root out terrorists like al-Qaeda. They think it's very important, but nothing like some on the right do. The pro-war people on the right have a very different perception of 9/11 and priorities. For them, if you don't elevate anti-terrorism efforts way, WAY above everything else, you aren't "serious". If you aren't thinking about terrorism and the threat of terrorism on a regular basis, you just don't get "it". They also seem to think that the best way to defeat terrorists is by waging wars against non-threatening nations, increasing the military budget by incredible sums - $100-$150 billion annually - and generally by showing the rest of the world how powerful we are militarily.

Basically, what I'm saying is that for some people that Krugman didn't answer "Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism" for the last answer is irrefutable proof that he is Bush-hating, Saddam-coddling pseudo-socialist who doesn't understand the pressing issues of the day. Can't you already read the Sullivan post? "Why Krugman is a Joke - Krugman was asked what he thought the three biggest problems facing the nation are, and he doesn't even list terrorism. Instead, he lists the environment as the most pressing issue. And people wonder why he's not taken seriously anymore."

Yeah, I'm pissed too. I'm pissed that intelligent people buy into this kind of crap. I'm really angry about how easily Bush has been able to swindle everyone rhetorically. And I'm most angry at the people who aided and abetted him.

Posted by: Mitch Schindler at September 16, 2003 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting times, like in the old chinese curse?

Economics is a hobby for me, and I look at the numbers and shake my head...the picture isn't good. Krugman probably looks at the details and sees stuff I can't even begin to see.

Also, Krugman looked like he was going to have a breakdown on Real Time with Bill Maher...Ventura was talking about how farm subsidies drive prices down (when it's the exact opposite), and he was just shaking his head and giggling...after Ventura finished, Maher looked at him and said "is that true" and Krugman had to take a second to catch his breath before he could answer.

Live, he doesn't come across as shrill at all. He's actually sounds pretty damn thoughtful, which just makes it a little scarier. No screaming, no obvious hyperbole...but lots of dire warnings. It's a tad scary.

Posted by: JoeF at September 16, 2003 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent work, Mr. Drum. Very informative read.

I was trying to explain these very same sentiments to my Father a while back (futilely trying to dissuade him from supporting GWB and crew). I was telling him pretty much the same kind of stuff that Krugman was talking about here. You know what my Dad's response was? He said, 'Oh, that's just silly. They would never be able to do that stuff. It is just talk.' If we hadn't been on the phone, I might have smacked him. (Well, OK, no I wouldn't have).

They (Republicans) control all 3 branches of the Federal Gov't, and they control the majority of the State congresses, as well as the majority of the State governerships. What they hell do you mean they can't do it, Dad!?! The have it well within their power, and they certainly have the will.

The average American, the average Rebuplican, has absolutely no idea what lies in store if we continue on our current course. They don't even understand what the current batch of Republicans stands for.

Posted by: Timothy Klein at September 16, 2003 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

"I have a vision — maybe just a hope — of a great revulsion: a moment in which the American people look at what is happening, realize how their good will and patriotism have been abused, and put a stop to this drive to destroy much of what is best in our country."
We've all had the same hope, but it ain't gonna happen. 911 so deeply traumatized America that you are accepting dictatorship for its comfortable illusion of safety -- we almost did that here, too, but luckily the government we happened to have in power in 2001 restrained itself and did not, for the most part, give in to its own worst impulses. Now you face an enormous task to turn things around, with sweat, toil and tears. But mainly, I think, it will take discipline on the left until the 2004 election - no more clever repartee about how corrupt or stupid all politicians are (implying it doesn't really matter who is elected), no more nitpicking about which democratic candidate said what three years ago (giving the public the impression that they all lie too), no more stupid single-issue arguments about which democrat supports blacks or women or gays or unions or the armed forces or Social Security or Medicare or the environment -- the 2004 election is not actually about any of those issues at all. Its the democratic future of America that is actually at stake. I'm Canadian, so I don't care whether the candidate is Dean or Kerry or Clark -- just get behind him and make sure he wins the Gore states plus 2.

Posted by: CathiefromCanada at September 16, 2003 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent Kevin. Absolutely first rate.

The last bit is surprising: ultimately, what really, really scares me ... is the environment. That's more important than anything.

It doesn't take that much travel to hammer home the point that we're running out of planet. Saint Paul ought to be advocating a big fat tax on gasoline. Not that I'm complaining - he's doing a good job in a good cause.

Posted by: bad Jim at September 16, 2003 01:10 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmm - interesting nore on Krugman, I think I'll read it, but I will reserve judgment until completed.

KathyfromCanada's comment prompted an election memory: In California we had a ballot initiative called Proposition 187 - intending to deny services to illegal aliens. Arguments went back and forth - and while I am a Republican , I thought Sen. Diane Finestein made a good point about tuberculosis (sp?) not recognizing borders. Then the anti-187 forces held a big rally, televised of course, where the massed participants stood around waving flags.....Mexican Flags. Prop. 187 passed. Want something to pass/get elected? Have foreigners tell Americans they must vote the other way.

Posted by: Californio at September 16, 2003 01:14 AM | PERMALINK

Wow - A few years ago I would have never imagined believing things like Krugman is saying about Bush...but now it is very easy to believe. :(

Posted by: mystery shopping at September 16, 2003 01:17 AM | PERMALINK

I personally will be relieved if all we have is an economic melt down that gives us a 50-50 shot at a new new deal.

We could get 2-3 more "Bush" wars (iran, syria, n.korea, saudia arabia), another devastating attack in the usa provoked by bushco, a thorough undermining of the bill of rights (seriously, it is well underway), irreversable environmental degradation. Look where they have taken us in less then 3 years, and they could get 5 more, and all the branches of gov., too. Can there be any doubt that if busho wins next year, they will only accelerate their extremism, with pedal to the metal abandon.

Will we fight hard enough to stop them?

Posted by: obe at September 16, 2003 01:18 AM | PERMALINK

"Have foreigners tell Americans they must vote the other way"

The problem is, californio, that Americans have such an enormous impact on how the rest of us live - in real, direct terms, that it matters very much more than, say, elections in Russia, or German or Japan - to take examples of the next level of military-economic power. For instance, America's "war on terror" directly impacts upon me in that my neighbourhood has a few Muslim thugs who could target my family in a riot sparked by a major event in Iraq/Palestine.

I agree with your position, though, that non-Americans (while they can follow the results) should not have anything to say about US elections.

Posted by: Manish at September 16, 2003 01:26 AM | PERMALINK

Kissinger: "Only absolute security -- the neutralization of the opponent -- is considered a sufficient guarantee."
Krugman: "I don't want to sound like a Marxist here, but there's some of that going on."
We need to face the harsh reality that we're facing strong elements of totalitarian control in the policies of the Bush administration. I realize the use of the word "Marxist" in these comments is taboo -- we've used the term sloppily and loosely for too long -- but as Krugman says, and as David Neiwert concurs in the series on his blog, Bush's policy is animated to a large degree by practices demonstrated in totalitarian regimes, and to ignore them is foolish.

Posted by: Baker at September 16, 2003 01:27 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent interview, Kevin. Many thanks.

Posted by: Anarch at September 16, 2003 01:37 AM | PERMALINK

Dr. Krugman has been telling the truth about the numbers for a long time and is presently in my small pantheon of personal heroes. Thank you, Dr. Krugman and thank you Mr. Drum for sharing him with your readers.

To the readers who have only read his NY Times columns, I'd like to recommend his previous books as well--they are quite accessible, and combine history, illuminating analysis and a valuable intro to economics for less than the price of a tank of gas. Fuel for the mind, as it were. The analysis of currency crises in the late 90s (Argentina, SE Asia) is particularly worth reading in "The Return of Depression Economics".

Eagerly awaiting the new textbook as well.

Thank you again.

Posted by: Tim B. at September 16, 2003 01:49 AM | PERMALINK

Based on Krugman’s points, you begin to see how President Bush and the neocon cabal are taking this country down the same path traveled by the former Soviet Union in the 1980s and 1990s.

There are many signs that this is happening: the tendency towards paranoia and ideological rigidity; lack of accountability; economic stagnation; restrictions on information and civil liberties; preoccupation with the use of military force as a policy option; and increasing use of propaganda.

And you know what happened to the Soviet Union.

Posted by: JLowe at September 16, 2003 02:16 AM | PERMALINK

I'm quite surprised that there hasn't been more effort at tracking Krugman's predictions about the future, against what really happens.

I think A. Sullivan's answer would be that Krugman has been mostly wrong. Like the Club of Rome folk and all eco-disaster doom-mongers since the silly "Population Bomb" over-population scares from the 60's (like most of the sixties, in the early 70's).

If you really care about ecology you should be supporting higher gas taxes. It's unpopular though. Yep. If the terrible weather, droughts & floods, isn't scaring you into supporting higher gas taxes, then the scare doesn't mean much. I suggest a penny increase/gal., every quarter, until 30% of the US federal budget is based on gas taxes (or other fuels are cheaper).

Social security has always been unsustainable; a pyramid scheme. Chile has the best system in the world now: 10% of what you make goes into YOUR retirement account. You retire when you want, with YOUR money. Your kids get what's left, when you die. If anything.

Such a SUSTAINABLE system needs to be introduced in America. The current system prolly needs means-testing, but that, too, is unpopular.
In America, any system needs to be augmented by minimal decent support to poor old folks, who haven't saved enough.

Krugman's right to be afraid of an Argentina mess in the US. But maybe for the wrong reasons: too much BAD gov't in Argentina. Today in America, the problem is too much BAD gov't too. What America needs is a Democratic party against BAD gov't -- which is almost all gov't.

Posted by: Tom Grey at September 16, 2003 02:19 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent interview, Kevin. I'm extremely impressed. You've done a great job encapsulating Krugman's points.

We'll be facing a crisis of proportions unprecedented since the great depression if Bush's cronies aren't stopped. Sadly, I feel that American voters' belief in easy answers and appeastement when told what they want to hear may just get Bush reelected in 2004. Barring any unforeseen scandal or unlikely set of political circumstances, it's almost certain that the GOP will hold the Senate and a foregone conclusion that they will hold the House. Our only hope, in my estimation, is to get a Democrat into the White House, someone with enough guts to veto the reactivation of Bush's tax cuts when they sunset in 2005. Only then might we avert total disaster, although we would still be, by any other standard, in a dire fiscal crisis. Still, there's hope that we can keep the barbarians from sacking Rome.

Nevertheless, I foresee any Democratic president playing defense throughout his entire administration. The current political climate makes it impossible to raise taxes and easy to lower them. As we saw in Alabama, voters, when bombarded with half-truths (which the Republican money machine will continue to do) will strongly oppose a tax structure that is far and away better for their self-interest than the alternative. Perhaps many lower-class voters oppose taxation of the rich out of a moral belief in the evil of class warfare, or because they someday hope or expect to be rich themselves. Or perhaps they are being misled. Unless something dire happens, it's doubtful that the anti-tax crusade will run out of steam anytime soon.

Given all this, what Bush has done so far is set us on a course towards a political and fiscal cataclysm. Grover Norquist and his 'movement conservative' pals believe that this will lead to the destruction of the New Deal infrastructure, but I doubt that he can predict what will happen. If Bush is successful in running this country into the ground, everything will change. There will be a completely different political paradigm, and that may mean a return to McKinley-era business conservatism like Norquist hopes, or a shift to something akin to European-style quasi-socialism. But there's no way for us to predict, and the path that way will be a painful one for almost everyone in this country. Hopefully we can head off Bush's crazy crusade before we find out what happens.

Posted by: Steve Judkins at September 16, 2003 02:38 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

Thanks. I'm sure you already know how much this is going to be appreciated by your readers.

Posted by: bink at September 16, 2003 02:54 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: very interesting.
Maybe you (and others I hope!) will stop being bullied into that pseudo-measured tone that I see across the border... like "maybe the Bush admin is not totally forthcoming with the truth?" or "could it be that the Iraq War was not fought for humanitarian reasons?".
I exagerate of course, and you have changed in the last month, but I found it unsettling sometimes.
It's there, for all to see!

Posted by: Matthew from UK at September 16, 2003 03:21 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: I disagree with you completely.

There is nothing depressing about the Krugman interview. Krugman told the truth; that can only be enlightening, even when it's terribly sobering.

What's depressing is being told lies. For mental health, I'd rather read all of The Great Unraveling than one sentence of a Bush or Cheney speech.

Great job, Kevin. Great, great job.

Posted by: tristero at September 16, 2003 03:45 AM | PERMALINK

"And you know what happened to the Soviet Union."

Posted by: JLowe at September 16, 2003 02:16 AM


But the USSR was always a second-rate economic and technological power. It was opposed by a well functioning set of allies, who collectively had far more power. In terms of nuclear war, it was always the case that it would be totally obliterated, even in an optimistic scenario for a first strike.

And even then, it was surprising that it imploded so peacefully. The violence was pretty much on the periphery of the empire.

Posted by: Barry at September 16, 2003 04:20 AM | PERMALINK

Krugman's op/ed piece was missing from NYT's online site. Did you keep him from making his deadline, Kevin? I guess its OK, though. There are alot more than 750 words in your interview of him so I was able to get my Krugman on, so to speak. Good stuff.

Posted by: LowLife at September 16, 2003 05:02 AM | PERMALINK

How cool is it that Krugman reads Atrios every day?

Great interview Kevin.

Posted by: Ted at September 16, 2003 05:02 AM | PERMALINK

Krugman was on Charlie Rose last night. (It'll probably get re-runned today at noon or so if you missed it -- check your local listings.)

I agreed with absolutely everything he said, but there was one problem that I just couldn't shake. The man looks (physical and demeanor) and talks like a brilliant Nobel-laureate-to-be bearded David Schwimmer.

Maybe Luskin can use that against him.

Posted by: phil at September 16, 2003 05:11 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Excellent work. Shop that thing to mainstream media. It needs more exposure and you deserve the reward. Many thanks.

Posted by: dennisS at September 16, 2003 05:19 AM | PERMALINK

Kissinger: "The distinguishing feature of a revolutionary power is not that it feels threatened...but that absolutely nothing can reassure it"

Remember Andrew Sullivan's (!!) characterization a few years ago of the post-Reagan right's insistence that it's still an embattled minority:

"A movement that won't take 'yes' for an answer"

Posted by: Monte Davis at September 16, 2003 05:36 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, a big thank you for doing this.

Posted by: Trillian at September 16, 2003 05:38 AM | PERMALINK

While I agree with Barry that a US implosion isn't going to be "just like" that of the USSR, I do think it will be similar, particularly when you look at the military spending commitments we have been making. All the rest of Bush's policies might not have sunk the US, but when you throw in his permawar on terrorism, or rather, on dictators that members of his administration helped to create, you've got really bad problems.

And I hate to say it, but I think that this is the kind of fear mongering that _some_ on the left need to start doing (we need an O'Reilly-esque shill who will start preaching old-time religion). So long as they can stave off personal bankruptcy (which is a big question in itself) most Americans aren't going to take such scary stories very seriously. But if you tell them that, if we continue on the track we're on, we risk being a banana republic, they might begin to pay attention.

Then again, I remember how everyone attacked Dean when he suggested that we might not always be the strongest military in the world . . .

Anyway, great interview.

Posted by: emptywheel at September 16, 2003 05:54 AM | PERMALINK

Barry,

Those are all very good points. It is arguable that the USSR, and Russia before it, has historically been a second-rate power. However, several of the influences I mentioned either promoted or contributed to that state of events. The United States was a second-rate power economically and technologically, at the start of the Industrial Revolution, yet was able to overcome that because it didn't fall into ideological totalitarianism.

Posted by: JLowe at September 16, 2003 06:01 AM | PERMALINK

If this affects you, do something. Does writing on a blog help?
Join MoveOn, email stories to the Times and the Post. Even if they don't run them, it shows them people noticing what they censor. I suggest copying emails to more than one news desk, naturally it's easy to bury something if it only lands on one Bush supporter's computer.

Posted by: John Isbell at September 16, 2003 06:12 AM | PERMALINK

The part about China financing our deficit, I found that kind of disturbing.

No wonder we've been all bark and no bite on their human rights abuses--and that goes back long before Bush.

Posted by: Ringo Mountbatten at September 16, 2003 06:13 AM | PERMALINK

I also suggest emailing leading campaigns. Believe me, they read all their feedback, and they want ammo to hammer the GOP with.
IMO Kevin could add links to the campaigns in his margin.

Posted by: John Isbell at September 16, 2003 06:23 AM | PERMALINK

Good thread here, folks, and I heartily second (or fifteenth, to be more accurate) your focusing on Krugman's extremely insightful analysis, Kevin -- thanks for showing it to us.

Two thoughts in response. One is the notable absence of the usual right-wing apologists here. It's a tribute to you, Kevin, that the reight-wingers you attract here, with their extremely WASPy names (he said, as a sometimes Jew with an adopted Asian-American daughter), are not wingnuts. This is further demonstrated here by their absence on this issue, suggesting that maybe they too have a level of embarrassment at trying to defend -- or perhaps even accepting -- the pathological, Tom DeLay/Grover Norquist "kill them all" perversion of the basic institutions of this country.

The second thought is that, in this media- and bumper sticker-driven culture, we who are justly troubled, scared, and furious about what is being done to our country need to find a simple and clear way of describing what is going on. May I suggest "creeping fascism," an appropriate contrast to the McCarthyite, Nixonite "creeping socialism" meme of the 1950s? I have to admit it's not entirely creeping, as part of their strategy is to push so much perverted BS on so many fronts that the principled opposition becomes confused, demoralized, resigned, or just plain tired. But as with the Administration's successive attempts to get an even more twisted second version of the Patriot Act, there is a clear creep towards fascism going on, as many of us have observed (a good way also of getting away from the misleading, problematic and distracting analogies with Nazi Germany, when the real analogies are to fascist and Berlusconi Italy, Pinochet's Chile, Francoist/Falangist Spain, etc.).

Posted by: Steady Eddie at September 16, 2003 06:32 AM | PERMALINK

Let me add to the chorus of gratitude, Kevin. Thanks for making the time and effort.

And I'll second Tristero's sentiment: the fact that Krugman's book is already creeping up the bestseller list is one of the only encouraging things going these days.

Posted by: cerebrocrat at September 16, 2003 06:35 AM | PERMALINK

You can listen at an interview with Paul Krugman on NPR about his new book.

Posted by: Chris K at September 16, 2003 06:45 AM | PERMALINK

.

Posted by: chris at September 16, 2003 07:00 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kevin. Great interview. The emperor really
has no clothes, and Krugman has been the first to
say so.

