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Living Within Our Means

by afew Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:30:41 AM EST

Paul Krugman discusses the "makers and takers" theme, according to which hardworking folks make the wealth that shiftless idle people take. A frame that is as relevant to European politics as it is to American: among the countries of the Euro area, and within each country, the common wisdom relayed by the mass media shows us all where the hardworking wealthmakers are supposed to be, and where the hangers-on are situated.

Krugman points out the tunnel vision of politicians:

Makers, Takers, Fakers - NYTimes.com

I think it’s important to understand the extent to which leading Republicans live in an intellectual bubble. They get their news from Fox and other captive media, they get their policy analysis from billionaire-financed right-wing think tanks, and they’re often blissfully unaware both of contrary evidence and of how their positions sound to outsiders.

So when Mr. Romney made his infamous “47 percent” remarks, he wasn’t, in his own mind, saying anything outrageous or even controversial. He was just repeating a view that has become increasingly dominant inside the right-wing bubble, namely that a large and ever-growing proportion of Americans won’t take responsibility for their own lives and are mooching off the hard-working wealthy. Rising unemployment claims demonstrate laziness, not lack of jobs; rising disability claims represent malingering, not the real health problems of an aging work force.

James K. Galbraith looks at this from the point of view of the too-much-debt theme (also known to Europeans): social "entitlements" (a frame in itself, that word) cause intolerable levels of debt that must be reduced:

Galbraith: Is This the End for the Deficit Drones? | Alternet

That the goal of the deficit drones is to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid has been plain for years to anyone who looks at where the money comes from. It comes largely from Peter G. Peterson, a billionaire former secretary of Commerce under Nixon, who is Captain Ahab to Social Security's Moby Dick. And when one trick, such as privatization, falls flat, his minions always have another, whether it's raising the retirement age or changing the COLA. But a cut by any other name is still, and always, just a cut.

Peterson's influence is vast; practically the entire DC mind-meld has bought his line to some degree.   

But Galbraith sees some hope:

there is no good reason to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. These are insurance programs. They keep the elderly, their survivors and dependents, and the disabled, out of dire poverty. We can afford this. There is also no financing problem; if there were, investors would not be buying 20-year US bonds at 3 percent. These days when some economists say that cuts are needed, they say it's only for show – to establish “credibility.” Old-timers may remember, that's what DC insiders once said about the war in Vietnam.

And like Vietnam, this war is getting old. We're beginning to realize, we don't need it. If the United States really faced some sort of deficit or debt crisis, something would have happened by now.

Both Krugman and Galbraith agree, the defence of plutocracy is beginning to sound hollow. Any hope this is a turning point? Or will the drumbeat (scroungers, we have to live within our means...) go on?

Super-Angela isn't about to change discourse, in any case. Let the lazy people get their skates on and follow Germany's example:

Merkel desaira la petición de Rajoy | Política | EL PAÍS Merkel rebuffs Rajoy's request | Politics | El País
"Nosotros en Alemania pensamos que ya estamos haciendo nuestra aportación a una moneda económica robusta"."We in Germany think that we are making our contribution to a robust economic currency"

And she suggests that Spain and Portugal should "exploit their 'competitive advantage' to export more to Latin America".

Rackert so wie wir.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:46:15 AM EST
h/t Eurointelligence daily briefing.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:47:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But as a political commentator he is doing more to undermine the plutocratic diatribes of the right than anyone else in the US at the moment. So much so, that when he endorses a fringe concept like the Trillion $ Coin, it suddenly becomes legitimate mainstream left, even if, ultimately, it isn't proceeded with. It is his wit and humour, as much as his economic credentials, allied with his abilities as a popular communicator that makes him so influential - and so hated by the right. Because up to know it has been the right wing think tanks who have been able to dominate popular discourse with "common sense" stupidities.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 08:21:53 AM EST
Krugman is the rare economist who is both gifted academically and capable of speaking in terms humans can understand.  He's also been around long enough that even some of the Very Serious People take him, well, seriously.

And getting the Bank of Sweden prize helped too.  Now he's not "Professor Paul Krugman".  He's "Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman".  That carries a lot of weight in a typical viewer's mind, and being the only Prize-winner on tv means that anybody you put next to him is going to almost-automatically look silly.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 02:10:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's also got a quality that is so rare in people with any visibility: he's actually intellectually honest.

So he'll make mistakes (though supremely intelligent, he is, after all, human). But he will try to use them to improve, whereas people without anything near his track record of being mostly right will not answer when asked what they would do differently with the insight of the last few years.

Now, if only Osbourne, for example, shared that particular trait...

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 02:52:11 PM EST
Oops, meant that in reply to Drew's comment above.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 02:52:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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