Paul Krugman | A Deserved Nobel Economics Prize Reminds Us Facts Matter – The New York Times

“Nobel Memorial Prizes in economics are given for long-term research, not for economists’ role in current debates, so they don’t necessarily have much bearing on the political moment. You might expect the disconnect to be especially strong when the prize is given mainly for the development of new research methods.

And that’s the case for the latest prize, awarded Monday to David Card, Joshua D. Angrist and Guido W. Imbens, leaders in the “credibility revolution” — a change in the way economists use data to assess theories — that has swept economics over the past generation.

It turns out, however, that the credibility revolution is extremely relevant to current debates. For studies using the new approach have, in many though not all cases, strengthened the argument for a more active government role in addressing inequality.

As I’ll explain, that’s not an accident. But first, what’s this revolution all about?”

Paul Krugman | Why Are Democratic Centrists Spouting Right-Wing Propaganda? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Everyone who paid attention during the Obama years knew that Republicans would also try to undermine Democratic presidencies. Some of the G.O.P.’s actions — notably, the efforts of governors like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott to prevent an effective response to a deadly pandemic — have shocked even the cynics. Still, a Republican attempt to make President Biden fail, no matter how much it hurt the rest of the country, was predictable.

More surprising, at least to me, has been the self-destructive behavior of Democratic centrists — a term I prefer to “moderates,” because it’s hard to see what’s moderate about demanding that Biden abandon highly popular policies like taxing corporations and reducing drug prices. At this point it seems all too possible that a handful of recalcitrant Democrats will blow up the whole Biden agenda — and yes, it’s the centrists who are throwing a tantrum, while the party’s progressives are acting like adults.

So what’s motivating the sabotage squad? Part of the answer, I’d argue, is that they have internalized decades of right-wing economic propaganda, that their gut reaction to any proposal to improve Americans’ lives is that it must be unworkable and unaffordable.

Of course, this isn’t the whole story. We certainly shouldn’t underrate the influence of money: Both wealthy donors and Big Pharma have been nakedly throwing their weight around. Nor should we discount the importance of simple innumeracy: $3.5 trillion sounds like a lot of money, and you shouldn’t assume politicians understand (or think constituents understand) that this is proposed spending over the course of a decade, not a single year. It would amount to little more than 1 percent of gross domestic product over that period and would still leave overall government spending far below its level in other wealthy democracies. It also ignores the fact that the true cost, after net savings and new revenue, would be much less than $3.5 trillion.”

David Lindsay: In other words, this big package is only $350 billion per year, for ten years, and is easily affordable, and focus on real needs, mitigating climate change and income inequality, while helping grow the economy. Just improving tax collections could pay for it.

Paul Krugman | Dear Joe Manchin: Coal Isn’t Your State’s Future – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“So Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia will be responsible for putting together the Democratic climate plan. This is both understandable and terrifying. It’s understandable because Democrats need the vote of every one of their senators, which means doing whatever it takes to get skeptics on board. It’s terrifying because Manchin might end up gutting key proposals from President Biden, especially those aimed at drastically reducing the burning of fossil fuels.

The best-case scenario is that Manchin will intervene in ways that help coal miners and highlight his independence without doing too much damage to Biden’s objectives. The worst-case scenario is that he will cripple the climate initiative and effectively doom the planet — because the president’s climate push is almost certainly our last chance to avoid disaster.”

Paul Krugman | Foreign Terrorists Have Never Been Our Biggest Threat – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“It may seem like a terrible thing to say, but a fair number of people — especially in the news media — are nostalgic about the months that followed 9/11. Some pundits openly pine for the sense of national unity that, they imagine, prevailed in the aftermath of the terrorist attack. More subtly, my sense is that many long for the days when the big threat to America seemed to come from foreign fanatics, not homegrown political extremists.

But that golden moment of unity never existed; it’s a myth, one that we need to stop perpetuating if we want to understand the dire current state of American democracy. The truth is that key parts of the American body politic saw 9/11, right from the beginning, not as a moment to seek national unity but as an opportunity to seize domestic political advantage.

And this cynicism in the face of the horror tells us that even at a time when America truly was under external attack, the biggest dangers we faced were already internal.

