Note to Krugman: The Role of the Public Intellectual Is to Speak Truth to Power, Not to Apologize For Power’s Misuse

Like many who actually don’t think devil-take-the-hindmost is good public policy, I’m incredibly disappointed in this post by NY Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman.

This is not hard. This is not “agonizing.” Quite simply, it is indecent. It should be opposed vehemently. A few hundred dollars means a lot to someone who is barely getting by. <a href="Three-fifths of the elderly count on Social Security for two-thirds or more of their income. Since the average Social Security payout is slightly above $14,000, that means a huge swath of the elderly have less than $21,000 per year to live on. Catfood all around!

Where Krugman goes off the rails is that he is acting like a political strategist. He is accomodating those who, through indecency, would misuse power, rather than speaking truth to them. This is not like an election where far too often, one really is faced with a choice between the lesser of two evils: a ballot has a finite set of options. But when it comes to policy, there are other alternatives to cutting benefits for the least among us. This is not the time to be playing insider political strategist. He should be decrying the cruelty and proposing alternatives. Period. If there is anyone in U.S. society who is in a position to do this, it is a well-to-do and tenured faculty member.

And this isn’t a case of “someone is wrong on the internet.” What Krugman writes really does matter, if not to the Obama administration. If he wavers on this, he will give cover to apologists for cruelty (“Even the liberal Paul Krugman…”).

I’m disappointed, but not entirely surprised, since I think he’s insulated from the nitty-gritty of the lives of those who struggle.

This is why ‘progressives’ lose over and over again: we keep apologize for others’ failures, rather than castigating and shunning them.

And those who can afford it the least end up paying the highest price.

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4 Responses to Note to Krugman: The Role of the Public Intellectual Is to Speak Truth to Power, Not to Apologize For Power’s Misuse

  1. Min says:

    Write Congress. Write the Senate. Write the White House. We will not balance the budget on the backs of little old ladies.

  2. Zachary Smith says:

    “Where Krugman goes off the rails is that he is acting like a political strategist.”

    The moment my eyes hit that sentence the thought “Senator Paul Krugman” was formed in my head. Yikes!

  3. Catana says:

    I guess I’m one of those “little old ladies.” I depend *entirely* on Social Security, with my 2013 income going up to a munificent $12,552. I can manage very well because I don’t have a car. Who can afford one on that kind of income? But I also don’t have full Medical coverage, because if I paid for Part B of Medicare, I would be very close to eating cat food. And you know what? I’m a much better off than a lot of elderly people who depend on Social Security. It’s all very well to say that the average payout is $14,000. That’s just statistics. It has nothing to do with people who have to make a choice between food and rent, or full medical coverage and the basics of daily life.

    • Zachary Smith says:

      “I guess I’m one of those “little old ladies.” I depend *entirely* on Social Security, with my 2013 income going up to a munificent $12,552. ”

      According to the Federal Guidelines for 2012, you’re making more than $11,119, so you’re not in poverty. And by your own admission you’re not yet eating cat food.

      But never fear: our beloved POTUS is working very hard to make sure you start doing the Right Thing.

      http://americablog.com/2012/12/why-chained-cpi-is-a-catfood-proposal.html

      BHO wants this – he wants it desperately. If he and the Republicans gave a rat’s heinie about the deficit, they’d sit on their hands and go over that mythical ‘fiscal cliff’. But of course that’s simply a pretense – what they want is for you to start eating nutritious cat food.

      And keep in mind that if he can’t do it just now, he’s already making preparations for losing the next round. If John Kerry becomes Secretary of State, that means Obama will get Scott Brown back. That was a fellow he really didn’t want to lose in the first place, BTW.

      Another Republican in the Senate will make it easier for him to thrash around and cry how the mean Republicans could hurt the nation if he doesn’t give them everything they want and more. But that’s just a contingency plan – I think he’ll surrender before then and sell current and future oldsters down the river.

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