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Published On: Thu, Jan 31st, 2013

Krugman: The State Makes and Producers Take

Paul Krugman definitely is a class warfare sort of guy, but to him, the parasite classes are those that actually produce something, while people who simply consume are the real producers. There is no other way around his recent attacks.

Furthermore, Krugman at least has come into the open by insinuating strongly that the State owns everything, and anything that we keep is nothing more than a gift from the authorities. Now, even there, I will say that there is room for discussion, such as the question asking whether or not income taxes are more fair than sales taxes or value added taxes, but in the end, we still are at the same place: Krugman believes that the State is nothing less than an out-and-out god creator.

Krugman’s latest column is more of the same. First, it has his normal partisan shilling, with an attempt to come up with an explanation as to why Republicans might disagree with The Great One. Second, he once again attacks entrepreneurs, assuming that those who actually create something in the economy are the real parasites, echoing Barack Obama’s “You didn’t build that” theme.

Paul Krugman caricature cartoon

Paul Krugman Photo/donkeyhotey.wordpress.com

Before going further, however, let me say that the Republicans actually had a candidate who stood up for free markets, called for peace abroad, free trade, and sound money. The Republicans not only rejected him, but they also treated him about as badly as a party could do. While I registered a few years ago in Garrett County as a Republican, it was so I could vote for Ron Paul in the primaries, and sooner or later I will have to change my registration back to Independent.

My point is that the Republicans really have not done anything that warrants a coherent defense. If they ever decide to be a party that promotes liberty instead of a party promoting warfare abroad and police and prosecutorial abuse at home, then I might be interested in taking a look at them.

Nonetheless, the Republicans’ slide into political oblivion is not my main concern. What does concern me, however, is that Progressives like Paul Krugman are winning in the government’s all-out war against real-live entrepreneurs, people that Krugman simply attacks by calling them “rich.”

We have to understand that there are three kinds of “rich” people in this country. The first group includes people who have inherited large sums of money, the “coupon clippers.” For the most part, these people solidly vote Democrat. They sit on boards of foundations, arts councils and the like, and tend to be very liberal in their politics.

While they might not be happy about having to pay more taxes, they generally can afford the increases and by supporting tax hikes, they can receive free publicity for being “humanitarians” and “unselfish” citizens, people worthy of their great wealth. They became wealthy because they were born into wealth, but unlike their ancestors who had to save and invest, these noble people don’t have to worry about getting their hands grubby in the marketplace.

donkeyhotey  donkeyhotey.wordpress.com

donkeyhotey donkeyhotey.wordpress.com

The second group includes people like Warren Buffett, the “political entrepreneurs.” These are people who tend to be politically-connected, and while they might actually have made large amounts of money through their own enterprise decisions, those decisions often are tied into decisions made by legislators or other government officials. A lot of former and current politicians such as Al Gore and John Kerry also are in this group.

Gore recently was listed at having a net worth of more than $100 million, and that was before he got the sweetheart deal to buy Apple stock at about $7 a share, about $493 below the price per share that mere mundanes have to pay. Although he was simply exercising a director’s stock option, Gore became a director because of his political career, not because of any entrepreneurial talent. While he likes to tout himself as an entrepreneur, generally Gore has made money by being tied into government-protected “investments” in “green energy” firms, making speeches, and demanding that free speech be ended if it involves disagreeing with him on global warming.

For that matter, Paul Krugman tends to fall somewhat into this category, given the fact that his partisan writings have made him popular with certain groups of people. Like Gore, he has become a multimillionaire, although he has not had to take any risks in the process, unlike those real entrepreneurs Krugman loves to hate. Take away the partisan politics and Krugman is well-known in academic economic circles, but not elsewhere.

In his book, Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer documents how these politically-connected people make their money. One reviewer of Schweizer’s book describes how Obama’s “green energy” people distributed tax dollars:

Perhaps the most disturbing revelations come from Schweizer’s investigation into the Obama Energy Department and its infamous “green energy” loan guarantee and grant programs, a program Schweizer calls “the greatest — and most expensive — example of crony capitalism in American history.” The scandal surrounding Solyndra — the now-bankrupt, Obama-connected solar power company that received a federally guaranteed loan of $573 million — is well known. But Solyndra, Schweizer says, is only the tip of the iceberg.