Posted by: john at September 16, 2003 07:19 AM | PERMALINK

one, in re the "moment of revulsion," I hate to withhold detail, but some time in the next couple months you'll have the opportunity. if a certain news story -- and you'll know it when you see it -- makes a splash then disappears from the public consciousness, it will be time to worry. if instead it incites at least a smattering of reformist thinking, then perhaps DeLong will have been right. fingers crossed; I hate when my more cynical predictions are the ones proven right.

two, in re "I think A. Sullivan's answer would be that Krugman has been mostly wrong," as someone who has been reading Krugman's work since he was a plain-old academic (I was a practicing finance geek when he was one of the few worried about southeast Asia in the mid-'90s), I'd suggest Krugman has been mostly right. however, this is the wrong question to ask when judging his analysis of the US situation. the main question is, has Krugman been fundamentally accurate? and the answer there is unequivocally yes. he has his prejudices, but so do we all; his is a voice whose fundamental honesty you can trust.

Posted by: wcw at September 16, 2003 07:29 AM | PERMALINK

Krugman has several good pts on Bush's fiscal policies.

But Krugman's economic prescriptions are just badl. He's looking at a trillion dollar tax increase and spending programs that don't work. Krugman's idea of "more checks to lower and middle income people" has been discredited by the most recent economic data that has been conducted. NBER did a study on rebates and lower income people simply don't consume the way Krugman wishes. And in the March, "American Economic Review" Joel Slemrod has the only case study of the 2001 rebate I've seen(Consumer Response to Tax Rebates". His numbers show that the people most likely to spend the rebate check are those with incomes $50 to $75K. Less than 20% of lower income families spent their 2001 rebate checks.

Rebate checks are an idea that has never worked in US economic history, contradict Milton Friedman's work and have been disproven repeatedly by several studies of the 2001 rebate. I can't fathom why an economist would believe they work other than out of ideological fervor.

dch

Posted by: DC Hoo at September 16, 2003 07:34 AM | PERMALINK

Scary stuff, even for those looking at the US from the outside.

Two books more or less related to the topic

After the Empire
by Emmanuel Todd, C.Jon Delogu (Translator)
(to be released 2004, so have patience).

Pretty similar arguments about the international position of the US, plus interesting thoughts about developments in Muslim countries and Russia. What is frightening about Todd is that in the 1970's(!) he wrote a book predicting the collapse of the Soviet Union with all the right arguments about its development,

The Firebugs
by Max Frisch
A "Morality play without moral" that pretty much describes the political process of radicals taking over. It was written with Nazis and Bolsheviks in mind, but it could apply to present developments. Memorable sentence: "If you want to hoodwink people, the best way is: tell them the truth. They won't believe it."

Greetings
Karl Heinz

Hamburg, Germany

Posted by: khr at September 16, 2003 07:44 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for posting this interview, Kevin. Very interesting (albeit depressing) to read.

Some days I think that what we're looking at is an oligarchy with mass consent.

I wonder what kind of connection Krugman sees between the forces of oligarchy and the Christian right? He seems to suggest that they're one and the same thing -- eg, here:

"But they're still pissed off.

Well, that's what I don't understand. It's odd that the better things get if you are rich or a fundamentalist Christian, the more angry they get."

But given their stated goals and aspirations (and the nice thing about the Christian right is that they _don't_ lie: they're pretty upfront about the kind of America they want to create), are things really getting better for fundamentalist Christians? In many respects, I'd say they're losing the "culture wars," and badly. Roy Moore lost his Ten Commandments battle; most Americans aren't bothered by birth control or premarital sex anymore; Americans are becoming more tolerant, or less intolerant, of gays (if not of gay marriage), and etc. I'm not saying they haven't gained some ground on certain issues, but I firmly believe that much of their agenda goes against the mainstream, and a lot of it is in areas that cannot be legislated or prescribed from on high.

As I see it, the Republicans toss them a few bones from time to time to keep their support, but the goals of the Christian right and those of the neocon radicals are quite different and may even be at odds.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at September 16, 2003 07:56 AM | PERMALINK

To me, the essential mystery at the heart of the NeoCon cause is the motivation for it. Is it simply an effort to make the rich richer? What are the underlying motives for their policies? Is there significant variety amongst the thinking of NeoCons?

In general, I don't believe that the people advocating these approaches are just flat-out evil. There must be a nucleus of expected action and consequence. If so, how are these hypotheses tested?

Posted by: Ross Judson at September 16, 2003 07:57 AM | PERMALINK

Re: claim that bottom 20% don't spend their rebate checks.

How could this be true? Are we playing word games here, so that if they cash it and use the money to fill the gas tank, pay the electric bill, etc. it's not counted as "spending?" Is there some trickery in adding the word "their?" (implying that those who didn't spend checks actually got them).

Sometimes I look things up to disprove a statement, but sometimes I do like Dick Cheney and say that someone is wrong because "things just don't work that way."

The notion that the bottom 20% don't spend their rebate checks is mistaken because things just don't work that way.

What else do they do with the money?

Posted by: joe c at September 16, 2003 08:02 AM | PERMALINK

Re: claim that bottom 20% don't spend their rebate checks.

How could this be true? Are we playing word games here, so that if they cash it and use the money to fill the gas tank, pay the electric bill, etc. it's not counted as "spending?" Is there some trickery in adding the word "their?" (implying that those who didn't spend checks actually got them).

Sometimes I look things up to disprove a statement, but sometimes I do like Dick Cheney and say that someone is wrong because "things just don't work that way."

The notion that the bottom 20% don't spend their rebate checks is mistaken because things just don't work that way.

What else do they do with the money?

Posted by: joe c at September 16, 2003 08:02 AM | PERMALINK

First of all thanks Kevin for the interview. Good Job.
I find myself, traditionally a 60/40 left leaning centrist, almost at a loss for words with some of this administrations movements. Recently at a cocktail party someone mentioned the 70's movie The Omen and we found ourselves playfully drawing parallels for the next 30 to 40 minutes. Some parallels were downright scary.
Obviously we weren't thinking Bush's agenda is being set by the devil but most of us did feel we weren't deemed worthy enough by this administration to be advised of what the agenda may contain. Krugman reenforces a growing fear of a secret government hiding in plain sight.

Posted by: ohiovoice at September 16, 2003 08:04 AM | PERMALINK

that paper is very narrow. the authors admit, "because it is impossible to know what consumption would have been absent the rebates, aggregative analysis cannot be definitive."

the real question is not about rebate checks, but about fiscal and tax policy generally. if you wish to stimulate aggregate demand, how do you do it? I'm not interested in the success of one set of rebate checks, but more general comparisons. any NBER work there?

on the rebate checks, the referenced paper is at http://papers.nber.org/papers/w9308 and is based on surveys. if you have an academic account left around from your college days, log in and you'll be able to read the paper itself.

in answer to the survey question of whether the rebate caused increased spending, increased saving, or paying down debt, response rates in very rough terms were 25/25/50 -- that is, 25% spent more, 25% saved more, and 50% paid down debt.

funny thing is, though, these results do not support the position that our interlocutor takes, that decreasing taxes at the bottom of the scale has 'never worked.' the Council of Economic Advisers released a report claiming the tax bill added 1.2% to GDP, mostly due to the rebate in 2001 and the new 10 percent bracket in 2002 -- both tax decreases in the middle and bottom of the scale. the authors consider this assertion and conclude, "although arrived at via a different route than our survey's results, the CEA's assumption about the spending of the rebate is thus consistent with our survey finding."

not to repeat myself, but maybe people treat checks differently than lower brackets, or maybe fiscal stimulus works better. if you want to disagree with Krugman, you cannot pick a single policy that didn't work as well as predicted and tar all economic thinking with the fauilure brush.

Posted by: wcw at September 16, 2003 08:22 AM | PERMALINK

Simply superb, Kevin. Thanks to you and Mr. Krugman for this marvelous piece.

Posted by: Gregory at September 16, 2003 08:30 AM | PERMALINK

Slemrod and Shapiro's survey data show that lower income people are more likely to save the income or pay down debt. The study also found that households in worse financial shape were less likely to spend the rebate check. Folks most likely to spend the check are those who expect to be better off in the next year.

Consumption responds more to predictable changes in income, hence lowering the payroll tax for the working lower-income will boost consumption more than a one time shock like a rebate check.

You can argue that the rebate check was saved b/c the folks who received it paid taxes. The survey can't say what would happen if folks who didn't pay taxes received the rebate.

Posted by: DC Hoo at September 16, 2003 08:31 AM | PERMALINK

Picking up on what Ross Judson said above:

- What do people like Grover Norquist believe in their hearts? Do they truly believe that their agenda is good for America as a whole, and people like me just disagree because we don't get it? Or is it purely that they want to get what they can while the gettin' is good, so they can protect themselves when the whole house of cards comes down, while camouflaging it so it sounds like it's 'good for America'?

- As a corollary, is there any piece of thoughtful, conservative economic writing in the vein of Krugman's NYT Magazine piece that explains in factual, reasonably non-partisan terms how this tax-cutting policy CAN work?

I'm serious about both of these questions. I'm trying hard not to be cynical about absolutely everything, but my avenues of optimism are being closed off one after another.

Posted by: John Berman at September 16, 2003 08:32 AM | PERMALINK

This scared me almost as much as rereading "The Curve of Binding Energy" (John McFee). The book is about the bombs, the very big kind, and how easy it is to make them and how hard it is to control the materials out of which they are made.
As I roll down to the finish line in life I need a source, or survival guide for the next 15 years. What does one do to survive economically over this period? How does one move assets to places that the long arm of the government can't get to? A second citizenship? A second passport? I am starting to feel like a jew in Germany in 1932.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert at September 16, 2003 08:33 AM | PERMALINK

Krugman needs to see a psychiatrist. That introduction was worthy of Oliver Stone, and I am convinced he is from another planet.

Get this -- some people disagree with you. That doesn't make them stupid, evil or undemocratic. It just means they disagree. That's what democracy is about.

Posted by: Ben at September 16, 2003 08:53 AM | PERMALINK

DC Hoo is a classic Bushie. He's what Krugman is talking about. Hoo doesn't prevaricate, or stretch the truth. He lies.

Black is white. The poor don't spend their rebate checks. Riiiight.

He also quotes Milton Friedman. I think Friedman recently repudiated much of his own work.

Posted by: Adam at September 16, 2003 08:54 AM | PERMALINK

"Get this -- some people disagree with you"

And those who disagree with you are just crazy, right?

"Krugman needs to see a psychiatrist."

Loser.

Posted by: Adam at September 16, 2003 08:56 AM | PERMALINK

Invisible Adjunct:

How do you know who are the members of the Christian Right who are sincere, and who are not? For example, if Pat Robertson opposes our intervention in Liberia, saying that we should support the "Christian leader" Charles Taylor, but at the same time he is trying to protect a huge investment in gold in Liberia, is his cant about "Christian leader" sincere?

Or if Don Evans, who is credited with drying Bush out by involving him in Bible study, knows squat about said Bible (see Al Franken's new book, pp. 214-5), can we really take his claims to Christian beliefs to be sincere?

It'd be nice to trust the sincerity of good Christians, but so few of them know anything about Christianity, that is hard to do.

Posted by: emptywheel at September 16, 2003 08:59 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you. Excellent interview.

Posted by: Seva at September 16, 2003 09:02 AM | PERMALINK

Terrific work, Kevin. Thank you.

Posted by: Elton Beard at September 16, 2003 09:05 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you for the interview- and for the excerpt from the introduction to put it into perspective.

Posted by: ScottM at September 16, 2003 09:10 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you for this interview.

Posted by: Ari at September 16, 2003 09:10 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks to Krugman and Drum.

Posted by: Jenn at September 16, 2003 09:13 AM | PERMALINK

children!

Hoo is not a 'Bushie,' at least not to the extent that he thinks down is up. he is a Friedman fan, but plenty others are, too. he did go waaaay overboard in the conclusions he drew from the surveys on rebate checks, and that's the worst we can say about him.

in his much more-reasonable response, he suggested (very accurately) that, "lowering the payroll tax for the working lower-income will boost consumption more than a one time shock like a rebate check." the question then is, for what policy are we looking? since one of my policy goals would be repairing progressive taxation, I'd say cutting payroll taxes would be a wonderful prescription. that it also would stimulate demand more than temporary rebates is an added advantage.

see, this is how a policy discussion is supposed to go (minus the 'never worked' rhetoric). you disagree about policy with someone, criticize the parts you dislike (the overarching conclusion), accept that parts that seem accurate (the survey data), and find common ground (a payroll tax cut would have been better).

Posted by: wcw at September 16, 2003 09:14 AM | PERMALINK

Great Interview. I once believed that the Bush Administration was rational just like Reagan’s or Nixon’s. But, when I kept hearing “War is the Last Resort” rhetoric and contrasted it with the actual hell-bent rush to war in Iraq. I was scared and puzzled. I am now convinced thanks to articles like this that the Bush Administration is controlled by religious radicals. This explains all their lies, propaganda and illogical actions.

Posted by: Jim S at September 16, 2003 09:20 AM | PERMALINK

To wcw:

Re:

"one, in re the "moment of revulsion," I hate to withhold detail, but some time in the next couple months you'll have the opportunity. if a certain news story ..."

You've written with insight and clarity on these pages therefore this paragraph really caught my eye. I understand that there's a time and place for everything, but are you sure it isn't now?

Anyway I'm sure you're right it will be another test of America's revulsion reflex. I'm still surprised Time magazine's year-old issue devoted to 9/11 didn't cause an uprising.

Keep us posted.

Posted by: dennisS at September 16, 2003 09:22 AM | PERMALINK

"How do you know who are the members of the Christian Right who are sincere, and who are not?"

I don't. But I'm not talking about the sincerity of their religious beliefs or the depth of their spiritual convictions. In political terms, I don't think it's particularly useful to focus on insincerity, cant, and hypocrisy in matters of belief, and it may even be a distraction. What I'm talking about are public statements and pronouncements from representatives of the Christian right concerning matters of broad social and political significance. And I think they're pretty honest and upfront about the kind of society they want to create (or, as they would have it, recreate, because much of their rhetoric turns on the notion of a golden age from which we have declined).

So, for example, the Bush admin. says its tax cuts are aimed at the middle classes, when in fact they benefit the very wealthy. But the Christian right doesn't do that. They don't say, for example, "We support gay rights" even as they design policies designed to defeat gay rights. Rather, they're upfront about the fact that they don't support gay rights and are willing to go on public record with statements expressing their opposition.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at September 16, 2003 09:22 AM | PERMALINK

More coal to Newcastle I know, but thanks for the doing the great interview with Krugman, Kevin D.

Posted by: David W. at September 16, 2003 09:44 AM | PERMALINK

DC Hoo,

You are absolutely correct. Krugman is right that the US govt cannot continue to spend more than it takes in. His solution however is flawed - more social spending and increasing taxes.

The financial crisis will likely come, and if it does, it will be from an implosion of the fiat dollar due to inflationist policies by the Fed. That is what happens when you let money be defined from above rather than evolved from below.

The solution is not to increase taxes, but rather to let people keep their own money for their own retirement and health care needs. Entitlement spending needs to be reigned in.

Posted by: Jonathan Wilde at September 16, 2003 09:47 AM | PERMALINK

That is what happens when you let money be defined from above rather than evolved from below.

Money doesn't 'evolve' in that way though. If it did, we'd still have individual banks issuing their own currency. That did not prove to be a workable way to run a modern national economy, or world economy for that matter.

Posted by: David W. at September 16, 2003 09:54 AM | PERMALINK

You can read more about Paul Krugman at the Krugman Truth Squad
http://www.nationalreview.com/nrof_luskin/truthsquad091603.asp

Posted by: rizzo at September 16, 2003 09:54 AM | PERMALINK

Take health care. The monster in the closet are the insurance companies that eat at the profits doctors used to earn. They've added jobs to everyone's visits to doctors. In that doctors need office staff to process forms. And, the rules are to get this paperwork paid for, the doctor, himself, often has to get on the phone and beg a clerk who hasn't seen more than a high school education (and, in our terms today, it means he or she is an idiot) ... and THEY have first dibs at saying no to your getting special(ist) care.

It's a shell game.

So, it's gotta change.

Medicine has gotten so expensive; and doctors so butt careful, that you get painful tests, and CYA coverage up your ying/yang. But better care? Give me a break.

Nurses aren't trained in America, anymore, either. So we're losing on two fronts. We've incapacitated our schools. And, we've dumped on advanced training.

Yes, we need ways of employing lots of people. And, families? What an expensive trap you get with each kid you have. Moms work. Kids are handed off to a system at much too early an age; And, basically everything has shifted.

Soccer moms? What's that? Kids used to play in the streets. There were no adults 'empiring' the games. WHich is way worse than anything religion ever did to kids, in school. Or after school.

We've stripped our kids of their childhoods.

We've stripped our homes of larger families.

And, we've strapped people into debt.

All very foolish. But not something from the 'top.' Instead, an outgrowth of the Flower Power where people were free to choose. And, everybody thought they could choose 'easy street.'

That Bush lies?

Yes. But worse he manages by chaos. Not a man who has a plan. But a man who turns departments against each other.

You think the Iraq attack was expensive? The intercine wars between State (ungovernable; unelected. And, with massive scam/aid. Plus, a haven for the arabists). The FBI. The CIA. Phobic to hiring Americans, let alone Jews. They hire only from their chosen 'lists.' And, it's not friendly.

And, this snake pit is the ideal home for Bush.

He's a calamity. All you need to know is that inside the white house, while little leaks out, everyone quakes in their boots. "How's the boss feeling this morning?"

Yikes.

Hair raising.

And, failure driven.

But I think this Bush is so bad that those in power have made their critical mistake. Bush is actually failing. He is shedding poll numbers just like his dad did. Can a Ross Perot capitalize on this?

Well, if Hillary were very smart; and I were Hillary, I'd announce in October (using the same window her husband used for the 1992 election); and then I'd announce before the Convention, that McCain was my running mate. I'd sever the INDEPENDENT VOTER from the right wing 'visionaries' of the republican party, and before you know it there'd be both a collosal win for the democrats. And, a return to the MODERATE, and WINNING position held for 8 years by Bill Clinton.

The scandals are meaningless.

If you go to Amazon you'll see LBJ unravelling. People are going to get a much deeper look into the ugly side of American politics than ever before. (With questions answered that have never really gone away.)

As I said, IF I WERE HILLARY. The mistake is for the two parties to remain polarized.

And, to run people like Grey Davis. A man without courage or conviction. No different than this Bush. It's time to rid both houses of 'politics without risk.' Just cancer from within that spreads and spreads and spreads its tenacles.

Posted by: Carol in California at September 16, 2003 09:54 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Kevin. Good work. And you found out that Krugman reads your blog! That was cool.

Posted by: casadelogo at September 16, 2003 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

OK so there is a small problem with the economy, so how do we fix it? Is it a matter of cutting off the hanging chads when we vote ( regime change ) or is it something we need to be more proactive on with like hedge investments in Rand/Ruble/Peso/Yen currency derivatives? People seem to think that the US will crater like Argentina, aren't their any checks and balances within the system to keep this from happening?

