Monday, May 09, 2011

Government "By The People"

Paul Krugman has apparently not only given up on democracy, he has decided that it died a couple of decades ago. According to his op-ed yesterday in the Times, the public has not had any say in the running of this nation since at least 2000, and probably for some years prior to that. He says that “The policies that got us into this mess weren’t responses to public demand,” giving voice to the idea that elected officials don’t care what the voters want, they are going to do what is good for elected officials.

In answering his own rhetorical question of what happened to the budget surplus of 2000 he says,

The answer is, three main things. First, there were the Bush tax cuts, which added roughly $2 trillion to the national debt over the last decade. Second, there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which added an additional $1.1 trillion or so. And third was the Great Recession, which led both to a collapse in revenue and to a sharp rise in spending on unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs.

So who was responsible for these budget busters? It wasn’t the man in the street.

So much for “government by the people.” Paul Krugman is an idiot.

Krugman says that the Bush tax cuts were “in the service of his party’s ideology, not in response to a groundswell of popular demand.” George Bush ran for his first term on a promise of tax cuts and got elected. Once elected he did what he had promised to do during his campaign. How is
“the man on the street” free of responsibility for that tax cut?

Krugman says that “voters were never as solidly behind the [Iraq] war as America’s political and pundit elite.” George Bush started that war, but it had barely begun when his first term expired and the people reelected him for a second term and four more years of that bloody and expensive war. So how does “the man on the street” escape any responsibility for that?

Krugman says that the Great Recession was the result of "reckless deregulation," allowing a con to be pulled by financiers. But no con succeeds without greed on the part of the victim, in this case the lure of financial gain or comfort in buying homes that consumers knew damn well they could not afford. Without the housing bubble and the home buying mania, without the manic inflation of lifestyle fueled by the "atm" of home equity, the Great Recession never happened. The dishonesty was on Wall Street but the “man on the street,” at least to some degree, is paying the price of his own cupidity.

The people who Krugman is blaming for this mess were elected, and reelected repeatedly, by the people who Krugman is holding harmless. That is shallow thinking at best. “As you sow so shall you reap.” If the people want better results they are going to have to take responsibility for their government and elect better representation.

2 comments:

bruce said...

Your explaination does not rule out Mr. Krugman's rationale... it just says there is a higher power that the elected officials answer to, namely the public. That the public keeps electing idiots does not make the idiots blameless, which is what you are implying.

No, I don't agree to all of what he says, just pointing out that neither of you are totally correct.

Jayhawk said...

"...does not make the idiots blameless, which is what you are implying."

I'm not implying anything, I'm stating it outright. The idiots are not blameless. Nor are they entirely to blame, and I did not say that they are.

What I said was they are not "free of responsibility" for the tax cut, that they do not "escape any responsibility for" the Iraq war, and that they are "to some degree" paying the price of their own cupidity.

Krugman, on the other hand, claims that "responsibility wasn't the man in the street."

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