Sunday, May 19, 2013

Krugman on failed austerity policy and its warped morality

Krugman has an extended piece in the NY Review of Books on the topic. He reviews 3 books to make his case on the failed austerity policy. Much of that policy was based on a paper by Reinhart and Rogoff, in which they stated that when debt exceeds 90 of GDP economies fail. It turned out that there was a significant coding error in the paper as well as flawed analysis. Nonetheless it fed into the austerity ideology so even after the error was discovered fanatics refused to see the facts and continue to this day to plunge headlong into disastrous policy. And never mind that several analysts including Krugman saw problems with the paper from the start, also ignored.

For me what is most interesting in the article is the psychological reasoning of the austerians. It's all about a regressive morality that says we were excessive and greedy so now we must atone with financial punishment. This plays right into the religious worldviews of many regressives, who also happen to be the same GOP folks pushing austerity. But ironically the excesses have nothing to do with the rich who actually created the financial crises but strangely the poor and the government that supports them through welfare. Yes, the greed in this case is the greed of those lazy poor bastards and our government social welfare programs. If only we could cut that to death we'd have the money to take care of our debts. Never mind that the debts were created by Wall Street greed in the first place.

And as it turns out in fact, US austerity policy continues to let Wall Street run wild with the exact same excesses that created the financial crises while cutting the hell out of government programs. Hence right now Wall Street is hitting record highs while middle class median income continues to fall and the poor are losing food stamps etc. Austerity means punishment for everyone but the rich, who continue to reap only reward. And it of course blames the wrong people for the debt. And most ironic of all, Jesus hung out with the poor, not the rich. Hence even their religious underpinning to austerity is warped beyond recognition, thus completing obfuscating the real way out of this mess: more taxes on the rich. And this would not cause them to experience austerity in the least,  just be a little bit less greedy.

Really check out Krugman's piece, for it goes into all the financial analysis behind this mess, and which I overlook in my own morality play for this post. A morality play, I might add, more akin to authentic Christianity, perhaps most ironic of all given my atheist status.

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