The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 21, 2015: When Being Afraid Just Doesn’t Help

Fear is not always a bad thing. It plays an important role in our evolution as a species. Evolution, BTW, is a fact of Science.

As Bill Nye says, there’s no reason to doubt it. None. And there certainly isn’t any reason to teach your kids Creationism as a valid theory in its place. Creationism is not Science. It doesn’t propose testable hypotheses. It simply tells you what is supposed to have happened and then tells you, “Believe this, or else.” I agree with Nye that one of the worst things you can do to your kids is to teach them that Creationism explains how we got here.

But fear is not always a good thing, either. Erick Erickson (who has blocked me on the twitter https://twitter.com/EWErickson ) is afraid, but not for any good reasons. He says that he won’t go see the new Star Wars movie because…well, here’s what he posted on his website [And, yes, I’m posting it in its entirety. Sue me.]

I’m really glad I didn’t get tickets on opening day to see Star Wars. Seriously.

I have no confidence in this Administration to keep us all safe, particularly in light of President Obama’s statement today that there’s really no way to stop this stuff.

There are no metal detectors at American theaters.

I think I’ll wait till Star Wars is less a threat scenario.

His post is titled, without irony, “Truth be told…”. Except, where did he get the idea that his hometown theater in Macon, GA, is under credible threat of attack? And why would terrorists, of any nationality or religious affiliation, choose the premiere of Star Wars to launch an attack? And for him to say that he has “no confidence in this Administration to keep us all safe” is a very disingenuous thing to say, because as a Conservative, he already believes the world is a dangerous place and always will be. It’s true that the world is dangerous, and there will always be dangers that will never go away (such as climate change and Fox News Channel), but we Liberals believe that it can be made safer from certain dangers, like fear and ignorance. Through education people can be taught to overcome their fears and to think before acting. President Obama is right to say that attacks like the ones in Paris are never going to be stopped entirely, especially if you want to live as the free people we are. Being free means being free to do things that could harm others. To deter these acts, we institute laws with punishments for violating them. And it works for the vast majority of people. But no law will stop someone who doesn’t care if he lives or dies, and this is true whether the person is motivated by extreme hatred of a certain ethnicity or skin color or by religious fundamentalism. And the only way to eliminate those kinds of attacks entirely is turn this country into a police state, where you would be stopped on the street and forced to show the cop your papers permitting you to walk around freely. And none of us wants that, Liberal or Conservative. And Erickson’s saying this for one reason, and one reason only (if you don’t count the other reasons like he’s stupid, and ill-informed, and six or seven other things): He wants you to be afraid. And he doesn’t want you to stop and think. Because when you stop and think, you realize there is nothing to fear. Because if he thinks metal detectors are going to stop would-be religious extremists from gunning down the very audience in which he and his family sit, then he’s forgetting how the Aurora, CO, theater shooter propped open an emergency exit so he could retrieve his weapons from his car and return to the theater to massacre people. A metal detector at the front entrance would not have made any difference there, would it? But simple reasoning like that doesn’t stop Conservatives in or out of government from trying to gin up fears where there is no rational reason to fear. Conservatives love hyping ridiculous conspiracy theories to keep people afraid. And as we all know, people who are afraid make bad decisions. Like voting for Conservatives to govern them.

