Subprimal

Geithner KrugmanIt is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it. –Upton Sinclair (1935)

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman jumped onto what is fast becoming a justly enthusiastic  pile-on–body-slamming former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s new book,

By any normal standard, economic policy since the onset of the financial crisis has been a dismal failure. It’s true that we avoided a full replay of the Great Depression. But employment has taken more than six years to claw its way back to pre-crisis levels — years when we should have been adding millions of jobs just to keep up with a rising population. Long-term unemployment is still almost three times as high as it was in 2007; young people, often burdened by college debt, face a highly uncertain future.

Now Timothy Geithner, who was Treasury secretary for four of those six years, has published a book, “Stress Test,” about his experiences. And basically, he thinks he did a heckuva job.

Still Krugman appears to accept the premises of a system that produces Geithners one administration after another.

Missing the damning implication, he characterizes the extent to which subprime mortgage-backed securities have recovered their value as a marker of the success of Keynesian intervention. And he claims bad loans arise from bad decisions by borrower and lender alike, as if millions of everyday Americans weren’t maneuvered out of union wage scales and into overaccumulation’s housing bubble.

Across his Times run Krugman has repeatedly confounded the episodic for the structural, accepting the boundaries of each of D.C.’s passing kerfuffles floated by a system from which he prospers.

Unable to discern the source of President Obama’s early timidity, Krugman resorted in 2010 to a psychological explanation. We see here the way political performance is a dialectic between actor and audience. The lengths to which many of Obama’s supporters will go to separate the man from his actions are downright metallurgical.

Krugman misses, then, the possibility Democratic ‘incompetence’ is as much an act of obstruction as Republican intransigence. Somehow every time the Democrats are in command–even so far as holding the presidency, the House and the Senate–they just can’t seem to pass the most progressive planks of the platform on which they were elected.

If Krugman can’t acknowledge the ruse, perhaps he is as much a part of the obstructionism he condemns, to reference the Sinclair line he repeatedly quotes.

To be sure, Krugman is better than most at the Izvestia on the Hudson, among other good works hammering the European paradigm American deficit hawks repeatedly ballyhoo. Austerity, however, has little to do with the kinds of economic theory for which Krugman won a Nobel or even a nation’s well-being. It’s more an exercise in naked class power, in this iteration six years later still pushing off bankster losses as so much discipline for labor and the poor (and at grave cost to public health).

It’s the kind of paying paramnesia that characterizes both the nastiest of boosters and such loyal opposition.

Undergirding the Times‘ alabaster pantheon–Brooks, Friedman, Kristof, Krugman and Wade–is the Weinreichian presumption facts need be little but opinions with an army and a navy. It’s the very ethos, primal in its depth, that assures the more sordid elements of imperial design–as disparate as Jon Corzine, George Zimmerman and Frank Wuterich–never serve a day in jail.

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One Response to “Subprimal”

  1. Reblogged this on AgroEcoPeople and commented:
    Dense but profound social commentary from evolutionary biology and public phylogeographer Rob Wallace.

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