May 28, 2014 by smarmos12
Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning economist who writes for the New York Times and is noted for having predicted the financial collapse in 2008. His economic solutions and insights are behind the economic recovery. Most recently, he loudly praised the works of genius Thomas Piketty. He has always been at the forefront of the battle lines, confronting libertarian vampirism wherever he could. Now he is overseeing academics again in his new position at the City of New York University.
It is LITN’s honour that we should have been able to steal some time away from Paul’s tremendous schedule, grab a beer, and talk shop.
LITN: Oh sir, it’s an honour. Thank you again for agreeing to this interview.
Paul Krugman: Paul Krooooogman. The ‘U’ is long, just remember that. And don’t forget to mention that I won a peace prize.
LITN: Of course we will. We’ll start off with the latest news – your ringing endorsement of Thomas Piketty’s Capital. What was so great about that great book?
PK: First of all, I should have written it! I’m kidding. Or am I? (Sips his beer.) Well, I’ve been writing about those very issues for years, but Piketty has put them down into a very tight book that proves capitalism’s flaws. Plus, I hate to reduce it to this, but he’s French, a European intellectual. The European economy is leaps and bounds ahead of us in social programs, balanced budgets, green energy, care and love, and most of all intellectual discourse. They lead us in youth employment because, while in a bump right now, youth job security is so much higher.
LITN: I think the US doesn’t look to Europe nearly enough to emulate its social and economic ideas. Too capitalist. Americans are way too individualistic, too libertarian.
PK: Exactly. And that’s why we keep having problems here in America! We’re following all the wrong examples! And I think, and I agree with Piketty here, that more social programs are necessary. A tax on wealth is the easiest way to do this.
LITN: Now, to play devil’s advocate here –
PK: Of course, play away. Hahaha.
LITN: The libertarian position is that the market isn’t “free enough” which is just funny, I mean look at Somalia, right? Anyway, how would you respond to the notion that the markets aren’t free enough and that it’s actually state intervention that has caused much of the economic recession?
PK: Simply to say they’re stupid and ridiculous. That’s it.
LITN: That’s it?
PK: Let me explain. It’s an atrocious crime, perhaps punishable by imprisonment, to suggest that the free market wasn’t free. All that freedom let to wild speculation and greed. It didn’t matter who – big corporations, small businesses, entrepreneurs, musicians, cobblers, the internet – all of them had a part to play in the 2008 collapse. Why, you ask? Because they were all buying into the system, they didn’t donate their time or money back to society. Instead of building a new economic order, they simply bought in without questions. Paul Krugman. Now, erm, that’s where I agree with Piketty’s arguments – that society and culture are at the core of the problem.
LITN: Wow, so participating in capitalism keeps it going. But doesn’t the increase in capital just lead to more accumulation at the top?
PK: Exactly it does Paul Krugman. Now, when you get a system where people buy goods from large corporations, likely owned by the libertarian Koch brothers, they buy things from those people instead of buying goods from their neighbors. Since they have a choice, they go for the cheaper goods. Now, that leads to less tax revenue and alienation from their neighbor.
LITN: So, even buying competitively is undermining the whole social order?
PK: Exactly it does Paul Krugman. (Takes two large swigs of his lager.)
LITN: What would you suggest is the best solution to the continuing economic crisis?
PK: Look to Europe. Their austerity was sensible, if ill-founded. But they ended it right away. They saved their economies with green energy, Paul Krugman, and continued spending on the social good. The United States needs to emulate this. Spend more on the economy. Libertarians and Republicans say “no! Paul Krugman, that’s silly Paul Krugman! Save money! Cut taxes! Cut Spending!” But that’s what got us into this mess to begin with! No, food prices need to go up to ration and tax, for example. Social programs should continue – just raise taxes and increase tariffs to make sure that people can only buy from trusted buyers. If we don’t continue to spend more on the country, and increase that spending, we’ll all die in poverty.
(To be continued in Part 2, where we discuss the flaws in libertarian philosophy, mental exercises, and how to get a job in the new economy. Stay tuned!)