October 29, 2007

Klein Talks To Krugman

Ezra Klein and Paul Krugman, everybody:

... EK: And in this case when you talk about the norms, one of the things you mention is that these have changed, and they've changed in part because the forces that kept egalitarian norms and egalitarian culture in place have dissolved. And to some degree, to put it in Galbraith's terms, the countervailing powers have receded, you don't have the government in the same way, the unions in the same way, you don't have the media channeling outrage on this. But how did we get to the place where we've accepted it?

PK: Well I think the outrage is starting to happen now. It takes a while, and part of it is just people I have the sense that a lot people don't understand how rich the rich are. For the middle-class, it's a lot of the frog in the slowly warming pot syndrome. That year to year the fact that you're falling behind, that you're not getting anywhere despite a growing economy, is not that obvious, and you can chalk it up to your individual experience. But you look back at 35 years of technological progress, rising productivity, and at best arguable gains for the median family, then you can really see it. And the forces at the top are so large that, in a way, they're unimaginable, it's hard to get people focused on it. People at the Times, when I did an article on inequality for the magazine five years ago, and they had artwork illustrating mansions, which I talked about in the article, but what they showed were not. Those were big new McMansions, $3 million dollar, 6,000 square foot homes. But they weren't what the truly rich were building. So people don't have a sense of how far it's gone.

... PK: The big three auto makers are enthusiastic supporters of single-payer health care in Canada. It's an interesting question why they won't say that in the United States, and I think a lot of it is social pressure on the executives and political fear that they will be punished by a dominant right. And it's interesting. If we get this, I think there will be a real marginalization of the hard right in the years ahead, and we may also find that corporate American speaks up for single-payer health care and maybe for other things too, because they realize those policies are good for heading off erratic protectionism and draconian immigration restrictions.

EK: One could imagine that if our politics weren't so strange and tilted toward the right that you have something akin to the consensus in the fifties, that you have a general social welfare state, and you have a free and dynamic market, on and on and on, and there would be something to protecting that. ...

They start their discussion with the emerging liberal consensus, that there are economic issues it's critically important to stand together on. No money means no power. No power means no justice. And if you want to know peace, you had better know justice.

There's only one way to fix it: Stand up to the corporate crime wave and for the restoration of equality under the law.

(h/t for the video to Crooks and Liars)

Posted by natasha at October 29, 2007 09:57 PM | Economy | Technorati links |