Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thomas Frank Is One Angry Liberal

Pity the Billionaire, by Thomas Frank

Have you ever wondered why the Conservatives are so angry even when everything seems to be going their way?  And where are the angry Liberals?  In Pity the Billionaire, Thomas Frank finds enough righteous Liberal anger to satisfy everyone and serves it up with a healthy dollop of withering humor.

So, why is Thomas Frank so angry?  Because crushing economic circumstances have brought tremendous power to the very ideas, beliefs, and people who created those circumstances.  And while Conservatives scream and yell and boo-hoo over their victimization, Liberals stand mumbling ineffectively in the background.

The Right has been very busy usurping all the Left’s arguments, turning them on their heads and demanding even harsher punishment for victims of the economic crash and even greater rewards for the perpetrators.  Too many of us are now thinking of the traders who made out like bandits before everything crashed and then cashed in at our expense afterwards as “the little guys” struggling bravely against big government.

Paul Ryan became the darling of big business by ranting for small business and entrepreneurs and blaming all our woes on government interference in free markets.  We have become a nation where “your mortgage is not MY problem” as one tea party rally sign expressed it.  We have a situation in which the guy in the breadline is worried about the guy lounging on his yacht!

Public discourse has gone all topsy-turvy and Thomas Frank explains how it happened with wit, humor, and righteous anger.

So, do you pity the billionaire?  Does government have a role in our recovery?  Can the policies that got us in this mess get us out of it?  And most importantly, who do you think should lead us through economic recovery?  Are you angry yet?  At this critical time, share your thoughts!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why I LOVE Paul Krugman

Economics -- Just shoot me now, right? It's dry, boring, and (worst of all) complicated.  Right? The best thing ordinary folks can do is leave decisions about the economy to the big boys who know what they are doing.  Right? Enter, Paul Krugman.
Paul Krugman

I am tired of people telling me economics is just too complicated.  It really isn't.  I love Paul Krugman because he offers clear, concise, compelling explanations of economic issues without the bombast of name calling and the self-righteous rantings of unsubstantiated nonsense.

If you want the whole picture, you can read his book, End this Depression Now   (or you can start with my review of it) and then you can decide for yourself.  I have read a number of books about how we got where we are, but not so many about what we need to do about it.

Krugman presents a map for cleaning up the mess and ending the pain.  He backs it up with facts, with analysis, and with sound reasoning.  It is easy to understand and important to try.

If you want daily updates, you can read his blog, The Conscience of a Liberal.

In the meantime, here is what you need to know.  First, the things we are told  "we all know" are most likely dead wrong.  For example, "we all know that government cannot create jobs."  Government can, has, and should be involved in a major jobs creation programs.  

Second, the information Krugman uses is available to everyone yet, for various reasons, the experts we rely on are lying to us.  If we continue to act as if they are telling the truth, we are choosing to be mislead.

Third, the deficit is not nearly as important as job creation.  For one thing, because the deficit is tied to GDP (gross domestic product), when GDP increases, the deficit is automatically reduced.  See how easy it is to understand?

Finally, the only thing really holding our economy in stagnation is lack of clarity coupled with lack of political will.  Krugman makes a good case for the clarity.  We are responsible for the political will.

That's why this election is so important.  More clearly than ever, we are choosing between continuing the path outlined by economic ideologues who have a major stake in ignoring actual verifiable facts and a path that is at least willing to look at the facts and try something different.

So, where do you stand on current economic issues?  Is the trickle down (or as Archie Bunker called it, "tinkle down") economic strategy helping you?  Do you think more tax breaks for the wealthy will create more jobs or do you want the government to take action and create jobs now?  How would you get the economy moving again?