Wed Nov 2nd, 2011 at 06:52:26 AM EST
It's now out in the open: Paul Krugman is flirting with Tara.
However, Robin Wells (Paul Krugman's partner) need not worry. Tara is actually the impersonation of our rallying cry, There Are Real Alternatives, and of course the arch-nemesis of Margaret Thatcher's frightening offspring, TINA (There Is No Alternative).
front-paged by afew
This may not come as a surprise to regular readers of his blog, but it is now the sole topic of his New York Times' column, The path not taken. Read the whole thing, but let me take you through a few excerpts.
Financial markets are cheering the deal that emerged from Brussels early Thursday morning. Indeed, relative to what could have happened -- an acrimonious failure to agree on anything -- the fact that European leaders agreed on something, however vague the details and however inadequate it may prove, is a positive development.
At the time of writing, Krugman could not know how quickly it would become obvious that it was inadequate. On the day that his column was published, Italy had a bond auctions, that ended in the highest 10 years bond rates since joining the Euro. Some cheers.
But it's worth stepping back to look at the larger picture, namely the abject failure of an economic doctrine -- a doctrine that has inflicted huge damage both in Europe and in the United States.
The doctrine in question amounts to the assertion that, in the aftermath of a financial crisis, banks must be bailed out but the general public must pay the price. So a crisis brought on by deregulation becomes a reason to move even further to the right.
Well, using the full name would (in Washington's demented opinion making environment) somewhat lower the impact of his writing, but choosing to call it "doctrine" may well be a hint about Naomi Klein. True, there is more to the shock doctrine than this banks before public principle, but using any crisis to move further to the right is bread and butter for the shock doctrinaires.
This doctrine was sold both with claims that there was no alternative -- that both bailouts and spending cuts were necessary to satisfy financial markets -- and with claims that fiscal austerity would actually create jobs.
Hey, TINA was there! Hello TINA. Nevermind that she brought misery to everyone who ever danced with her (this is a family blog and I shall watch my metaphors), she never seems short of partners.
Now, however, the results are in, and the picture isn't pretty. [...] So bailing out the banks while punishing workers is not, in fact, a recipe for prosperity. But was there any alternative? Well, that's why I'm in Iceland, attending a conference about the country that did something different.
So how's it going? Iceland hasn't avoided major economic damage or a significant drop in living standards. But it has managed to limit both the rise in unemployment and the suffering of the most vulnerable; the social safety net has survived intact, as has the basic decency of its society.
And there's a lesson here for the rest of us: The suffering that so many of our citizens are facing is unnecessary. If this is a time of incredible pain and a much harsher society, that was a choice. It didn't and doesn't have to be this way.
Though she is not named, Tara's presence cannot be clearer. It cannot be said enough that there was an alternative, that there still is an alternative.
Of course, it will be trotted out (and was immediately in the comments to Krugman's column) that Iceland is a tiny country, that the failure of its banks did not lead to the systemic mayhem that the failure of most US banks would bring.
Fine. There is a systemic case for not letting huge banks fail. But that does not prevent making full nationalisation a precondition for the bailout, with total wiping of the shareholders (why should the state have to pay to become the owner of a bankrupt business?), and probably an over the board opening of opportunities for top management positions, unless they'd agree to work for the median salary until the banks are profitable again. Or something of the sort.
There was and is no economic case for preserving the wealth of wealthy stock market gamblers and boards of directors at whatever expense to the destitute.
There is a political one of course, in that wealthy people line up the pockets of powerful ones. Which makes the whole thing more of a political than an economic crisis (at least as far as the root cause is concerned). But economically, Tara beats Tina hands down everytime.
There is a future economic crisis lurking in the future of course, as scarcity hits us hard, but this is not what is hampering us now. And when it does hit, once again Tina would send us much faster down the drain when Tara could actually mean an improvement in the life of the greater numbers, crisis notwithstanding.
Never forget that when you see Tina being paraded. She is always the sexy face for a very vile advertising campaign.
Oh and, I forgot, but while Krugman pointed it out politely it need not stay that way: