Memorial Day Open Thread

Paul Krugman writes:

In pointing out that we could be doing much more about unemployment, I recognize, of course, the political obstacles to actually pursuing any of the policies that might work. In the United States, in particular, any effort to tackle unemployment will run into a stone wall of Republican opposition. Yet thatís not a reason to stop talking about the issue. In fact, looking back at my own writings over the past year or so, itís clear that I too have sinned: political realism is all very well, but I have said far too little about what we really should be doing to deal with our most important problem.

Political reality once dictated that high unemployment would sweep pols out of office - has that changed? Perhaps 2012 will signal a Brave New World where high unemployment is no longer political poison. I hope not.

Open Thread.

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    What am I missing? (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by nycstray on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:29:21 AM EST
    If the Dems try and tackle jobs, jobs, jobs and the right blocks the efforts, wouldn't that be a positive for the Dems going into 2012?

    Yes... (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by lentinel on Mon May 30, 2011 at 02:29:06 PM EST
    The democrats want the luxury of not even trying.

    WH has no appetite for job program (5.00 / 2) (#88)
    by MO Blue on Tue May 31, 2011 at 07:01:41 AM EST
    1) on a WPA program, Bernstein explicitly says it was the White House, not Republicans, who had no appetite for direct, public job creation during the first term. Bernstein says he made the arguments about public works jobs inside the White House, but he was clearly outvoted. He doesn't give the arguments made in response, tantalizingly alluding to "interesting" reasons that he will "speak to another day." But he says very clearly that the reason we did all of this hoops-jumping and nudging in the stimulus package rather than just paying people to work at jobs that needed to be done was a philosophical decision inside the White House. In a sense we already knew this, but it's important that a former White House insider re-emphasized it. link

    Only cuts to domestic programs including those pesky entitlement programs will feed the WH's appetite.


    You must have not gotten the memo (none / 0) (#52)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 30, 2011 at 03:31:10 PM EST
    10% Unemployment is the new normal

    CA parole bd. refuses parole to (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by oculus on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:44:29 AM EST
    paraplegic.  Thought I'd hurry up and post this b/4 kdog does. LAT

    I'm mixed (none / 0) (#37)
    by CoralGables on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:43:44 PM EST
    "Steven Martinez, now 42, convicted of kidnapping, beating and raping a San Diego woman in 1998. A repeat violent offender, he was sentenced to 150 years."

    Although he should never be a threat again, I'm hoping there are much less violent individuals they could start releasing before they get to this level of crime.


    Is the dog on vacation? (none / 0) (#40)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 30, 2011 at 01:05:53 PM EST
    for some reason I thought he was.  This song came on during the pool party and it cracked me up because it made me instantly think of kdog. I just remembered to look it up because I remembered a few of the words and a band called Sick Puppies does it :)  Isn't that too damned funny?

    Either he is rebuilding a deck or getting (none / 0) (#48)
    by oculus on Mon May 30, 2011 at 02:33:25 PM EST
    over a hangover--per his own report.

    Two birds one stone... (5.00 / 2) (#96)
    by kdog on Tue May 31, 2011 at 09:38:39 AM EST
    sweated all that tequila outta me rebuilding the landlady's deck...still have all my fingers too, though I did almost put a phillips head drill bit through one of my fingernails...but no circular saw disasters:)

    Just got a black and blue thumb to go with my black and blue foot. Plus some kind of rash all up my arms from helping my bro-in-law mulch.  I'm fallin' apart ladies:)  Needed to come back to work to rest and heal!


    Until our entire economic system has real rules... (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by Dadler on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:09:48 AM EST
    ...that are at least marginally equitable and socially responsible, not designed to enrich and keep in power a small group, when we have a system that is not designed to keep the masters untouched and the peons felt up and molested all the time, then all talks about money and the economy are pissing into the wind.

    We are ALL forced to play a rigged game right now, and have been for sometime.  Until that rigged, i.e. fake, game is made right and real...we can kick and scream and nothing will change.  How COULD it?  Try playing monopoly with people who are given 3/4 of the real estate and money to start with, who never go to jail, who never pay a fine with teeth...that's what we are LIVING.

    Good but grotesque (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by KeysDan on Mon May 30, 2011 at 01:47:59 PM EST
    Memorial Day weekend read: "To End All Wars", by Adam Hochschild.    Along the same lines of  the excellent novel "Fall of Giants" by Ken Follett, this historical narrative of World War I presents not only the senseless carnage, but also, the moral drama of its critics and the unintended outcomes we continue to abide.

    Armchair patriots, assorted war-mongers and generals who saw war as a "manly sport" were plentiful. The bewilderment of the British generals in terms of the type of war in which they so eagerly entered (it would be over in days not weeks)  included the storming of  the new fangled German machine gun installations with the "time-tested"  cavalry with the horsemen armed with swords; or use of poison gas without regard to the wind or the problem of cutting barbed wire in its midst are horrible examples. Of course the time-warped French generals were not much better with there adherence to their tradition of  bright red and blue uniforms,(all the bettert o see you with, my dear, said the Kaiser)  

    Civil authorities had their moments as well: realizing that the British did not have enough precision optical equipment, especially binoculars, the authorities turned to the world's leading manufacturer of such, Germany. Large purchases we made from the Germans so that British soldiers could better see their German soldier targets.  The Germans need rubber for tires for their war machine against the British.  And a deal was struck.  Don't know if Haliburton was involved but too often, it seemed that somethings never change, including the citizens being (or willing to be) hoodwinked.  