Posted by: Ed Dogg at September 16, 2003 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

In summary, Every Republican is a liar and we need more goverment spending to avoid a catastrophe that is going to be caused by too much goverment spending.

Posted by: John Southerland at September 16, 2003 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

Would please you try to get your (excellent) Krugman interview into the mainstream print media!

TS

Posted by: Tom Strong at September 16, 2003 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

I have a friend who's a new hire at the INS, screening incoming airline passengers, spotting document fruad, that sort of thing.

She tells me stories about the cynical old-timers. About how people sign-in for a day's worth of overtime, and then just disappear, collecting $1000 of taxpayer money for the day. About how she's brought in for 14-hour days, four hours of which she spends as the extra hand on a screening team that doesn't need her. The INS is rife with this, as are, I suspect, all other Federal agencies.

And what's the "Krugman plan?"

"A phased elimination of all the Bush tax cuts, plus some additional taxes."

How about some f*cking fiscal discipline on the part of the Federal Government, first? Why is Paul's solution always to take more of my money and give to a profligate government?

There's something wrong with someone who lives in Princeton and can claim that a $3 million 7,000-square foot home isn't really rich...and I know, because I lived the next town over, and had no trouble identifying the owners of 7,000-square foot homes as rich.

I live in a 940-square foot home. I made a bit more more money in '02 than in '01, and my overall income tax bill was a slightly smaller percentage of my income.

That's good. I like it. I want more of it. Krugman can kiss my ass.

Posted by: Ian Wood at September 16, 2003 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Please! Most comments here on this interview elevate Krugman to the 2nd coming of the Messiah,
here to obliterate the Great Satan Dubya. He says what you want to hear (Dubya is ruining the country) so you all worship him. But then again we're talking California here, so even state issued driver's licenses for terrorists sounds great.

Posted by: laf at September 16, 2003 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

There's no question that government spending and tax revenues are coming to a collision point in the near future but Krugman's socialist prescription of higher taxes and spending is not the answer.

As a counter to Krugman's brand of economics, Milton Friedman also had an online interview posted today and he had quite a different outlook:

" I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible. The reason I am is because I believe the big problem is not taxes, the big problem is spending. The question is, "How do you hold down government spending?" Government spending now amounts to close to 40% of national income not counting indirect spending through regulation and the like. If you include that, you get up to roughly half. The real danger we face is that number will creep up and up and up. The only effective way I think to hold it down, is to hold down the amount of income the government has. The way to do that is to cut taxes."

Friedman also had a far less hysterical "the sky is falling" attitude towards the future of Social Security and the American economy:

"Well, Social Security is having a bad effect now through the tax system. But ya know, when Adam Smith was told that the British loss at Yorktown would be the ruination of Britain, Adam Smith replied, "Young man, there's a deal of ruin in a nation." So, we're a very strong country, lots of able people, lots of active entrepreneurs, and so the Social Security system will be a burden, but it won't destroy the country.

I think it will be changed of course. I think there is a great and growing pressure towards privatizing Social Security, converting it into individual accounts. We've been moving that way indirectly through 401ks and the equivalent retirement accounts. I think Mr. Bush will go back to his emphasis on privatizing Social Security. I think there's a good chance it can be done. It has been done in a considerable number of countries around the world. There's no reason why it couldn't be done here."

Posted by: Randal Robinson at September 16, 2003 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

The only way that this is scary is that an otherwise smart man like Krugman can be such an idiotic ranter in print and you people can suck this crap up like momma's milk.

Uh, Bush has expanded Medicare. I think it's a dumb and costly expansion, and that we should look at ways to cut, rather than expand, Medicare. But Bush's (bad) idea to expand Medicare is not consistent with the notion that he's hatching a plot to gut entitlement programs, unless you, like Krugman, have crossed the line into faith-based analysis. (Bush's expansion of Medicare is really just a ruse to throw us off!). It's more consistent with the notion that Bush just has an incoherent and politically expedient set of economic proposals.

And is it really so horrible to re-evaluate Medicare and Social Security? There's nothing revolutionary about questioning the wisdom of these programs. The world has changed a lot. Maybe subsidizing everybody over 65 isn't the way to go anymore. (Maybe it never was.) There's nothing evil about relaizing that. Get a grip, people.

Posted by: Keith at September 16, 2003 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Mitch Schindler,
when you say "I think that moderate people think the proper response to 9/11 is a methodical, thorough intelligence-based effort to root out terrorists like al-Qaeda."... you agree that the Clinton administration crippling our intelligence capabilities was wrong?
the moderate people's response to 9/11 would simply lead to more dead Americans because you are unable to understand and accept what would be required for our Special Forces and intelligence assets to do the job properly. This is something moderates have never been able to do in situations ranging from Iran in 1953 to Central America, to East Africa and Middle East now. Being cowards, you leftists tend to tuck your tails and run when things start getting a little messy (Neville Chamberlin-style).

Posted by: Bletchley at September 16, 2003 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

The interview helped me understand Prof. Krugman better. I think Pres. Bush has been a great leader, so I've had a hard time understanding some of Krugman's criticisms.

In particular, the "revolutionary" paradigm from the preface to Krugman's book does a lot to explain his urgent, almost paranoid tone. I wish I could reassure him that Pres. Bush isn't trying to crush democracy, but perhaps he will be able to get a different perspective on things in ten years or so.

And no, I am not a wealthy, right-wing Christian fundamentalist!

Posted by: Matthew at September 16, 2003 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you for the interview, Kevin, and for transcribing it. Nice work.

And I appreciate the number of thoughtful comments that your blog creates.

D

Posted by: Dano at September 16, 2003 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Wilde and Hoo also need to review their understanding of the macroeconomic role of government spending (the Keynesian "pump-priming") and the process of supply of non-private goods (e.g., technology, transportation infrastructure).

Rebate checks, IMHO, are about as paltry an example of the former as can be conceived, but were the only one that was politically feasible, so it's no wonder their effects were limited. Far more effective, as both Krugman and wcw suggest, would be spending on long-term, non-private, wealth-creating investments, such as educational institutions and facilities

Posted by: bleh at September 16, 2003 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

>>Social security has always been unsustainable; a pyramid scheme. Chile has the best system in the world now: 10% of what you make goes into YOUR retirement account. You retire when you want, with YOUR money. Your kids get what's left, when you die. If anything.


QUIT misrepresenting what Social Security is - it isn't a "pyramid" "retirement" scheme of your money to be paid out to you when you retire - it is a SOCIAL INSURANCE scheme which will pay out to you tomorrow if you become injured and disabled and unable to work - or will pay out to your spouse and minor children IF you become disabled or die prior to your retirement. Almost 40% of people who collect social security are not retired - so it is a complete mischaracterization to pretend that Social Security is something that it isn't so that you can compare it to things that it isn't. Dishonest.

Posted by: Andy at September 16, 2003 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Kevin,
your interview sucked. you are just another leftist sycophant...the world has enough of those you worthless piece of bovine excrement.

Sincerely,
Donald

Posted by: Donald H. Rumsfeld at September 16, 2003 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Paul Krugman! Great! Now we just have to get some rightwing blogger to interview Ann Coulter... we could then have a "twins of extreme" post!

Posted by: Al at September 16, 2003 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

(Sorry ... thumb error.)

Wilde and Hoo also need to review their understanding of the macroeconomic role of government spending (Keynesian "pump-priming") and the process of supply of non-private goods (aka "public goods," such as basic technology and transportation infrastructure).

Rebate checks, IMHO, are about as paltry an example of the former as can be conceived, but were the only one that was politically feasible, so it's no wonder their effects were limited. Far more effective, as both Krugman and wcw suggest, would be spending on long-term, non-private, wealth-creating investments, such as educational institutions and facilities, such as California did decades ago, to its fantastic long-term benefit.

And as to the silly notion -- widely popular among the right-wing barking-head set -- that "returning money to the people" is the economic Philosopher's Stone, well, a little review of the quality of life in, say, Medieval Europe, or perhaps the slums of modern Brazil, might be indicated.

Posted by: bleh at September 16, 2003 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Andy,
they already have a private market solutions for this. its called workers comp and life insurance.
and the govt doesnt need to confiscate 50% of my income to finance it

"QUIT misrepresenting what Social Security is - it isn't a "pyramid" "retirement" scheme of your money to be paid out to you when you retire - it is a SOCIAL INSURANCE scheme which will pay out to you tomorrow if you become injured and disabled and unable to work - or will pay out to your spouse and minor children IF you become disabled or die prior to your retirement. Almost 40% of people who collect social security are not retired - so it is a complete mischaracterization to pretend that Social Security is something that it isn't so that you can compare it to things that it isn't. Dishonest."

Posted by: Dick Cheney at September 16, 2003 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Good lord people, take your Xanex.

Those of you old enough to remember (and many of you apprently are college age, so just go have a beer or something) may remember the Japanese T-Bill crisis. Or even the Oil Shock. Or perhaps the Stagflation crisis!

The real answer is that (a) the pol's don't have the answer, and (b) the talking heads never do.

Look, go read some anti-Krugman stuff, it's certainly all over the place. That will make you feel better.

-C

Posted by: Cliff at September 16, 2003 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Cliff, it's the direction we're heading in as a nation more than the current economic situation that has Krugman concerned.

But I'll have a beer, even if I've been out of college for 25 years now... ;-)

Posted by: David W. at September 16, 2003 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Well, so much for the thoughtful discussion, the rightwing asshole brigade has shown up here!

Boom-biddy-bye-bye.

Posted by: Ras_Nesta at September 16, 2003 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Randal,
From your info it seems a shorter Milton Friedman is: 'Cut Social security.'

If that is the plan then I wish Bush would just come out and say it.

I get so sick of people talking about 'cutting government waste' as if that will fix the deficit. At least Friedman identifies something big enough that it would really work.

Now he just needs to convince the voters.

Posted by: Tripp at September 16, 2003 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Your excellent Krugman interview brings to mind this quote:

``the individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists.''
-J. Edgar Hoover, 1956

Hoover was of course talking about communism, but these words have an eerie ring to them right about now.

Posted by: pete at September 16, 2003 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

I found the 10:44 comment deeply ironic. The fellow posting as Cheney complained that the government didn't need to "confiscate" 50% of his income. In Krugmans current article in the NY Times he discusses exactly this 50% fallacy as an example of a clearly wrong idea (very,very few people pay taxes at that level) that is used to push the anti-tax agenda. He also addresses the idea that we just need to cut spending. In fact, the burst of right-wing attacks now appearing in the comment section here are precisely the arguments he dissects in the magazine article in the NY Times this week.

Some of us view taxes in the same way that the great conservative Samuel Johnson did: Taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilized society.

Marc

Posted by: Marc at September 16, 2003 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/14/magazine/14TAXES.html

The Tax-Cut Con

Bruce Tinsley's comic strip, ''Mallard Fillmore,'' is, he says, ''for the average person out there: the forgotten American taxpayer who's sick of the liberal media.'' In June, that forgotten taxpayer made an appearance in the strip, attacking his TV set with a baseball bat and yelling: ''I can't afford to send my kids to college, or even take 'em out of their substandard public school, because the federal, state and local governments take more than 50 percent of my income in taxes. And then the guy on the news asks with a straight face whether or not we can 'afford' tax cuts.''

But that's just a cartoon. Meanwhile, Bob Riley has to face the reality....

Posted by: Ari at September 16, 2003 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Timothy Klein: "The average American, the average Rebuplican, has absolutely no idea what lies in store if we continue on our current course. They don't even understand what the current batch of Republicans stands for."

I think your dad hangs out with my mom. My husband and I have been executing a covert reprogramming operation for the last three years - nothing shrill, just a drip-drip-drip of the truth as it is revealed. It seems to be working...

Posted by: Ab_Normal at September 16, 2003 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Wow! You're all SO right! This is the most horrifying nation in the world and Bush is the worst, most appalling, Hitler like dictator-president ever! The country is going straight into a third world, feces filled cesspool and NO ONE except you, yes you, a small elite group of highly enlightened "progressives" with the amazing ability to penetrate the "vast-right-wing-curtain-of-knowledge-blocking-steel" can save us! How do you save us? Continued issuance of bizarre rants and screeds loaded with vicious personal attacks, hateful speech and doom-and-gloom predictions that NEVER come true!

You seem to be above the Self-Actualization level in the Hierarchy of Needs! You've got it so good in America, driving your oil and gas burning cars while intensely criticizing the oil industry, you sit on your asses stuffing yourselves with American fast-food, you have multiple levels of law enforcement protecting you and your families, you sit around reading a diverse range of opinions originating from a free press and a Bill of Rights, you use your computer and the Internet at will to post your (soon to be silenced by Ashcroft and the Patriot Act, of course) opinions and you’ve generally got it so good here that you must feel guilty and therefore bash what’s made you great.

Why? How can it be so bad here and yet millions try to get here every year! Why don’t your conspiracy theories, and you know it’s a conspiracy theory when only you have the ability to figure out the secret plan where as the common man can’t, never come true? It’s always so bad here isn’t it? Bush secretly wants this country to fail because… well you haven’t figured that out! It must be because he and his so-called cronies will make out like bandits? Yeah, that makes sense… run the country into the ground to get rich… Then what? What difference will it make when you have billions of American dollars that aren’t worth anything? Explain it!

Why should we listen to any of this when you haven’t been right yet!

Posted by: tinfoilhat at September 16, 2003 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

So, it took awhile, but the trolls finally found out about Kevin's interview. Funny how they all show up at once. Time to stop reading this comment thread.

Posted by: Mike at September 16, 2003 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

I find it difficult to judge whether some of Krugman's rhetoric is a tad overblown. After all, he HAS said things like this:

"[A]fter Natalie Maines, lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, criticized President Bush: a crowd gathered in Louisiana to watch a 33,000-pound tractor smash a collection of Dixie Chicks CD's, tapes and other paraphernalia. To those familiar with 20th-century European history it seemed eerily reminiscent of Kristallnacht."
(NY Times. March 25, 2003)

Give me a break.

Posted by: melk at September 16, 2003 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

"Even if you think the war was worth fighting, and I think that's a diminishing perception among people, we were lied into it, and that's scary, that's never happened before."


Aww....whatta crock. Every war we ever started we started with lies.

Posted by: johnx at September 16, 2003 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you for this very illuminating interview of the former Enron advisor.

Posted by: Richard Worthington at September 16, 2003 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

All you need to know about Krugman:

He says the right wants to gut entitlement programs--those dishonest fascist bastards.

He also says we need to gut Medicare, using means-testing and raising the retirement age.

Posted by: Thomas at September 16, 2003 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

The trolls are at it. Go trolls.

Posted by: jenn at September 16, 2003 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Run Mike and jenn, run! Don't let a differing opinion hit you in the ass on the way out!

Posted by: tinfoilhat at September 16, 2003 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Go Moronic Brownshirt Fucks! Go!

You can troll it!

Posted by: Ras_Nesta at September 16, 2003 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Worker's comp is a private market solution???

In any case, how does that even remotely address Andy's point?

Posted by: PaulB at September 16, 2003 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Whew.

I think somebody hit a nerve.

Posted by: Tripp at September 16, 2003 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Wow! 30 seconds and the Hitler comparisons are already being thrown around!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA!!!

Obviously the swiss cheese holes in your arguments prevents you from mounting a logical defense!! Therefore, on to Nazi comparisons!

Posted by: tinfoilhat at September 16, 2003 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

One thing that Krugman does not say (you didn't ask him) concerns Iraq. I agree that the goal of the tax cuts and most of their other policies is the revolutionary transformation of government at all levels in the United States. I think the Global War on Terrorism and the war on Iraq are part of that.

Norquist talks about not wanting to kill the government but to shrink it to a small enough size that he can drown it in the bathtub. That's pretty close to a direct quote. But you can't do that fast enough by simply cutting taxes and waiting for the baby boomers to retire and find the cookie jar is empty.

None of the rationales that either the Administration or its critics have put forward for the Iraq war makes any sense. We know it wasn't about WMDs or terrorist connections, because that was all fiction. Whatever the PNAC crazies believe it doesn't now appear to have been about empire, in any conventional sense, because we are proving in Iraq that we simply are incapable of governing an empire. (Ironically, we had close to an economic empire during that horrible period of peace and prosperity known as the Clinton Administration). And it doesn't appear to be about oil. We can't get their infrastructure rebuilt fast enough to make any appreciable impact on our energy needs for something like 10 years. And, in any case, we can't really just steal the oil. We have to buy it from someone (probably from Exxon at "market driven" OPEC rates using infrastructure paid for by US taxpayers).

I think, whatever the truth about 9/11, that the Iraq war was a convenient way to drive on their agenda of starving the rest of the US government. We are in mortal peril, according to the Bush Administration. Under these cicrumstances, no responsible politician can refuse to pay whatever it costs to get the job done, whatever the job is. So, the latest demand for $87 billion, which after all is just a down payment, helps to make spending on trivial things like Social Security (to say nothing of education, parks, economic regulation, etc) completely impossible. As Krugman has said, the mistake is in not believing that these people are as radical as they are. And if it means that innocent people perish because they want to remake America in their own image (or in Bolivia's), so be it.

Posted by: Kelly at September 16, 2003 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Kelly,
I'm with you, but I think to some Iraq really WAS about empire. They really thought we would be able govern it. The idea of a peaceful Middle East really is sweet. Wouldn't you like to be the President who solved the Middle East problem?

The problem is we needed an exit strategy if things didn't work out.

Posted by: Tripp at September 16, 2003 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Greetings from the other side of the echo chamber wall. Dipping in on this side occasionally reminds me why I hang out in the right-wing echo chamber. Namely, I agree with Krugman on a number of economic issues, but I don't like living my intellectual life stewing in a paranoid bog of conspiratorial fury.

Krugman is so convinced that the current environment is so much fouler than 1970; it strikes me that either he doesn't remember 1970 very well, or else he has some strange nostalgic affection for Nixon-era wage and price controls, race riots, rising crime rates, military decay, and the daily prospect of nuclear annihilation.

Personally, I hate deficits, am in favor of reinstating the estate tax, rescinding the tax cuts, dumping steel tariffs and agricultural subsidies, and so on. But I *don't* want to listen to a pack of rabid haters echo my economic opinions back at me like it's five minutes to midnight and the four horsemen are in the stables getting ready.

Posted by: Mitch H. at September 16, 2003 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

As Krugman pointed out on CNBC a couple of weeks ago, Bill Kristol got paid more for his Enron involvement, but no one seems to think that it discredits him.

C'mon, tinfoilhat, you can do better than that!
Tell us how Grover Norquist has it all together on the tax issue.

