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June 25, 2006
One of the few genuinely
funny jokes I've heard in
a long time is --
Oh, but wait, before that, let me make
sure you've got the background.
You all know who Paul Krugman is,
right? He's an economics prof at some
ivy or other who's been writing OpEds
for the New York Times. Ah, Princeton.
His columns were originally The New York
fairly bland (as I remember Times is run by
it) but under the Bush a Princeton mafia.
administration he's been Something about
gradually sounding more like Bush Inc, I think,
Noam Chomsky. is giving a lot of
people a hard shove
Myself, I have my doubts toward the left.
that Krugman ever
would've been hired if he
was writing this kind of
stuff at the outset -- Indeed, you'll notice
that Chomsky does not
Krugman had done a lot have an OpEd column...
of work on
international trade, Possibly this is because
and I think he was Chomsky has a tendency to go
supposed to stick to on about the New York Times
talking about how continually fucking up.
those crazy kids in
Seattle just don't To take a polite
understand free trade. interpretation.
I heard a Paul Krugman talk on "Democracy Now":
"Paul Krugman on the New Class War in America" June 19th, 2006
Krugman was talking about the
increasing gap between the When I first heard
rich and poor in the United lefties talking
States. about this in the
early 1980s, I Just a blip,
He was saying that while he shrugged it off. I figured.
likes statistics, he also thinks
it's important to look at more Two decades
qualitative things, and one of later, the
the things he likes to track is "blip" is
real estate: recently there's still there,
been a big increase in the stronger than
construction of large mansions, ever.
and he fears we're essentially
returning to the "Great Gatsby"
Then in support of this
point -- the joke is
coming up, get ready --
he says something like:
"There was a really good article
on this subject that appeared in
'Vanity Fair' -- by the way, isn't
it interesting that these days
most good reporting is not coming
from... um... (*pause, then
quickly*) 'The Washington Post'?!"
Okay, so I thought that was pretty funny,
and it pushed me over the line into thinking
that this Paul Krugman guy was okay, and it
was time I read one of his books.
So I went looking for his last book
("The Great Unraveling") at "Modern KRUGMAN_UNRAVELING
Times", but the cupboard was bare,
then I went looking at "City
Lights"... I glanced around, then "City Lights" is the kind of
gave up and asked the dude at the place that's sub-divided
counter. into a number of strange
sections that's good for
He points me to the browsing, but difficult to
"political science" locate individual works.
section, I return
with the book. My favorite is an "urban
issues" section that
Then he comments "by includes "cyber-space"
the way, do you know wonk books, via some sort
that Paul Krugman of association between
was on the board of real and virtual "places".
directors of Enron?"
(Are all cities
I said, "No, I didn't know cities of the mind?)
that, it'll be interesting
to see if he says anything
about Enron at all..."
The guy adds "Yeah, someone asked
him about it once, he just said
something lame, I don't remember
I went off speculating about how
Krugman must have felt throughly
taken-in by Enron's management --
I sat down with the book and looked
up Enron in the index, then started In Washington
skimming all the Enron references. Square Park,
in North Beach,
Actually, Krugman talks about as long as I'm
Enron a lot. The main points being: name-dropping.
o The people who were in on the
Enron deal are still around.
o Enron may very well not be the
only hollow corporate shell
About two thirds of the way through
this book there's a mention of his
own "involvement" with Enron:
Krugman did some consulting for
them when he was just a college
professor, before he started
doing the OpEd columns, as he
puts it, back in the days when
he was in no position to do them
And he mentions that recently
there had been a minor-smear What sense could
campaign where "the vast this accusation
right-wing conspiracy" was possibly make?
trying to make it sound like Krugman isn't
Krugman had been an insider on someone who
the take... jumped on the
So: the dude working at bandwagon when
City Lights actually it was convenient:
swallowed a Swift Boat! he was one of the
guys who got the
"Board of directors", wagon rolling.
If he had inside info, then
he's a whistle-blower, not
a cover-up man.
"Comparative Advantage" by
"... the established storyline on
California's energy crisis was that Left
Coasters had only themselves to blame: the
state had passed a flawed deregulation law,
which led its utilities to rely on the spot
energy market when prices were
high. ... But Krugman, noting that
economists had long worried about the
vulnerability of California's trading
system to price-fixing, argued that market
manipulation was the obvious culprit;
otherwise, he wrote in March 2001, the
power company executives "are either saints
or very bad businessmen." Krugman was
ignored at the time. Twenty months
later--following the collapse of Enron,
three federal investigations into the
California crisis, and a passel of
indictments against energy company
officials--Krugman has been proved right."
(December 10, 2007)
The more I look into it,
the more I feel a sense
of awe at Republican Of course, it helps
manipulation techniques. that they've got the
media in their pocket.
With this Krugman-Enron connection,
I think they used the fact that some And that most
people had gotten used to hearing people haven't
the two of them in the same breath; grasped the fact.
they reversed the sense of the
comparison, and used the association CHILDHOODS_END
with the thing criticized to attack
They know how things sound
to the ears of people
who are only half-listening...
And that's nearly everyone.
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