Joseph Stiglitz on the Neoliberal Management of Globalization

Joseph Stiglitz - neoliberal globalizationHow can something that our political leaders — and many an economist — said would make everyone better off be so reviled?

One answer occasionally heard from the neoliberal economists who advocated for these policies is that people are better off. They just don’t know it. Their discontent is a matter for psychiatrists, not economists.

But income data suggest that it is the neoliberals who may benefit from therapy. Large segments of the population in advanced countries have not been doing well: in the US, the bottom 90% has endured income stagnation for a third of a century. Median income for full-time male workers is actually lower in real (inflation-adjusted) terms than it was 42 years ago. At the bottom, real wages are comparable to their level 60 years ago.

—Joseph Stiglitz
Globalization and Its New Discontents

Karol Markowicz Thinks Liberals Created Trump

Karol MarkowiczI’ve gotten to the point that I think Paul Krugman is irrelevant. He hardly blogs. And he has very little to say. Perhaps my thinking about him is tainted by the fact that I read a lot of economists. I’m an Economist’s View addict, so I read a lot of other economists’ blogs. I even read a fair number of academic papers. (Being able to understand economics papers is probably the biggest benefit of my physics PhD.) But last night it occurred to me that Krugman must still write his column. And given that the primary is over, it wouldn’t be yet another article about how horrible Bernie Sanders is. But instead of his newest column, I was brought to an article by Karol Markowicz, How Paul Krugman Made Donald Trump Possible.

I didn’t have to read the article. I knew what was in it. If I hadn’t decided to write this article, I wouldn’t have read Karol Markowicz’s trite “blame the other side” rant. It’s not that she’s a bad writer. But her Twitter account has pinned to the top of it a February tweet, “I’ve never voted for a Democrat and I’m not starting with Donald Trump.” She seems to be big in the “Don’t vote for Trump because he’s a liberal” camp. Anyone thinking that can’t be too deep a political thinker. But she was born in the USSR. As I’ve noted often before, people from old communist countries are often easy marks for the Republican Party. They are fooled by its ostentatious rhetoric of “freedom” combined with the authoritarianism that they find comforting (even if they don’t realize it).

Karol Markowicz’s Argument

The argument Karol Markowicz makes is that Krugman and other liberals made Trump possible because they said mean things about “reasonable” Republicans. For example, people called Mitt Romney “dangerous.” She spends quite a lot of time setting up her argument quoting that great political commentator Ellen DeGeneres. But fair enough: liberals attacked conservatives in the past. Is it not acceptable to call Romney “dangerous” without seeing Donald Trump as categorically different — and worse? Is it really the case that Republicans told themselves, “Well, liberals are going to call us terrible things regardless, so let’s nominate someone even worse!”?

If that’s the case, why haven’t the Democrats done the same thing? After all, for all of my adult life, Republicans have called every Democratic president a socialist. I remember this was especially true of Bill Clinton. Yet today, Bill Clinton is held up as almost a Republican hero. If they could get away with claiming him their own, they would.

This has reached the level where Bernie Sanders wasn’t laughed out of public life because he calls himself a socialist. Because here’s the truth: Bernie Sanders is no socialist; he’s just an old fashioned New Deal Democrat. So the effect of calling every Democrat a socialist — and in many cases a communist — has not caused the Democrats to nominate a socialist. I wonder why?

Krugman Normalized Trump!

Karol Markowicz wrote:

Yet a few weeks ago Krugman wondered how Republicans could rally around Trump “just as if he were a normal candidate.” It was exactly Krugman who normalized him! What makes Donald Trump normal to so many is that they’ve heard all the hysteria from people like Krugman.

Not really. Since the early days of the Bush administration, Krugman’s complaint hasn’t been that this or that Republican has been an outlier but that being a con artists was basically what defined the party. And he made actual arguments. The truth was that Romney, who Karol Markowicz calls a “good man,” was a con artist. His economic plan was thoroughly analyzed and shown to be a fraud. And there is no way Romney could not have known that given that the only people he could get to go along with his plan were his friends.

How Trump Is Different

There is no categorical difference between Romney’s tax plan and Donald Trump’s. And I don’t recall Krugman or anyone else saying there is. Donald Trump is categorically different in his explicit racism and that’s what people have focused on. As I (and countless other liberals) have noted, outside of his explicit racism (the Republican Party has long been simply implicitly racist) and his bizarre foreign policy (which is closely tied to his racism), he’s a standard issue Republican.

I blasted Avik Roy the other day. But at least he understands that the basis of the Republican Party’s power is racial resentment. Karol Markowicz is unwilling to admit that truth. “It’s the fault of we liberals! If only we had said that Romney was a perfectly acceptable candidate for president, the Republican base would never have voted for Trump!”? Give me a break! The same Republicans who proudly voted for Trump this year were complaining that they lost in 2008 and 2012 because McCain and Romney weren’t conservative enough.

And this “liberals created Trump” theory comes from Karol Markowicz, who appears to think that Trump isn’t conservative enough herself. Unbelievable.