Posted by: Dark Avenger at September 16, 2003 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

I gotta admit, it's kind of fun reading the Krugman Truth Squad posters. Isn't there a Jackass movie coming out soon about them?... :-)

Posted by: David W. at September 16, 2003 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Gotta love the how Krugman can criticize, criticize, criticize Bush economic plans but doesn't have a viable alternative. Oh, reverse the tax cuts, yeah that should eliminate the deficit... It didn't even start the deficit! At least he got another lib talking point in there!

Posted by: tinfoilhat at September 16, 2003 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Mitch,
I so agree with all the economic points you support. I'm hoping there are people in your echo chamber that agree as well.

And you should stop by more often. The place isn't usually this vitriolic (sp?).

Posted by: Tripp at September 16, 2003 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Mitch H., it isn't the current situation that has folks like Krugman concerned, it's the direction we're heading in that does.

BTW, thinking of 1970, any bets on when the War on Terra is widened to include Cambodia, er, Syria?

"We seek no wider war."

Posted by: David W. at September 16, 2003 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

tinfoilhat: Please feel free to write a substantive answer to the interview. Try not to include any of the following standard, dumb-ass Republican answers:

1. If it's so bad in the US, why does everybody want to come here?
2. If you don't like it, why don't you just MOVE to another country?
3. France Sucks!
4. We'll just have to disagree, and you are too stupid to understand why you are wrong.
5. Take the average tax cut! See how the average American gets $1003 back?
6. The free market is the only thing that makes this country great.
7. By criticizing the President, you are unpatriotic. You do not support the troops. Therefore you are also guilty of treason.
8. If we DIDN'T have a tax cut, we'd have lost 1.4 million MORE jobs.
9. Halliburton is a fine company.
10. Nobody can prove global warming exists, so it doesn't.
11. Tax Cut! I don't know why!
12. Everybody knows that when you cut taxes, you can solve anything!

I'm not going to accuse the administration of lying. I will accuse them of being deceptive. Do you believe they've been forthcoming and honest on the war issue, for example? If not, were they justified in some of their deception? Maybe there's a case to be made that some deception was necessary.

I am also pretty damn tired of seeing right-wing bloggers retrofit unstated, secret, and probably non-existent policies to current realities (the flypaper theory). So many are jumping on the flypaper bandwagon -- do they not think that perhaps this sets up a worse credibility problem? No "flypaper" theory was ever announced in the run-up to war.

Posted by: Ross Judson at September 16, 2003 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, tinfoilhat, I must have imagined all those reports that indicate that the tax cuts are a sizable portion of the deficit and that it gets worse, year by year, by the administration's own projections.

As for mounting a logical defense, well, that requires first a logical attack. Trolls like yourself are met with troll responses.

Posted by: PaulB at September 16, 2003 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Wow. Go away for an hour and look what happens. Is anyone tracking this herd? Are they all in the same room? Something/somebody turned them on all at once. Not that I want to spy on people but there's got to be a way to use technology to aim the light at this phenomenon.

Posted by: dennisS at September 16, 2003 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas wrote: "He says the right wants to gut entitlement programs--those dishonest fascist bastards. He also says we need to gut Medicare, using means-testing and raising the retirement age."

I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "gut," Thomas. The opinion of some on the right regarding the entitlement programs is well known. They do indeed want to gut them, even completely get rid of them. Krugman isn't anywhere near that territory. What he's proposing is neither revolutionary nor new. Both sides have discussed similar solutions in the past.

Posted by: PaulB at September 16, 2003 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

That interview was quite impressive; I'm a student at Princeton and I hadn't heard the best things about his lecturing abilities. He taught ECO 102 (intro to micro) a couple years back and it was a disaster, apparently...

Posted by: skip at September 16, 2003 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Instapundit links and hells breaks loose.

wcw:
I'm not a Bushie. i never slammed all low-income tax cuts, just that Krugman's rebate idea is a bad one. I think Krugman does a good job pointing out some false assumptions of the Bush Adminstration. But a lot of his ideas and statements go so far overboard as to totally discredit him in my eyes. Tax Policy Center does a much better job attacking the Bush economic plan than Krugman's jeremiads.

I think the NBER site has some aggregate demand articles as well. I generally disagree with your progressive taxation approach, but would be more likely to agree on means testing SS and Medicare.

Posted by: DC Hoo at September 16, 2003 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

What I find so ironic about economists who are not economically liberal, is how they can ignore the troves of historical data illustrating that deregulation leads to economic growth, arguably the best way to improve a society. With the success of the US, UK(Thatcher), Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, and the list goes on, one would think that a professor of economics, of all people, would be able to ascertain how individuals know more and make better decisions than governments. Personally, I think I can make a more informed decisions than the governement can with what to do with my money. However, you may not share the same level of confidence in yourself and have to put your trust in the likes of Krugman.

Posted by: Aric at September 16, 2003 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Keith wrote: "But Bush's (bad) idea to expand Medicare is not consistent with the notion that he's hatching a plot to gut entitlement programs"

The two are not mutually exclusive, Keith. A few points are worth noting:

1. Bush has not proposed a plan himself to expand Medicare and has already indicated that he doesn't care which Medicare expansion plan (House or Senate) actually crosses his desk.

2. Bush has no proposal in place as to how to pay for the expansion of Medicare benefits. At the moment, if either of the bills pass, it's simply going to increase our budget deficits, which pretty much feeds into precisely the kind of speculation that Krugman engages in -- pushing us off the edge of the cliff at a much faster rate.

"And is it really so horrible to re-evaluate Medicare and Social Security? There's nothing revolutionary about questioning the wisdom of these programs."

If it were done honestly, I'd have less of a problem with it. It's not being done honestly.

In any case, I think it's too late. People have come to depend on those programs. To drop them now would have enormous consequences.

Posted by: PaulB at September 16, 2003 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

There was NO disaster. PK is easy to deal with and student supporting. A class becomes as lively the students make it. I enjoyed the class. Heck, the writing is superb and the economics absolutely convincing.

Posted by: jd at September 16, 2003 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

If economic growth is your only criteria and you are unconcerned about such things as monopolies, environmental damage, etc., then complete deregulation might be a viable option. Out here in the real world, we are concerned about those things, which is why complete economic deregulation is not a good idea.

Posted by: PaulB at September 16, 2003 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

What I find interesting is that the same conservatarian trolls who drop in to explain to all of us that we don't need higher taxes, we just need to "cut the waste," are at a loss when they're called on to explain how our ENTIRELY REPUBLICAN CONTROLLED GOVERNMENT is running at such a huge deficit.

I mean, it couldn't possibly be the loss of tax revenue, right? After all, we don't need higher taxes.

And it couldn't possibly be government waste, right? After all, the government is utterly Republican controlled these days, and goodness knows they'd cut every last bit of waste.

Golly, it must be a hallucination of some sort. Why, I'll bet we even have a surplus. Yeah, that's it, we've got a huge surplus! Let's cut taxes some more! Whoopie!!

---JRC

Posted by: JRC at September 16, 2003 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

krugman is full of it, on the one hand he rails that "Dubya" is trying to eliminate social security; so what's krug's solution (if he were king of the economy) to fix it. Brilliant, let's raise the retirement age--so you have the program; but only maybe for a year or so if you're the average man. This from a guy calling the Republicans disingenuous.

When he was quoting Kissinger, I had visions of the 60s radicals and their revolutions, as well as today's animal rights, ELF terrorists and gay activists.

Further, why didn't Cal ask about krug's feeding at the trough of Enron? Or about the corruption of the NYSE CEO getting $140 million dollars?

The scandal of the chinese is not that they're floating our T-Bills, it's that we're financing their military modernization. Loral committed a serious breach of National Security, but nobody went to jail.

CEOs and trial lawyers all make too much, but I guess it's a matter of who's ox is being gored.

Posted by: ed at September 16, 2003 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Great interview -- thanks. And it's great that Krugman is giving an interview for a blog, too -- very cool.

Pretty freaky times we live in. I never used to follow politics, but now I've joined MoveOn, call my senator, follow 5 newspapers per day, etc. Times are troubling but we've all got to stand up, take responsibility, and struggle forward -- as overweight, depressed, and tired a nation as we are. Folks who speak out like Krugman and Kevin are great inspiration.

Posted by: Dan M at September 16, 2003 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

, as well as today's animal rights, ELF terrorists and gay activists

Gay activists. What a totally loony cause.

Posted by: Barbar at September 16, 2003 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Trolls yummy. Thank you Glenn!

Posted by: Troll Eater at September 16, 2003 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

JD wrote:

"There was NO disaster. PK is easy to deal with and student supporting. A class becomes as lively the students make it. I enjoyed the class. Heck, the writing is superb and the economics absolutely convincing."

I'm just relaying what I heard...I think more people were turned off by the state of his book than Krugman himself. The most supportive prof in the world won't be good if he's not organized.

Posted by: skip at September 16, 2003 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

What's up with the formatting on this page? It shows up wider than my browser window, no matter how wide I make the window. I'm getting the same results with Safari, Camino, and even Links! I don't normally get this from CalPundit.

Posted by: Avram at September 16, 2003 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

What? is your problem!

The Bush Team is a team and they are better than your team at the moment of advancing the agenda that they believe is the best course. Guess What? The Clinton Team did the exact same thing.

I'll let you know why I don't trust you people on the left. It is because you do not understand me and find my intentions to be suspect, never recognizing that I can just as easily take the same tack as you. You talk about all this dishonesty but do not recognize any of it in yourself. Face it politicians don't tell the truth to advance What? they believe is best. It's not only that people are in fact easily fooled, and we are all people, but that there are legitimate disagreements about how to best solve social and international problems while advancing the country as a whole.

I have a little more faith in our leadership, system and the american people (even you idiotic liberals). I am the best kind of conservative, fiscal, social, compassionate, pragmatic and sober.

So the Bush team spins when they think they have to do it and Clinton didn't? At least I can see my hypocrisy. I'm not gonna trumpet it out, that is your job. And you all are idiots believing your own hype. Instead of doing the right and honorable thing which was to advise Clinton to resign; Like the bunch of blind as a bat ideologues who worship political power that you are, you didn't thus costing Gore the Presidency. It's your poor political calculations Stupids!

If you want to right the wrong then stop telling women that abortion is a choice and instead expose it as the abomidable practice of secular child sacrifice that it is. Call it What? it is and then, stop pretending that it is wise to teach that sexual promiscuity is ok provded that it is between consenting adults without regards to absolute fidelity and monogomy. I'll accept homosexuality, when homosexuals are the most vocal advocates of abstinace/fidelity and based sexually responsible behavior (Yeah and hell will freeze over). Economic injustice is not the only vice. Woe to those that ignore either, especially both at the same time.

Self-Government People, Self Government! The deception is our own.

Posted by: What? at September 16, 2003 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB--Yeah, you're right--Howard Dean, darling of the left proposed just such a thing. Now that he's running for president, he's saying something different, and Gephardt et al are demagoguing him.

You see, that's what "gut' really means--it means any reduction in benefits, or any reduction in projected increases in costs. Unless Krugman proposes the reductions, in which case it isn't a gutting...

Posted by: Thomas at September 16, 2003 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Avram>>

I'm getting that, too, but it's not affecting readability.

Posted by: skip at September 16, 2003 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Why do trolls infest progressive blogs? Especially when people like Kevin Drum and Paul Krugman simply relate the facts of life? Why do they?

'Cause nobody reads or believes anything the NeoCons have to say, that's why.
'Cause the NeoCons are evidently totally clueless, heavily bigoted, or protecting their own interests.
Or all of the above.

Posted by: kelley b. at September 16, 2003 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

stop pretending that it is wise to teach that sexual promiscuity is ok provded that it is between consenting adults without regards to absolute fidelity and monogomy.

Well, it is.

I'll accept homosexuality, when homosexuals are the most vocal advocates of abstinace/fidelity and based sexually responsible behavior (Yeah and hell will freeze over).

Why hold us to a higher standard than you?

Posted by: skip at September 16, 2003 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oh- and Good Job Kevin. This interview is exactly the kind of thing your readers value. And maybe some of the trolls might start to think a bit, too.

Posted by: kelley b. at September 16, 2003 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Fascinating interview...helps me better understand where he's coming from so I can more quickly take seriously or ignore what he produces (though one doesn't completely put him on ignore--he has the ears of a lot of folks).

- Surprised--maybe not--that his biggest worry comes from outside his field of expertise, the environment. It's generally easier to be scared of what one doens't understand. This is why it's interesting to see what in economics scares him and why he's successful at scaring a number of us regards economics.

- Not suprised that he sees vastly more lying on the right as he evolves further left. The opposite is true for those that 9/11 harshly awakened and whose reaction was to get more conservative.

- Not surprised he's scared of conservatives for the same parallel reasoning--they're ever further from his belief structure and he doesn't understand them well. From an economics perspective and his paranoia about the government spending more than it's taking in, I'm surprised he didn't better address the handwriting on the wall and talk about what's likely impending, more cuts disguised as changes in the welfare and social security systems (certainly not something one would address in one's first term as president).

Krugman's tendency is towards support of a socialistic economic system, and conservatives are generally revulsed by most socialistic tendencies, preferring self-determination. That self-determination is where the investing of one's social security idea comes from (a prelude to slowly easing the government out of at least part of that business). That's why conservatives prefer back-to-work programs over welfare. That's why conservatives tend to prefer the insuring rather than the lawyering side of the healthcare equation...conservatives tend to opt for planning for disasters themselves via insurance, while socialists usually opt for letting someone else (like the government) plan for disasters, then suing if the planning was inadequate.

The hard part is ironing out the rough edges of both the liberal and conservative ideologies to meet somewhere in a governable, usually superior middle. Like nearly everything in life, this equilibrium sways back and forth, and after a generation or two of liberal dominance in the previous century, the balance is tipped towards conseratives now. It's been long enough that neither side is dealing with the new reality very well.

One of the few areas where conservatives believe in big government is in protecting American interests--security, and the defense, intel (including the Patriot Act), etc. necessary for such. And that system, which had been declining since the end of the Cold War, had a major failure with 9/11. Under Clinton, government grew on the socialistic side and shrank on the security side...evidently too far. Bush and the nation have had to address this under duress, and this has given conservatives sway over the government that they haven't had in decades. It's also given liberals a taste of what conservatives endured for a generation or two in the previous century. Doesn't taste very good, does it. Democrats seem to be having a Goldwater spell at the moment--the more virulent ideoligies are worth fighting for, and losing gloriously for if necessary.

Krugman is right that the fiscal imbalance of spending and taxing is heading us towards big trouble. He limits his possible solutions towards increasing taxation, something that rarely at best helps grow an economy. The real solution is getting spending under control, but it sure is hard to reduce spending while buying votes. If Bush spends his way to a second term, maybe we'll get to see some of the cuts he's been hiding brought forward. If Democrats regain control, we'll likely see a battle to tax the rich to the point there's less of a gap between them and the poor. And no doubt in an attempt to buy votes, they'll increase the tax loopholes for the liberal rich.

On the brighter side, notice that after each bubble (roaring 20s, nifty 50, and the tech bubble) the percentage of rich in the nation has risen and the percentage of poor has dropped (and that's even after greatly increasing living conditions necessary to qualify as poor). Over time, something about our economic system must be working.

Posted by: Gordie at September 16, 2003 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

boy, the insta-link sure decimated the discourse here. very depressing.

of the few reasoned posts, most go far, far afield from the discussion of Krugman's critiques. the one comment I'll allow myself is to snicker at using the word 'deregulation' in the same sentence as the name 'Singapore'. if there is any example that an activist government can be of great economic benefit, Singapore is one.

to Hoo, please note that I was defending and not attacking you. in re: progressive taxation, what exactly have you got against it? I mean, unless you're top-2% in assets/income, in which case plain old self-interest is a good argument.

as for 'means testing,' not that I mentioned it, but in general, I'm a fan of welfare over entitlement. to me, pure entitlements are somewhat regressive in nature, and you know I won't like that. then again, if I had my druthers I'd change a lot of other things I didn't mention, too. change the mortgage deduction into a capped credit, or give every non-dependent taxpayer a flat credit for the approximate sales tax paid on poverty line cost of living.

Posted by: wcw at September 16, 2003 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

I try to listen to stuff like this, and I appreciate that you guys are sincere, but golly, you sound just like the tinfoil hat brigade...
Yeah, there's big stuff going on in the world, but big boys and girls understand that passionate differences about what should be done in response and in futherance of our varying visions of the "good" are not evil or lies... at least not all the time...
Sometimes, of course, the fundamental claims of individuals or groupas ARE self-conscious lies... e.g. it is hard to understand practically anything that came out of the USSR as anything but calculated deception... But this is not usually the case...
To take one example, Krugman practically wrings his hands off at the wrists over income inequality in the U.S. and analogizes it to the situation in Latin and South America; he claims that there is a developing oligarchy in America. But it is a fundamentally false analogy. True, the highest quartile is further from the lowest than ever before, but UNLIKE the hereditary oligarchies to which he compares us, in the U.S. there is an ongoing churning within and between the various quartiles of income?!
Who gives a shit if the richest quartile is richer than ever before if the the richest quartile is comprised primarily of folks who were in the lower quartiles before? That's my family history -- 8 kids, all of whom started with my folks in the lowest quartile and now we're all in the top 2? NOT because my school teacher/factory worker dad gave us so much, but because America IS, IN TRUTH, the land of opportunity where hard work is rewarded....
Gloom & Doom all you want, it's me and my brothers and sisters who are paying the taxes more disproportionately than EVER...

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

What?
I appreciate your honesty, but aren't you just a little bit ashamed of the 'you did it first' excuse?

Isn't it beneath you?

I mean, where is your pride, man?

Posted by: Tripp at September 16, 2003 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah, and my point is that Krugman is not lying when he misses the forest for the trees, he's just dumb.

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

JAGCAP--

You are generalizing from a sample of one family, to the state of the nation? The idea that the top quartile is composed primarily of people from lower ones just does not ring true (esp with estate taxes going away now). Evidence of this beautiful vision of your having any basis of reality?

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

You gotta love Clinton stumping for Gray Davis in California. Bubba feels that the recall is wrong, politicians won't be able to make the "hard" decisions without fear of losing their job. That's the answer Bill, don't let anyone throw you out of office even if you run your state into the ground or sell national security secrets for campaign contributions. Once you win the election that's it! "The recall is a threat to democracy, a power grab". Quite the opposite, it allows the people to pull morons and crooks off the public dole. Think Bob Torricelli, who was recently appointed a fat post by a Democrat.

I know this has nothing to do with that asshole Krugman, but here is a California audience just asking for some issues to talk about.

Let's get all those illegals aliens driver's licenses!

Posted by: laf at September 16, 2003 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

What? is a religious wingnut! What? a surprise!

