I've been trying to ignore the saga of Paul Krugman and the Four Wonks of the Apocalypse (or as Bill Black hilariously calls them, The Gang of Four.) To briefly recap this epic of wonkishly Wagnerian proportions, the Fab Four wrote a letter earlier this month to an economist (not affiliated with or even backing the Bernie Sanders candidacy) who'd predicted mega-growth if Bernie's New Deal of a stimulus package ever got passed. They debunked the math without even bothering to supply their own counter-math. Krugman jumped right in, and the resulting opera of a wonkish Whine Journey was just this side of the Republicans accusing each other of wetting their pants.
Well, Krugman seems to finally have gotten tired of the whole Gotterdammerung. His blogpost today makes a feeble attempt to mend fences with his disgruntled readership and a valiant attempt to salvage his own damaged reputation. He writes, that yes indeed, there is still a case to be made for public investment. Can't we all just get along and agree that infrastructure spending is good and austerity is bad? He even supplies some of his famous charts. But then he can't resist the subtle jab at the Bernie Bro Mean Unicorn Squad, and makes his lede a passive-aggressive little bitch-fest of Heathers proportions. (Heathers, imho, is one of best cinematic satires of mean girl-dom ever made. It is not often aired any more on commercial TV, because it shows a kid with a gun blowing up a school at the end. And then kids really did start shooting up schools).
Krugman gets his unicorn-jab in early:
One of the annoying aspects of the Sanders/Friedman flap was the assumption of many Sanders supporters that anyone who doesn’t accept extravagant economic projections is against a big program of public investment. Actually, it was destructive as well as annoying; aside from being an insult to progressive economists who believe in infrastructure but also believe in arithmetic, it created at least the possibility that other people would take the crash-and-burn of a particular piece of analysis as evidence that the whole case for spending more is wrong.My published response:
One of the most annoying aspects of the "Sanders/Friedman flap" is that PK is memorializing it as the Sanders/Friedman flap.
Right from the get-go, it was a smear-by-proxy campaign against Bernie Sanders, launched by four Clinton-supporting neoliberal economists. It got a whole lot of traction thanks to PK's influence. It became a news story in itself: The Wonks vs the unicorn-loving rubes out here in the boondocks. It so reeked of the class war that the wonks never even saw fit to supply us with a crash course in remedial wonkery to lift us out of our abysmal ignorance, not to mention our mass psychosis. Actually, in following this whole desperate saga, I felt like Alice down the rabbit hole when Krugman began complaining that it was the scolding wonks who were the victims -- heaven forbid that the victims should be the 30 million Americans who still lack health insurance.
Forget about the Wonks of the Flapping Gums Flap. What we need is a major flap about the most extreme wealth inequality in modern history, a 20-25% child poverty rate, and the corruption of our politics by big money.
So it is a relief that PK declares himself so, like, totally over his totally manufactured flap, and is doing what he does best: championing stimulus, and debunking the deficit hawkery of the austerians.
P.S. If FDR had had to deal with such wonkery, we probably never would have gotten the New Deal. Ditto for LBJ's Great Society.
It's not the math. It's the humanity, stupid.
|Bernie Bro Unicorn Fights Back|