Showing posts with label Paul Krugman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul Krugman. Show all posts

Monday, August 22, 2016

Paul Krugman exploits the Great Louisiana Flood of 2016 (Redneck Katrina) to promote Hillary Clinton: Krugman's cynicism knows no bounds

Who do you have to sleep with to get a Nobel Prize?

Or perhaps that's the wrong question. Why do the Swedes award Nobel Prizes to arrogant fools like Paul Krugman?

Krugman won the Nobel Prize for Economics, but everyone knows he's nothing more than a shill for the transnational financial oligarchs and a zombie cheerleader for the Clinton campaign.

So I was enraged this morning when I read his New York Times column trying to turn South Louisiana's catastrophic flood (which I have dubbed Redneck Katrina) into a political story that favors Hillary Clinton.

I've got a couple things to say about Krugman's shameless sycophantic journalism. First, Krugman claimed that President Obama's FEMA response to Redneck Katrina was "infinitely superior" to Bush's FEMA response to the 2005 Katrina disaster.

I'm not so sure about that. Our recent flood only took place about a week ago, and at least 110,000 homes and business were damaged. Let's see how FEMA does over the next couple of months before we hand out accolades to FEMA. How many refugees will be back in their homes 60 or 90 days from now?

Moreover, speaking as a person who was rescued by the Cajun navy, I think South Louisianians are in a much better position to judge the quality of Obama's FEMA than Mr. Krugman, who is snugly safe in Manhattan.

Second, Krugman has no right to criticize Donald Trump for coming to Louisiana to lend his support to our flood victims. Where does Krugman get off labeling Trump's gesture as "boorish, self-centered behavior"?  After all, President Obama is visiting Louisiana tomorrow.  I suppose Krugman will characterize Obama's gesture as the act of a magnanimous and caring President, when in fact Obama was playing golf on Martha's Vineyard while Louisianians were clinging to to their roofs.

Krugman mocked Trump for handing out toys to Louisiana children,  which he described as a"hamhanded (and cheapskate) effort to exploit Louisiana's latest disaster for political gain." I don't think Louisianians would agree. On the contrary, I think we are all grateful for any assistance we receive, whether it is a toy for our kids, a case of bottled water or a FEMA grant.

Finally, Krugman cynically turned our natural disaster into a campaign ad for Hillary Clinton. Krugman suggests that our flood is a consequence of global warning and that Hillary would make a better President than Trump because she yaks on and on about how she is going to counteract global warming  if she  becomes president while Trump doesn't say much about it.

Well, global warming may be a factor in Louisiana's recent floods and hurricanes.  I can buy that. But Hillary's gassy rhetoric about climate change doesn't change the fact that she is a scheming, money-grubbing political hack who is totally owned by Wall Street.

Personally, I am glad Trump visited Louisiana. I look forward to Obama's visit, and I hope Hillary will visit as well. If she does visit the Pelican State, I hope her advisers tell her not to wear her orange pantsuit. She might get mistaken for an escaped  prisoner from St. Gabriel's Women's Prison, and that would be awkward.

Image result for hillary clinton in pantsuits
Hillary, please don't wear orange around St. Gabriel's Women's Prison

References

Paul Krugman. The Water Next Time. New York Times, August 22, 2016. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/22/opinion/the-water-next-time.html?_r=0

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Paul Krugman ranks Hillary as best presidential candidate to handle an economic crisis: Why am I not surprised that Krugman ignored Bernie?

In 1928, Myles Connolly (1897-1964), wrote a brilliant Catholic novella entitled Mr. Blue. The title character is a sort of modern-day St. Francis who delivers a series of zingers about secular American culture. Books, Mr. Blue observes at one point in the narrative, are for people who have already made up their minds or have no minds to make up.

We might say much the same thing about the New York Times.  Day after day it dishes out its so-called "progressive" drivel, lecturing the whole world on how to behave--from the North Carolina legislature to Vladimir Putin.  Without a doubt, the Times is the publication of choice for people who have already made up their minds or are totally incapable of doing their own thinking.