    Another good read (none / 0) (#90)
    by Nemi on Tue May 31, 2011 at 07:16:42 AM EST
    connecting WW l and ll, is Sebastian Haffner's (he composed his name from J.S. Bach and Mozart's Haffner Symphonie) "Geschichte eines Deutschen. Die Erinnerungen 1914-1933/ "Defying Hitler: A Memoir".

    Not knowing you it's hard to recommend any reading - as it is hard even to people I do know :) - I can only say that the book had a great impact on me, not least because his memoirs are written in real time, and not, as is usually the case, someone looking back. It gives a new insight into what happened to people between the two wars and into why the Germans "fell" for Hitler's propaganda. When reading it I had the same feeling as when I for the first time saw footage from WW ll in colour. It suddenly seemed so much more real.

    Some random quotes from a random link:

    Spanning the period from 1907 to 1933, it offers a unique perspective on the rise of Hitler and the growing influence of Nazism, and anticipates much of what was to unfold in the ensuing years. [...] His astute and compelling eye-witness accounts provide a broad overview of a country in a constant state of flux. He examines the pervasive influence of groups such as the Free Corps - the right-wing voluntary military force, set up to suppress the revolution of 1918, that would provide training for many of those who were to become Nazi storm troopers - and the Hitler Youth movement which swept the nation.

    Thank you. (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by KeysDan on Tue May 31, 2011 at 07:47:43 AM EST
    It does seem like it would be of great interest to me.  Ken Follett's "Fall of Giants", while a novel, takes the reader through the early twenties, dealing with the early aftermath of the war for victor and vanquished.  Apparently, he is in process of a second novel that picks up where the first lets off and travels through the thirties.   I look forward to that read as well.  The Hochschild narrative is an historical, non-fictional account that is a page turner;  Haffner's account sound the same.

    BTD (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon May 30, 2011 at 02:25:50 PM EST
    you sound like you're ready to push Obama out the door of the WH with this post.

    The longer we have such high numbers (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by Anne on Mon May 30, 2011 at 03:27:01 PM EST
    of people who are not working, the more "normal" that condition seems and the less urgency is associated with solving the problem; I mean, so what if functional unemployment is near 18%?  The world hasn't ended, so it must not really be that bad - or so the geniuses currently populating the halls of Congress, and the BSD's dictating policy from Wall Street, seem to be acting.

    Sure, the political realities are what they are - but they are always there, which is why overcoming those obstacles, selling a better alternative, is what real leadership is all about.

    We don't have leaders, not really.  We have people who act from self-interest: making sure they keep the big money boyz who fund elections nice and happy, making sure that revolving door stays greased so public service can lead to private fortune.  It's like the Congress is its own jobs program - but only for those who belong to that particular club.

    As far as I'm concerned, Paul Krugman's shedding crocodile tears; whatever boo-hooing he's engaging in now is too little, too late.  But what does he care, really?  He has a job - is making great money, and will continue to do so no matter what he says.  Kinda like the weather forecasters, where you can be wrong on a consistent basis and people still tune in believing that they are going to get it right.

    Remember George Carlin's the Hippy-Dippy Weatherman?  "Tonight: dark, turning ligher toward morning!"  At this stage, we might as well listen to the Hippy-Dippy Economist: "Unemployment climbing; oh, well, just deal with it."


    That's not completely fair, Anne (5.00 / 3) (#54)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 30, 2011 at 03:50:24 PM EST
    Unless anything short of perfection deserves condemnation Krugman, more than most, has been on the right side of most issues that matter.

    He was right on the stimulus
    He was right in calling for Nationalization, instead of bale outs.
    He was right in pointing out the folly of "tax cuts raise revenues."

    Being an economist, pundit, and a Democrat, he has a sensitive and tricky road to hoe. But, overall he's been a pretty loud voice for policies, that if heeded, would find us in a much better situation than we find ourselves in today.

    Krugman, flawed? Yes.
    One of the good guys? Definitely, yes!

    He's also been susceptible to (5.00 / 3) (#59)
    by Anne on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:36:19 PM EST
    shutting up when his voice is most needed; I still recall the lunch he attended at the WH, the one where we were all so sure that he was going to be able to talk some sense into Obama.  Instead, Krugman basically backed off, and went silent on the things he had been most critical about.

    I'm not saying Krugman's a bad guy - he's not; but he's kind of choosy about when he turns up the volume - like, say, on Memorial Day weekend, when I doubt anyone's going to notice much what he's saying about unemployment and the lack of effort on the jobs front.


    Oh please (5.00 / 2) (#63)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 30, 2011 at 06:09:20 PM EST
    What did you want him to do? Go in and start Bit%ch slapping Obama until he relented? He knew why he was invited, I knew why he was invited, and I'm sorry if you had unrealistic ideas as to what was possible.

    It was show, pure and simple. They said, "Hello Paul, what do have to say?" Then they said, "thank you," and showed him the door.