The danger in all of this fear mongering is that when ACTUAL dangers come along, ACTUAL things that could kill much but not all of humanity, and both for the same reason – Evolution – people are not going to respond to it thoughtfully and rationally. Or they will dismiss it because none of the other world’s-gonna-die stories turned out to be true (on account of they were made up out of bullshit ideas.) And billions could die. I’m not trying to monger up any fear, I’m trying to point out a legitimate danger that could result in massive amounts of people dying. I learned something the other day and it should give you cause for concern. Not the fact that I learned something, I actually do that all the time without anyone being concerned. I mean what I learned should make us rethink how we use antibiotics. There is an antibiotic called Colistin that is considered a last resort weapon to fight dangerous bacteria. And a study out of China suggests that certain bacteria may be developing a resistance to Colistin. Not only that, but some of these bacteria “have developed a mechanism to transfer resistance to neighboring bacteria. And those bacteria don’t even have to be the same strain as those that originally developed the resistance. So bacteria that cause other health problems could be affected.” This is a cause for concern, but let’s not panic and become fearful. The World Health Organization (Whooooo are they? Who? Who? Who? Who?) has developed an action plan to combat drug-resistant bacteria. The Obama Administration has also developed a plan to fight these dangerous bacteria, which became dangerous thanks to Evolution. Does that mean Evolution is dangerous? Well, it can be. I mean, we’re here because of Evolution, but we can also be replaced by more intelligent, more rational, and less fear-based versions of humans because of Evolution. And that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. But don’t worry, Conservatives. By the time that happens, you’ll be long gone. And that would definitely be a good thing.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss your fears, rational or not, or the fears of conservatives (almost always irrational), or anything else you want to discuss. Don’t be afraid. It’s okay. You have nothing to fear at The Zoo.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 23, 2015: It’s Clearly Not A Budget

It’s supposed to be a budget, but clearly it’s not. Sure, it’s got some numbers in it, but it also has places where there are no numbers, just huge assumptions about money that even a high school student would find obviously wrong. For example, they want to repeal Obamacare (because, what, 57th time’s a charm?) but they make no provision for where the tax revenue the ACA generated will be raised. The other major problem with that thing with numbers is that it calls for cutting a trillion dollars in spending without specifying the programs being cut. The likely candidates are “food stamps, disability payments for veterans, the earned income tax credit, and Pell grants for college students,” but even cuts there won’t make up for the money Republicans claim they won’t be spending. In short, there is no way this Republican budget can have any connection to Reality.

That’s putting it more kindly than Paul Krugman. He called Republicans the “Trillion Dollar Fraudsters.”

One answer you sometimes hear is that what Republicans really believe is that tax cuts for the rich would generate a huge boom and a surge in revenue, but they’re afraid that the public won’t find such claims credible. So magic asterisks are really stand-ins for their belief in the magic of supply-side economics, a belief that remains intact even though proponents in that doctrine have been wrong about everything for decades.

And therein lies the problem: Republicans are governing this country based on a philosophy that has historically been proven wrong. Tax cuts for the rich do not create jobs. Consumer demand creates jobs, and so do public works programs. If you give more money to the super wealthy by cutting their taxes, they are not going to spend all that money, which is what is needed for the economy to function. The economy only works when money moves around. You buy something from your local merchant. He takes your money, and money from other customers, and he replenishes his stock of the things you all bought. He does this by going to his vendors and buying those products you bought from them. Those vendors, in turn, do the same thing and replenish their own inventory of goods. If a business owner is buying a service from another company, she gives that company her money for their services, and they use it to pay their employees, who go out to their local stores and buy the things they need. If everything is working the way it’s supposed to, the consumers have the money to buy the things they need, the vendors sell enough goods and services to pay their employees and vendors, the businesses involved make a little profit, and the shareholders of those companies get a little more money for themselves. The poor and many of the middle class often live paycheck to paycheck. They spend most, if not all, of what they bring in. Rich people don’t do that. If you give a worker an extra fifty dollars in his paycheck, there’s a good chance he’s going to spend most of that $50, thus stimulating the economy as described. You give that super rich person an extra $50 and he’s not even going to notice it (so he won’t notice when it’s not there), because it’s probably going to end up in some offshore bank account, free of taxation. Public works programs also stimulate the economy because in addition to providing jobs (so people have money to spend), they reduce traffic delays which result in lost productivity. The beneficial ripple effects of an infrastructure spending program are too numerous to detail, but they are one of the best ways to stimulate the economy, along with continuing to pay out unemployment insurance benefits. You can bet that money isn’t going out to offshore bank accounts.

