Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Austerity-Pushing Assholes

There are many reasons the various incarnations of the Plutocracy Now! movement are really stupid, but Paul Krugman nails an important one:
I haven’t written much lately about the spate of articles either calling for, or at least wistfully speculating about, a “centrist” third-party candidacy. It’s nonsense, of course, on multiple levels. For one thing, if you look at what pundits calling for such a candidacy want, it’s all already in Obama’s proposals. For another, it’s not going to happen. For a third, the favorite imaginary candidate, Michael Bloomberg, turns out to be totally ignorant about the economic crisis.

But thinking about today’s column, I realized that it’s even worse than that. What defines centrist heroes, as far as I can tell, is that they are people who, faced with a catastrophic slump driven by private-sector abuses, and a severe shortfall of spending, declared that our most urgent priority is … to reduce budget deficits.

That’s often described as a courageous position, but it’s actually anything but: nobody in the Beltway dinner-party circuit has ever been ostracized for demanding entitlement cuts. And aside from being totally conventional, it’s also deeply wrong-headed — and if you ask me somewhat unethical, too, because it involves exploiting a crisis to push an agenda totally unrelated to that crisis.
The austerity consensus among our economic betters is pretty robust. Check out this chart that Matt Yglasias found from OCED's report on structural reforms. It's not supposed to be ironic.

Wow, those countries all the way on the right must be doing GREAT! They implemented so many reforms!

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