Paul Krugman | Et Tu, Ted? Why Deregulation Failed – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“Nobody is ever fully prepared for natural disaster. When hurricanes, blizzards or tsunamis strike they always reveal weaknesses — failure to plan, failure to invest in precautions.

The disaster in Texas, however, was different. The collapse of the Texas power grid didn’t just reveal a few shortcomings. It showed that the entire philosophy behind the state’s energy policy is wrong. And it also showed that the state is run by people who will resort to blatant lies rather than admit their mistakes.

Texas isn’t the only state with a largely deregulated electricity market. It has, however, pushed deregulation further than anyone else. There is an upper limit on wholesale electricity prices, but it’s stratospherically high. And there is essentially no prudential regulation — no requirements that utilities maintain reserve capacity or invest in things like insulation to limit the effects of extreme weather.

The theory was that no such regulation was necessary, because the magic of the market would take care of everything. After all, a surge in demand or a disruption of supply — both of which happened in the deep freeze — will lead to high prices, and hence to big profits for any power supplier that manages to keep operating. So there should be incentives to invest in robust systems, precisely to take advantage of events like those Texas just experienced.” . . .

” . . . The disaster in Texas, however, was different. The collapse of the Texas power grid didn’t just reveal a few shortcomings. It showed that the entire philosophy behind the state’s energy policy is wrong. And it also showed that the state is run by people who will resort to blatant lies rather than admit their mistakes.

Texas isn’t the only state with a largely deregulated electricity market. It has, however, pushed deregulation further than anyone else. There is an upper limit on wholesale electricity prices, but it’s stratospherically high. And there is essentially no prudential regulation — no requirements that utilities maintain reserve capacity or invest in things like insulation to limit the effects of extreme weather.” . . .

Paul Krugman Opinion Column | The Plot to Help America’spo Children – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Democrats seem ready to enact major economic relief legislation. The package will be big, with a price tag probably close to the Biden administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion. But the bulk of this spending will clearly be temporary. Americans won’t be getting $1,400 checks every year, unemployment benefits won’t always be this generous, we won’t constantly be mobilizing for emergency vaccination programs (or at least we hope not).

There is, however, one piece of the package many progressives hope will become permanent: enhanced aid to families with children. Indeed, there’s an overwhelming economic and social case for providing such aid, in addition to the moral case.

Yet most conservatives seem to be opposed, even though they’re having a notably hard time explaining why. And the fact that they’re against helping children despite their lack of good arguments tells you a lot about why they really oppose aid to those in need.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
It all sounds good, but will it incentivize having more and more children? What the country and world need is zero, or even better, negative population growth. So I would like to know how this will effect the choice of the number of children American people will have. It might be good for the environment to put a cap on the credit/income payment for just two children, and not some unlimited number. We are living during the 6th extinction in the Anthropocene, which means that non human species are going extinct at an unusual and unsustainable rate, perhaps hundreds a week. We lost the Great White African Rhinoceros this winter. Just one of probably thousands of species lost. Someday, it would be useful if politically possible, to have the credit/subsidy for the first two children, and universal and subsidized family planning as part of health care.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Paul Krugman | How Democrats Learned to Seize the Day – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Pool photo by Stefani Reynolds

“A dozen years ago, just before Barack Obama was sworn in as president amid the Great Recession, I wrote a disconsolate column titled “The Obama Gap.” At a time when many viewed the president-elect as a transformational figure, I lamented the caution of his economic policy. His proposed stimulus, I argued, would fall well short of what was needed.

Sadly, I was right. And as I also warned at the time, Obama didn’t get a second chance; the perceived failure of his economic policy, which mitigated the slump but didn’t decisively end it, closed off the possibility of further major action.

The good news — and it’s really, really good news — is that Democrats seem to have learned their lesson. Joe Biden may not look like the second coming of F.D.R.; Chuck Schumer, presiding over a razor-thin majority in the Senate, looks even less like a transformational figure; yet all indications are that together they’re about to push through an economic rescue plan that, unlike the Obama stimulus, truly rises to the occasion.

In fact, the plan is aggressive enough that some Democratic-leaning economists worry that it will be too big, risking inflation. However, I’ve argued at length that they’re wrong — or, more precisely, that, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says, the risks of doing too little outweigh any risk of overheating the economy. In fact, a plan that wasn’t big enough to raise some concerns about overheating would have been too small.”

Paul Krugman | The G.O.P. Is in a Doom Loop of Bizarro – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…L.E. Baskow/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Here’s what we know about American politics: The Republican Party is stuck, probably irreversibly, in a doom loop of bizarro. If the Trump-incited Capitol insurrection didn’t snap the party back to sanity — and it didn’t — nothing will.