But it starts with someone spending the money in the first place, otherwise there’s nothing to “prime the pump.” If people don’t have money to spend, or have billions of dollars but are not spending it, the economy doesn’t work. Goods and services aren’t sold and businesses are forced to layoff workers. (If they’re not bringing in money, they have no money to pay employees.) Unemployment rises, and so does government spending on benefits (which were earned, by the way, not just handed out to anyone who asks.) Assuming there’s money in the government budget to pay unemployment insurance benefits. Republicans love to cut UI benefits because their rich overlords equate social worth with financial worth. They believe that if you’re poor, it’s because you made bad choices in life, such as not being born into a wealthy family. They believe (with all their cold, black hearts) that because they’re rich and you’re not, that they are better than you. They falsely believe that they made it on their own (including the ones who inherited wealth), and that they never needed any help from the government. How wrong they were. Setting aside their own education (since the super wealthy often have private tutors and attend private schools where they make their private connections in life), there are many ways the super wealthy depend on government. For example, they require roads to earn their wealth. Even if they fly themselves to work in their own helicopters, the people who work for them, the people who deliver the supplies their businesses need, all depend on roads paid for by the public. Their places of work (and homes) are protected by police officers paid for by the public. They use water and electricity often supplied by a delivery system paid for by the public. And this doesn’t even go into the all the ways the government helps the people who help the super wealthy make more money. And if it’s paid for by the public, it’s done through the government. (Because We the People are the Government.) So it is simply not true that any super rich person made it “all on his own.” Their wealth was made possible by the liberal framework around which our society is built. You can’t have a nation of people who look out only for themselves. It just can’t work. Where’s the sense of Community if nobody helps each other out? That’s what our government is – people helping each other out, even if the people being helped out don’t understand that. Actor Craig T. Nelson once said to Fox News Channel (where ignorant, frightened people turn to find out what to fear), “I’ve been on food stamps and welfare. Anybody help me out? No.” Actually, Craig, Yes, somebody did help you out. Your fellow citizens. By having your government give you food stamps and welfare. You’re welcome.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Republican inhumanity, or anything else that interests you.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 11th, 2013: From Morons to Marvels

Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has been in the news a lot lately, in part for having been one of the select few Republicans who were invited to the recent dinner meeting with President Obama. In an appearance yesterday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Senator Johnson stated,

“If we’re going to really get to an agreement, this is a good step…You have to start meeting with people. You have to start developing relationships. You’ve got to spend a fair amount of time figuring out what we agree on first.”

[Especially when the Republican “leaders” won’t tell their flock the truth about what the President has offered, and the flock and the media are too dumb or brainwashed to lift a couple of fingers and check whitehouse.gov!]

The same “This Week” appearance also saw Paul Krugman, in his inimitable manner, school Senator Johnson on the Social Security program.

Prior to that, in the debate over authorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Senator Johnson was one of a group of “…Republicans [who] have objected to new provisions in the law, including one allowing tribal courts for the first time to prosecute men who aren’t American Indians when they’re accused of abusing an American Indian woman on a reservation. . .”, according to ThinkProgress, which also quotes Senator Johnson as saying:

“the Senate has approved a piece of legislation that sounds nice, but which is fatally flawed. By including an unconstitutional expansion of tribal authority and introducing a bill before the Congressional Budget Office could review it to estimate its cost, Senate Democrats made it impossible for me to support a bill covering an issue I would like to address.”

Coincidentally and fortuitously (or not), when searching for a link on a completely different topic, I ran across this one about Ron Johnson from 2010. It includes a video of Johnson, demonstrating the average conservative’s love of fetuses but not actual children, while “…testifying against the Wisconsin Child Victims Act, which would have eliminated the statute of limitation on lawsuits brought by victims of abuse by priests against the Catholic Church.

Okay, as a palate-cleanser, I believe that there’s something for everyone in these photo slideshows from The Weather Channel.

For all of us who love space science and/or who have experienced various types of mind-enhancement, here’s (now think Muppets “Pigs in Space” voice) “Light Trails from Space.”