According to his research, at least 10 members of President Obama’s campaign finance committee and more than a dozen of his campaign bundlers were big winners in getting tax dollars from these programs. One chart in the book details how the 10 finance committee members collectively raised $457,834, and were in turn approved for grants or loans of nearly $11.4 billion — quite a return on their investment.

In the loan-guarantee program alone, Schweizer writes, “$16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers — individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party.” That is a staggering 71 percent of the loan money.

Schweizer cites example after example of companies that received grants or loans and documents their financial connections to the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party. And he shows how “the [Energy] department’s loan and grant programs are run by partisans who were responsible for raising money during the Obama campaign from the same people who later came to seek government loans and grants.”

These, of course, are the very kind of “rich” that Krugman praises. Their wealth heavily depends upon schmoozing politicians and is tied into governmental policies, and they tend to be politically liberal. That most of their “investment” actually weakens the economy is irrelevant. They have the correct political views and the correct political ties, so they are sacrosanct.

You won’t see Al Gore or John Kerry arguing against higher tax rates, and why should they? For the most part, they either can shelter their income or pay the extra bit, knowing that they will receive huge amounts of free publicity for their “selfless” actions. Furthermore, their own investments will not be placed at risk by the new confiscatory tax policies.

Then there are the people Krugman hates, the real entrepreneurs, the people who have taken real risks and made their money in the markets without the political favors. Moreover, many are in the “millionaire next door” category, business owners who have saved (Oh, the HORROR! Predatory Savers in our midst!), invested, put off present consumption, and maybe don’t have the proper educational “credentials.”

Many of them tend to be conservative in their politics, many go to church (more “proof” that they are wicked parasites who don’t even subscribe to correct thinking), and they are people whose investmentsare put at risk by government policies. In short, these are the people who have built the economy, people who have had vision and have worked hard.

Krugman considers people in this group to be utterly devoid of any decency at all. They don’t think like him (some even believe in “Intelligent Design”) and the way they handle their economic affairs truly gets on his nerves. Worst of all, they don’t “consume” or “spend” enough of their incomes for Krugman’s liking, and many of them don’t even read the New York Times!

Perhaps the most telling quote is his claim that only Republicans live in intellectual bubbles:

Well, I don’t have a full answer, but I think it’s important to understand the extent to which leading Republicans live in an intellectual bubble. They get their news from Fox and other captive media, they get their policy analysis from billionaire-financed right-wing think tanks, and they’re often blissfully unaware both of contrary evidence and of how their positions sound to outsiders.

So when Mr. Romney made his infamous “47 percent” remarks, he wasn’t, in his own mind, saying anything outrageous or even controversial. He was just repeating a view that has become increasingly dominant inside the right-wing bubble, namely that a large and ever-growing proportion of Americans won’t take responsibility for their own lives and are mooching off the hard-working wealthy. Rising unemployment claims demonstrate laziness, not lack of jobs; rising disability claims represent malingering, not the real health problems of an aging work force.

This is rich coming from an Ivy League professor who is tied in with the NYT and Beltway Democrats. These are the people who believe that MSNBC is mainstream and “moderate,” and anyone who does not hold their secular, urbanite views of the world really has no right even to exist.

I went to high school with a couple of people in the Sulzberger family (publisher of the NYT), and talk about people with limited viewpoints. They literally could not see anything outside of their circles and expressed utter contempt for anyone who did not share their views.

In a politicized world, people do tend to live in bubbles and their ability to think becomes limited. I remember a conversation with a Democratic Party activist in which I asked him (during the mid-1980s) why the economy of the U.S.S.R. was so backward compared to ours. He replied, “It is because the U.S.S.R. has not been a country as long as the United States.” Yes, he really believed that.

Thus, I doubt seriously that Paul Krugman ever has ventured outside of his own cloistered surroundings to speak to real-live business owners who must make hard decisions when governments impose new minimum wages or jack up taxes. To Krugman, they are nothing more than parasitic whiners and he is not interested in even trying to understand another point of view. To him, these people are ignorant rubes and the sooner they are replaced with people on government payrolls or people receiving transfer payments, the better. After all, these people will spend their incomes which makes them the true economic benefactors.

 


William L. Anderson is an author and an associate professor of economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland. He is also an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy as well as for the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama.

Read more at “Krugman-in-Wonderland”

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About the Author

- William L. Anderson is an author and an associate professor of economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland. He is also an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy as well as for the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama.

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