Monday, February 8, 2010

Krugman on the Decline of the USA: It's Goldstein's Fault

Every once in a while, I read the title of a Paul Krugman column and hope against hope that he will say something that makes sense. Unfortunately, the hope always is dashed, as the column degenerates into the kind of partisanship that is not worthy of one of the most decorated economists of our time.

(Not to worry. Krugman spews out invective against any economist who might disagree with his Great Wisdom, and when it comes to the Austrians, he creates a ridiculous straw man argument, attacks his own creation, and then claims to have won the debate.)

Today is one of those hope against hope moments. In "America is Not Yet Lost," Krugman laments the decline and fall of the USA and then offers a solution: change the rules of the U.S. Senate. Yes, that's right. The same person who in the past has championed the filibuster and other Senate tactics when Republicans were in the majority suddenly has seen the light and wants the legislative body to essentially be something like the House of Representatives but with fewer people.

Why does Krugman believe America is declining? Because the Senate is not able to ram through legislation that Krugman favors:

The truth is that given the state of American politics, the way the Senate works is no longer consistent with a functioning government. Senators themselves should recognize this fact and push through changes in those rules, including eliminating or at least limiting the filibuster. This is something they could and should do, by majority vote, on the first day of the next Senate session.

In other words, American no longer is "great" because the Senate has not passed ObamaCare. Forget about this country's foreign wars that it cannot afford or the fact that it essentially is printing money to pay for record budget deficits. (Krugman is on the record as declaring that most economic problems can be solved simply by creating new currency out of thin air.) Forget about the fact that we now have a regime in which federal prosecutors pretty much can charge whomever they want with any crimes of their choosing.

Furthermore, does Krugman want the rules changed for partisan purposes, or on the basis of principle? Here is the test: if Republicans ever take a majority again in the Senate, will Krugman still demand the end of the filibuster? (His employer, the New York Times, demanded that the Senate filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. In other words, a filibuster for me, but not for thee.)

None of this is written with approval for what Republicans are doing in Congress. Now, I happen to believe that ObamaCare would be a disaster, with the results showing up sooner than later. Krugman for years has demanded state-run medical care, so I am not surprised at his outburst when it lacks one Senate vote to pass.

Unfortunately, most Senate Republicans support our disastrous foreign adventures and they were instrumental in furthering unwarranted state power into our lives when they held a majority. In short, they were as bad then as the Democrats are now.

At the same time, Republicans are all-but-invisible in Washington these days, just as Goldstein was invisible in Orwell's Oceania until the moments when Big Brother would flash the man's face on the screen during the Two-Minute Hate. Unfortunately, Krugman's column, which at least used to have some legitimate economic commentary, has morphed into little more than an semi-weekly screed of Orwellian propaganda of blaming Goldstein, er, the Republicans, for all our ills.

I can understand Krugman's frustration that just when it seems that the Democrats have been holding all of the political cards, they lose what supposedly is a safe seat and the socialist medicine rock rolls to the bottom of the hill. However, I also expect a decorated academic to rise above political partisanship and to write copy that actually differs from the or Daily Kos talking points. So far, Krugman has demonstrated himself to be little more than a highly-paid shill for the left wing of the Democratic Party.

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