Staying in space for the moment, the Comet Pan-STARRS is in the ‘hood, and should start to be visible to the naked eye tomorrow. The chart shown in this article indicates where the large comet can be located (in the western sky at sunset) over the next two weeks or so.

Last from TWC (and getting back to ‘trails’…you’ll see): unusual (and occasionally claustrophobia-inducing) tunnels are highlighted in this feature. Although the first tunnel shown only has the one photo – see below – the rest of them have some amazing shots. Tunnel #18, Shanghai’s Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, described as “senseless, yet fabulous“, could likely induce trails even for persons who have never seen trails before. A youtube video of the entire ride is linked to under the description of the Shanghai tunnel, but I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet. Who’s gonna go first? 🙂

Enjoy!

Ukraine "Tunnel of Love"

Ukraine “Tunnel of Love”

This is our Open thread – what topic would you like to discuss?

I Knew It! I Knew It!

All along, I’ve had this… gut feeling… that the current ‘official’ hysteria over public pension shortfalls was a manufactured, exceedingly artificial narrative, and now Paul Krugman agrees with me…

Citing an analysis of state pension shortfalls done by Dean Baker, Krugman says, “the official story these days — of years and years of huge giveaways to unions, resulting in gigantic, unpayable debts — is just wrong…” and then goes on to point out how the shortfall is mostly the result of the 2007 Financial Crisis we’re only now starting to emerge from.

As you can see from the above graphic, courtesy of Mr Baker’s report, much of the current pension shortfall can be attributed directly to the stock & bond market plunges of two years ago, and accordingly a pretty hefty percentage of that should have been recovered due to the recent extended rally in the same markets.

Per Baker’s report, pension fund assets would most likely be $850 billion higher if the funds had earned a rate of return the last three years just equal to 30 year Treasuries, and an additional $80 billion loss can be pegged to lower contributions by the states due to lower revenues. A total of approximately $930 billion, or almost the entire shortfall, a trillion dollars, as projected by some analysts.

In addition, Baker states that the “size of the projected state and local government shortfalls… for the pension funds is less than 0.2 percent of projected gross state product over the next 30 years for most states. Even in the cases of the states with the largest shortfalls, the gap is less than 0.5 percent of projected state product.”

0.2 percent of projected revenues, in other words, 20 freakin’ cents on every hundred dollars, if Baker’s figures and analysis are accurate… and if they are, so much for all the ‘Chicken Little/Falling Sky’ nonsense we’re being subjected to right now.

One question I do have is how much of the loss in various public pension funds’ assets can be attributed to the stock market decline, and how much was due to the collapse of mortgage bonds? Neither Krugman or Baker dive into this particular pool of water, and in his report, Baker only talks about losses, gains, and rates of return for stocks. It is my understanding that Iceland’s financial collapse was, in part, caused by mortgage bond defaults. I am also under the impression that public pension funds are prohibited from purchasing securities deemed too risky and that when the bond sellers were able to get the ratings agencies to give their new fangled ‘ financial products’ a AAA rating, they were free to sell those ticking financial shit bombs to pension funds.

I shall do more research on that as time allows.

In the meanwhile, Paul Krugman agrees with me…

Whaddya know, we’re being sold a bill of goods.

The Humbug Express

The Humbug Express by Paul Krugman (The NY Times)

Hey, has anyone noticed that “A Christmas Carol” is a dangerous leftist tract?

I mean, consider the scene, early in the book, where Ebenezer Scrooge rightly refuses to contribute to a poverty relief fund. “I’m opposed to giving people money for doing nothing,” he declares. Oh, wait. That wasn’t Scrooge. That was Newt Gingrich — last week. What Scrooge actually says is, “Are there no prisons?” But it’s pretty much the same thing.

Anyway, instead of praising Scrooge for his principled stand against the welfare state, Charles Dickens makes him out to be some kind of bad guy. How leftist is that?

As you can see, the fundamental issues of public policy haven’t changed since Victorian times. Still, some things are different. In particular, the production of humbug — which was still a somewhat amateurish craft when Dickens wrote — has now become a systematic, even industrial, process.

