More shrill words from The Shrill One:
Well, what I’ve been hearing with growing frequency from members of the policy elite — self-appointed wise men, officials, and pundits in good standing — is the claim that it’s mostly the public’s fault. The idea is that we got into this mess because voters wanted something for nothing, and weak-minded politicians catered to the electorate’s foolishness.
So this seems like a good time to point out that this blame-the-public view isn’t just self-serving, it’s dead wrong.
The fact is that what we’re experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. The policies that got us into this mess weren’t responses to public demand. They were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people — in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious. And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes.
What has become more clear than anything else for me over the last year or so has been the extent to which publicly made arguments relating to austerity, tax policy, and accountability for the financial collapse by elites are so incredibly dishonest that addressing them head on is a futile effort. It’s good to see Krugman sidestep any efforts to treat these arguments from elites as being made from good faith and instead goes right after the truth. It’s not enough to merely rebut the idea that we need austerity as opposed to stimulative spending. Instead, as Krugman does, it’s time to discredit these arguments by the rich and the powerful as purely in their own self-interest and against the interests of the other 98% of America.
There are two sorts of arguments relating to class warfare in the US today. The first is made by elites with the intention of protecting their existing interests and expanding the transfer of wealth from working and middle class Americans to the richest of the rich. This is the bulk of the economic arguments made in America today, specifically when it comes to tax policy, entitlement spending cuts, and the roll-back of collective bargaining rights for workers. The second kind of argument is made by people like Krugman who are almost exclusively trying to get the public to notice that the first kind of argument in furtherance of class warfare is being made day in and day out in Washington and in the press. The great irony with this situation is that a key plank of the arguments of elites in favor of expanding their class warfare against the rest of America is that any modest request that they contribute more to the economic well-being of the country is derided as class warfare. As there is not a meaningful or respected alternative in public discourse to the first group of argument-makers, the simple reality is that elites are winning and winning handily in their push for class warfare against working Americans.