8 Apr '16    home | previous

Krugman vs Sanders

Bernie Sanders is complaining about too much political influence from the super wealthy, and he is advocating a better distribution of wealth. The scholar and political pundit Paul Krugman I gather agrees with Sanders on these points, as I do. But in his column in today's New York Times, Krugman points out a tendency for over-simplification by Sanders and some of his followers. Krugman dislikes "easy slogans over hard thinking."

Political movements always include simplicities and demonizations (example: corporations have no legitimate interests, are totally corrupt and shouldn't be free to describe those interests to politicians). And with Sanders, there is talk of revolution and dislike for "incrementalism." Ironically, Sanders is a self-declared Social Democrat, and where the Social Democrats originated, in Europe, they embraced working with capitalists and incrementalists against those, like the Bolsheviks and also Rosa Luxemburg, who wanted revolution.

(The Bolsheviks were big on demonizing private enterprise and the bourgeoisie (petty and otherwise) – an absolute enemy to be obliterated. Soon the Bolshevik revolution demonized and devoured some of its own. If you check, you may find a few with a dislike for criticism of Sanders associating Krugman with the elite or in its pay. I have praise for Europe's Social Democrats, who transcended the Bolshevik vice.)

Krugman writes of the Sanders slogan "Break up the Big Banks." Says Krugman:

Wall Street supplies an excellent cast of villains. But were big banks really at the heart of the financial crisis, and would breaking them up protect us from future crises?

Many analysts concluded years ago that the answers to both questions were no.

In his column (online at the NYT), Krugman supports this answer with details, and he goes on to another point:

It's one thing for the Sanders campaign to point to Hillary Clinton's Wall Street connections, which are real, although the question should be whether they have distorted her positions, a case the campaign has never even tried to make.

I for one am sick-and-tired of hearing Sanders associate Hillary Clinton with the evils of corporate interests.

Someone else complains that the Krugman article won't help get Hillary elected president, that she is going to need the support of Sanders supporters. This someone apparently favors toleration of "easy slogans over hard thinking" like we find in the Trump campaign. And she favors humoring Sanders supporters. Some of us, on the other hand, favor political campaigns based on goals in tune with reality.

I like Sanders. I think he did a great job as mayor of Burlington. But I think his opposition to throwing Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait was too pacifistic. President Bill Clinton, I believe, did the right thing concerning the Bosnian War (I spent years in the anti-war movement, so don't get simplistic and label me as a neo-con.). We shouldn't expect perfection from a candidate. If Sanders wins the nomination, I'll vote for him.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.