What isn’t clear yet is who, exactly, will end up facing doom. Will it be the G.O.P. as a significant political force? Or will it be America as we know it? Unfortunately, we don’t know the answer. It depends a lot on how successful Republicans will be in suppressing votes.

About the bizarro: Even I had some lingering hope that the Republican establishment might try to end Trumpism. But such hopes died this week.

On Tuesday Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, who has said that Donald Trump’s role in fomenting the insurrection was impeachable, voted for a measure that would have declared a Trump trial unconstitutional because he’s no longer in office. (Most constitutional scholars disagree.)

On Thursday Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader — who still hasn’t conceded that Joe Biden legitimately won the presidency, but did declare that Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack on Congress — visited Mar-a-Lago, presumably to make amends.

And the fringe is consolidating its hold at the state level. The Arizona state party censured the Republican governor for the sin of belatedly trying to contain the coronavirus. The Texas G.O.P. has adopted the slogan “We are the storm,” which is associated with QAnon, although the party denies it intended any link. Oregon Republicans have endorsed the completely baseless claim, contradicted by the rioters themselves, that the attack on the Capitol was a left-wing false flag operation.

How did this happen to what was once the party of Dwight Eisenhower? Political scientists argue that traditional forces of moderation have been weakened by factors like the nationalization of politics and the rise of partisan media, notably Fox News.” . . .

This is what Krugman wrote last week while he was hitting his head.  Yesterday, the GOP got a bit saner.  The voted in secret ballot to keep Liz Chaney in leadership, and 13 brave souls joined all the Democrats to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee appointments in the house. 

Paul Krugman | Helping Kids Is a Very Good Idea – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; photographs via Getty Images

“Some things about American politics are completely predictable, even in a time of insurrection and QAnon craziness. Anyone who has been paying attention over the past decade knew that as soon as a Democrat took the White House, Republicans would instantly do another 180-degree turn on budget deficits.

Remember, the G.O.P. went from hyperventilating about debt as an existential threat during the Obama years to complete indifference about deficits under Donald Trump. Surely nobody is surprised to see Republicans immediately revert to deficit hysteria now that Joe Biden is president.

Why are Republicans suddenly peddling debt phobia again? Their usual argument is that federal debt is a burden on future generations; I and others have spent considerable time trying to explain that this is bad economics.

But leave the economics of debt aside. Shouldn’t politicians who claim to be terribly worried about the future of America’s children support, you know, actually helping America’s children today?”

Opinion | After Trump, Will International Relations and Trade Ever Be the Same? – The New York Times

“There are, I suppose, some people who still imagine that if and when Donald Trump leaves office we’ll see a rebirth of civility and cooperation in U.S. politics. They are, of course, hopelessly naïve. America in the 2020s will remain a deeply polarized nation, rife with crazy conspiracy theories and, quite possibly, plagued by right-wing terrorism.

But that won’t be Trump’s legacy. The truth is that we were already well down that road before he came along. And on the other side, if the Democrats win big, I expect to see many of Trump’s substantive policies reversed, and then some. Environmental protection and the social safety net will probably end up substantially stronger, taxes on the rich substantially higher, than they were under Barack Obama.

Trump’s lasting legacy, I suspect, will come in international affairs. For almost 70 years America played a special role in the world, one that no nation had ever played before. We’ve now lost that role, and I don’t see how we can ever get it back.

You see, American dominance represented a new form of superpower hegemony.

Our government’s behavior was by no means saintly; we did some terrible things, supporting dictators and undermining democracies from Iran to Chile. And sometimes it seemed as if one of our main goals was to make the world safe for multinational corporations.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I love Paul Krugman, and consider him one of my greatest teachers. I have to disagree with him here though. I might be guilty of naïve optimism, but I can’t help but put more weight on the remark of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, that in the US, the pendulum always swings one way, but then it swings back the other way. I also agree with Martin Luther King, that progress is slow and uneven, but the arc over centuries is forward and upwards. This won’t be true, of course, if we do not stop our population growth world wide, beyond what the planet can sustain. The future wars over limited resources will reverse all the gains of the last 600+ years, since the Black Death of 1348,

Opinion | America’s Red State Death Trip – The New York Times

““E pluribus unum” — out of many, one — is one of America’s traditional mottos. And you might think it would be reflected in reality. We aren’t, after all, just united politically. We share a common language; the unrestricted movement of goods, services and people is guaranteed by the Constitution. Shouldn’t this lead to convergence in the way we live and think?