So I was not surprised to read Paul Krugman's recent op ed essay in the Times arguing that Hillary Clinton would be the best President to deal with a major economic crisis.  Although he purported to make logical arguments, Krugman was totally dismissive of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. "The Donald doesn't know much," Krugman sneered contemptuously, "but Ted Cruz knows a lot that isn't so" (stealing a line from Mark Twain).

Krugman essentially writes the same essay over and over, for which the Times compensates him handsomely. Day after day, he assures his idiot readers that Barack Obama does everything right and that massive deficit spending is the smartest way to manage the American economy.  And now of course he lavishes the same fawning praise on Hillary Clinton that he slathered on Obama for the last eight years.

Normally, I wouldn't comment on Krugman's screeds, but his latest piece on Hillary deserves a response.  First of all, although Krugman expressed utter contempt for Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in his essay about presidential qualifications, he didn't even mention Bernie Sanders, the only presidential candidate who has articulated a coherent and principled economic policy.

I feel sure Krugman's omission was intentional. Ignoring Bernie was Krugman's insinuating way of suggesting that Bernie is such a minor political figure that he doesn't even deserve comment. After all, Krugman doesn't dare offend Hillary in the slightest way by giving even an iota of credibility to her dogged opponent.

Second, Krugman basically acknowledged that a major economic crisis is coming to the United States. But look at where he predicts it will come from. "China has a severely unbalanced economy," he tells us, and there's also a potential for an oil crisis.

Basically, Krugman is already laying the groundwork for putting the blame for the next economic crisis on forces outside President Obama's control.

What sophistry! Americans have some pretty good ideas about where the next economic storm is coming from, and they didn't need a Nobel Prize in Economics to figure it out. Here are some things to worry about that Krugman did not bother to mention:

  • Radical Islam. Jihadists from the Middle East are brutal nihilists who will do anything to destroy what we once charmingly called Western Civilization. If they get the capacity to deliver a cyber attack on our global financial network, they will certainly launch one. If they can figure out a way to inflict massive casualties on American civilians, they will certainly do it. 
  • The collapse of the European Union under the relentless tide of Islamic refugees, which could trigger a fascist backlash as Europeans see the erosion of their ancient cultures.
  • A global financial crisis caused by chicanery and greed in the international banking industry.
  • War between Israel and Iran, which will soon be a nuclear power.
  • The destruction of the American middle class as American working people are sacrificed to satiate the greed of  the global oligarchs and young people are suffocated by student-loan debt they acquired to obtain worthless undergraduate and professional degrees.
Krugman did not mention any of these possible scenarios--scenarios that keep Americans up at night-- because a catastrophe from any of these sources could be fairly blamed at least partly on President Obama--the liberal elite's Sun King. 

So keep reading Paul Krugman if you believe the political, academic and media elites know what's best for us or if you are so intellectually lazy that you want someone else to do your thinking. After all, that's exactly what the Times and its columnists are there for--to do your thinking for you.

Image result for paul krugman
Paul Krugman: Bernie who?


References

Paul Krugman. The 8 A.M. Call. New York Times, April 25, 2016.  Accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/25/opinion/the-8-am-call.html?_r=0















Monday, December 9, 2013

President Obama talks about a safety net, but there is no safety net for student-loan defaulters

President Obama made a speech recently about income inequality in America, and Paul Krugman swooned like a 1950s-era school girl at a Buddy Holly concert. Only cynics, Krugman suggested, would discount the importance of President Obama's great speech. 

Rah! Rah! Rah!
Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize Winner, loved President Obama's speech on income inequality

I'm sorry, Paul. But until the President backs up his soaring rhetoric with some action, I will remain cynical.

President Obama talked a lot in his speech  about strengthening the safety net for people who fall on hard times. "We've . . . got to strengthen our safety net for a new age," the President said, "so it doesn't just protect people who hit a run of bad luck from falling into poverty, but also propels them back out of poverty."

These are fine words, but let's look at the millions of people who took out federal student loans to get a college education and can't pay them back. There is no safety net for them. No, for them, there is only a cascading river of woe.

