Politics & Media
Jul 24, 2012, 09:52AM

Once Again, Paul Krugman Says He's "One of Us"

Calling Bellevue!

Paul krugman economist 006.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman—or, if you prefer Dr. Krugman, Prof. Krugman, or St. Paul—is inordinately fond of quoting fellow Princetonian F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not really unusual for a man his age—perilously close to 60—but the fraudulent manner in which he interprets the novelist’s words is what rankles me. Granted, Krugman is no stylist—and it’s possible even he realizes that—but when he opened his July 20 op-ed, “Pathos of a Plutocrat,” with the most famous Fitzgerald observation, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me,” he jumped the exceedingly high bar for condescension that’s a staple of his commentary.

Explaining to rapt readers in the increasingly niche-drive Times demographic (all very liberal, all the time, and no, David Brooks doesn’t count as a dissenting voice) that Fitzgerald wasn’t just referring to the size of one’s bank account, but rather that “many of the rich expect a level of deference that the rest of us never get to experience and are deeply distressed when they don’t get the special treatment they consider their birthright.”

This is flat-out repugnant: first, Krugman including himself in “the rest of us” is an insult to every American who, unlike Krugman, doesn’t have three residences, numerous streams of income and expensive accountants to complete his taxes. Second, and this isn’t confined to Krugman alone, but includes his fellow Times plutocrat Thomas Friedman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., is Krugman so delusional that he doesn’t recognize that he, workaday Paul, is accorded “a level of deference,” among the power elites in the media, academia and rarefied economic community that, ahem, 99% of Americans will “never get to experience”? I do think Krugman is so blinded by his hate of Mitt Romney (maybe on a personal as well as political level, maybe not) that he, in his quest for the John Maynard Keynes Award for truth-telling has solidified his status as a functional nutter.

Intervention, please! I’m not certain if there are 12-step programs for such an affliction, but surely that could be arranged for one of “the rest of us” who isn’t really one of “the rest of us.”

Then again, perhaps it’s yours truly who’s the nutter. One of my older brothers suggested as much—more politely—nearly two years ago when I wrote a story headlined “Paul Krugman Finally Flips His Lid," telling me, “Pal, just don’t read the guy!” On that occasion, Sept. 20, 2010, when even Krugman could smell a Democratic bloodbath at the polls that November, he blamed it all on “the very privileged… who are outraged, outraged, at the thought of paying modestly higher taxes.” And, as sure as Brooks will repeat his kinship with President Obama because they both fancy Edmund Burke, Krugman goes to the Fitzgerald trough (no attribution this time), writing, “You see, the rich are different from you and me: they have more influence.” Never mind that the GOP landslide that fall was so resounding, that it wasn’t cheesed-off “plutocrats” who cast 1000 ballots apiece.

Again, I don’t begrudge Krugman his wealth or status; he is, by all accounts, a very industrious and smart man. But his pretension of being an “ordinary American” is dishonest and disgraceful.

  • Krugman makes some good points sometimes, but his odorous, weasel-like persona and candor only reinforce the worst stereotypes of progressives. The faux-populism is just as bad, like when Michael Moore or Kanye West show up to Occupy Wall Street for a five minute photo op and posture as the proletariat. I respect a guy like Chris Hedges whose actions match his words, and for actively camping out with the protesters, the rare journo/politico/pundit who walks the walk.

    Responses to this comment
  • Pity that Krugman seems to be right most of the time.

    Responses to this comment
  • Dear Mr. Smith -- as you're no doubt aware, Berkeley, from whither I write, has been a "nuclear free zone" since the city's brief relevancy in the '60s and '70s. which is a good thing, because had your krugman piece been widely read here, all the contractors who drop their crews of illegal immigrants off and head Peet's for a triple latte (talk about globalization, some corporate octopus grabbed even them, and who cares) would have been in a fine rage of nuclear proportions by lunch time at chez pretty penny. of course, as noted above, he's mostly right, but though the left's assholery does sometimes approach that of the right, it is not always safe around here to point that out.

    Responses to this comment
  • Right all the time? To regular readers at the NYTimes, it might seem that way. I have tried to comment in response to a number of Mr. Krugman's opinion pieces and never once, not one time...ever...have the screeners not deleted my post. It is a comlete authoratarian dictatorship over there where opposing view points are selective allowed to pass screening but most never see the light of day. Respectful, reasonable and written in a appropriate way and yet, never once made it to the actual comment section of one of Mr. Krugman's pieces.

    Responses to this comment
  • It is a pity that some people who are supposed to know better should portray such ignorance while trying to educate others. You don't have to be poor to be one of the poor and feel their plight and take on their cause, to the point of putting your life on the line to fight for that cause. Indeed it is the rich who are in position to fight for the poor. It is the rich that loves his poor neighbour as himself that will be able to fight for that poor neighbour. You don't have to be a slave to really be one of them fighting for them. History shows us that those "slaves" who fought for the slaves and ended slavery were truly masters, lords, and very free men that could never have been counted as one of them at all. Check it out, and you may be surprised that Karl Marx, Friedrick Engels, and Vladimir Lenin were all from rich capitalist families, and they used their wealth and power to fight against the evil system. The seeing for the blind as one of them, even though he is not. The strong for the weak as one of them, even though he is not. The rich for the poor as one of them, even though he is not. The master for the slave as one of them, even though he is not. The Lord Jesus the righteous one for the sinners as one of them, even though He's not. The whole for the sick as one of them, even though he is not. That is the fact as we know it for those who love their neighbours as themselves in deed, not just in words. You may be poor and still not be one of them to fight for the common good of the poor, but may be a traitor opting to serve the rich further exploit the poor. Slaves did also betrayed fellow slaves being NOT one of them just for a small selfish gain.

    Responses to this comment
  • It is foolish to try to make yourself poor in order to be one of them to fight for them. You are better off to retain your wealth if you can and use it as a leverage to fight for the poor as one of them. The other heartless rich ones will like to paint you as one of them and not one for the poor to make you look like a hypocrite to try to force you into poverty in order to strip you of the ability to use your wealth to help the poor.

    Responses to this comment
  • Maybe Paul Krugman is more "one of us" than most of us are "one of us".

    Responses to this comment
  • Is Russ Smith really one of us? If so, what makes him and not Paul Krugman "one of us". There many millionaires up there who are more "one of us" than many middele/working class people. Romney is not one.

    Responses to this comment
  • I recently read Krugman's book "The Return of Depression Economics" -- the original version, published during the .dot com boom. The book was ridiculed on its appearance for its gloomy forecast for the future - which turned out to be right on the money. Krugman not only predicted a collapse of the financial markets, followed by a severe recession -- he foresaw how it would come about. He has also maintained that the policies of fiscal austerity adopted by the European countries would not work -- would even make things worse. That prediction, too, was on target. For example, in the nearly three years since David Cameron's government put an austerity program in place, England's economy has gotten worse, if anything. ("It needs more time," the PM says.) Krugman also maintained that the stimulus program passed by Congress was only a third as big as was required to get the economy going again; he said that it might prevent the economy from sliding into full scale depression, but would not be big enough to get things moving again. Do you think it just might be possible that this guy knows what he is talking about?

    Responses to this comment
  • I would have posted up in a room full of 5 year old if I wanted to hear this much whining. Is this what passes for informed opinion today? I guess Russ Smith can only rely on character attacks since there is very little Krugman has been wrong about over the past decade. Mr. Smith clearly isn't skilled at using facts, so might I suggest a career in fiction?

    Responses to this comment

Register or Login to leave a comment