    Did you really believe that with Summers, Geithner, and the rest of Rubin's acolytes packing the room that Krugman's ideas were going to get a fair hearing? Jeesh, c'mon now.

    And timing his comments by holidays on the calender? Wow!

    I think we've taken "eating your own" to a whole new level.


    The phrase "eating our own" (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by christinep on Mon May 30, 2011 at 08:10:26 PM EST
    is exactly what struck me before I got to your last sentence. Y'know, the "standards" issue (or whatever we would want to call it) is something that has hurt seemingly strong adherents of positions for a long time. Democrats--those that are & those that were--have a susceptibility to that condition over the years.

    Granted, my acceptance of Democratic Party positions and of individuals who speak in that behalf are more forgiving or looser than some here. (Including yours) I would point out, tho, that your post here describes the inextricable knot faced when the perfect or near-perfect becomes the touchstone. It is important to set boundaries, of course; and, it is extremely important to have courageous people do so. Yet, the process of solving issues often calls for more than that line-in-the-sand. While the line differs from individual to individual, to dispense with those who would and have been supportive because they don't agree with one on everything or near everything....well, we've all seen what that kind of insistence gets one in any walk of life.  Very soon that type of view leaves a very small group in a very small tent...good in theory, but lacking in progress.

    Who lives up to standards? For myself, I'd rather cut some slack & give the benefit of the doubt to those under the big tent...because if I don't, eventually I'll be the only one worthy of my standards.


    It's not that I expected Obama to (5.00 / 2) (#72)
    by Anne on Mon May 30, 2011 at 09:06:58 PM EST
    slap his forehead and ask, "D'oh!  Why didn't I think of that - and why the heck didn't the rest of you guys think of that?"  No, it's that I expected that he wouldn't just go silent on the issues he had been openly advocating for - or against.  But he did.  There was nary a critical word for Obama from that point forward, for quite some time.

    Yes, he's gotten back to being more critical, but I guess I'm over his "gee, I guess I should have said more" posts.

    Sorry. I don't expect perfection from anyone, but I think I'm still entitled to have opinions about what people say, and more important, what they do.  I don't need you - or christine, for that matter - to lecture me about what I should and should not feel, think or believe - or where my standards should be set.  I am, frankly, tired of the slow but steady lowering of standards - that's one reason we have the current crop of mediocre-to-craptastic congresspeople, because we keep being told that we can't expect more.

    I'm not buying it.  And if I want to call BS on the Great Paul Krugman, I will.


    Certainly, call BS wherever you want, Anne (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by christinep on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:02:55 PM EST
    We all do what is consistent with our beliefs. No one is lecturing you...and, no one should get a lecture from you. Lots of strong beliefs, approaches on all sides. Thats whats going on, from what I see. BTW, because approaches differ does not amount to a "lowering of standards."

    Just a thought: I never put Krugman on a pedestal (nor any human for that matter.) Ergo, he hasn't fallen from grace nor expectations. In fact--all things considered and in comparison with others now as well as in the past, Paul Krugman is quite a decent columnist & pundit. (I don't see many other columnists at that high level who consistently publicly and widely match his writings.)


    Maybe the words (none / 0) (#73)
    by Madeline on Mon May 30, 2011 at 09:36:38 PM EST
    "want to know why I didn't blog about dinner at the White House. Um, because the conversation was off the record."

    Off the record, meaning shut up or maybe really off the record because it's a national security issue.


    That's not what I expected (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by sj on Tue May 31, 2011 at 12:05:23 AM EST
    nor, I think, is it what Anne expected.  People are entitled to keep private conversations private.  What I didn't expect was that he would totally stand down on issues for which he had been openly and vocally advocating for (and against).  I did expect him to continue saying what he had been saying.

    Instead, I was disappointed.



    O.K. (none / 0) (#80)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:34:05 PM EST
    I'll just leave it at that.

    Who is most likely to vote? (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by ruffian on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:22:59 PM EST
    Statistics from the FEC on the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout] wiki page show that higher paid, more educated people are far more likely to vote than others. The unemployment problem is far worse for lower educated middle class workers. If it is anything the administration does well, it is count votes. I think it very well may be they do not perceive a big problem.

    Today marks a year... (5.00 / 11) (#65)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon May 30, 2011 at 06:53:21 PM EST
    since my transplant.  I've been told that the first year is the hardest, so I'm seriously hoping that is true.  

    Congratulations on making it to the 1 year (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by caseyOR on Mon May 30, 2011 at 07:19:28 PM EST
    mark. I, too, hope things get a bit easier for you from here on out.

    Although this past year has been tough for you, I am certainly glad that you were able to get that transplant and make it through so far.

    I like it when you pop in to comment, MileHi. I always think of you when an open thread veers into talk of baseball or the midwest.


    Great! (5.00 / 3) (#67)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon May 30, 2011 at 07:35:14 PM EST
    Here's to many more.

    Just today I was wondering why we (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by oculus on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:01:10 PM EST
    hadn't heard from you for awhile.  Or Capt. Howdy either, for that matter.  Anyhow, congratulations on that one year anniversary.  

    I was wondering (none / 0) (#82)
    by sj on Tue May 31, 2011 at 12:04:08 AM EST
    about Howdy earlier today.

