Economists are a strange bunch. When I got my first undergraduate degree in business, I was subjected to like 6 economics classes, give or take 1. Every one of my economics professors was a little bit odd. This is just anecdotal, I’m not impugning all economics professors, but others might want to share their observations. Damn near all of them were supply-siders, so that gives you some idea of where they were coming from politically.
I’ve always appreciated Paul Krugman’s opinion on economics, I am a Keynesian for sure. But the more I read his writings, the more I see that he doesn’t always comprehend things as they are, to put it politely.
Krugman recently linked back to a piece he did after President Obama’s first inaugural – there will be a second. When I clicked and read it, I noticed something right away that made me wonder whaaaaaa? He wrote this back on January 22 of 2009. I’m bolding the part that caught my eye.
Thus, in his speech Mr. Obama attributed the economic crisis in part to “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age” — but I have no idea what he meant. This is, first and foremost, a crisis brought on by a runaway financial industry. And if we failed to rein in that industry, it wasn’t because Americans “collectively” refused to make hard choices; the American public had no idea what was going on, and the people who did know what was going on mostly thought deregulation was a great idea.
Uh, well, Paul…President Obama wasn’t saying that Americans “collectively’ refused to make hard choices”…he was talking about politicians and leaders. Here is the entire paragraph from President Obama’s inaugural address.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many — and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
I don’t know how anyone listening or reading that could possibly think that the President was talking about “Americans” refusing to make hard choices. If he were, why would he end the sentence with “prepare the nation for a new age”? Is it the role of citizens to “prepare the nation for a new age” or politicians and leaders?
I read that paragraph to say that it isn’t just Wall Street’s fault (greed and irresponsibility), but the politicians who enabled it to happen; the ones like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush who deregulated Wall Street and made it possible for the greed and irresponsibility to overtake us. I also interpreted it to mean that politicians didn’t make the “hard choices” like raising taxes on the wealthy or more specifically, voting against the Bush tax cuts. I would also add the failure of politicians to actually pay for two wars or Medicaid Part D — those were a couple of hard choices that weren’t made as well.
I have no idea what motivates Paul Krugman, it smells an awful lot like sore-loser syndrome. Hillary was supposed to be president and that young upstart, Barack Obama, swooped in and stole it from her….you know?
I don’t see anywhere in that paragraph or in the entire speech where the president blames “Americans”. They are the victims of the greed on Wall Street and the lack of balls on politicians — no offense to women who don’t need balls to get shit done. So as you can see, Paul Krugman’s interpretation of that one sentence sent him off on a tangent. I guess he’s standing by it, though, because he linked back to it to remind us all.