The Republican Party wasn’t yet full-on authoritarian, but it was willing to do whatever it took to get what it wanted, and disdainful of the legitimacy of its opposition. That is, we were well along on the road to the Jan. 6 putsch — and toward a G.O.P. that has, in effect, endorsed that putsch and seems all too likely to try one again.”

Paul Krugman | The Snake Oil Theory of the Modern Right – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“You don’t hear much these days about “economic anxiety.” Most observers acknowledge that the rise of the Trumpist right was driven by racial and social antagonism, not economic populism.

Yet there is an economic element to political extremism, just not what you’d think. Right-wing extremists, and to some extent even more mainstream conservative media, rely on financial support from companies selling nutritional supplements and miracle cures — and that financial support is arguably a significant factor pushing the right to become more extreme. Indeed, right-wing extremism isn’t just an ideological movement that happens to get a lot of money from sellers of snake oil; some of its extremism can probably be seen not as a reflection of deep conviction, but as a way of promoting snake oil.

Paul Krugman | The Buying of the American Mind – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Paul Krugman  Get a better understanding of the economy — and an even deeper look inside Paul’s mind. Get it in your inbox.

“Today’s column was inspired by the latest twist in our still shambolic response to Covid — the continuing refusal of many Americans to get vaccinated and the insistence of some of them on swallowing horse paste instead. I tried to link this horrifying, if comic, development to the long relationship between right-wing extremism and patent medicine. But I didn’t have space to put this in the broader context of how money influences politics and policy.

The simple fact is that none of us are saints. Even those who claim to be working for the common good can be and often are influenced by the prospect of personal reward. As conservative economists like to say, incentives matter.”

Paul Krugman | Honey, Who Shrunk the World? – The New York Times

“When I was in my 30s, my parents gave me a sweatshirt bearing the words “Global shmobal.” At the time, I was going to many economics conferences; when my parents would ask me what the latest conference was about, I apparently always replied, “Global shmobal.”What I didn’t know at the time was that the global was about to get even shmobaler. In the mid-1980s, world trade had recovered from the disruptions and protectionism of the interwar period, but exports as a share of world G.D.P. were still back only to around their level in 1913. Starting around 1988, however, there was a huge surge in trade — sometimes referred to as hyperglobalization — that leveled off around 2008 but left the world’s economies much more integrated than ever before:

When I was in my 30s, my parents gave me a sweatshirt bearing the words “Global shmobal.” At the time, I was going to many economics conferences; when my parents would ask me what the latest conference was about, I apparently always replied, “Global shmobal.”

What I didn’t know at the time was that the global was about to get even shmobaler. In the mid-1980s, world trade had recovered from the disruptions and protectionism of the interwar period, but exports as a share of world G.D.P. were still back only to around their level in 1913. Starting around 1988, however, there was a huge surge in trade — sometimes referred to as hyperglobalization — that leveled off around 2008 but left the world’s economies much more integrated than ever before:     . . . .  “

Paul Krugman | Climate Denial, Covid Denial and the Right’s Descent – The New York Times

Opinion columnist

“Before the right embraced Covid denial, there was climate denial. Many of the attitudes that have characterized the right-wing response to the coronavirus pandemic — refusal to acknowledge facts, accusations that scientists are part of a vast liberal conspiracy, refusal to address the crisis — were foreshadowed in the climate debate.

Yet from the response to Covid-19 among Republican officials — especially the opposition to lifesaving vaccines — it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the paranoid, anti-rational streak in American politics isn’t as bad as we thought; it’s much, much worse.

On Monday the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report. The conclusions won’t surprise anyone who has been following the issue, but they were terrifying all the same.

Major damage from climate change, the panel tells us, is already locked in. In fact, it’s already happening, as the world experiences extreme weather events, like heat waves in the Pacific Northwest and floods in Europe, that have been made far more likely by rising global temperatures. And unless we take drastic action very soon, catastrophe looms.”

