More debt, pleaseBy Jeffrey Polet for FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC
Paul Krugman, America’s leading champion for the idea that the only way to deal with the problems of spending is to spend more, is at it again. Castigating concern with debt as “moralizing” and implying that people who are so concerned are “the worst” sorts, Krugman argues that the world’s economy needs spending, and if private individuals and firms aren’t doing it, then government must:
“The key thing to bear in mind is that for the world as a whole, spending equals income. If one group of people — those with excessive debts — is forced to cut spending to pay down its debts, one of two things must happen: either someone else must spend more, or world income will fall.”
Clearly one of the problems of modern economics is to think constantly in abstracts (such as world income) rather than in particulars (which, of course, are not as measurable and susceptible to control). The result is to advocate for policies that are counter-intuitive (“Have too much debt? Spend more!”), or completely indifferent to moral concerns by dismissing such as “moralizing.” Are frugality, risk-aversion, modesty, and a sense of scale virtues, or are they not? Is it any wonder that NYTimes essayists can’t understand why what is going to happen tomorrow is going to happen, but have to demonize voters and treat them as if they’re irrational?