Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Krugman on the Coming "Train Wreck"

I'm not an economist, and I don't pretend to be one, as much as I may talk about globalization, trade, and related issues with my friends. I filter just about all the economic news I read through my own preferred philosophical lenses (communitarianism, etc.), and extract and discard nuggets of information accordingly. Hence, reading a straightforward take-down of this or that economic policy, or set of policies, is difficult for me; I look for some sort of handhold, and often come up wanting. But that's no reason (I tell myself) to ignore the message; if there's an economic train wreck coming, I ought to get informed about it, whether or not I have anything to say in response. In that spirit, everyone should read this interview with Paul Krugman conducted by Kevin Drum. I've no strong opinions on either Krugman or his analysis of the Bush administration's policies (though I'm sympathetic to Krugman's description of a recent vote in Alabama as a "catastrophe"). But when someone says, plausibly, that we're looking at a situation in which America will be so under-financed (because of irresponsible tax cuts and the impossibility of cutting entitlement programs) that we turn into an Argentina (i.e., the value of U.S. Treasury bills collapse and international funds dry up, resulting in hyper-inflation), with the sort of income disparity which characterized the McKinley era to boot, well....agree with it or not, that's the sort of thing you shouldn't ignore. So read it, and think.