Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Paul Krugman: Plutocrats Panic At Protests

I recently noted the hysteria of Eric Cantor and Glenn Beck regarding Occupy Wall Street. Paul Krugman offers more examples of absurd responses: Mitt Romney employed the tired GOP rhetoric of "class warfare"; Herman Cain called the demonstrators "anti-American"; Rand Paul is afraid that they'll start looting iPads. For Krugman, these reactions stem from the fact that the super-wealthy and the politicians and pundits who serve them can't stand it when today's economic inequities, including the causes of our dire circumstances, are pointed out. From "Panic of the Plutocrats":

What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.

This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren.

So who’s really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America’s oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth.


Michael The Molar Maven said...

I think the current economic "crisis" is a validation of what Krugman has been saying for the last three years - or more. As of now I intend to explain in my next monologue on St. James Infirmary (October 21, 2011), why the Occupy Wall Street movement is basically correct in what is saying, and why supply-side economics is exactly the wrong prescription to treat what ails our country - and the world - right now. This is a demand-side problem calling for demand-side treatment as Krugman has been saying all along.

Jeff Tone said...

Krugman has tremendous prescience in seeing problems that others don't. He was also among the first to criticize Obama's stimulus as too small. He was criticized in turn, but he was right.