    Howdy (none / 0) (#85)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue May 31, 2011 at 04:47:10 AM EST
    said he lost his job a while back.

    To: MileHi /From: Another in the MileHigh City (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by christinep on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:15:22 PM EST
    Hello there again neighbor...What a good, memorable anniversary! Congratulations.

    wow, congrats, and best of luck for the future (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by Dr Molly on Tue May 31, 2011 at 05:38:37 AM EST
    that is amazing.

    Congratulations on your anniversary (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by MO Blue on Tue May 31, 2011 at 06:52:39 AM EST
    May this be the first of many with each year getting better and better for you.

    What a milestone that is (5.00 / 1) (#91)
    by ruffian on Tue May 31, 2011 at 07:21:22 AM EST
    Must really feel like a new life. I wish you many more anniversaries.

    Bless you friend (5.00 / 2) (#93)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 31, 2011 at 08:13:22 AM EST
    Wow! What a great thing to be (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by Anne on Tue May 31, 2011 at 08:31:04 AM EST
    celebrating; I hope any bumps in the road you've had this last year have smoothed out, and that life is - truly - normal - and good!

    I think we all have those moments in our lives that are "before and after;" for too many people, the "after" marks something sad - the loss of a loved one, the end of a marriage, a difficult medical diagnosis, so it's so nice that your "after" is the start of a whole new life, really, without the limitations and restrictions holding you back "before."

    Here's to many more years of good health, MileHi!


    What does this mean? (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:23:55 AM EST
    We could try to get inflation back up to the 4 percent rate that prevailed during Ronald Reagan's second term, which would help to reduce the real burden of debt.

    Inflation (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:40:09 AM EST
    lowers the real debt as follows:

    Say you owe 100 dollars. If those 100 dollars are devalued by inflation, you have lowered the amount you owe in real value.


    He wants to pay down the debt with (none / 0) (#6)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:47:02 AM EST
    cheap (inflated) dollars. You could do that if inflation could be used as a wedge to drive up wages and increase tax collections.

    Of course since there are too many people chasing too few jobs wages won't go up, tax collection won't go up  and inflation will continue to devastate the poor and middle class.

    Right now real inflation... what people pay for energy, food and medical services... what people must have....is going straight up.

    Of course you can buy a very cheap electric screwdriver at Walmart from China to facilitate the screwing you are getting.


    Actually that means (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:55:47 AM EST
    there is no real way to push inflation up, which is the real flaw in Krugman's suggestion.

    It can't be done, not that doing it would be a bad idea.


    Krugman has said that it might be done (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by andgarden on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:40:15 AM EST
    if the Fed promises to be irresponsible in the future.

    As if they already haven't been (none / 0) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:00:05 PM EST
    Not in the sense he means (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by andgarden on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:03:26 PM EST
    Is there any reason (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 30, 2011 at 01:24:32 PM EST
    the Fed charges banks 0% for money that they then lend back to the Treasury at 3 1/2%, other than providing a back door way to "re-inflate" the bank's balance sheets so that they don't have to write down the countless billions of dollars of worthless crap they're now using as "collateral"?

    FDR wanted to do away with the Fed (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 30, 2011 at 01:27:12 PM EST
    for this reason.  All that happens is that the richest banks in the world just get richer and more powerful too, as we are experiencing now.  But FDR was not successful getting that done.

    "...no real way to push inflation up?" (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 30, 2011 at 03:29:44 PM EST
    Sure there is; simply let the Republicans block raising the debt ceiling.

    Somehow, I doubt 20% is what they had in mind


    Not a bad idea?? (5.00 / 2) (#70)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon May 30, 2011 at 08:17:47 PM EST
    Call me when you retire and are on a fixed income and repeat that.

    It would be (none / 0) (#27)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:05:20 PM EST
    a bad idea because it assumes that the debt is too high and that paying it back is a burden. Neither of these things are true.

    The debt is only too high in the sense that there is no need for the federal government to issue debt instruments in the first place. The federal government has no need to borrow money since it is sovereign in its own currency. It borrows only because Congress mandates that it must issue debt instruments equivalent to the annual deficit. But it does not need to do so as the federal government can create money at will. All it is doing is borrowing back money it already created, which is a pointless exercise harkening back to the gold standard days when the government did have to borrow.

    Likewise, the interest on the debt is not really a burden for the same reason, i.e. the federal government can simply create the money it needs to pay the interest on the debt. Or it could in an instant create all teh money it needs to pay off the entire debt in one fell swoop.

    Krugman refuses to understand this. If he did he would not advocate inflation as some sort of solution to the contrived debt problem. And I agree with you that manufacturing inflation isn't nearly as easy as Krugman seems to think, as inflation is not caused by government spending or money creation. It's a far more complex phenomenon than that.


    This sounds like MMT, which he does not (none / 0) (#28)
    by andgarden on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:08:35 PM EST
    accept as valid economics. The reasons are above my pay grade, but I think what it ultimately comes down to is that if you print money with no constraints whatsoever, you will eventually encounter serious difficulties getting people to accept it.

