Monday, September 16, 2013

Paul Krugman, President Obama's Head Cheerleader, Finally Wrote Something Useful About Education and the Economy in the NY Times

Paul Krugman finally wrote something useful about education and the economy in the New York Times. In a recent Times essay entitled "Rich Man's Recovery," Krugman began by pointing out what everyone already knows--that the rich live in "a different social and material universe" from the middle class. The enduring American belief that children can grow up to become more prosperous than their parents is dead.
Paul Krugman's Big Idea:
Print More Money
Everywhere, young Americans who grew up in middle class homes are desperately struggling just to stay in the middle class--to avoid falling off the economic ladder and becoming one of the faceless working poor.

And then Mr. Krugman made an interesting point. Rising inequality in the United States has nothing to do with education. As Krugman perceptively observed, "Only a small fraction of college graduates make it into the charmed circle of the 1 percent. Meanwhile, many, even most, highly educated young people are having a very rough time."

Many people--myself once included--pathetically believe they will catapult themselves into a new more glamorous milieu if only they can acquire a prestigious graduate degree from an elite university. And so they borrow money--sometimes a lot of money--to get a degree from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, etc.  Often they learn that even if they get into the prestigious graduate school of their choice that class lines are already drawn.  Even at Harvard Business School, the NY Times reported, the  ultra rich students are separated from other students along lines drawn by status and money.

How can we stop the growing division between the ultra rich and the rest of the United States? How can we restore the prospects of the middle class along with the middle class belief that talent and hard work will lead us to a better life?

Unfortunately, Mr. Krugman has no good answers to these questions.  Like so many NY Times writers, he is very good at identifying problems but not so good at offering real solutions. His essay ends with the lame suggestion that we should tax the rich a bit more.

Thanks a lot, Paul.  Is that the best idea a Nobel Prize winning economist can think of?

No, to restore equality of opportunity in the United States, the wealthy plutocracy that runs this country must be destroyed. Devastating financial regulations are called for--regulations so draconian that the corporate banks will disappear and be replaced by financial institutions on a more human scale.

Taxes on the rich need to be much higher. We will know we are taxing people enough when Tom Cruz and Donald Trump fly commercial and no one has the cash to buy a $250,000 automobile.

And our imperious and arrogant elite universities need to be demythologized.  We need to stop choosing our national leaders from among people who went to Harvard and Yale.  And imperial college presidents need to be sent back to the classroom to teach freshman composition.

But is anyone in the media talking about radical reforms of our economy or our educational system? No. Paul Krugman, the nation's most ardent cheerleader for President Obama's economic policy, wrote an essay in today's NY Times essentially saying Ben Bernanke should continue printing money, a policy designed to do nothing more than delay our nation's economic collapse until President Obama has finished his term of office.

Where is all of this heading--this accelerating disparity in wealth that Mr. Krugman wrote about?

I don't know.  I do know that Germany's economic policy in the 1930s--its reckless printing of money--is very similar to President Obama's economic policy.  And we know what happened to Germany.

One thing is clear. Our nation is now run by an arrogant and selfish plutocracy that manipulates our civic and political life in order to elevate compliant politicians like Barack Obama who will perpetuate the status quo of economic inequality.  And the training grounds for these compliant politicians are our nation's elite universities.

After me--the deluge
The young people of the shrinking middle class won't change this putrid landscape by borrowing money to attend prestigious colleges and elite graduate schools. They have essentially three options: They can fight politically to elect leaders who are truly progressive and not just blatherers who take their marching orders from Goldman Sachs. They can emigrate to a society that offers more opportunities to people of talent. Or they can accept their slow decline into a new kind of servitude--spending their lives paying off student loans they took out to obtain an education that did not improve their economic condition and perhaps made it worse.


Jodu Kantor. Class Is Seen Dividing Harvard Business School. New York Times, September 9, 2013.

Paul Krugman. Give Jobs a Chance. New York Times, September 16, 2013, p. A19.

Paul Krugman. Rich Man's Recovery. New York Times, September 13, 2013. P. A19.

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