Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paul Krugman Is Becoming an Optimist – Can Anything Be Done About This

If Left Unchecked It Could Become a National Emergency

There is no better commentator on contemporary issues than the Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman whose columns and blog for the New York Times are the must read for everyone.  Mr. Krugman’s biting but relevant and incisive commentary don’t always score, but even the few misses are interesting.

Mr. Krugman - Hey Paul,
We Need to Old Krugman Back
For some reason Mr. Krugman has now turned optimistic.  He has claimed victory for common sense and the Obama administration in the debt ceiling battle, even though that war is far from over.  And now he waxes positively giddy on the near term.

He (Mr. Obama) hasn’t delivered everything his supporters wanted, and at times the survival of his achievements seemed very much in doubt. But if progressives look at where we are as the second term begins, they’ll find grounds for a lot of (qualified) satisfaction.

Mr. Krugman finds great success in the areas of health care, income inequality reduction and financial regulation.  And while he does issue the required caveat, he is not dismayed at all.

Now, none of what I’ve just said should be taken as grounds for progressive complacency. The plutocrats may have lost a round, but their wealth and the influence it gives them in a money-driven political system remain. Meanwhile, the deficit scolds (largely financed by those same plutocrats) are still trying to bully Mr. Obama into slashing social programs.

So the story is far from over. Still, maybe progressives — an ever-worried group — might want to take a brief break from anxiety and savor their real, if limited, victories.

So what's the problem?  Well first of all foreign policy is soon going to rear its ugly head.  After election revealed a highly divided electorate, Israel is moving towards abandoning any agreement with the Palestinians, and could even be moving towards annexing the West Bank, an action that would doom peace prospects in the Middle East for decades.  China and Japan are threatening war over some useless hunks of rocks called islands (really they are) and both countries are rearing the heads of ugly nationalism that existed in the first half of the last century, with calamitous results.  Oh yes, Iran is still out there threatening to become a nuclear power with U. S. chicken hawks wanting a new war with them, with other people’s children and other people’s money of course.

Ok, so maybe its not fair to point out foreign policy issues with respect to Mr. Krugman.  On the domestic side there is now a far more radical Republican presence in the Congress and these people will think nothing of shutting down the country and destroying the recovery to get their way.  And anyone who thinks that Mr. Obama’s new found backbone in dealing with these people is permanent needs to have a skepticism implant.

And yes, despite claims of ‘health care reform’ the system is totally broken and the Obama health care reform while good in many ways does nothing to address systematic flaws so great that health care for a large portion of Americans may soon be just to expensive to have.  Don’t forget about Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, all programs the country can afford but is not willing to pay for.

So no Mr. Krugman, sorry to prick your bubble of optimism, but the 2014 elections have already started, the Republicans may well capture the Senate and then its off to 2016 where for Democrats people like Joe Biden are considered serious candidates.  That cannot make anyone feel good.

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