Saturday, February 27, 2016

Flipped-Out Flappers

 (Optional soundtrack)

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


Pearl said...

To touch on the interesting comments back and forth regarding how and why black voters are divided was fascinating. I think Obama worship has a lot to do with it and the innocent swallowing of so much cover up of his real intentions. Interestingly Dr.Carson made a statement recently that was pooh poohed about Obama being raised white and not having the same background as other black people. That is true and although so many voters worshipped Obama connecting him with their own problems, they did not recognize that he was really a conservative white man in a black skin as I believe. Therefore, they vote in terms of that illusion along with Hillary as his successor.
Then there is the religion aspect. The church center of many black lives was a vital source of survival. Hillary knows this and when asked about her religious beliefs recently, went into a very long discussion of how it has affected her life and was definitely slanted to the fundamentalist point of view and its personal affect on her. It occurred to me then that she was speaking of religion in almost black belief terms and I felt that she was wooing the black voters with her answer which had simplistic aspects of her intense personal involvement regarding religion. It all sounded rather eerie to me and off the beaten track you would expect from a successful, important white woman.
I believe many black citizens without higher education or exposure beyond their own immediate community, hold firm to family beliefs and relationships along with serious church connections from the past. And self protection to survive was vital and still is.

Karen, I don't know how you make sense of Krugman's math and charts and economic policies and are able to comprehend enough to reply clearly and to the point. I usually don't follow his blogs which probably many readers miss or ignore or perhaps find it too much Krugman to follow.Thanks for putting in your column. And wonderful responses to Kat of your experiences as a reporter in black communities of the past. How much has actually changed since then?

mike said...

If any of your readers see the supposed putdowns of Friedman's analysis by the Romers going around, it's again, despite the verbiage, another appeal to authority. Here are a couple of cites that provide context and show that it comes down to your assumptions and models and whether you adopt the ones that got us the economy we have or not. In the Romers' case, GIGO, it seems.

Pearl said...

Hillary showed up for Church today: Will it help her or hurt her on the campaign trail? Washington Post.

Meredith NYC said...

I rec’d your post, now at 80-- the most.

Your audio is to Siegfried’s Rhine Journey? I’m falling off the chair laughing. Wonkish whine journey just points up the ridiculousness of this whole thing. Krugman is now coming across as complaining of being persecuted--- by those he thought were ‘loyal fans’.

A commenter posted...
This whole primary campaign has been very revealing about your character, Dr. Krugman and not in a good way.

So, his blog is getting curiouser and curiouser. He is using frequent hyperbole to vent.

My comment to the blog--

Sorry but you seem to be inviting the negative comments that you’re annoyed and insulted by. If interested in facts and arithmetic, then stop ignoring other advanced countries. The various role models are there to be followed or rejected, based on reality.

What do they spend on infrastructure, health care, education, etc? What tax rates? What did the US spend in past decades including during Gop Ike’s term. What were the highest tax rates then? Why was that accepted? Why did they have wide prosperity plus business profits?

How much do other democracies spend on elections??!!

When will this data from our past and from abroad now be compared? Hyperbole is being flung around as if we are trying to invent a new wheel.

- - -
It’s amazing that economist Friedman says he’ll vote for Hillary.

Friedman quote in W. Post Wonkblog:

“I donate $10 a month to Clinton. I remember the woman who said, women’s rights are human rights. I think she did a great job as secretary of state. I agree with Bernie on economic issues, but there are other issues.”

(I wonder what this economist’s bottom line issue is then---women’s rights, foreign policy? Not economics evidently. This is a weird one. He goes out of his way to support Sanders ideas)

Kat said...

I don't know what makes Dr. Carson uniquely qualified to speak for all black people. And can't obama simply be a black man who is looking out for number one, not a white man in a black person's skin?
looking at my paper today there is a letter extolling the virtues of a class promoting financial literacy which makes the ludicrous claim that credit scores are holding back citizens in the city. The class is sponsored by Chase bank. The letter writer is from the Urban League.
here's another story about one of the last pieces of low income housing being sold off to private investors (private equity actually). The head of the agency is black. The board was appointed by a black mayor. I suppose the head will find himself a cushy job in the private sector when he announces his resignation "to pursue other opportunities".
I imagine these people have higher education degrees. It is no innoculation against neoliberalism.

annenigma said...

After the fourth state primary, the South Carolina headline should have read:

0/4 - Hillary Still Can't Win White Voters

Pearl said...

Hillary Clinton,
‘Smart Power’
and a
Dictator’s Fall

Amazing article in the nytimes with equally amazing comments. Will it affect her rush to the White House? Some people in the Times must be worried about Hillary in power. Hope other skeletons will come to light.

Pearl said...

An example of a comment to the Libya article with two more sections coming up!

Virginia 2 hours ago
I saw an interview with Clinton where I heard her analysis: We came. We saw. He died.

With a smug grin on her face. She didn't seem to think there was much else to say. It chilled me to the bone.

Pearl said...

Another great article by Kristof, the Killing field in the NYtimes Read the top Mark Thomason's comment in reader picks and his comments about Hillary.

Horrifying photos.

Neil said...

The comments on HuffPost are telling, a vote for Sanders (and not Hillary) = a Trump presidency by default.