Krugman's Economic Kvetch: Certified 100% Solution-Free

I kept waiting.  Dutifully wading through Paul Krugman's subscription-required kvetch over the economy, The Big Disconnect, I figured I'd eventually be rewarded for my perseverence with his proposed solutions - if only to be able to critique them.  But the New York Times columnist's economic nostrums never came.

Krugman's basic complaint is that workers haven't shared in the fruits of the extended economic expansion.  This is Krugman being late to the MSM party noted here, here, and here. Even so, he chooses to ignore the reporting in his own paper that flatly contradicts his own allegation that "most workers have seen their wages lag behind inflation and their benefits deteriorate."  As Ken Shepherd of NB and MRC noted yesterday, the New York Times itself has acknowledged that, as per recently released data, wages are actually increasing at a 7% annual rate even when adjusted for inflation!"

But that pesky fact didn't stop Krugman from alleging that "although G.D.P. growth has been pretty good for the last few years, most workers have seen their wages lag behind inflation and their benefits deteriorate."

Krugman naturally hopes this will inure to the Dems' political benefit: "The disconnect between overall economic growth and the growing squeeze on many working Americans will probably play a big role this November."

And by the way, look for a brawl to break out in the hallowed halls of the Times between Krugman and fellow columnist Tom Frank.  Frank made his authorly bones with his book 'What's the Matter With Kansas?' It's condescending thesis is that red state Americans have been too naive to understand that it would be in their economic interest to vote Democrat.

Krugman in contrast claims that working Americans are in fact smarter than the experts: "Ordinary American workers seem to understand the long-term disconnect between economic growth and their own fortunes better than most political analysts."

In any case, I waited in vain for anything approaching a specific proposal from Krugman.  To the contrary, he meekly acknowledges that "wages may be difficult to raise." The closest Krugman comes is to clamor for "smart, bold populism" - whatever that means. Gripes Krugman: "all we need now are some smart, bold populist politicians." 

Wasn't Krugan hired to be a "smart, bold populist" economist?  Is kicking the can down the road while waiting for a politician to come along to solve things for him the best Krugman can do?

Mark Finkelstein lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning TV show 'Right Angle.'  View show webcasts here. Email Mark at

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