    MMT (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:12:02 PM EST
    isn't about printing money with no constraints whatsoever. That's Krugman's strawman argument which he uses to ignore the issue.

    Then what are the constraints? (none / 0) (#31)
    by andgarden on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:19:23 PM EST
    Seriously, I'd like to know. Because MMT sounds very much to me like "eat what you want with no consequences ever."

    Then study up (none / 0) (#32)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:21:07 PM EST
    on the issue. There are plenty of blogs around that discuss MMT and monetary sovereignty.

    When it comes to paying the debt the constraint is obvious - i.e. the government would only be 'printing' as much money as is needed to pay the debt. That's a constraint.


    I think you'll understand why I say (none / 0) (#33)
    by andgarden on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:25:00 PM EST
    that I don't think this is a response at all.

    Everything I've thus far read about MMT--including from proponents--has failed to address my concerns. But I am not an economist, and I was hoping you might enlighten me.

    "Go read the universe of information" does not really facilitate any kind of discussion.


    The problem is (none / 0) (#35)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:26:28 PM EST
    your concerns are easily addressed if you read up on the subject. The material is easily accessible and I know you are intelligent enough to understand it. I took the time to learn about it, so I think you can too.

    And Krugman is not (none / 0) (#98)
    by NYShooter on Tue May 31, 2011 at 10:45:48 AM EST
    "...intelligent enough to understand it?"

    I don't think anyone's saying (none / 0) (#99)
    by Anne on Tue May 31, 2011 at 11:12:57 AM EST
    that Krugman doesn't understand it; for the most part, he just avoids it, which, in my opinion - and in the opinion of much smarter people than I - is not serving well the false arguments about the debt and the deficit.  Krugman agrees that the government should be spending more - and his reasons for that are obvious: when the private sector is not creating demand, a responsible government steps in to pick up the slack.  

    Even if that's as far as Krugman wants to go - if he's not willing to get into the nuts and bolts of MMT in his columns and on his blog, that's his choice - he can still make a convincing argument for jobs programs and ways the government can help reverse the downward spiral.  But - let's not make the mistake of saying that just because Paul Krugman isn't using his platform to educate the public on MMT, and revealing the reasons why the debt/deficit hysteria is so dishonest, that MMT is a bunch of hogwash, because it isn't.


    Then explain why MMT isn't Hogwash. (none / 0) (#101)
    by NYShooter on Tue May 31, 2011 at 12:40:47 PM EST
    Statements like, "a country with fiat currency can never be insolvent," sure sounds like Hogwash.

    Economics, like accounting, or physics, is a double entry system. For every action there is equal and opposite reaction.

    Just take a look at the stock market, for example. Over the last bunch of months the S&P index has gone up 20% So the people who bought the index are 20% richer, right?

    Wrong, over the same period of time the value of the dollar has gone down exactly 20%. net result=0.

    There is no free lunch, whether its MMT (modern monetary theory) 0r MM (Mickey Mouse)

    Alchemy hasn't worked since the world began, and it doesn't work now.


    I think the mistake you're making is (none / 0) (#107)
    by Anne on Tue May 31, 2011 at 01:25:13 PM EST
    in assuming that what Krugman says about MMT is accurate, that the arguments he makes are not, in their own way, as distorted as the ones the deficit hysterics make to support their views.

    Because it's so long, and because it really can't just be cut and pasted here, I'm going to refer you to a post at Naked Capitalism that highlights the flaws in Krugman's arguments, and does so in juxtaposition with one of Krugman's own columns from March.  

    Because I think that NC post is really, really wonky and dry, I'm also going to put some links to other critiques, all of which were mentioned in the Naked Capitalism post, and all of which I think are easier to get through:

    Letsgetitdone in a post at DK

    A post at Pragmatic Capitalism  (and here's a link to another Pragmatic Capitalism post, which is an excellent source of understanding of MMT)

    And selise at FDL also has an excellent post, chock-full of links.

    It really doesn't matter to me whether you do or you don't believe in the theory, but if you are depending on Krugman to explain it to you, you are - in my opinion - doing yourself a disservice.

    Krugman is a smart guy, but that doesn't entitle him to the last word on any subject, even the one he knows the most about.


    I appreciate the links (none / 0) (#111)
    by NYShooter on Tue May 31, 2011 at 06:40:11 PM EST
    and I will read them.

    However, I didn't read Krugman's piece about MMT. I saw it, but I've read so many other economists' opinion (such as Stiglitz) who also considers it voo doo nonsense that I just passed it by. Since I follow several dozen business & economic sites, I've read so much about MMT that I don't think Krugman would've added much I didn't know already.

    Talking about it is almost like talking about religion. Each side "knows" the truth, but neither side can explain it satisfactorily to others. Frankly, even with years and years of physics and calculus (and all their derivatives) under my skinny belt, I can't make heads or tails out of "Modern Monetary Theory."

    But, as with UFO's, I'll keep an open mind about it. But right now, all I've got is, (a.) the fact that most established economists consider it a childish delusion, and (b.) I don't understand a freakin word after I get to the second sentence. The reconciliation of quantum mechanics and general relativity in particle physics....a piece of cake. MMT.....aagh!