Posted by: Barbar at September 16, 2003 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

This all reminds me of that time Krugman was publicly attacked by Ben Stein a few years back. Krugman: "Thanks to TNR for its put-down...which points out that I received the Clark Medal, and that Mr. Stein is a game-show host." What are all of you?

Posted by: JP at September 16, 2003 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

that's because, when our hero claims, "in the U.S. there is an ongoing churning within and between the various quartiles of income," he is wrong. the objective analysis I've read comes to the opposite conclusion.

for those here who wish to inform yourselves rather than take my word -- always a good idea -- beware: there is a lot of piffle on the subject from both sides.

JC, or whatever your handle is here: I'm always open to changing my mind if you have some good analysis to which to point me. got anything like the NBER paper that Hoo referenced?

Posted by: wcw at September 16, 2003 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

boy, the insta-link sure decimated the discourse here. very depressing.

Jeepers, whatta maroon! For once you have to hear someone who REALLY disagrees with you, actually have to confront a different (dare I say a diverse) assortment of perspectives and your reaction is depression. Well, thank God for that, depression usually solidifies into frivilous action/inaction, which clears the field for those of us who not only jaw about making the world a better place, but actually do it.
Poor sweet depressed baby... lemme give you some medical marijuana... feel better now? Did snoogums know that izzum's medicine was provided by taxes righteously appropriated from the conniving hands of the idle rich? Does oo feel betta now?

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

JAGCAP--

Why not answer those of us who are actually undermining your argument? Name-calling is easier, I suppose, but it does little to validate your (inaccurate) worldview...

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

The quartile churning information was gathered by the Univ of Michigan and as soon as I can get you a link, will do so... unfortunately, my 4 p.m. appointment just arrived so I have to go wrest some more filthy lucre from the starving poor....

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Did these people come from Instapundit? Glenn must be PROUD of his kids. Their comments were so penetratiing and well informed!

Posted by: zizka at September 16, 2003 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Bye JAGCAP.

I suppose that last little bit of sarcasm was irresistible, eh?

Posted by: Tripp at September 16, 2003 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

JAGCAP, not that I have any reason to doubt you, but I find your claim a little hard to swallow. Probably because, with my father's family (like yours, 8 kids, parents in lowest quartile), none of them are in the top 2%. While they are doing much better than their parents (average pay for all of them is about 50k per year), there isn't a single one making over 350k per year (which is basically the bottom of the top 2% range).

You can see where I find it a touch hard to believe that all 8 of you kids are now making more than 350k per year. But, in fairness, is it true? (I promise to believe you, as I have no reason to believe you'd lie)

Posted by: The Stag at September 16, 2003 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you and Krugman perhaps ignored one of the reasons that the Bushies have succeeded so well, other than "it can't happen here," and in my view explains the defeat of the Alabama tax plan: racism. Besides outright lying, the Republicans have slyly portrayed any increase in taxes or government as benefitting blacks and hispanics, which is how they bamboozle fearful lower and middle income whites into voting for them.

Posted by: nolatab at September 16, 2003 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

I find that people that profess their Christianity are often the least Christian people I know. They are the people that are most likely to tell a gay person that they certainly will be burning in hell. They are the people that think it was a good idea for that guy to kill that abortion doctor. They are the kinds of people that think it is appropriate to legislate morality - to inject God into schools, courts, and the state house. These people are quite sure that they are holier than everyone else. They KNOW that when the rapture comes, they are a'coming.

But the only real Christians I know are the people that believe in what Christ actually said - instead of what a preacher interpreted him as saying. Real Chrisitans are not bigotted idiots. They don't assume that a gay person is going to end up in Hell. They believe in loving the sinner - hating the sin. They do not think that the government should be involved in religion.

As far as politicians go, I suspect any politician that claims to have a high degree of faith - especially followers of Leo Strauss. Strauss believed that the rich held a prveleged positions - that they should lead with lies and that religion is primarily a way of making the ignorant masses compliant and easily controlled. This is the case with the Christian Right in America.

They get their marching orders from the RNC - then push the orders out to all their church leaders, team leaders, etc. These people have a very rigid sense of authority - which makes them easy to control. All one needs to do is bring up a subject - and the zealots in the crowd will push the crowd in any direction.

Take evolution in schools. There has been a travelling band of preachers going through Missouri and Kansas - riling up the natives - telling them what they want to hear. The Christians are oppressed and the gub'mint is the culprit. The gub'mint and those lousy liberals want to keep God out of science class. They want to teach a "theory" of evolution - that we came from monkeys - in our schools. The lib'ruls that is in control jess want to get rind o' God - like the communists did.

needless to say, this excites the crowd and makes them want to go get them lib'ruls. It has nothing to do with logic - it has to do with the herd. Withou or education system crumbling, I doubt AMerica will change anytime soon.

Posted by: Scott Fanetti at September 16, 2003 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

No, JAGCAP, we enjoy discussion. We don't enjoy a bunch of self-righteous clowns coming in without bothering to do their homework. Gordie appears to be the only one so far with anything approaching a thoughtful critique. We've seen uncritical references to the discredited "Krugman truth squad" and uncritical claims - critiqued directly in the NY Times magazine article last Sunday - that we can solve all of our problems by cutting spending. We've also seen plenty of ad hominem attacks on liberals and the usual set of irrelevant rantings on abortion and the evil Clinton. In short, you and your buddies have been nasty and rude, and it's not surprising that we're not taking kindly to it. Go back and rant with your fellow freepers if you can't say something with substance.

Marc

Posted by: Marc at September 16, 2003 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

WCW-"the one comment I'll allow myself is to snicker at using the word 'deregulation' in the same sentence as the name 'Singapore'. if there is any example that an activist government can be of great economic benefit, Singapore is one."

Snicker away. Singapore initially propelled itself through import substitution, which entails a high level of government control. Yet, it was only when these were loosened did the country truly enjoy growth. Your mentality is exactly the irony I was referring to. You may have had the last laugh, but he who laughs last doesn't get the joke. So, snicker away.

PaulB- Of coarse some level of regulation is necessary, but there have been many examples describing an inverse relationship between amount of govenment control and economic growth. Of coarse, I care about the environment, but that is a luxury we as relatively wealthly people can enjoy. A poor farmer in Brazil is more concerned about feeding his family than saving a hardwood forest. With regards to monopolies; some increase overall welfare, there are untested theories (due to a lack of truly unregulated markets) that monopolies are not sustainable due to competing forces and are actually proped up by regulation (i.e. AT&T), and lasty, yes you are right, some monopolies need to be broken up through regulation to increase overall welfare. I never metioned complete deregulation once in my previous post, so am I now from your coveted real world that you were referring to.

Posted by: Aric at September 16, 2003 01:06 PM | PERMALINK

since our insult-filled friend JC is too busy, I'll save him the trouble of tracking down the data. based on panel studies of income mobility, income mobility in the US is not significantly higher than in other western democracies (Germany is one comparison I've seen) with lower nonstochastic inequality.

yeah, here's a paper of which I was thinking:
http://www.wider.unu.edu/conference/conference-2003-2/conference%202003-2-papers/papers-pdf/Jenkins&VanKerm%20070403.pdf

from the abstract: "The evidence indicates that year-to-year individual income changes are progressive, with the greater gains obtained by the poorest, but the reranking associated more than offset the inequality reducing effect of progressivity of income changes. The inequality reducing effect of progressivity is larger in Western Germany than in the USA."

there is lots of other and better work out there, but we may as well start there. what have you got for us, JC?

Posted by: wcw at September 16, 2003 01:08 PM | PERMALINK

Caring about the environment is not a "luxury" that we wealthy folk enjoy, it is a *responsibility* which we must take up--esp given that much of the environmental degradation worldwide is driven by the consumerist economies of the West.

The notion that growth is automatically good needs to be questioned, and soon. As cranky old Ed Abbey said: "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." Very apt.

Remember folks, every pacemaker put in or bypass operation performed drives up the GNP--that doesn't mean we want more of them...better to foster healthy living and a clean environment so that such drastic procedures are needed less often.

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

wcw: Heh..definitely not in the top 2% unfortunately for me. My goal in taxation is to establish a system that gives people the best chance to better themselves. Everyone agrees that taxes are costs that discourage more work, earning and investing. When you have progressive taxation, you place an additional hurdle for someone to cross in climbing the ladder of success. The problem is how to give lower income folks a decent shot at climbing the ladder while still trying to keep taxes at a level to promote maximum growth. So in short for me, income mobility trumps income redistribution. I'd rather Gates get a million dollar tax cut if that meant lower income folks saw their wealth go up by $1000 instead of say $990 if it was a more distributive system. That's my general principal. More directly, the current tax system is screwed and I'm not sure if it can be fixed. Increasing the top rate will drive more compensation to capital gains, ie the stock market as just one example why simply raising the rate on top-earners can cause problems.

re: income mobility. Box 5-4 of the current Econ Report of the President, has some interesting mobility of tax filers and their progress over 10 years. They found that about 23.1% of the top bracket was folks who were in the 0 to 25 percent bracket 10 years earlier. 49.1 percent of filers in the top bracket stayed there. The majority of mobility studies I've seen show a 50% or greater turnover at the top.

enjoyed the discussion.

Posted by: DC Hoo at September 16, 2003 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

And there is this:

http://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?NavMenuID=24&template=/TaggedContent/ViewPublication.cfm&PublicationID=6170

A quote:

"Thus, the disparity in economic rewards is increasing, while there has been no positive change in the openness or availability of those rewards to everyone in the population. There is also no evidence that mobility is significantly different in the United States than it is in other countries. This suggests that the United States has not only the highest year-to-year inequality in the industrialized world, but also likely has the highest lifetime inequality among similar countries."

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 01:16 PM | PERMALINK

Great interview. Very interesting. Sad to see the trolls come. I think questioning PK is fine. But how these idiots can out of hand discard what he has to say is beyond me. Disagreement without any supporting (empirical) info is just talking shit. It's worthless. So go home, get the sources and cite.

Posted by: Gideon S at September 16, 2003 01:16 PM | PERMALINK

for Aric, on Singapore; skip past unless it interests you.

I'm not interested in challenging your article of faith in deregulation. that discussion is not only long, it also has little to do with Krugman, whose political bent, as I understand it, is itself pretty sympathetic to minimal regulatory schemes.

to recap:

A: deregulation leads to economic growth (viz Singapore)

w: if there is any example that an activist government can be of great economic benefit, Singapore is one.

A: Singapore initially propelled itself through import substitution, which entails a high level of government control. Yet, it was only when these were loosened did the country truly enjoy growth.

so -- and correct me if I misread you -- an activist government was of great economic benefit in Singapore in the past. good, we're halfway there.

my unspoken point was not only that Singapore grew with a highly controlled economy, but also that it continues to exhibit very interventionary policies. sure, the currency controls are gone, but you can hardly sit there with a straight face and hold them up as some sort of ideal example of laissez faire. or do you? because for that I need evidence.

Posted by: wcw at September 16, 2003 01:25 PM | PERMALINK

DC Hoo, I believe that income mobility study was problematic in that young people tend to have relatively low salaries, but that shouldn't necessarily put them in a low bracket. At age 22, in my first job after college graduation, I made less than $25,000. When I'm 32, I'll probably make considerably more than that, but that isn't true income mobility because my parents are middle-class - I was just paying my dues. A better study would compare people's incomes against their parents' incomes, or something like that.

On a separate note, I appreciate how you've been able to disagree with people here without acting like a raving psycho.

Posted by: JP at September 16, 2003 01:27 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, here in flyover country, quartile refers to a 20% slice, not a 2%... But hey! mebbe you guys do language different, too... and BTW, a couple of us did make that level, a couple aren't likely to and the rest (including me) have a decent shot...
And whassamatta with using my family's experience anyhow? Sure, we're all unusually good-looking and cheerful types, but beyond that we're just ordinary Walmart Americans...

Hey, and since the West Coast has the sunshine & the girls all get so tan.... why're you so sullen?

"Insult-filled" ?! Aww c'mon... of course, the Midwest farmers daughters really make you feel alright, so I guess I got an excuse to be cheerful...

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 01:33 PM | PERMALINK

Hoo -

in re, "when you have progressive taxation, you place an additional hurdle for someone to cross in climbing the ladder of success," I have one word: huh? isn't the definition of progressive taxation that the hurdles are smaller at lower incomes?

in re mobility, of course people change income groups. what's important is that they don't do it much, most of it has to do with simple lifecycle income growth, and most pertinent to our discussion, they do it no more and perhaps less often in the US than in other developed countries that have lower inequality overall.

worst of all, the PSID data seems to indicate that income mobility in the US has been on a steady downtrend for a couple decades now, perhaps longer. vaguely depressing, if you ask me.

Posted by: wcw at September 16, 2003 01:34 PM | PERMALINK

What's wrong with using your family is that it is a logical fallacy to do so, JAGCAP.

And 20% is a quintile. 25% is a quartile.

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 01:44 PM | PERMALINK

Damn, I hate when I'm stupidly wrong... Rorsarch, I bare my head to you in humble gratitude, I meant quintile, really.... I will now spend the next two hours writing quintile = 20% on the chalk board....
Oh yeah, and to which logical fallacy do you refer? My "argument" is analogy, (naw, really it's my gut rumbles, jes reporting my feelings), not modus tollens-type logic...

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 01:53 PM | PERMALINK

Good lord, I've seen some softball interviews but this one made Larry King look like Jeremy Paxman; it's a disgrace to bloggerdom.

In the first place, anyone who interviews Krugman and doesn't hold him accountable for boosting Enron's Kyoto Treaty pollution market and its California energy market while feeding at their trough is guilty of journalistic malpractice. And in the second place, any blogger that doesn't at least ask him to comment on his "Lying in Ponds" rating as the most partisan columnist is misrepresenting him to his audience.

Krugman went completely off his rocker in 2000, and anyone who still takes him seriously needs to consider whether his views are shaped by fact or (some rather nasty) emotional fixations. He's just a typical East Coast elitist intellectual, primarily outraged that President Bush doesn't show him and his the respect they deserve in their own minds.

Pathetic.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 01:53 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, it is not analogy. Rather it is what is known as a "hasty generalization." Just because one family is highly mobile in terms of wealth or income does not mean that high mobility is a rule for the society as a whole.

Your argument is analogous to (here's an analogy): Well, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, therefore, anyone can walk on the moon. Just not true.

At any rate, my post of 1:16 PM calls the whole issue of "good mobility" into question anyway. And that is from research, not gut feeling...rather more reliable, in my opinion.

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 01:58 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, the IP link sent this discussion straight to hell.

Posted by: Jason McCullough at September 16, 2003 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

Richard Bennett's logical fallacy, by the way, is called "ad hominem."

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, whaddaya think about the idea that a reason for decreasing income mobility is that the incentives have changed.... At some point, being in the lowest quintile meant no indoor plumbing, no central heat, AM radio, raggedy clothes, etc. (I was the oldest boy, so at least the clothes were new to me (except when we got em from cousins)), but now indoor plumbing, central heat, telephone, cable TV, color TV, etc, etc, have almost a 100% penetration... Also the barriers to continued earnings have increased... one of the arguments in favor of Bush's tax cuts was that they actually increased the percentage of tax revenues derived from the highest bracket taxpayers... As a small business owner, I can tell you that when getting the next buck means that not only does my bracket go up, but my deductions get taken away, you don't strain quite so hard for the carrot... Oh well, back to the chalk board...
Move over, Bart....

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 02:03 PM | PERMALINK

JAG,
Again with the sarcasm?

Anyway, am I correct that your point was that all 8 kids started in the bottom 25% and are now above average? When I first read your post you said you kids are now in the top 2, and I took that to mean 2%, but you meant the top 2 quartiles?

Posted by: Tripp at September 16, 2003 02:03 PM | PERMALINK

All of this lofty talk and the bottom line is that Bush and Co are beggars and theives with a mobster mentality. The "Conservative Agenda" merely offers a rationalization to buy into for everyone who chooses to drink the Kool-aid (including you, Bob Woodward).

Posted by: Tug at September 16, 2003 02:08 PM | PERMALINK

Adam: I think your attack on DC Hoo is uncalled for. Why is it crazy that poor people would use the rebate checks to pay down debt?

Also, I presume that DC Hoo is referring to Friedman's work on lifetime budgeting (I forget the technical name), not his monetary policy prescriptions.

Posted by: Walt Pohl at September 16, 2003 02:09 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. If the bizarro-world economics espoused by JAGCAP weren't enough to convince me, this last post is. You must be well-off, to have such a warped view of what it is like to be poor in this country. Believe me, there are plenty of incentives to get out of poverty (ever lived on the same block as a crackhouse, or within a block or two of projects--or in the projects? It is hardly a rosy place of 100% saturation of lovely technology. This is why judges have more and more been sentencing slum lords to live in their own shithole properties until they repair them.).

Perhaps the planet you live on truly functions as you have been describing. But it has little to do with this one, I hate to say.

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 02:10 PM | PERMALINK

Adam,

You did a wonderful Maureen Dowd on my comment. Krugman needs to see a psychiatrist not because he disagrees with me but because he has concocted an insane conspiracy theory. Anyone is free to disagree with me, and I am sure a lot of people do. Just don't tell me I am a liar, evil, stupid, crazy, etc. Engage me in an argument if you want, but respect the fact that even though I disagree with you I genuinely want to make the world a better place and think my way is the best way to do it. My point was that we need a return to civility in politics -- Krugman is one of the worst purveyors of "the politics of personal destruction."

Posted by: Ben at September 16, 2003 02:10 PM | PERMALINK

JAGCAP, my apologies. When you said "8 kids, all of whom started with my folks in the lowest quartile and now we're all in the top 2?" I misread that as "we kids are in the top 2 percent," when you actually meant "we kids are in the top 2 quartiles." I promise to read a little closer next time.

Posted by: The Stag at September 16, 2003 02:13 PM | PERMALINK

Hey looky looky! Research! http://www.ncpa.org/oped/bartlett/aug2300.html

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 02:14 PM | PERMALINK

wcw:
Everytime someone's marginal tax rate increases their incentive to work an extra or save more declines. Someone could decide that 31% isn't high enough to stop working while someone else could decide that 15% was too high. So even changing from the 10-15% bracket produces negative incentives. That's the problem with progressive taxation.

Hmm, income mobility in the US vs Germany must be an interesting study. I wonder how much of that is because the German economy has tanked and the US economy has grown. Sluggish economies tend to have less inequality than booming ones. Krugman's dire predictions of the US economy are much more likely(and some could argue are occuring now) in Germany and France. I'd be interesting in reading more about that study and the PSID sample on mobility decreasing. thanks you and jp for the discourse.

Posted by: DC Hoo at September 16, 2003 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

Krugman points out that the Bush tax cut was designed to go primarily to the richest (and it was), and that it was represented as being primarily intended to help the less-well-off and the middle class (and it was).

There's a word for that: a lie. And word for those who propgate it: liars.

That's not ad hominem. That's by definition.