Here is the most popular comment, which I endorsed:

Yuriasian
Bay Area Aug. 10
Times Pick

The most pernicious word in any language is freedom. Pernicious because it has no meaning beyond subverting any notion of personal or collective responsibility. Gov DeSantis says Florida is a free state — folks can decide for themselves if they want to contract Covid or infect others (but businesses aren’t free to do business only with vaccinated customers because that would be a violation of freedom). Abbott in Texas says freedom is carrying a concealed weapon with absolutely no restriction. Sen Josh Hawley believes a mob attack on The Capitol is an exercise in freedom. GOP state legislators say they defend freedom by making it impossible for some to vote. A majority of Supreme Court Justices define freedom as telling woman they have no reproductive choices. For decades driving a Chevrolet (or more likely a 300 horsepower pickup) to see the USA was freedom at its gas guzzling best. America is the land of the free. Responsibility, consequences, that’s socialist talk. The want to take away our guns, monster trucks, smokes, even our burgers and steaks. What’s not free? Education, healthcare, equality, childcare, the right to vote, decent housing, livable wages. Covid, Climate Change are just socialist conspiracies against American freedom. Republicans love to say vigilance is the price of freedom. That’s a lie. The real price of freedom is responsibility, personal and collective. Most Americans have yet to earn their “freedom.”

59 Replies2802 Recommended

Paul Krugman | ‘Freedom,’ Florida and the Delta Variant Disaster – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, isn’t stupid. He is, however, ambitious and supremely cynical. So when he says things that sound stupid it’s worth asking why. And his recent statements on Covid-19 help us understand why so many Americans are still dying or getting severely ill from the disease.

The background here is Florida’s unfolding public health catastrophe.

We now have highly effective vaccines freely available to every American who is at least 12 years old. There has been a lot of hype about “breakthrough” infections associated with the Delta variant, but they remain rare, and serious illness among the vaccinated is rarer still. There is no good reason we should still be suffering severely from this pandemic.

But Florida is in the grip of a Covid surge worse than it experienced before the vaccines. More than 10,000 Floridians are hospitalized, around 10 times the number in New York, which has about as many residents; an average of 58 Florida residents are dying each day, compared with six in New York. And the Florida hospital system is under extreme stress.

There’s no mystery about why this has happened. At every stage of the pandemic DeSantis has effectively acted as an ally of the coronavirus, for example by issuing orders blocking businesses from requiring that their patrons show proof of vaccination and schools from requiring masks. More generally, he has helped create a state of mind in which vaccine skepticism flourishes and refusal to take precautions is normalized.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Paul Krugman for another stunning essay.
You wrote, “True, many people doubt the science; the link between vaccine refusal and Covid deaths is every bit as real as the link between D.U.I. and traffic deaths, but is less obvious to the naked eye. But why are people on the right so receptive to misinformation on this subject, and so angry about efforts to set the record straight? My answer is that when people on the right talk about “freedom” what they actually mean is closer to “defense of privilege” — specifically the right of certain people (generally white male Christians) to do whatever they want.”
You then pointed out that freedom was used by white males to describe and defend Jim Crow laws. This meets the big test, it improves our understanding of bizarre events and behaviors. The comments today seem below average, which is to be expected half the time. To be above average, they need to connect to or discuss in some small way, the essay that allows them this extraordinary platform for active readers. It will be a pleasure to share your helpful essay with my readers at WordPress and Facebook.

Paul Krugman | How Covid Became a Red-State Crisis – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Less than a month ago President Biden promised a “summer of joy,” a return to normal life made possible by the rapid progress of vaccinations against Covid-19. Since then, however, vaccination has largely stalled — America, which had pulled ahead of many other advanced countries, has fallen behind. And the rise of the Delta variant has caused a surge in cases all too reminiscent of the repeated Covid waves of last year.

That said, 2021 isn’t 2020 redux. As Aaron Carroll pointed out Tuesday in The Times, Covid is now a crisis for the unvaccinated. Risks for vaccinated Americans aren’t zero, but they’re vastly lower than for those who haven’t gotten a vaccine.

What Carroll didn’t say, but is also true, is that Covid is now a crisis largely for red states. And it’s important to make that point both to understand where we are and as a reminder of the political roots of America’s pandemic failures.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that only Republicans are failing to get vaccinated. It’s true that there are stark differences in attitudes toward the vaccines, with one poll showing 47 percent of Republicans saying they are unlikely to get a shot, compared with only 6 percent of Democrats. It’s also true that if we compare U.S. counties, there’s a strong negative correlation between Donald Trump’s share of the 2020 vote and the current vaccination rate.”