    As far as blogs go (none / 0) (#34)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:25:06 PM EST
    I would recommend Bill Mitchell's blog and Roger Mitchell's. They are two different blogs and they aren't related. Bill Mitchell is an MMT'er whereas Roger Mitchell is a 'monetary sovereigntist'. They agree on a lot of things, particularly what I've posted above, but they disagree on some finer points that aren't really significant to someone first learning about this subject.

    OK, the answer appears to be (none / 0) (#38)
    by andgarden on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:45:48 PM EST
    that MMT says you stop deficit spending and raise taxes when all productive capacity is in use. I suppose--with some practical caveats--that's a plausible answer.

    But I would have serious concerns about any spending regime that requires, e.g., 0% unemployment. I'm not sure that's possible.


    It doesn't 'require' (none / 0) (#39)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:51:39 PM EST
    0% unemployment. I don't know what you mean by that. It simply says that unemployment can be made much lower than it is via government spending and that there is no 'natural' rate of unemployment as conservatives argue.

    Yep (none / 0) (#10)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:59:16 AM EST
    Yep, Paul is being deliberately intellectually dishonest about this.

    Wow, so Paul will now return (none / 0) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:55:27 AM EST
    to talking about what needs to be done and should be done instead of talking about things he thinks can be done without throwing down on the Republicans.  Thank you Paul, I could just kiss you.  The only thing that is going to save our economy without dragging us all through the fires of hell is one hell of a fight!  At this point I advise clenching a roll of pennies too in your fist when you throw those punches.  You are a little late to the fight and sometimes I saw you being a good samaritan and making gatorade runs for the enemy when they appeared to be a little parched.

    Not only (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:57:26 AM EST
    Not only is Paul too late to the fight, so is his president...

    I suppose Krugman realizes that he is (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:43:39 AM EST
    complicit now in getting us here, he validated a lot of things that got us here and I'm sure he'd like to take some back now but you are right....it's a little too late for many things.  Hopefully it isn't too late for everything.  I was glad to see my President at the Tomb of the Unknowns today.  He sent Joe Biden last year, and I think it is sooooo wrong when a President is a CIC at war to not be at Arlington on Memorial Day.  He should only miss that if something HUGE is calling him away.  We watched the whole ceremony, it is very important to us right now as a family and can't really tell you why.  We don't discuss needing to watch it, we just do.  But halfway through the ceremony I remembered how hurt I was last year that he sent Biden because it was politically advantageous for him to do that since most of his base was upset about his Afghanistan choices.  And he is there this year and gave an amazing speech because getting Bin Laden is the only goal of any worth to the lowly people that he has obtained.  It will be short lived too because you can't eat that, you can't feed a family on that obtained goal, or educate your children, or treat a sick family member.  He's pretty screwed right now as soon as the Bin Laden high wears off.

    Yes (none / 0) (#44)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon May 30, 2011 at 02:19:46 PM EST
    but maybe Krugman can help shape the rhetoric for '16. It is too late for Obama on that account.

    Rolls of quarters (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by cal1942 on Tue May 31, 2011 at 12:04:15 AM EST
    would be much more effective.

    Bernard DeVoto (about whom I plan to (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:08:26 AM EST
    read not another word) was an outspoken liberal curmudgeon who died in 1955.  Supported Stevenson.  Hated Nixon.  But soured on FDR and the New Deal.  Lauded independent Vermonters who wouldn't take a dime of federal money though their income during the Depression was $200/yr.  Criticised WPA re writers, although he lauded WPA/CCC repairing watersheds in the West.  He never applied for a Guggenheim or any other type of fellowship.  

    Today, whilst googling "Bernard (none / 0) (#75)
    by oculus on Mon May 30, 2011 at 09:56:49 PM EST
    De Voto," Lynn Cheney's name appeared.  Scary.  Must brainwash self.

    Really? (none / 0) (#102)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 31, 2011 at 01:01:00 PM EST

    A speech. Nothing I object to (none / 0) (#105)
    by oculus on Tue May 31, 2011 at 01:11:52 PM EST
    in principle, although the voice and actions of her husband kept creeping into my mind as I read it:

    BTD, bad day in Buckeyeland (none / 0) (#12)
    by Buckeye on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:09:25 AM EST
    what are your thoughts?  I think the NCAA sucks.

    Might this help the Wolverines? Oh, wait, (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:15:48 AM EST
    nobody knows our head coach either.  

    Pay the players (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:24:16 AM EST
    that's what I think.

    How would that benefit (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by observed on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:29:34 AM EST
    academics at the colleges? I'm not only referring to the players---who will have zero chance of a career if your suggestion is followed---but the schools themselves, which spend ridiculous amounts on sports programs.

    Could each team in, say, the SEC, (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:29:20 AM EST
    bid for any player at any price?

    Until it's above board, (none / 0) (#19)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:30:21 AM EST
    players are only slightly better than indentured servants.

    As someone (none / 0) (#62)
    by CoralGables on Mon May 30, 2011 at 05:41:45 PM EST
    with a sister that went through college on a volleyball scholarship and a daughter that went through college on an academic scholarship, I couldn't agree with you more. They both appreciated the work they put in to earn the scholarship, and they both knew they needed to continue to do the work to earn the degree.