In fact, however, the past few decades have been marked by growing divergence among regions along several dimensions, all closely correlated. In particular, the political divide is also, increasingly, an economic divide. As The Times’s Tom Edsall put it in a recent article, “red and blue voters live in different economies.”

What Edsall didn’t point out is that red and blue voters don’t just live differently, they also die differently.”

Opinion | What Do We Actually Know About the Economy? (Wonkish) – Paul Krugman – NYT

“So let me talk about three things:

The unsung success of macroeconomics

The excessive prestige of microeconomics

The limits of empiricism, vital though it is

The clean little secret of macroeconomics

There’s a story about quantum physics – not sure where I read it – about the rivalry between the physicists Julian Schwinger and Richard Feynman. Schwinger was first to work out how to do quantum electrodynamics, but his methods were incredibly difficult and cumbersome. Feynman hit upon a much simpler approach – his famous diagrams – which turned out to be equivalent, but vastly easier to use.

Schwinger, as I remember the story, was never seen to use a Feynman diagram. But he had a locked room in his house, and the rumor was that that room was where he kept the Feynman diagrams he used in secret.”

Opinion | Trump’s Supreme Betrayal – Paul Krugman – NYT

“By now, it’s almost a commonplace to say that Trump has systematically betrayed the white working class voters who put him over the top. He ran as a populist; he’s governed as an orthodox Republican, with the only difference being the way he replaced racial dog-whistles with raw, upfront racism.

Many people have made this point with respect to the Trump tax cut, which is so useless to ordinary workers that Republican candidates are trying to avoid talking about it. The same can be said about health care, where Democrats are making Trump’s assault on the Affordable Care Act a major issue while Republicans try to change the subject.

But I think we should be seeing more attention devoted to the way Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court fits into this picture. The Times had a good editorial on Kavanaugh’s anti-worker agenda, but by and large the news analyses I’ve seen focus on his apparently expansive views of presidential authority and privilege.

I agree that these are important in the face of a lawless president with authoritarian instincts. But the business and labor issues shouldn’t be neglected. Kavanaugh is, to put it bluntly, an anti-worker radical, opposed to every effort to protect working families from fraud and mistreatment.”

David Lindsay: Yes, Bravo. Here is the top comment to enjoy.
Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJJuly 30
As far as a majority of Republican and Trump voters are concerned, the United States Supreme Court is for enshrining Christian Shariah Law, negating the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts and preserving the inalienable right of White Christian Male terrorists to randomly slaughter as many Americans as possible based on their individual mood swings.

The corporate and 1% raping of 99% of America doesn’t really register with these voters.

As long as Republicans wave the slightly veiled neo-Confederate flag of White Spite, these voters are perfectly comfortable with 350:1 CEO:worker pay ratios, the elimination of class action suits, mandated corporate arbitration, the destruction of union/worker rights, the fouling of the water, the air and the land, and the elimination of all common sense regulation that protects consumers, citizens and the non-rich.

Trump and the Grand Old Plantation party know exactly what they’re doing and they’ve been doing it very effectively since 1968 when they began their neo-Confederate Strategy.

The Republican Party is no friend of anyone except the richest Americans.

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” Lyndon B. Johnson

Kavanaugh is for Corporate Shariah Law that reduces Republican voters to Grand Old Peasants.

D for democracy; R for right-wing, Randian radicalism.

Resist.

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Opinion | Brexit Meets Gravity – by Paul Krugman – NYT

Quote

These days I’m writing a lot about trade policy. I know there are more crucial topics, like Alan Dershowitz. Maybe a few other things? But getting and spending go on; and to be honest, in a way I’m doing trade issues as a form of therapy and/or escapism, focusing on stuff I know as a break from the grim political news.

Anyway, as Britain’s self-inflicted Brexit crisis (self-inflicted with some help from Putin, it seems) comes to a head, it seems to me worth trying to explain some aspects of the economics involved that should be obvious – surely are obvious to many British economists – but aren’t, apparently, as obvious either to Brexiteers or to the general public.

These aspects explain why Theresa May is trying to do a soft Brexit or even, as some say, BINO – Brexit In Name Only; and why the favored alternative of Brexiteers, trade agreements with the United States and perhaps others to replace the EU, won’t fly.

Now, many of the arguments for Brexit were lies pure and simple. But their claims about trade, both before and after the vote, may arguably be seen as misunderstandings rather than sheer dishonesty.

via Opinion | Brexit Meets Gravity – The New York Times