Let me walk you through a case in point, one that I’ve been following lately… [Continue to read here.]

(If you can’t get to the article at The New York Times, read it here.)

Mr. Krugman ends with this thought:

So in this holiday season, let’s remember the wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge. Not the bit about denying food and medical care to those who need them: America’s failure to take care of its own less-fortunate citizens is a national disgrace. But Scrooge was right about the prevalence of humbug. And we’d be much better off as a nation if more people had the courage to say “Bah!”

It is amazing to me just how many “Scrooges” we have in office, making decisions that will affect every single person in this country, and how many of those “Scrooges” all seem to congregate in pretty much one party.. You know, the ‘party of values’… Though, those ‘values’ seem to center entirely around greed, promoting war, and pleasing their corporate sponsors. (How ‘Leftist’ of me to say.. Leftist? Or just observant..)

This week Newt Gingrich said one of the dumbest, the most insensitive and hypocritical things I’ve heard yet..

“I’m opposed to giving people money for doing nothing,” he told the crowd of 250 cheering GOP activists in a state with a 10.6 percent unemployment rate.

This said from a man who makes his money “as a direct-mail scam artist”..

Continue reading

Paul Krugman Points Out Republican Duplicity On Military Spending

Paul Krugman says, “Watching Republican Congressmen saying but, this will cost jobs.  The very same Republican Congressmen who were denouncing the Stimulus Plan saying, government spending never creates jobs.  But, cutting defense spending costs jobs?  It’s wonderful.”

Obama’s “Katrina moment”

by Frank Rich (NY Times columnist)

Has a ‘Katrina Moment’ Arrived?
Published: March 21, 2009

A CHARMING visit with Jay Leno won’t fix it. A 90 percent tax on bankers’ bonuses won’t fix it. Firing Timothy Geithner won’t fix it. Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans’ anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed. It would be foolish to dismiss as hyperbole the stark warning delivered by Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, Calif., in a letter to the editor published by The Times last week: “President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived.”

Six weeks ago I wrote in this space that the country’s surge of populist rage could devour the president’s best-laid plans, including the essential Act II of the bank rescue, if he didn’t get in front of it. The occasion then was the Tom Daschle firestorm. The White House seemed utterly blindsided by the public’s revulsion at the moneyed insiders’ culture illuminated by Daschle’s post-Senate career. Yet last week’s events suggest that the administration learned nothing from that brush with disaster.

Otherwise it never would have used Lawrence Summers, the chief economic adviser, as a messenger just as the A.I.G. rage was reaching a full boil last weekend. Summers is so tone-deaf that he makes Geithner seem like Bobby Kennedy.

Read this entire post…

Paul Krugman had a piece out yesterday morning as well:

Continue reading

Who’ll Stop The Pain

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As influenced by this opinion piece published this week in the New York Times by Nobel-winning economist, Paul Krugman:

Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve released the minutes of the most recent meeting of its open market committee — the group that sets interest rates. Most press reports focused either on the Fed’s downgrade of the near-term outlook or on its adoption of a long-run 2 percent inflation target.

But my eye was caught by the following chilling passage (yes, things are so bad that the summarized musings of central bankers can keep you up at night): “All participants anticipated that unemployment would remain substantially above its longer-run sustainable rate at the end of 2011, even absent further economic shocks; a few indicated that more than five to six years would be needed for the economy to converge to a longer-run path characterized by sustainable rates of output growth and unemployment and by an appropriate rate of inflation.”

So people at the Fed are troubled by the same question I’ve been obsessing on lately: What’s supposed to end this slump? No doubt this, too, shall pass — but how, and when? (Read on..)

Krugman ends with this:

You can see, then, why some Fed officials are so pessimistic.

Let’s be clear: the Obama administration’s policy initiatives will help in this difficult period — especially if the administration bites the bullet and takes over weak banks. But still I wonder: Who’ll stop the pain?