    Okay (none / 0) (#71)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon May 30, 2011 at 08:27:58 PM EST
    The idea of salaries for student-athletes is anethema to the concept of higher education. Far better that we instead remember the primary mission of our colleges and universities, and adjust our school's interscholastic sports policies accordingly. The tail should not be wagging the dog.

    You have a point.

    Problem is that coaches are being paid millions, the major football/basketball schools rake in millions, some of which is used to pay for other sports, and the players cannot just walk away and start playing for some other school the next year without needing "hardship" permission from the NCAA.

    Until the above goes away, pay'em in addition to the scholarship. Fair is fair.


    Pay the players -- (none / 0) (#97)
    by brodie on Tue May 31, 2011 at 09:47:43 AM EST
    perhaps using some of those millions the school would normally pay its coaches and spread it around to the people -- the alleged student-athletes -- who are actually doing the hard work that make such salaries possible.

    Also allow student-athletes to fully profit from the use of their likeness in all publicity by the NCAA or related use of their name or image by 3d party entities (as with sports computer games and related).  Currently it's my understanding that student-athletes are given a standard contract to sign with the school or NCAA which prevents them from asserting such legal rights -- in perpetuity.  That's just wrong.

    Then the scholarship situation:  currently, players must qualify year-to-year.  That means on the field/court performance counts, and not what their classroom performance is.  So, give the incoming players a full 4-yr scholarship, even if during that period they are dropped from the team (exceptions can be made for bad conduct/criminal related infractions).  

    That would greatly increase the incentive for players to actually be student-first student-athletes -- actively pursuing and interested in the academic aspect of their college experience -- rather than the athlete-students they are now, at best.

    The university as farm system for at least two major professional sports already exists.  The question is whether we want to acknowledge that reality and do something about reforming that system to eliminate the gross unfairness to college players.  I think there's plenty of room for reform while still basically maintaining big-time college sports for the entertainment value of all concerned.


    I don't think (none / 0) (#100)
    by jbindc on Tue May 31, 2011 at 12:14:48 PM EST
    They should get a salary, but since they can't work for the most part, I think they should get a stipend to cover incidentals and a little spending money.

    Stipend payment is fine (none / 0) (#108)
    by brodie on Tue May 31, 2011 at 02:01:00 PM EST
    provided it's not just a few token bucks, and provided the situation restoring all legal rights to the players for use of their likeness and so forth, as noted above, is also addressed.

    I taught some football players at UH (none / 0) (#104)
    by observed on Tue May 31, 2011 at 01:04:57 PM EST
    a few years ago. They were surprisingly good students---taking advanced math classes and doing well.

    Hope he's coaching somewhere (none / 0) (#53)
    by Natal on Mon May 30, 2011 at 03:35:13 PM EST
    again very soon.  He shouldn't be stigmatized for the rest of his life.  Deserves a second chance to prove himself. imo



    he'll end up on (none / 0) (#74)
    by Madeline on Mon May 30, 2011 at 09:50:12 PM EST
    ESPN or one of the commentator shows. There's no way with the present ethical lapses powered by money that the  NCAA won't forgive him and provide a smooth ride to something bigger and better.

    As a practical matter, two things have (none / 0) (#15)
    by observed on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:19:40 AM EST
    to be top priority: first, raise taxes---soak the rich until their tears can grow crops; second, change campaign finance law.
    We have one of the narrowest plutocracies in history (smallest percent actually governing and determining policy), and that can't be stable.

    Wondering why Krugman confines his (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:30:28 AM EST
    sympathies for the unemployed to those of Europe and U.S.?

    This is something I struggle with (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by andgarden on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:39:48 AM EST
    that Krugman no longer really engages. That is to say: why are Americans more entitled to jobs and prosperity than people in the developing world? I say we have no right to make such a claim. But it is politically potent to do so, which is why trade and immigration are perennial subjects of debate.

    Krugman clearly understands the basic subtleties here: they're implicit in his discussion of the unwisdom of the Euro.

    Te best answer I can come up with is that, so long as we are bound by the nation state, we would be stupid not to do the best we can for the people within our borders. I'm not sure that's morally justifiable in a universal sense. But if we can have a situational morality, then it is probably the right thing.

    This stuff is really, really, really hard.


    To me, (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by lentinel on Mon May 30, 2011 at 02:25:06 PM EST
    it is a matter of priorities.

    We have a right and a duty to insist on jobs as a priority.
    To the extent that our government can stimulate employment, it should do so. It did during the FDR era from what I understand.

    It is about the expenditure of our tax money.

    I am against spending over three billion dollars a week on the wars.
    I do not think they are in our national interest. That is my opinion.
    I think the wars are a result of gigantic corporations bonding with ideologues and charlatans to spend our money in a matter that benefits them.

    We have a right to insist that our government behave in a manner which benefits us.

    We are entitled to jobs and the prosperity which flows from gainful employment because we have contributed huge sums of our money to the government.

    We should demand that it act in a responsible manner.

    And if it doesn't, we have a right to throw the bums out of office.


