Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Lost Paradise of Paul Krugman

Now that the Times' pay wall is down, we can read all about it.

"I was born in 1953 ... the political and economic environment of my youth stands revealed as a paradise lost..."

I was born in 1953 too. The political and economic environment of my teens and twenties was: Summer race riots in the inner cities ... student strikes on campus ... "hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today" ... political assassinations and shootings ... the weather underground and other domestic terrorists bombing buildings (one a block from where I'm writing this) and robbing banks ... the National Guard shooting down students on campus ... thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons aimed at the west and US ... defense spending 50% more of GDP than now ... Spiro Agnew directing the political discourse ... Nixon on the way to impeachment ... wage and price controls ... gasoline rationing and wait lines ... stagflation ... double-digit inflation ... 17% interest rates ... 10% unemployment as the highest since the Depression, etc. and so on.

Ah, such a paradise, now all lost...

(OK, there also was a legal drinking age of 18, unapologetic sex drugs and rock & roll, Joe Namath posing in panty hose after winning the big one, all the fun days off thanks to the student strikes ... so maybe it was a kind of paradise lost for me. But why do I think that's not the paradise PK is talking about?)

"The Great Compression: The middle-class society I grew up in didn’t evolve gradually or automatically. It was created, in a remarkably short period of time, by FDR and the New Deal. As the chart shows, income inequality declined drastically from the late 1930s to the mid 1940s ..."

The Great Depression and World War II being New Deal policies of FDR.

Oh, if only we could return to such income-equalizing New Deal policies today.

(Great Depression and World War II? What were they? Not worth a mention in the story of the 1930s and 1940s. Never mind.)

Update: Tom Maguire sends some unexpected traffic to this moribund blog by remembering something I'd forgotten myself -- I'd posted a bit more and maybe better about Krugman's oddly Depression-less Compression previously. He then goes on to do a nice job of citing Krugman's own sources contradicting Krugman's claims himself. (Thanks, Tom. And as P.T. Barnum would say if he was still around, "As long as they get the link right, they can't do anything wrong with the name.")