Here’s a song parody to accompany Krugman’s piece (cross-posted from Pick Wayne’s Brain):

Who’ll Stop The Pain
Original words and music, “Who’ll Stop The Rain” by John Fogerty
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider

Long before November
The pain been comin down.
Worst in history showin’
Recession all around.
Bad men through the markets
Tryin’ to chase a buck
And I wonder, still I wonder,
Who’ll stop the pain?

Continue reading

“No, they didn’t, and no, it isn’t. “

The Destructive Center

by Paul Krugman (or cross-posted at Common Dreams)

What do you call someone who eliminates hundreds of thousands of American jobs, deprives millions of adequate health care and nutrition, undermines schools, but offers a $15,000 bonus to affluent people who flip their houses?

A proud centrist. For that is what the senators who ended up calling the tune on the stimulus bill just accomplished.

Even if the original Obama plan — around $800 billion in stimulus, with a substantial fraction of that total given over to ineffective tax cuts — had been enacted, it wouldn’t have been enough to fill the looming hole in the U.S. economy, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will amount to $2.9 trillion over the next three years.

Yet the centrists did their best to make the plan weaker and worse.

Read this entire piece..

Paul Krugman ends his this week’s opinion piece with this:

Now, House and Senate negotiators have to reconcile their versions of the stimulus, and it’s possible that the final bill will undo the centrists’ worst. And Mr. Obama may be able to come back for a second round. But this was his best chance to get decisive action, and it fell short.

So has Mr. Obama learned from this experience? Early indications aren’t good.

For rather than acknowledge the failure of his political strategy and the damage to his economic strategy, the president tried to put a postpartisan happy face on the whole thing. “Democrats and Republicans came together in the Senate and responded appropriately to the urgency this moment demands,” he declared on Saturday, and “the scale and scope of this plan is right.”

No, they didn’t, and no, it isn’t.

Pretty strong words. Do you agree with him or disagree? Why?

Krugman: Reagan deregulation led to economic crisis

Raw Story

During a press conference on Wednesday, President Obama rejected tax cuts the Congressional Republicans want. Is Obama ushering in the end of Reaganomics and deregulation? Rachel Maddow is joined by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.

This video also includes news on Harry Markopolos, the fraud investigator and whistleblower on the SEC, who was ignored for 9 years.. Mindblowing.

It is so refreshing to hear Paul Krugman explain with such clarity how our economy came to this point, what needs to happen next, what works, and what absolutely doesn’t. I really hope that his voice is one that President Obama is really listening to..

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Paul Krugman has “Ideas for Obama”..

NY Times:

Last week President-elect Barack Obama was asked to respond to critics who say that his stimulus plan won’t do enough to help the economy. Mr. Obama answered that he wants to hear ideas about “how to spend money efficiently and effectively to jump-start the economy.”

O.K., I’ll bite — although as I’ll explain shortly, the “jump-start” metaphor is part of the problem.

First, Mr. Obama should scrap his proposal for $150 billion in business tax cuts, which would do little to help the economy. Ideally he’d scrap the proposed $150 billion payroll tax cut as well, though I’m aware that it was a campaign promise.

Money not squandered on ineffective tax cuts could be used to provide further relief to Americans in distress — enhanced unemployment benefits, expanded Medicaid and more. And why not get an early start on the insurance subsidies — probably running at $100 billion or more per year — that will be essential if we’re going to achieve universal health care?

Mainly, though, Mr. Obama needs to make his plan bigger. To see why, consider a new report from his own economic team…

Read on.

Bigger Than Bush

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

“As the new Democratic majority prepares to take power, Republicans have become, as Phil Gramm might put it, a party of whiners.”

 

 

 

 

By PAUL KRUGMAN

Published: January 1, 2009

For the whole story look here.

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Krugman: $700 billion stimulus ‘may not be enough’

Raw Story

Princeton University economic professor Paul Krugman believes the Democrats’ plan for a new $500-700 billion stimulus package may not be enough to turn the economy around.“I’m actually worried this plan may be too small. This is an enormous crisis. You got to hit it with an enormous stimulus to buck the economy up. I’m still worrying they’re going to be a little bit short. You just have to put your notions of what is prudent aside. Being cautious is actually a very foolish thing right now.”