    I'm not sure all countries and cultures (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:59:20 AM EST
    need to become rats in the wheel like we are.  Our "work ethic" often leads to addiction problems too, but our whole culture and economy is built around it.  If other cultures want economies built around other things, I wouldn't necessarily encourge them to throw out what they have going on in favor of what we have.  Look how vulnerable people are in our cultural economy now.  We honor no one.  We are happy to grind anyone to dust unless you are wealthy and might toss us a crumb.  Then we will literally worship you like a God.

    You aren't advocating piracy, are you? (none / 0) (#29)
    by oculus on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:11:47 PM EST
    Let me see....hmmmm? (none / 0) (#36)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:39:12 PM EST
    Piracy is what the rich are doing to all of us within the framework of our economic culture so NOPE not advocating piracy :) Currently a kind of legalized at the moment piracy is what is happening to the people of the Industrialized nations right now, and I don't think anyone should follow our lead on how to a build an economy and what is important to a functioning economy.

    I went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean (none / 0) (#103)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 31, 2011 at 01:03:40 PM EST
    last night with Josh.  You know what they call a pirate with the King's blessing?  A privateer :)  So close to privatized :)

    Worth the price of admission? (none / 0) (#106)
    by oculus on Tue May 31, 2011 at 01:13:53 PM EST
    If you take a child and see the 3D (none / 0) (#109)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 31, 2011 at 04:17:57 PM EST
    Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp have always (none / 0) (#110)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 31, 2011 at 04:19:56 PM EST
    had good chemistry though.  Together they could probably make a bologna sandwhich interesting.

    When the republican has control, (none / 0) (#60)
    by loveed on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:44:00 PM EST
    with a smaller majority they do what ever they want. They pass terrible bill with the help of democrats. All Obama does is go with whatever will give him a victory.
     Bill Clinton was the last president that knew more than the people whom worked for. He knew what he wanted to do before he ran for president.
     We as country is so rap up in this media game being played,Our country is going to hell.
     Hopefully this next election we will vote for the candidate that is best for the country

    The games the media plays (none / 0) (#61)
    by loveed on Mon May 30, 2011 at 05:02:23 PM EST
    Why is the media following Sarah Palin around? I really like the way she plays them. They have no idea where she going on this bus trip, but they follow her anyway. This is so funny. I guess she  relevant after all.LOL
     I will bet my house, that she will not run. She is making alot of money,plus she has more power doing what she doing now. She enjoys playing with the media.And I love watching.

    I agree except for the part about (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by ruffian on Mon May 30, 2011 at 06:19:36 PM EST
    loving watching. Too sick-making for me.

    Unlike some (none / 0) (#78)
    by Madeline on Mon May 30, 2011 at 10:05:40 PM EST
    I think Sara has a chance to be President of the United States. She will have much of the South and I think she will get women to vote for her. How many people pay attention to all the Sarah Palin stuff that's out there? Not enough informed to top her popularity. It could be the Republicans that elect the first woman President.

    Be interesting, if she is the candidate, to see Obama run against another woman. heh


    Have you noticed (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:54:56 PM EST
    how she polls?  Please.  She couldn't even get the GOP nomination.

    And this cutesy-pooh trick of having a "tour" without telling anybody where she's going in advance is making her look even more seriously wacko.  There were apparently crowds of Palin supporters hanging out at Gettysburg in hopes of seeing her, but she didn't go to Gettysburg after all, so they just had to take their signs and go home.



    you know, I said that Bush (none / 0) (#112)
    by Madeline on Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 04:07:59 PM EST
    in 2000.  Poo! No way. I thought that about Scott in Florida. won't happen. Election in the US has become about money of course, but also love affair with the matched ideology.

    I am just saying, anything can happen.


    Sarah Palin = Donald Trump (none / 0) (#89)
    by Anne on Tue May 31, 2011 at 07:10:57 AM EST
    In other words, she's about making sure the brand stays right there in everyone's faces, paving the way for new ways to make money.  Sure, there may be people who think she's all that and a bag of chips, but there aren't enough of them - thank God - to push her into the White House - even with the daily, breathless coverage the media can't seem to stop giving her.

    A media, by the way, that seem genuinely puzzled about all the interest in Palin, and don't, can't or won't see how they contribute to that interest and keep it going.  

    The best thing that could happen to Palin is for the media to go dark on her: it would drive her nuts and spare us from having to see or hear any more from her.

    But not to worry - if Palin fades, Michelle Bachmann is expected to benefit...yeesh...


    Another day (none / 0) (#95)
    by jbindc on Tue May 31, 2011 at 09:38:38 AM EST
    Another banker accused of sexually abusing a hotel maid.

    Egyptian businessman Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar was arrested on Monday for groping a hotel maid at the Pierre hotel across from Central Park. He is being held at the 19th Precinct station on charges of sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment, forcible touching, and harassment. After calling for room service to request tissues in his $900-a-night room, he "locked her in the room and had her trapped," a police source told the Daily News. "He grabbed her breasts, groped her. He was grinding against her."

    The Post reports that the alleged victim "ran directly to a manager to report the alleged attack," which took place on Sunday night. "But the manager told her she had to tell her own supervisor, who wasn't working at the time." The police were notified on Monday morning, and Omar, a former chairman of the Bank of Alexandria and the Egyptian American Bank, was arrested at the hotel on Monday afternoon. He currently serves as chairman of a salt company, El-Mex Salines Co.