Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Some Krugman and O'Hehir Good Reads

Some good reads ...

Paul Krugman's Monday, June 30, 2014 New York Times op-ed (link embedded):

Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas


Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment:

It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation -- in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted -- in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom -- "Look out, Texas," he proclaimed.

But Kansas isn't booming -- in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state's budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody's downgrade of its debt.

There's an important lesson here -- but it's not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don't have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people...

But how can you justify enriching the already wealthy while making life harder for those struggling to get by? The answer is, you need an economic theory claiming that such a policy is the key to prosperity for all. So supply-side economics fills a need backed by lots of money, and the fact that it keeps failing doesn't matter.

And the Kansas debacle won't matter either. Oh, it will briefly give states considering similar policies pause. But the effect won't last long, because faith in tax-cut magic isn't about evidence; it's about finding reasons to give powerful interests what they want.

I see the sneering visage of James K. Glassman.


Here is another Krugman piece from his NYT-hosted blog on June 30, 2014 (link embedded):

The Iraq Stain

In the piece, Krugman links to a devastating piece in The New York Times by James Risen (link embedded) Before Shooting in Iraq, a Warning on Blackwater.

The article relates the death threat made by a Blackwater top manager against the State Department official overseeing an investigation of the security contractor shortly before the 2007 Nisour Square massacre by these out-of-control, lawless, and steroidal hyper-violent American mercenaries, and how the American Embassy in Baghdad at the time refused to side with the State Department inquiry.

Krugman writes that the Risen piece "brings back the horror of the whole thing," referring to Bush's sky-trillion dollar Iraq misadventure. Quoting Krugman (with emphasis added):   

"And I don't just mean the fact that we were lied into war; that most of our media and policy elite rushed to join the bandwagon; that the venture led to awesome waste of lives and money.

No, Iraq was also a moral cesspit. Not only were we taken to war on false pretenses, it was clear that this was done in part for domestic political gain.

The occupation was treated not as a solemn task on which the nation's honor depended, but as an opportunity to reward cronies. And don't forget the torture.

So in a way it's not too surprising to learn that we didn't just, incredibly, rely heavily on politically connected mercenaries, but that said mercenaries threatened violence against our own officials..."

Let's call Fred Hiatt to find the "subtle, bipartisan nuanced" perspective of The Washington Consensus about this new revelation. Keep in mind the Washington Consensus / Gang of 500 are the imperial court courtiers of the Military / Industrial / Surveillance Machine and more general Corporate Oligarchical Overclass.

And while we're on this topic, let's ask Benjamin "Benji" Wittes, the Special Legal Needs One of The Washington Consensus for legal justifications of the unjustifiable. In recent years, Benji has been busy marveling at this or that BROOKINGS PANEL at what a "model facility" is Guantánamo Bay and -- presumably explaining why we need to "let bloom" 1,000 more such facilities. Imagine the mindset that is required to think like that?

Oh, Benji.


Finally, I'd like to conclude with a piece by Andrew O'Hehir, who is rapidly becoming one of my must-reads along with Paul Krugman and (when he updates his blog) Jonathan Chait. Here is the piece (link embedded):

I tried to excerpt this piece -- which in a way follows from the previous one -- but I just don't have a sufficient number of pictures, and it's just too late at night.


OK, that's all for now. I was going to try to post my Sunday walk pictures but it's way too late now. I guess I'll find out tomorrow if my new computer works (i.e., can be set up) when I take it home.

As for tonight, I made it to the gym and did my laundry, and now I'm going to bed.


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