Saturday, February 07, 2009

Something that is not incredible

Paul Krugman:

It’s as if the dismal economic failure of the last eight years never happened — yet Democrats have, incredibly, been on the defensive.

This is not incredible. Without large scale public pressure and publicly-endorsed solutions -- like what the Socialist Party embodied in the 1930's -- politicians are merely taking their cues from business, as usual. When it comes to economic matters, that is the only protocol they know. It doesn't matter that business got us into this mess in the first place; no one else is stepping up, politically, as a viable challenger. This means the same people who engineered disaster are being tapped to engineer recovery, objectionable as this may be.

While it is true there are many smart people with excellent solutions to the crisis, a handful of economists, scholars, and journalists does not a political constituency make. This is one of my central gripes with liberalism, with its emphasis on professional excellence as a route to both personal success and "progressive influence" over the society. In the end what you get are affluent smart people on NPR who expect the political class to adopt their solutions on the basis of merit, as if this is the basis of anything in Washington DC.

Just as economic policy designed by Wall Street will inevitably be policy for Wall Street, policy designed by the public is the only hope of an answer for longstanding public needs. But that requires democracy, and we are a long way from it.

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