Friday, September 24, 2010

Yet Again, Paul Krugman Tries to Talk Sense to Americans

It is a Sysyphean task, but Paul Krugman heroically tries again and again to point out to Americans the gap between what people like to think and the way the world really works. Like most prophets, Krugman is ignored and reviled. But he plugs on. I guess he sees it as his duty, his service to his fellow citizens. Even if they refuse to hear him, he feel obliged to keep telling the tale again and again in as many forms as he can conjure up, hoping that one day people will listen and comprehend.

Here's his latest foray via his NY Times op-ed column. Here are some key bits:
Once upon a time, a Latin American political party promised to help motorists save money on gasoline. How? By building highways that ran only downhill.

I’ve always liked that story, but the truth is that the party received hardly any votes. And that means that the joke is really on us. For these days one of America’s two great political parties routinely makes equally nonsensical promises. Never mind the war on terror, the party’s main concern seems to be the war on arithmetic. And this party has a better than even chance of retaking at least one house of Congress this November.

Banana republic, here we come.

On Thursday, House Republicans released their “Pledge to America,” supposedly outlining their policy agenda. In essence, what they say is, “Deficits are a terrible thing. Let’s make them much bigger.” The document repeatedly condemns federal debt — 16 times, by my count. But the main substantive policy proposal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which independent estimates say would add about $3.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade — about $700 billion more than the Obama administration’s tax proposals.
He then goes on to dissect the idiocies of the Republican "Pledge". Sadly, most people won't read this column. Those that read it will tune out after the entertaining first few paragraphs. And more will simply refuse to listen to the message because their ideology tells them what's true and false in this world. Much as religious zealots don't need science or experience, they "know" all about the world because their "Bible" has all the knowledge they need.

Now... if you made it this far you probably realized that at the end of the Krugman article he pulls out his crystal ball and gives a very accurate prediction about the future:
So how did we get to the point where one of our two major political parties isn’t even trying to make sense?

The answer isn’t a secret. The late Irving Kristol, one of the intellectual godfathers of modern conservatism, once wrote frankly about why he threw his support behind tax cuts that would worsen the budget deficit: his task, as he saw it, was to create a Republican majority, “so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.” In short, say whatever it takes to gain power. That’s a philosophy that now, more than ever, holds sway in the movement Kristol helped shape.

And what happens once the movement achieves the power it seeks? The answer, presumably, is that it turns to its real, not-so-secret agenda, which mainly involves privatizing and dismantling Medicare and Social Security.

Realistically, though, Republicans aren’t going to have the power to enact their true agenda any time soon — if ever. Remember, the Bush administration’s attack on Social Security was a fiasco, despite its large majority in Congress — and it actually increased Medicare spending.
In the past Krugman has predicted the future accurately. How? By using simple reasoning. By attending to the facts and not the ideological smoke screen. He's an economist. He follows the dollars. People can say anything they please, but the money defines what is possible.

Krugman is telling you a simple truth: pay no attention to "The Pledge". Once back in power, the Republicans will do what they have been doing since 1980. Spend more than the government has. Sell their ideas under a smokescreen of conservative Christian values while quietly delivering to their real masters: the ultra-rich, the ones who have seen almost all of the growth in the US economy over the past 30 years go into their pocket while the middle class has treaded water and the poor have gotten increasingly poorer.

And here is where Krugman is clairvoyant:
So the clear and present danger isn’t that the G.O.P. will be able to achieve its long-run goals. It is, rather, that Republicans will gain just enough power to make the country ungovernable, unable to address its fiscal problems or anything else in a serious way. As I said, banana republic, here we come.

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