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

If you ask me, what is really disturbing isn't the trends in income distribution, but rather in wealth distribution. Income is only a means to wealth, after all, and it is misleading to talk about aspiring to a higher income bracket, when what one is really striving for is a higher wealth bracket.

Check out these charts:

http://www.ufenet.org/research/wealth_charts.html

and this study report:

http://www.levy.org/docs/wrkpap/papers/300.html

If there is any one statistic that should send shudders down our spines, it's that the bottom 80% of Americans own only 15% of the total wealth.

That's right- 20% of the people own 85% of the wealth. And the trend is upwards.

Posted by: epist at September 16, 2003 02:20 PM | PERMALINK

Well, as a matter of fact, I lived a block over from a couple of crackhouses (when I was working 48 hours per week on the graveyard shift as a security guard going to law school) and I actually bought a crackhouse (at least that's what the neighbors said it was) to live in when I was a newbie. And I bought and poured a ton of dough into properties (one of which eventually became a crackhouse after I sold it (at a huge loss)) only to see them demolished (literally, holes in the wall, etc) by the tenants who viewed paying the rent as strictly optional...
As far as prosecuting slumlords, it sounds good, but my personal never-happened-to-anybody-else-in-the-world experience was that I was prosecuted and saved only because the Housing Departments own photos showed that each of several complaints over a series of months was due to the tenants dumping new and different garbage in different places (in the basement, under the bushes, behind the garage, etc)...
And as far as sarcasm... don't you guys know anybody or any family with a story like mine? Cripes, everybody I know came from families where dad worked two jobs, the kids all had paper routes and summer jobs...

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 02:24 PM | PERMALINK

epist--

A very good point. I like the way that Krugman speaks of this bifurcation as a threat to society. If the very rich and the rest of us have less and less in common, then there will be less and less reason to work together. Social institutions will be (are being) harmed and civility will be eroded.

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 02:25 PM | PERMALINK

Hoo -

ah, I see what you're saying. I'll be honest, while it may be true in the abstract I simply do not see anyone working less in order to stay in the 10% or 15% bracket who is a primary earner. is there any research that tries to quantify that effect? I've never thought to look.

assuming there is such an effect and further assuming that it outweighs the negative effect of a flat marginal tax rate (because that's the natural policy given your worldview, right?) on your first dollar of income, how the heck do you minimize hurdles for the unlucky with low incomes?


JC -

opinion pieces by ideologically motivated commentators are not research. further, nobody here argues that there is zero mobility, just that a) there is no more mobility in the US than in other countries and b) mobility measures are trending down. got papers on those subjects?

fwiw, here's a Fed article to which Calpundit linked this summer: http://www.bos.frb.org/economic/nerr/rr2002/q4/issues.pdf

"Compared to 30 years ago, families at the bottom are poorer relative to families at the top and also a bit more stuck there. Mobility alone has not and is not likely to counteract the hardships caused by increasing inequality. Instead, we might want to look more seriously at policies to even up and improve the possibilities for those at the bottom in order to maintain our standing as a land of opportunity."

Posted by: wcw at September 16, 2003 02:32 PM | PERMALINK

JAGCAP--A quartile is 25%. A quintile is 20%. Innumeracy is a serious problem among Republicans these days, so I'm glad to help you out there, even in a small way. But you and your siblings keep shopping at Wal-Mart like the rest America's millionaires do...

One of the wonderful things about Dr. Krugman is how darkly magnetic his critics find him. Is it his cologne? The beard? The Clark Medal? They find him oddly, queerly irresistible.

But, substantively, if enough fierce, angry, insta-moron monkeys riot, talk shit and make up stories about the Emperor Wearing Clothes--it really discredits Krugman, doesn't it?

Folks should read "Peddling Prosperity" if they want to understand why Krugman threatens the supply-siders' religion so much. It's a good, long piss on shoddy, manipulative, pundit-friendly economics.

Thanks again Dr. K.

Posted by: Tim B. at September 16, 2003 02:32 PM | PERMALINK

Why is someone else's wealth a threat to you?

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 02:34 PM | PERMALINK

K has the eyes of Rasputin...

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 02:35 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, Tim, I bare my head to you (as well as the other guy who pointed it out first) in humble gratitude for pointing out my error. Now, back to the board...

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 02:38 PM | PERMALINK

Exellent question JAGCAP. I bet they'll have a tough time answering it.

Posted by: Ben at September 16, 2003 02:41 PM | PERMALINK

Other's wealth isn't a problem with me, JAG.

It's wealthy people who act like only THEY are responsible for their wealth, thus they owe NOTHING back to the country they profess to love.

We call them "ungrateful bitches" here in Missouri, "flyover country" as you rightwingers like to call it.

Posted by: Ras_Nesta at September 16, 2003 02:42 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, a tough time answering it, because it is utterly nonsensical.

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 02:43 PM | PERMALINK

"He's just a typical East Coast elitist intellectual"

Richard, you should know that the East Coast has no monopoly on elitist intellectuals. Some of them live in California, and some of them lean Right, as well.

Posted by: Steven Walsh at September 16, 2003 02:47 PM | PERMALINK

"In fact, there's ample evidence that key elements of the coalition that now runs the country believe that some long-established American political and social institutions should not, in principle, exist....Consider, for example....New Deal programs like Social Security and unemployment insurance, Great Society programs like Medicare...."

Gee, could it be that some of them have actually read and want to follow the Constitution?

Posted by: Mark Bahner at September 16, 2003 02:50 PM | PERMALINK

Can we at least agree that it is grotesque to see the rich getting richer and richer (at least in part due to the actions of this administration in their favor), while social programs are defunded, and:

in 2000 10.5 percent of all U.S. households, representing 20 million adults and 13 million children, were "food insecure" because of lack of resources. Of the 11 million households that were food insecure, 3.3 million suffered from food insecurity that was so severe that USDA's very conservative measure classified them as "hungry." 5.6 million adults and 2.7 million children lived in these hungry households.

http://www.frac.org/html/hunger_in_the_us/hunger_index.html

Posted by: rorschach at September 16, 2003 02:52 PM | PERMALINK

The traditional Democratic Party coalition combines the ultra-rich and the ultra-poor, both of whom have vested interests in big government with its tax-and-spend policies. The poor see the benefit in subsidies for idleness, and the rich in Enronian programs that direct the public trust into their corporate coffers where it's used, among other things, to pay off stooges like Krugman to develop new and better scams. The greatest of these currently is the Kyoto Protocol that was devised by Krugman and Enron to make a market in pollution credits.

The breakaway of an ultra-rich class who make their money from stock options threatens this model, and it leaves Krugman no place to stand. His talents, largely the pedigree as a Princeton professor with no real experience in business, have no real place in a market economy; he excels only when given clout by virtue of his access to friendly government, as he enjoyed during the Clinton years. So naturally he's terrified by the emergence of a class of rich people not beholden to government, and therefore not beholden to him.

The question that sincere people would ask about income disparity is whether it's accompanied by in increase, in absolute terms, of the earning power of the lower half. As it has been, the Krugmans are left simply demagoging the fact that some people have more money than they, which will always be the case.

It's sad that anyone is taken in by this charlatan Krugman.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 02:53 PM | PERMALINK

Hey fellas & gals, uh, this looked good: http://oldfraser.lexi.net/publications/forum/2001/01/section_02.html
Uh, here's something that talks about wealth between generations... thesis is that inherited behavior (not inherited dough) begets money http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/news/capideas/spring03/financialeducation.html
Oh yeah, and here's something that suggests I'm pretty much wrong, from the Gray Lady herself, so ya know it's gotta be good! www.irs.princeton.edu/krueger/intergen2.htm
It's written by a Dr. K (for Krueger!) an econ guy from Princeton... hey, isn't there some other Princeton econ guy with a similar name writing similar stuff for our Paper of Record? Naw, couldn't be....

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 02:56 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Ras...
Why do you care how wealthy people act?

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 02:59 PM | PERMALINK

There's nothing in the Krugman interview that is not well known. It's true and for the most part it's truism; but it's well said and Krugman be president.
except that the "presidency" is the problem.

Posted by: Cornet Joyce at September 16, 2003 03:00 PM | PERMALINK

Now shush there, rorschach! Our uptightie rightie whitie friends are all rugged individualists and outdoorsy types.

What do they care about children starving in the US, as long as their wallets are fat? After all, Jesus was only interested in his financial bottom line, Sermon on the Mount nonwithstanding.

What Krugman is worried about is encapsulated in a Bob Nesta Marley song--"Them Belly Full, We Hungry, A hungry mob is an angry mob." Eventually the rich will be eaten unless they begin practicing the tenets of Adam Smith's OTHER great work, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments".

Smith states: "As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation. Though our brother is upon the rack, as long as we ourselves are at our ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers."

Posted by: Ras_Nesta at September 16, 2003 03:04 PM | PERMALINK

Great interview Kevin. Can't thank you enough.

I am in awe of Krugman's restraint.

JAGCAP: e-mail me your address. I'd be more than happy to come by and drop all my garbage on you.

No just at your house --on you .

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 03:09 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like you're smoking some killer ganga, Rasta Nesta Man.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 03:10 PM | PERMALINK

Richard Bennett makes me laugh out loud. Hey Richard, Krugman won the Clark Medal. You are a "well-rounded software engineer" who did "post graduate work" at UT (but apparently never earned a post graduate degree) in engineering. You don't have a leg to stand on.

The poor see the benefit in subsidies for idleness, and the rich in Enronian programs that direct the public trust into their corporate coffers where it's used, among other things, to pay off stooges like Krugman to develop new and better scams.

Wait - who's the conspiracy theorist again?

Posted by: JP at September 16, 2003 03:11 PM | PERMALINK

JAG, I care about how rich people act because rich people own the U.S. government lock, stock, and barrel.

Look at the income distribution of 99% of the $2,000 hard money donations in the last election. It sure as hell isn't the poor greasing the politician's palms and we get representation to match.

Nice ad hominen, pRick Bennett.

Posted by: Ras_Nesta at September 16, 2003 03:12 PM | PERMALINK

There seems to be some question as to whether Krugman has any business making comments on economics due to the fact his experience is not largely rooted in business.

Is this a general comment about people of academic experience in economics, as opposed to someone who only has experience in economics through working in private industry ?

And is clout given by access to friendly government always "bad" clout ? Can you think of any clout that has been given to an otherwise not known Right-wing economist/journalist due to their access to a Republican government ? Or is that impossible, and has never happened ?

In essence, how different is Krugman to any of the other parties' so-called extremists ? Richard Bennett, do you not think that there aren't Right journalists that don't take liberties with language in the way that Krugman does ? Or are they immune, as well ?

Again....political craziness has no affinity to any party.

Posted by: Steven Walsh at September 16, 2003 03:14 PM | PERMALINK

RastaDude, the majority of million-dollar contributors in the last election cycle were Democrats. These folks understand that the easiest way to make big money is to take it from the treasury. Need a cite?

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 03:15 PM | PERMALINK

Many comments here are just plain wrong. in the 60's & 70's there was a huge assault from the left on fundamental American values and the very idea that America was essentially good. After weeping and wailing and getting nothing in return, we learned.

It's amazing just how crazy you think we right-wingers are. One thing the last 40 years has taught us, though. Wailing and moaning just don't work. So we became methodical. You can call us names, but we will just quietly march on. And that is what your name calling inspires - quiet determination.

Keep on ranting and raving. America will be taken back from the Marxist and the Socialist, and freedom to live our lives and use our property according to our own desires will once again become the dominant principles in America. That is not turning back the clock. It is the reassertion of what made America great in the first place.

Posted by: Scott Harris at September 16, 2003 03:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Can you think of any clout that has been given to an otherwise not known Right-wing economist/journalist due to their access to a Republican government ?"

Got an example that's anywhere near as egregious as Krugman's cozy relationship with the Clintons and his Enron deal?

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 03:18 PM | PERMALINK

I have spent a little over a year in Washington, DC. and have seen first hand the machinations of this administration and congress. I first heard about the bankrupting of Social Security from a lobbyist who has spent the better part of his life on the Hill last August. Yes I could not believe that anyone would deliberately starve the government of funds to the point that it would become insolvent. Now the reality is that expanding Medicare without a strong funding base will clearly accomplish that feat.

The budget cuts have had a worse effect on state governments, especially CA whose effective tax rates are indexed to the federal rate,than on the Federal Government which can borrow to close the gap. My home state of MO is looking at a $1 billion shortfall for next year, because of that indexing problem. MO is looking to cut children's healthcare, secondary education, and elementary education in order to close a portion of that deficit.

Those who believe that "big" government is evil will remember his words when the infrastructure of this country begins to resemble that of the third world. The congress is withholding reauthorization of the highway fund and the airport funds because of funding issues. To address whether government creates jobs one can point to the fact that 40,000 + jobs are "created" by the spending of $1 billion in infrastructure.

Government is not only public works, but also the glue that keeps civilization from self-distructing. Without adequate funding we have already seen the loss and potential loss of police and firefighters across the country. The irony for these followers of Grover Norquist is that society will not have an adequate number of police or security to protect them from the unemployed, angry masses.

Posted by: Kevin "formerly of MO" at September 16, 2003 03:23 PM | PERMALINK

FWIW, Krugman also has a piece in the new _Rolling Stone_.

Posted by: Ted Clayton at September 16, 2003 03:23 PM | PERMALINK

whew.. I feel like I'm judging a bad high school debate of two teams who don't understand the issue of topicality.

if you must go afield, I encourage all of you on whatever side strongly to look for *objective* evidence to buttress your positions. that way, at least we'll have something to talk about besides namecalling and ossified ideology.

please, children -- give your side a good name by thinking as you post.

Posted by: wcw at September 16, 2003 03:24 PM | PERMALINK

Bennett, I'm talking about $2,000 hard-money contributions directly to candidates, not now-illegal soft-money contributions.

Posted by: Ras_Nesta at September 16, 2003 03:24 PM | PERMALINK

JAGCAP: e-mail me your address. I'd be more than happy to come by and drop all my garbage on you.

No just at your house --on you .

Jeepers, David Ehrenstein, mebbe we can get some of that medical marijuana for you... in the meantime, I'll try and understand that your violent (hah, whatta poseur!) rage (I want my Maypo! And summa your's too!) is my fault for having worked my ass off since my first paper route at age 8 and appreciating how wonderful we all have it here in the land of the free and the home of the brave...
Success sucks.
For a loser.

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 03:25 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Kevin -

How much fat is there in the defense budget, and how much might we save by eliminaring Star Wars, etc. (as Clark might be able to do, as a Nixon-in-China move)? Enough to make a dent in the budget crisis otherwise about to overwhelm us?

Posted by: Mike in Arizona at September 16, 2003 03:26 PM | PERMALINK

I'm at a loss here. Is the rebuttal to the wealth argument that the wealth of others can't affect you? Can't affect you negatively? Can do so, but that's ok? What, exactly?

It can't be the first, since the market is, of course, sensitive to the relative wealth of people. As in an auction. Or in the valuation of property.

As for the second, well, let's return to the problem of property values. California put an artificial limit on property valuations, ostensibly because the tax burden was too high. But what this legislation was really aimed at was blunting the effect of a great increase both in wealth and relative wealth in California during the 70s and 80s. More money in the hands of the wealthy drove up housing values enormously. As a result, middle class and poor people became unable to afford the taxes on the new assessed value. This was obviously a bad thing, hence the anti-market legislation of prop. 19.

So it must be the last-i.e. other's wealth can affect you negatively, but that's ok. If so, why? What moral theory are you going with to make this claim? It certainly isn't mainstream christian divine command ethics, as a quick perusal of the the gospels would show.

Posted by: epist at September 16, 2003 03:27 PM | PERMALINK

David Ehrenstein is a well-known troll and weirdo, and it's best to ignore him, JAGCAP. He'll go away and try and scam some schoolboys soon enough.

Ganga Man, I'm talking about Rich Democrats disturbed by the prospect of their gravy train stopping, and how Krugman is doing their dirty work for them as you'd expect a partisan hack to do.

What are you talking about, Haille Selassie?

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 03:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Many comments here are just plain wrong. in the 60's & 70's there was a huge assault from the left on fundamental American values and the very idea that America was essentially good."

What, praytell, makes America "essentially good"? This country was founded on murder theft and rapeby white europeans of anyone who was a white european. Vatious forms of religion (bipolar hallucinations of Invisible Friends in the Sky) has served as cover for said crimes, as wraith-like Scaife-whore Ann Coulter reminds us.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 03:30 PM | PERMALINK

"David Ehrenstein is a well-known troll and weirdo, and it's best to ignore him, JAGCAP. He'll go away and try and scam some schoolboys soon enough."

ROTFALMAO!

Don't tell me you post on Datalounge, dear.
Are you "Catherine of Siena"?

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 03:32 PM | PERMALINK

"in the meantime, I'll try and understand that your violent (hah, whatta poseur!) rage "

Step away from the pocket mirror and nobody gets hurt.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 03:34 PM | PERMALINK

What is it with you freepers' obsession with marijuana!

I know you want to do your little rightwing change-the-subject dance, pRick Bennett, but I made a simple statement: the rich make all the hard-money donations, the rich rule the rest of us. Thanks to their money, their political voice is much louder.

Posted by: Ras_Nesta at September 16, 2003 03:35 PM | PERMALINK

Bennet and JAGCAp will now do a duet. Ready boys?

If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life. And I had to start again, with just my children and my wife.
I’d thank my lucky stars, to be livin here today. ‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I wont forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee. Across the plains of Texas, From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston, and New York to L.A. Well there's pride in every American heart, and its time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I wont forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.

And I’m proud to be and American, where at least I know I’m free. And I wont forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 03:40 PM | PERMALINK

In the last election cycle, Rasta Man, the Demos made their influence felt mostly through soft money contributions, where they out-spent the Reeps. That procedure has traditionally enabled them to have vast political influence, as it did when the Clintons were last in power. Now that soft money has been suspended, they will exercise their influence through independent expenditures, as the Cal. Prison Guards did for Gray Davis. They bought up all the TV time close to the election in the Central Valley so the Reep couldn't reach his voters. It didn't show up as a contribution, but it got the job done. These are the folks who brought you Three Strikes, which put a lot of your people in the clink.

In the current cycle, the Dems are pioneering the Internet as a fund-raising tool, esp. in the Dean campaign, and with great success. The influence of money in politics is vastly over-rated, and could easily be turned off if only 5% of voters contributed. But don't let that stop you being a demagog - you do it so well.