First of all, people who default on their student loans find that it all but impossible to discharge their student-loan debt in bankruptcy.  And this is true even for people who financed their education through private banks and not the federal student-loan program.

Second, many students enrolled at for-profit universities based on misrepresentations, but they
can't sue the institutions that defrauded them. We know that students who attended for-profit colleges have the highest student-loan default rate and the highest level of student-loan debt. Nevertheless, even if they accumulated debt based on a for-profit college's false promises, students are often unable to seek relief in the courts. That's because many--probably most--of the for-profit colleges make students sign arbitration agreements whereby students waive their right to sue fraudulent institutions in court.

Third, many student-loan defaulters find that the amount they owe on their loans is double or even triple the amount they borrowed. That's because interest accumulates on the unpaid debt and the government's debt collectors add a 25 percent penalty.  As we saw in the Roth case (discussed in a previous blog), a woman who borrowed $33,000 to obtain a degree she never completed owed $95,000 by the time she sought bankruptcy relief.

And there is no statute of limitations on collecting unpaid student loans. Thus, the government and its agents can wait 20 years, 25 years, even  40 years to sue a student-loan defaulter. And the government can garnish elderly defaulters' Social Security checks and apply the amount collected to their student loan debt.

Do see any safety net for these people?

How many people have their backs against the wall due to their college loans? Millions. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 15 million people whose loans are in the repayment stage aren't making payments.  Six million are in default, and almost 9 million more have obtained deferments or forbearances that allow them not to make payments. 

In his speech, President Obama acknowledged that people have had trouble paying off their loans, but he said federal grants and loans go farther under his administration than they did before.  Of course if that were true, student-loan indebtedness would not be going up every year.

The President also said that the government has made it "more practical" for students to repay their loans.  I take it he means that the government is encouraging students to sign up for income-based repayment plans that obligate them to make loan payments for 25 years.  The President may think 25-year loan repayment plans makes loan repayment more practical.  But in fact, these plans are a 21st century version of the indentured servant system.

In addition, the President said his administration was advancing "an aggressive strategy to promote innovation that reins in student costs," an apparent reference to his vague college rating system. "We've got lower costs so that young people are not burdened by enormous debt when they make the right decision to get higher education," he asserted.

But this simply isn't true.  Total student-loan indebtedness has grown to $1.2 billion, and average indebtedness for a college graduate is risen to more than $29,000.

 Of course President Obama could construct a real safety net for distressed student-loan debtors if he chose to do so. He could promote an amendment to the Bankruptcy Code that would allow destitute student-loan debtors to discharge their college loans in bankruptcy.  He could bar for-profits from forcing their students to sign litigation waivers as a condition of enrollment.  He could reform the student-loan debt collection protocol to lower the fees and penalties that debt collectors charge defaulters.  He could stop the practice of garnishing elderly defaulters' Social Security checks.

As he done any of these things? Has he even proposed doing any of things? No, he has not.  And although it is true that President Obama does not have a cooperative Congress, he could begin weaving at least a partial "safety net" through executive orders.  A lot of the abuses in the for-profit industry and abusive debt-collection practices could be stopped by executive action or administrative regulations.

So, yes, Mr. Krugman, I am cynical about President Obama's speech. And Mr. Krugman should be cynical too.  After all, he is a Nobel-Prize winning economist who surely knows that crushing student-loan debt has thrown millions of people out of the American economy. 

Mr. Krugman rebukes the cynicism of the so-called "pundit class," but it is Mr. Krugman, The New York Times and the entire elitist media that appear cynical to me.  Our liberal media have become nothing more than cheerleaders for an aimless President, while millions of young Americans who sought a college education in good faith suffer from an insane federal student-loan program and a rapacious for-profit college industry.

References

Editorial. The President on Inequality. New York Times, December 5, 2013, p. A30.

Paul Krugman. Obama Gets Real. New York Times, December 6, 2013, p. A31.

President Barack Obama. Remarks by the President on Economic Mobility. White House Press release, December 4, 2013.





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.


References

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.