Krugman is critical of Bush administration plans to bailout Citigroup. “This is a lot of taxpayer risk in return for not much,” he said. “It looks like a very sweet deal for citigroup management, very sweetdeal for citigroup shareholders, to the extent they have anything left. Not very good for the taxpayer. This was not good.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

How ‘Depressing” will it get?

I am a huge fan of Paul Krugman.

Here is his latest article in The NY Times: Depression Economics Returns.

He doesn’t seem to think we will experience another “Great Depression”, but he says:

We are already, however, well into the realm of what I call depression economics. By that I mean a state of affairs like that of the 1930s in which the usual tools of economic policy — above all, the Federal Reserve’s ability to pump up the economy by cutting interest rates — have lost all traction. When depression economics prevails, the usual rules of economic policy no longer apply: virtue becomes vice, caution is risky and prudence is folly…

He goes on to explain further. I really wish he was one of the close economic experts advising President-elect Barack Obama right now..

Nail. On. Head.

Krugman nails it:

[Election] night wasn’t just a victory for tolerance; it wasn’t just a mandate for progressive change; it was also, I hope, the end of the monster years.

What I mean by that is that for the past 14 years America’s political life has been largely dominated by, well, monsters. Monsters like Tom DeLay, who suggested that the shootings at Columbine happened because schools teach students the theory of evolution. Monsters like Karl Rove, who declared that liberals wanted to offer “therapy and understanding” to terrorists. Monsters like Dick Cheney, who saw 9/11 as an opportunity to start torturing people.

And in our national discourse, we pretended that these monsters were reasonable, respectable people. To point out that the monsters were, in fact, monsters, was “shrill.”

Four years ago it seemed as if the monsters would dominate American politics for a long time to come. But for now, at least, they’ve been banished to the wilderness.

The time of Monsters is over, but we must be ever vigilant — they only thrive in the dark.

Paul Krugman says “No Deal”

The New York Times:

No deal

The Treasury plan, by contrast, looks like an attempt to restore confidence in the financial system — that is, convince creditors of troubled institutions that everything’s OK — simply by buying assets off these institutions. This will only work if the prices Treasury pays are much higher than current market prices; that, in turn, can only be true either if this is mainly a liquidity problem — which seems doubtful — or if Treasury is going to be paying a huge premium, in effect throwing taxpayers’ money at the financial world.

I hate to say this, but looking at the plan as leaked, I have to say no deal. Not unless Treasury explains, very clearly, why this is supposed to work, other than through having taxpayers pay premium prices for lousy assets.

As I posted earlier today, it seems all too likely that a “fair price” for mortgage-related assets will still leave much of the financial sector in trouble. And there’s nothing at all in the draft that says what happens next; although I do notice that there’s nothing in the plan requiring Treasury to pay a fair market price. So is the plan to pay premium prices to the most troubled institutions? Or is the hope that restoring liquidity will magically make the problem go away?

Here’s the thing: historically, financial system rescues have involved seizing the troubled institutions and guaranteeing their debts; only after that did the government try to repackage and sell their assets. The feds took over S&Ls first, protecting their depositors, then transferred their bad assets to the RTC. The Swedes took over troubled banks, again protecting their depositors, before transferring their assets to their equivalent institutions.

Read the rest of his post..

Fearing Fear Itself

by Paul Krugman
via: The New York Times

In America’s darkest hour, Franklin Delano Roosevelt urged the nation not to succumb to “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.” But that was then.

Today, many of the men who hope to be the next president — including all of the candidates with a significant chance of receiving the Republican nomination — have made unreasoning, unjustified terror the centerpiece of their campaigns.

Continue reading… 

He calls the term “Islamofascism”, which is so widely thrown around and repeated these days, what it is – ludicrous.
Paul Krugman is an op-ed writer for The New York Times, and the newly released  book  “The Conscience of a Liberal“. I am going to go hear him speak this weekend in Portland.