Toke, toke.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 03:42 PM | PERMALINK

Dear epist,
I guess that what I think is that there's plenty here to go around and that most of us have MORE than we need. Poor folks in America don't suffer from marasmus but an epidemic of obesity and Type II diabetes http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/pe_factsheets/pe_pa.htm; http://www.harcourt-international.com/journals/suppfile/flat/pubh_doesobesity.pdf.
Sure, the fact that some are wealthier than others means that we can't all have Ferrari's or live in huge mansions, but who the hell cares? There simply is no real price competition for most of what folks want... and a simple reform of the property tax system in California, a la West Virginia (!!) or Michigan would suffice to eliminate the problem to which you refer... Just a random, backed-by-nothing thought... if the public schools in CA are funded by property tax, and if the higher the property tax revenue, the more money available to pay to the members of the public school unions, and if the public school unions wield enormous clout through political contributions, then mebbe we shouldn't be so surprised that the property tax system is so screwed up....

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 03:43 PM | PERMALINK

I see we still have the trolls hyping the tired personal attacks on PK instead of answering what he has said. The "Enron" link is especially absurd.

Krugman was, of course, harshly critical of Enron.
As he made clear, he did serve on an Enron advisory board in 1999 - years before the scandals were apparent to anyone. He severed all ties when he became a NYT columnist. See

http://www.wws.princeton.edu/~pkrugman/enron.html

for his point of view on this. You can also read a Salon article on the ridiculous double standards invovled in this (hint: does our troll use the Enron connection for any of the conservatives with similar-or much greater- involvement with the crooked E?) :

http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2002/01/31/enron_pundits/index2.html

Marc

Posted by: Marc at September 16, 2003 03:45 PM | PERMALINK

What is it with you and weed, pRick Bennett?

Maybe you need to "toke, toke", it wouldn't make you such an uptight pRick.

JAG, yeah the problem is all those lazy, overpaid teachers and their unions. Coming from a family of teachers, all I gotta say is "Sorry" for the shitty education you obviously received.

Posted by: Ras_Nesta at September 16, 2003 03:50 PM | PERMALINK

David,

I think you reinforced my point with your response. If you truly believe America is evil, and was founded on the things you name, there is little else to be said.

Posted by: Scott Harris at September 16, 2003 03:52 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Bennett! Nice job on the song... the way you belted out the finale brought a tear to my eye! Beautiful man, thanks!

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 03:52 PM | PERMALINK

Au Contraire Scott -- there's quite a lot to be said.

And I say a good deal of it on my blog.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 03:56 PM | PERMALINK

I think the biggest problem with the Left (I think the word liberal is too generous) is that while they were young and impressionable (60's & 70's), they cast aside all the values that made America great, and became true believers in the leftist dogma of that era. And just like the radical Islamist terrorists, they just cannot let go of their beliefs.

And this is the big problem. History is turning against them and proving them wrong. Just as the modern world scares the crap out of 16th century Islamists, the future scares the crap out of leftists. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling."

Rhe majority of political agnostics look at their personal circumstances, and the warnings of impending doom just don't reconcile to the reality of their every day lives.

The other thing that leftists are overwhelmingly (almost to the point of disbelief) guilty of is what psychologists call Projection. The left really does want to impose its own agenda on the world - not just America. So when others resist that imposition (ironically on the grounds of self-determination) theleft accuses those resisting of wanting to impose their own agenda.

The real agenda of the right is erecting barriers so the left cannot impose its own agenda. This idea - limited government and individual freedom - was radical in 1776, but is American to the core. This is why America itself is evil to leftists. The very foundational principles of this nation are at odds with their agenda.

Beyond obstructing leftists, the right has some ideas we'd like to try out - like school choice. But most right wingers like myself don't want to destroy public education - just provide options and accountability.

Same with Medicare and Social Security. The left won the ideological battle over these programs long ago - with the help of some modern day right wingers. But trying out new ideas and providing options is, I guess, evidence of PURE EVIL.

Oh well.

Posted by: Scott Harris at September 16, 2003 03:56 PM | PERMALINK

JAG:

You're right that there isn't direct price competition for some basic necessities, like clothes and food, for instance. But it seems to me that other basic necessities, such as housing, education, transportation and health care, are in fact subject to inflationary bidding. In fact, the theoretical conditions for auction bidding are quite common, and many of the cheap basic goods are protected from the effect by government intervention. Farms are heavily subsidized, for example, as are producers of fabric and fabric precursors.

Consider the housing market, again. The problem isn't (only) that the tax system has to be revamped to accomodate the rising values. It's that the rising values effectively price huge segments of the country out of the market. That doesn't sound too bad in the middle of the curve, but as the curve gets steeper, the number of people barred from desirable real-estate by price grows and grows. And the same is true for higher education and health care.

Briefly, auction bidding and the attendent damage to the relatively poor is in the offing anytime there is a limited supply of a valuable resource, and the price is allowed to respond to demand.

Note that this worry is not premised on bad motives on the part of the wealthy, merely on rational market choices. If you have enough money to pay more for a limited resource than another, and the resource is worth (to you) the amount of money you have to part with to outbid your poorer competitor, then rationality dictates that you ought to outbid him.

And this is but one problem with utility-driven market theory. There are many similar problems (of co-ordination, of external effects, etc. etc.)

Posted by: epist at September 16, 2003 03:57 PM | PERMALINK

commentary from prudent bear:

The Kindness Of Strangers Is Killing America

Posted by: spacebaby at September 16, 2003 03:57 PM | PERMALINK

"they cast aside all the values that made America great, and became true believers in the leftist dogma of that era. "

Could you enlighten me as to both the former and the latter Scott? All that acid I took has made a mess of my poor little brain!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 04:01 PM | PERMALINK

The Left's great myth is the idea that it's for democracy, when every single one of its prescriptions replaces the freedom to choose with program of rigid policies dictated by an elite that takes choice out of the hands of the average citizen.

And this is, of course, the reason the average citizen - the one with a job, a family, and a mortgate - doesn't support the left, and its attack-dogs, like Krugman, have to try and demonize moderates and conservatives. They're too caught up in hypocrisy to advance their own programs.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 04:02 PM | PERMALINK

Scott, I think your problem is that you love America like a 4 year-old loves Mommy--she can do NO wrong.

We on the left love America like an adult, honestly seeing the good with the bad and trying to fix the bad.

If the only answer is "America can do no wrong, and if you believe otherwise you're a traitor!" then nothing will ever improve.

(On school choice, growing up on a farm, I went to a rural school district, the only "choice" in a town of 3,400. What the hell would school choice get me? The nearest town was 20 miles away. Sometimes reality has a way of shithammering ideals, left or right.)

Posted by: Ras_Nesta at September 16, 2003 04:03 PM | PERMALINK

epist wrote: "If there is any one statistic that should send shudders down our spines, it's that the bottom 80% of Americans own only 15% of the total wealth."

"That's right- 20% of the people own 85% of the wealth. And the trend is upwards. "

Here's a homework asignment for you epist:

What percentage of total federal income tax revenues do the bottom 20% pay? What percentage of total federal income tax revenues do the top 20% pay?

In which direction is the trend for these percentages moving?

Posted by: jsr at September 16, 2003 04:04 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. It is simply *amazing* how fast the signal-to-noise ratio in comments falls after an Instapundit link. To say nothing of the general level of civility.


How do you save us? Continued issuance of bizarre rants and screeds loaded with vicious personal attacks, hateful speech and doom-and-gloom predictions that NEVER come true!

Ah. Let's see about that last one.

I recall Krugman saying quite directly back in 2000, and reiterating it repeatedly since then, that the proposed Bush tax plans were going to absolutely explode the federal deficit (as well as exploding state deficits down the line, as programs that had previously been federal were offloaded onto governors' balance sheets).

But as we all know, that was just a doom-and-gloom prediction that would NEVER come true.

Whew! What a relief!

Posted by: marquer at September 16, 2003 04:08 PM | PERMALINK

"The Left's great myth is the idea that it's for democracy, when every single one of its prescriptions replaces the freedom to choose with program of rigid policies dictated by an elite that takes choice out of the hands of the average citizen."

Like I was just saying -- step away from the pocket mirror and nobody gets hurt.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 04:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised at how much faith you have in the dishonest economist, Paul Krugman. How on earth does he have the credentials to talk about other's lying, when he's so dishonest himself?

He says that this is the first time we've been lied into war. Each Democrat president for the last 50 years has lied us into war. Doesn't he remember?

He says this is not a middle class tax cut. If you talk to middle class wage earners, you will see that they are deeply appreciative of this tax cut; it has made a difference for them. The leading cause of poverty is government. This is why they are getting so much traction. The Democrat taxes have made it very hard on people; the relief is appreciated by working stiffs.

The economy is in trouble; but this catastrophe has not been hatched in the last two years. It was caused by reckless policies for the past decade. Bankrupties reached a million per year for the first time in 1995, and have exceeded a million per year since, while the Fed pursues reckless monetary policy. Indeed, there is trouble ahead, but not for the reasons Paul Krugman would have you think.

Posted by: Richard at September 16, 2003 04:11 PM | PERMALINK

So now it's the tax cuts, which haven't even kicked-in, that exploded the federal deficit, marquer? And here I thought they were responsible for 20% of the deficit, at most, and 5%, more reasonably. The costs of the war and terror and the ongoing Clinton Recession, which started in March 2000, are actually the main problems with the budget.

You learn so much from the Internet.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 04:12 PM | PERMALINK

it seems to me that other basic necessities, such as housing, education, transportation and health care, are in fact subject to inflationary bidding...
Well, lessee....
Housing... The percentage of Americans who own their own home is at historic highs although, as this cite shows, there remains inequality from ethnic group to group, the trend is the same for all groups http://www.federalreserve.gov/dcca/newsletter/2001/fall01/opening.htm Of course, if what you're saying is that McMansions cost more because more folks want em, well God bless say I, more jobs for the well paid carpenters who put em together!
Education... Howzabout some anecdotal, test it RIGHT NOW evidence? Turn on your radio & wait for the commercials... if at least one isn't for some sort of educational opportunity - from ITT Tech to the University of Phoenix, to your local state or community college, well, turn to a Top 40 station and you'll hear 'em... Sure Harvard's more expensive and priced out of reach, who gives a shit? Not me!
OK, transportation... Are you kidding? Wanna buy a car, get a brand new KIA for $6990 with a 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty! Wanna fly? Hello Orbitz, Expedia, PriceLine, etc... Wanna Maserati? Toughski Shitski!
Health Care? The public hospital in down-the-drain Flint, Michigan has enough MRI, MRA, CAT scan, etc equipment that you can go through the whole workup TOMORROW (as a friend of mine recently did)... That's right, in Mike Moore's fantasy hellhole, Flint you can get world class care, like RIGHT NOW! So, wrong again, my friend....and I guess that about wraps it up...
If you want it, you can get it and you don't really need alot o' dough... At least in America... don't go to Canada, though, you'll die waiting for your "free" operation....

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 04:14 PM | PERMALINK


hint: does our troll use the Enron connection for any of the conservatives with similar-or much greater- involvement with the crooked E?

Excellent litmus test, marc, but of course, the answer is "no".

Applying the same conflict-of-interest rules to the right as to the left would clearly violate the rules by which contemporary conservatism has come to play, to wit, the rules of Calvinball.

Which, as the rules of Calvinball themselves are quick to point out, are infinitely mutable and never the same twice.

http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Nook/2990/cb_rules.htm

Can we send some of these trolls to the Pernicious Poem Place?

Posted by: marquer at September 16, 2003 04:17 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a tip: 99 percent of political debate is fueled by fear.

Liberals are afraid that the Bushies are indifferent to the poor, and that they will gladly screw them over. They think the government can do good things for the poor but they think the Bushies will gladly destroy that, just so they and their rich buddies can profit just a little bit more.

Conservatives are afraid that liberals are trying to create (maintain) a giant welfare state that sucks in money for the general population and wastes it on entitlement programs, eroding the idea of personal responsibility and holding the country back. At least that's what it sounds like, I'm not a conservative so I don't know for sure.

Debate would be a lot more constructive if the FEARS of the other side were addressed.

Also, I would like to point out that it seems to me that our current Administration does nothing at all to allay the fears of people who do not already buy into their program; it makes no effort to convince attention-paying opponents that it is doing the right thing. They focus their appeals on the base and on the inattentive casual voter. If my perception is seriously skewed, I would appreciate it if someone could point out how I'm wrong. And if I'm not wrong, then I offer that observation as the primary cause for liberal "hysteria." The Bushies don't give a damn about the liberal point of view, and don't tell me that's just because it's "all wrong." There are a lot of intelligent, thoughtful people in this country who are liberal -- and if Bush is really on the right track, I see no effort on his part to convince them of that.

Posted by: Barbar at September 16, 2003 04:23 PM | PERMALINK

There's Socialized Medicine in Flint Michigan, JAGCAP?

Glory be! Let's all move there!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 04:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Wow. It is simply *amazing* how fast the signal-to-noise ratio in comments falls after an Instapundit link. To say nothing of the general level of civility."

Jeepers, marquer, what is this supposed to be... the Pussillanimity Palace?
"Sniff, sniff, it's the declasse hoi polloi from, hmph, Instapundit... well, there goes the neighborhood! Good for the hits, but they have the poor manners to linger and even, oh my!, post! How dare they invade our platonic preserve... Oh dear, the vapors! the vapors!"
Quick! Get the smelling salts, he's fainted!

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 04:26 PM | PERMALINK

Forget the smelling salts. Get the AK47s and waste the Motherfuckers!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 04:28 PM | PERMALINK


So now it's the tax cuts, which haven't even kicked-in, that exploded the federal deficit, marquer? And here I thought they were responsible for 20% of the deficit, at most, and 5%, more reasonably. The costs of the war and terror and the ongoing Clinton Recession, which started in March 2000, are actually the main problems with the budget.

Good lord. This puts me in mind of Hans Bethe being handed a paper for peer review which was filled with particularly bad physics, and saying after two minutes' reading, "This isn't right. This isn't even *wrong*."

I shall confine my response to simply pointing out that

(a) the Bush tax cuts are indeed presently operative and are reducing federal revenue as we speak;

(b) there is no "ongoing Clinton Recession", nor is there an ongoing Bush recession, either. The last recession in the U.S., per NBER, the generally accepted arbiter of the matter, began in March of 2001 and ended in November of that year. Since that time, the US economy has been growing, albeit weakly, and with exceptionally poor job creation.

Mr. Bennett might be advised to confine his attentions to his own blog, which, now that I examine it, appears to be somewhat thinly trafficked. Wonder why?

Posted by: marquer at September 16, 2003 04:29 PM | PERMALINK

The more belligerent the right wing trolls get, the more it demonstrates Krugman's point about their desire to have a complete monopoly of power.

Nothing upsets them more than an opposing view.

Posted by: Spinning Tops at September 16, 2003 04:31 PM | PERMALINK

Those rebates were not tax cuts, they were an advance on the taxes due April 15th. That's why they had little impact. It was the same money getting circulated in a different order.

This thread was going so well until about halfway through, then it went to shit. Thanks trolls all.

Posted by: Duckman GR at September 16, 2003 04:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Forget the smelling salts. Get the AK47s and waste the Motherfuckers!"

Did this guy come from Instapundit?

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 04:31 PM | PERMALINK

The thing about the conservatives on the Enron payroll is two things, really. One, they're not hypocrites claiming to be all down on bidness while taking bribes under the table, and two, they didn't write essays on the brilliance of the Enron bidness model while on the dole. And bonus, they didn't cash in on their Enron connection by selling the Kyoto Treaty to the Clintons and Gores.

See the difference?

Note that marquer hasn't responded with his take on the amount of the deficit that could reasonably be attributed to the tax cut, not to mention whether a different stimulus tactic might have been more or less effective.

Not that I'm surprised by that, of course.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 04:33 PM | PERMALINK

My "thinly trafficked" blog gets about 1300 visitors a day, marquer. How many have you got?

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 04:36 PM | PERMALINK

I've made a few posts in Bennett's blog to help the poor dear along,marquer.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 04:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Did this guy come from Instapundit?"

Nope. I came from France!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 04:39 PM | PERMALINK

Belligerent?! Who us? Jeepers, the first post in this thread began:
"I do think Krugman is right on about the concessions. There is no point in giving the benefit of the doubt to these guys ["conservatives'], you must assume from the beginning that they mean the worst."

Well, if you start by demonizing the opposition, so that you can completely disregard what they say, you can't expect to get very far in the discussion. I think what was said previously about "projection" applies here, as well. Don't you think so?

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 04:40 PM | PERMALINK

The "opposition" is George W Bush and this Administration? They really stand for all conservatives? Interesting. You might want to re-read that first post again.

Posted by: Barbar at September 16, 2003 04:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Belligerent?! Who us? Jeepers"

Jeepers Freepers, where'd ya get those Peepers?

Jeepers Freepers , where'd ya get those LIES?

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 04:46 PM | PERMALINK

JAG:

The claim is that finite (limited) valuable resources subjected to market pressure result in damage to the relatively poor at the hands of the relatively rich. As eveidence for this, I cited prime real-estate, health care and higher education.

As to the first, perhaps you confuse housing with decent real estate. The claim isn't that the relative poor will be unable to afford any house. The claim is that the relative poor will be more and more unable to afford houses in decent areas. What makes those areas decent, and others not, is unimportant, as is the availability of housing in non-decent areas. The limit case of this is the shantytown clustered in the center of the country, with all the decent arable and seaside land owned by a tiny wealthy minority- like South America or the Carribean.

As for higher education, again, the resource we are after is a decent undergraduate or graduate degree. The sorts of new educational institutions you refer to do not offer, by and large, graduate degrees at all. They usually only offer a vary limited numebr of BAs, and they are primarily targeted towards associate (2 year) degrees and technical certificates (tickets). Further, they are hardly properly described as 'desirable' alternatives to established colleges and degrees. Consider, which would you rather your child attend, ITT tech for an associates degree in computer maintenence, or MIT for a BA in electrical engineering. Or UC Boulder. Or Ohio State. And in state colleges as well as private colleges, the amount one needs to attend is jumping up by leaps and bounds, effectively pricing poor people out of a university education. On a related note, the Devry's and ITTs and University of Phoenixs of the world really began to take off in the 80s, when college tuitions began to really climb, because they offered a cheaper alternative.

As for health care, well that's a long debate, but let me share my little anecdotal story with you: I grew up in Canada, and only left to come to the US 5 years ago. I go back frequently, and have some friends and relatives in the health care industry up there. My experience has been that-especially for the middle class and below, there is no difference between the treatment you receive in Canada, and the treatment you receive in the US, providing that in the latter, you have decent medical insurance. If you don't have such insurance, however, you are well and truly f&^ked. My sister in law had to pay $ 1,000.00 US for a 15 minute consult and a bag of saline in an emergency room in Tempee, after a 5 hour wait. No prescriptions. No tests. No overnight stay. Saline.

And transportation (phew this is getting long) perhaps you mistake transportation for privately owned automobiles. But the poor, by and large, cannot afford private cars. The must make do with the public transit system. And the cost of taking public transit in any city in the US has shot upwards (like many other 'small' user fees). As a result, it costs transit users more and more to take the bus/train/subway.

Those last two aren't always the direct result of auction bidding (although private doctors and private colleges sure are), but often caused by a related phenomenon, testing what the market will bear. If a state gov has to make up some money to pay for some vital service, it can either raise taxes across the board, or it can raise user fees. But raising user fees discourages use, so there's a break-even point, where raising fees any further won't increase revenue. But that point can be pushed upwards by a skewed distribution.

For example, if we have a state college that is X% underfunded, and want's to raise tuition T by Y amount to make up the difference, so long as there are sufficient affluent residents who are willing and able to pay T+Y for a decent education, then the school will be able to do so. But to do so means condemning children of families who are unable to pay T+Y to not being able to educate their kids there. And in states like Wyoming or Arizona, that can be pretty devastating.

In the limit, what can happen is that the small percentage of wealthy residents all send their kids to the college, while the vast majority of state residents are priced out of the market. If this sounds familiar, it should. It's pretty much what our education picture looked like prior to the New Deal.

Posted by: epist at September 16, 2003 04:46 PM | PERMALINK

Yecch... that does it... good night!

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 04:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Got an example that's anywhere near as egregious ..."

No, see, I asked *you* that, Richard.
It would appear from your posts that all in the country that is wrong is the democrat/left's fault, and all that is good is republican/right's doing. How lovely it must be to live in such a black and white world.

How can you be so obtuse to think that ? The economy isn't Bush's fault, it's Clinton's ? To ignore mistakes that Republicans have made in the past with regard to foreign policy, economics, health care, and education would place you in the same blindnes category as those you would deem to be ignorant on the left.

JAGCAP, the fact that your friend can undergo the "whole works" in Flint Michigan is quite a lot different from everyone in the US being able to afford or have access to "world-class care". A hospital having an MRI machine does not make care "world class". Why you would think so might be a reason to investigate...it's quite possible that you're unaware of some statistics regarding health care in this country.

Posted by: Steven Walsh at September 16, 2003 04:49 PM | PERMALINK

But the poor, by and large, cannot afford private cars. The must make do with the public transit system.

So why do illegal aliens need driver's licenses, epist?

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 04:49 PM | PERMALINK

To drive their employer's trucks and SUV's perchance?

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 04:53 PM | PERMALINK

The economy isn't Bush's fault, it's Clinton's ?

The economy is cyclic. It expanded before 2000 because of spending on IT motivated by the Y2K bug, because of increased efficiency due to intelligent use of automation, and due to speculation stimulated by the Internet bubble. Clinton burst the bubble by suing Microsoft in 2000, and the rest is correction. If you pay careful attention to the abuses of Enron, Global Crossing, and Worldcom, you will notice they occurred mainly on Clinton's watch, when the regulatory machinery was out to lunch.

You can look it up.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 04:53 PM | PERMALINK

"and the rest is correction"

As in "Thank you sir, may I have another?"

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 04:55 PM | PERMALINK

Richard wrote: "So now it's the tax cuts, which haven't even kicked-in, that exploded the federal deficit, marquer? And here I thought they were responsible for 20% of the deficit, at most, and 5%, more reasonably."

Richard, dear, you might want to revisit those numbers. Simply put: you're wrong. The tax cuts most definitely have kicked in and the tax cuts are contributing far more to the current deficit than 20%. God knows where you came up with the ridiculously low 5% figure.

Oh, and you might want to look at some budget projections for further on down the road, where the tax cuts get bigger and bigger and the deficit gets worse and worse.

Sheesh...can we get some more intelligent trolls, please? These are no fun.

Posted by: PaulB at September 16, 2003 04:57 PM | PERMALINK

You can look it up.

Translation: I can't back up what I say.

Posted by: Spinning Tops at September 16, 2003 04:58 PM | PERMALINK

Bennett has banned me from posting comments on his blog.

FABULOUS!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 04:58 PM | PERMALINK

"The economy is cyclic."

No kidding ? Wasn't aware of that. Skipped 9th grade, you know. So would you then argue that every economic boom followed the reign of the Right, but due to a lag, it shows up during the reign of the Left ? Wow. You could totally map out the US economy, then, huh ? And somehow attribute all the good with the Right, and all the bad with the Left ! Excellent. Ok, go! Do it.

Posted by: Steven Walsh at September 16, 2003 04:58 PM | PERMALINK

Richard wrote: "Clinton burst the bubble by suing Microsoft in 2000"

This is just so wrong on so many levels that it's just hilarious to read. Richard, any time you're ready to join the real world with the rest of us, do let us know. Until then, please do have fun in that little fantasy world of yours.

Posted by: PaulB at September 16, 2003 04:59 PM | PERMALINK

And, Richard, when you are ready to rejoin the real world, you might want to pay some attention to the actions of the Republican Congress on the attempts of the Clinton SEC to crack down on accounting irregularities or, perhaps, to look at their passage of legislation, over Clinton's veto, that affected this issue, as well.

Posted by: PaulB at September 16, 2003 05:01 PM | PERMALINK

David -- how interesting Bennett has banned you from posting on his blog.

He has accused Lawrence Lessig and Howard Dean of doing the same thing to him, in the past, and whined big and loud about it. What irony. Hypocrisy, huh ?

Posted by: elfman at September 16, 2003 05:04 PM | PERMALINK

I am encouraged that Krugman brings up the neglected topic of the Alabama tax reform effort.

Posted by: Allen Brill at September 16, 2003 05:08 PM | PERMALINK

jsr wrote: "Here's a homework asignment for you epist: What percentage of total federal income tax revenues do the bottom 20% pay? What percentage of total federal income tax revenues do the top 20% pay?"

First, a question, jsr: why do you deliberately leave out the payroll tax, which is, in fact, a federal tax paid by everyone?

And, second, a homework assignment for you: What percentage of total tax revenues do the bottom 20% pay? What percentage of total tax revenues to the top 20% pay? And in which direction is this trend moving?

Posted by: PaulB at September 16, 2003 05:11 PM | PERMALINK

Hey epist,
I wasn't yecching at you, but at Barbar, I truly disrespect that sort of all or nothing argument....

Your response, on the other hand, calls for a response:
Educational opportunities... why the 4-year fetish? The fact is that people making rational choices have decided that there's more money to be made, and made more quickly, by avoiding the traditional four year university tour... In fact, this is now one of the feminists' big complaints because undergrad classes are overwhelmingly female. My oldest son goes to a Catholic University in a major city and the administration is pleased as punch that they have almost 30% male enrollment!! It's not that the guys can't get in, they don't wanna go... The feminists view as one more male plot to subjugate them, see, we've tricked women into thinking that higher ed is good and now that they're filling the seats, us men are going to go to the technical schools where we can make a lotta coin quick! Of course, it is true that competition for the caviar schools remains intense. Again I say, who gives a shit? And if you really wanna go, get a ROTC scholarship (like me!) and pay the price for wanting caviar... (of course I felt that it was more of an honor, but thass jes me...)
Transportation... the only thing skyrocketing in public trans are the subsidies... We doan wanna ride the bus! And where's the competition (which I thought was your point) anyhow?
Health Care, yep, it's expensive and especially if you don't have insurance. So what? The most expensive nursing home I'm aware of (using this example because people private pay and have choice) is about $10,000 a month. I have 2 clients there on Medicaid. That's right, no dough and still in the finest and most expensive facility... Health care is simply not rationed by price...
The bottom line is that you don't need a lot of dough to get a lot in America. And, if you're a kid, what you need are good habits, that's right, good middle class, save your nickels, study hard, and be nice to the teacher habits. That's how it works for most of us. And my (only ancedotal) experience is that it works whatever your race.

Posted by: JAGCAP at September 16, 2003 05:12 PM | PERMALINK

"My oldest son goes to a Catholic University"

Is he planning to enter the priesthood?

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 05:14 PM | PERMALINK

So why do illegal aliens need driver's licenses, epist?

-Bennett

Are you asking me this in jest, or do you not know?

Oh, and to whoever assigned me homework upthread, I need to know, do you mean all taxes, income taxes, consumption taxes or wealth taxes, or some combination of the four? Also, will we be including state and local taxes or only federal taxes. Further, will we be counting user fees as taxes?

I mean, you wouldn't want me to come back with a half-baked report that pretended that federal income taxes were, in fact, all that people meant when they said the word 'taxes' eh? That would be pretty silly.

Posted by: epist at September 16, 2003 05:14 PM | PERMALINK

JAG: Huh? Re-read that first post again. It says we should refuse to give the benefit of the doubt to the administration, essentially because the administration is not interested in argument. You say that this lowers the level of debate by cutting off argument, and then decide that typical lefty projection is going on here -- the lefties don't want to debate, so they pretend that the Bushies don't want to debate.

This is wrong on a few points. One, you pretended that the first poster was labelling all conservatives as unininterested in debate, when it is clear that he was considering only the current administration. Second, focusing only on the administration, you have yet to show that they have any interest in debate at all. This is really what leads to the "hysteria" of Krugman (see the discussion of "revolutionary power" in the Calpundit post), and I made this point in my 4:23 PM post. Of course you've completely ignored it.

Posted by: Barbar at September 16, 2003 05:25 PM | PERMALINK

Ras Nesta,

I too grew up on a farm and went to a school in a town of around 3000. But given the mechanism of portable financing, I wouldn't be surprised if all sorts of options didn't open themselves up - some of which would be worse, some which might be better. The point is that you would have options.

Ok David, I'll try.

I need to quote a couple of things to explain my reasoning.

"When in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel the to the Separation.

WE hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed..."

Declaration of Independence - July 4, 1776

"Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no dintinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, and intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government which which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, in the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistably obeyed, man would need no other law giver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others."

Thomas Paine - "Common Sense" February 14, 1776


These four paragraphs from these two documents are rich with the expression of the fundamental values on which America was founded. The first such principle I'll discuss is accountability.

The concept that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed is fundamental to America. But what is even more fundamental was the justification given for this idea. The phrase "all men are created equal" is easy to prove wrong. I do not have the skill of Michael Jordan, or the wealth of Bill Gates progeny. The point of this statement is that we are all equal before God and that our authority is derived from him - "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights..."

The founders based their right to cast off the authority of England on the premise that each man is individually and directly accountable to God. Governments derive their authority from men who derive their authority from God. The key nugget of the American idea is that it was not so important to the founders what particular God you personally felt the need to be accountable to, but that the right to cast off the English authority was given by a higher power that each individual was accountable to, and that accountability was direct.

This idea is in direct conflict with the modern left idea of banishing religion from the public forum. The founders - and a great many modern day Americans - believe that the morality imposed by religion is healthy in so far as it requires a personal responsibility of the individual to give an account for his actions.

The point of the first amendment is not so much to erect a wall between church and state as to ensure that government would not try (as in the case of theocracy and monarchy) to place itself between a man and his God. Yet this is exactly what modern leftists attempt. They demand that any public discourse be barren of religious influence, and a public man must denounce his fealty to his God, and give it rather to the State.

For some on the modern left, they recognizes no higher authority than the State itself. These do not say, "The constitution prohibits the government;" they say, "The constitution gives us the right to..." But this construct is openly denounced by the founders. The government does not have the power or the authority to give us anything. Rather, they say that Governments are instituted amoung men to SECURE the rights that are GIVEN by God.

Others on the modern left recognize no higher authority than the individual. These are the amoral anarchists who refuse to be held accountable for any act, and by extension, do not recognize the general society judgement.

The second quotation, from Thomas Paine, defines 1) the difference between Society and Government, and 2) the purpose of Government - Security.

Implicit in Paine's justification for government is the idea that 1) unfortunately, men are evil, 2) Government is insituted among men to protect the larger society from the evil of individual men who refuse to be held accountable to their conscience, and 3) men voluntarily form governments and give a part of their wealth for the express purpose of protecting the greater portion of their wealth and their general well being from the individual evil of other men. The modern leftist, far from seeing government as a force to moderate the evil of men, refuses to even acknowledge good and evil as objective qualities.

And insofar as the modern left does acknowledge mankind's shortcomings, they see government as a tool to perfect mankind. Paine, on the other hand asserts that government is "at best, a necessary evil." And he provides the logic for the phrase "the government which governs best is that one which governs least."

Also, Paine describes government as a uniformly negative requirement, and defines Society as that coming together of individuals for mutual benefit. Modern leftists confuse Society and government and therefore see government not as a necessary cost, but as a tool to accomplish their goals of reshaping the world according to their own agenda.

So, we see the values that were cast off: individual accountability, the recognition of the evilness of mankind, the definition of government as a necessary evil, the idea that government powers are derived from the people.

And we see the modern leftists replacements, state accountability for personal failings, the elevation of the State to the position of God - that is, the giver of rights, the rejection of God and the concept of higher authority, seeing mankind as perfectable, seeing government as the instrument to achieve that perfect status, the elevation of rights without the corresponding recognition of responsibilities, the merging of sometimes worthwhile Society goals with the coercive power of government.

This is my answer David. I have visited your website, and I know you don't believe in God. But the more important issue is whether you recognize a higher authority than the individual or the State. And if you are a typical leftist, you see the government as a tool to accomplish whatever your ideas of good are, rather than a necessary evil to be limited to only the most basic duties that will ensure individual liberty and freedom. And if you are a typical leftist, you want to use the coercive power of government to trump the values of Socitey.

Posted by: Scott Harris at September 16, 2003 05:40 PM | PERMALINK

CBO estimates that deficits will peak in 2004 and then head downward. The current annual debt is 3.9% of GDP, and total debt is 34%. After 2004, they project the total debt to decline to 30%, less than it was in the 80s.

The tax cuts mainly take effect in the out years, when the deficits should be shrinking. But that's just the fascists at the CBO, so what do they know?

epist, you said poor people don't drive cars. If that's the case, why would illegals, who should be the poorest of the poor, need driver's licenses? You people are constantly contradicting yourselves.

elfman, my blog is not the place for Ehrenstein to troll for pedophile action. Sorry.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 05:42 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a link to the CBO budget/deficit projections: http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=1944&sequence=0#table6

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 16, 2003 05:56 PM | PERMALINK

Outstanding Kevin, simply outstanding.

Posted by: Tom at September 16, 2003 06:07 PM | PERMALINK

You don't have to invoke Michale Jordan. "All Men are Created Equal" has always meant (to little me at least) that a level playing field is desired and everyone gets as equal a chance as possible to do their best.

Is that too radical a thought for you?

"But the more important issue is whether you recognize a higher authority than the individual or the State."

Why? What purpose would that serve? personally I happen to recognize like-minded individuals. I am rather indifferent to the State as I have yet to find one that isn't immoral.

"And if you are a typical leftist, you want to use the coercive power of government to trump the values of Socitey"

Then I don't fit your definition of a "typical leftist." I'm not interested "coercing" anyone.

And that's why I resent the coercive force of BushCo into thelives of American citizens via the "Patriot Act."

"elfman, my blog is not the place for Ehrenstein to troll for pedophile action. Sorry."

I'm a lapsed Catholic,dear. Not a priest (who would by nature be interested in "pedophile action.") My romantic and sexual attentions are directed solely at adults.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 06:07 PM | PERMALINK

"... about 23.1% of the top bracket was folks who were in the 0 to 25 percent bracket 10 years earlier ..."

All that in ten years? Heck, you've just got to love America.

1) In that same ten years, ~20% of the work force retired, and ~20% got their first full-time job. There goes that 23% miracle. It's called turnover.

2) Top bracket? What is that? And why would anyone care about who enters and leaves it? The prosperity of a nation is not defined by its extremes; it is defined by its averages.

Posted by: Benedict@Large at September 16, 2003 06:09 PM | PERMALINK

Krugman tells us the sky is falling and you people take him seriously. How amazing. Reminds me of the enviromentalists in the 70's who warned of global cooling and the starvation of billions followed by biblically proportioned chaos. Time to trade in the tinfoil, folks, and get a life beyond Bush-bashing.

Posted by: Mark at September 16, 2003 06:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Global cooling"?

Excellent disinformation meme, dear!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at September 16, 2003 06:17 PM | PERMALINK

It's amazing how Krugman's voice actually links to web pages when he speaks. I've met him. I've seen him do it.

Posted by: Jeepers Creepers at September 16, 2003 06:28 PM | PERMALINK

and likely to soon join the five other liberal books currently dominating the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.)

What we need is a book, one fat book that documents the entire neocon Repug scam. From Bivings to PNAC to the Council for National Policy to the Moonies connection etc. etc. etc. The information is out there, it shouldn't be too hard to amass.

Posted by: Anon at September 16, 2003 06:29 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding privatizing Social Security, I have paid into this program for 36 years and it is an essential component of my retirement planning. I expect it to be there (mostly as is), and it will be. Three reasons why those advocating privatization are delusional:

1) To privatize it, it must be substantially defunded. Otherwise, there is no money for the "investment accounts". Were money to set aside for investment accounts, then their would be no money for current and future liabilities.

Advocates here suggest that their is some sort of zero-sum equation that can be worked out for this, but no one offers it. Why? Because there is none other than simply printing money and spurring substantial inflation. As such, privatization may well be a very pretty bird, but it is one without wings.

2) Privitazation advocates almost never mention the disability component, much for the same reason; it would draw money away from their beloved investment accounts. Even when it is mentioned, it is done so only in a passing thought such as, "Well, everyone can just go buy a policy for that."

Really? These folks have obviously never priced one of these policies. They'd wet their panties if they did. They are almost prohibitively expensive, and very few are ever written for that reason.

Would these prices come down if everyone was required to purchase this insurance? A great deal, but then we are back to the zero-sum game again where we are either paying benefits OR contributing to investment accounts.

3) Short and sweet: Old people vote; young people don't. Given the choice between funding current and future liabilities (voters) and funding investment accounts (non-voters), benefits will be paid before accounts are funded. Read it and weap.

Would we have been better if from the start we had adopted and investment approach (with an insurance component that would die off as the plan aged)? Almost certainly. But we didn't.

Can a very nice "investment account" plan be structured. No doubt, but not if existing liabilites are taken into account. You simply can't get there from here.

To anyone who thinks that can be done, SHOW ME YOUR PLAN.

Posted by: Benedict@Large at September 16, 2003 06:32 PM | PERMALINK

Bennett sez:

"The thing about the conservatives on the Enron payroll is two things, really. One, they're not hypocrites claiming to be all down on bidness while taking bribes under the table, and two, they didn't write essays on the brilliance of the Enron bidness model while on the dole. And bonus, they didn't cash in on their Enron connection by selling the Kyoto Treaty to the Clintons and Gores.

See the difference?"

Posted by: Marc at September 16, 2003 06:44 PM | PERMALINK

I just LOVE Paul Krugman. Such a smart and decent guy. We could use one of those in the White House (not that I'd wish that job on Mr. Krugman).

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