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Most people know that Americans benefit from high taxes, powerful unions, limited consumer choice, and strong government control. But most people lack the training to fully understand why we derive benefits from these policies, and why government control over public anything results in unsurpassable quality. To remedy your "knowledge deficit" you can ask us any question you choose, and it will be explained by the legendary Professor Paul Krugman in a language that you can understand. From the evils of profiteering, corporatism, and economic exploitation to the rewards of regulation, social justice, and community/stakeholder involvement, Professor Krugman will use his agile mind to clarify the otherwise intimidating field of economics.

Ask People's Economist

Patriotic Liberal
I read your column today ("Karl Rove's America") and was stunned by the truthfulness of your statements!

Paul, I agree that the Democrats are purveyors of economic and political truth! After all, the noble efforts of men like Teddy Kennedy and Chuck Schumer speak for themselves! I also agree that Social Security is endangered by attempting to cede governmental control to the people. What do the people know about money? How could the republicans try to convince the people that they should be in charge of their own money? HOW INSANE!! And TAX CUTS!! NEED I SAY MORE??

But what really gets my goat is the categorization of Democrats as weak on defense! How could anyone say that Democrats are weak on Defense? Can you expound on these issues?

Dear P.L.,

It is curious that, of all my penetrating insights, you are questioning the most obvious one. Still, it is my responsibility as a humble teacher to educate everyone, including those who might have some difficulty with simple axiomatic truths.

The record of Democratic support for the military is as legendary as my reputation for being a highly sought-after brilliant economist, author, professor, columnist, and observer of world affairs. In particular, Democrats have been at the forefront of defending our nation efficiently and effectively; e.g, against the Branch Davidians, etc., etc., etc. But with respect to "9/11" Democrats have worked for a strong defense in many ways:

A) By having the courage to raise taxes. Defense is expensive, and the Republicans have bankrupted the military by giving the nation's wealth to rich people in the form of tax breaks; i.e. not taxing them as highly as I recommend. Fundamentally, the war on "terror" must first be waged against the rich.

B) By supporting the teachers' unions against private schools and of course, education vouchers. A nation needs a highly educated military almost as much as it needs highly-educated economic theorists. Only our public schools can educate future soldiers. Republican efforts to send our children to theocratic private schools, and worse, put our children to work to undermine union wages, will destroy our defense.

C) By demanding diversity. Our military must look like our nation. White, black, Hispanic, men, women, old, young, Jew, Muslim, heterosexual, homosexual, and the gender challenged must all be represented in proportion to their numbers in the general population in every branch of the armed services.

D) By demanding military sensitivity. We cannot beat the terrorists; we can only appease them. And appeasement works best through sensitivity; for example, by allowing suspected terrorists full access to the American legal system and banning any kind of security "profiling". (Kudos to Norman Minetta for implementing such a policy.) Remember: Terrorists can be of any persuasion, age, religion, gender, and sexual preference. And sensitivity requires the military not to offend the sensibilities of suspects; e.g., we must respect their holy books, grant them no contact with female interrogators, etc.

E) By focusing our nation's agenda on things like gay marriage, Wal-Mart, Karl Rove, etc. When the "terrorists" see how we bring justice to our own aggrieved, then they too will be more just. And (if I may paraphrase an influential movie producer), the "terrorists" will also realize that we did not vote for Bush, and will therefore leave us alone.

P.G.

 

 

User avatar
Economics confuses me.

Kommissar Betty:

Different people have different aptitudes. Some people are facile in mathematics, others have strengths in other fields -- such as languages, athletics, cooking, or menial labor. To be sure, you must have many strengths. So many skills, in fact, that they "crowd out" other skills such as economics.

Specifically, I see that one of your strong points is that you know who to write to for advice. And to do so in an articulate manner spun in the very essence of brevity. And so, I will un-confuse you in two easy steps.

1) The science of economics is complex, specialized, and very difficult for almost anyone to understand. You are not alone. In fact, you are typical!

2) To understand this difficult field, we must all turn to experts; i.e, those who do have the gift of knowledge, understanding, and outstanding cognitive potential. And then we must listen to them and follow their advise. Always. even if it is a little difficult!

I hope this clarified things.

Prof. Krugman

P.S. I trust you understood the big words.

 

 

R. Q. Moonbeam
Paul,
First, let me humbly beg your forgiveness for bothering you - someone as zenithic as you should not be bothered by trifling issues. But I desperately need your help!

One of Chimpy McSmirklerburton's Rovian minions from the vast right wing conspiracy keeps mocking me (and my Social-Democrat beliefs) by pointing out all the inefficiencies of the old USSR (he won't shut up about the bad wearther farming bounties) and asking why people invariably defect from socialist countries to democratic ones. I need help and some facts to combat him!

- Rainbow Q. Moonbeam
aka Kevin

Hello Rainbow.

Please remember that these Christian zealots will defame you, defame me, and defame Honest Socialism with pure unsubstantiated slander. And as long as I am on your side, you will have nothing to fear (except for some intimidating formulae and abstract concepts that, frankly, you could not possibly understand.)

Allow me to quote myself.

In other words, a true command economy, as under Stalin for instance, brings unity, riches, and equality. There was nothing wrong with the Soviet system; the problem was with the Capitalist Christian Gorbachev who undermined the Soviet system. That is, Gorbachev, Bush, and Rove were as one -- destroying the Soviet economy.

With regard to defections, compare the number of defections from a true Socialist state with the number of defections from the United States. Every year, thousands of Americans leave the United States -- permanently. And would you care to guess how many citizens leave North Korea? Almost none. Again, it is your corporate adversaries who have the facts all wrong.

I also urge you to read my article called Capitalism's Mysterious Triumph, where I explain how Stalin built a powerful army that defeated the Germans, and how successful American corporations are like centrally planned economies.

These are old columns, and since then, my mind has greatly expanded. I can assure you that the few positive statements I made about capitalism have been purged from my legendary brain, and will never appear in a column again.

Your teacher,

Prof. Krugman, Ph.D, etc.

 

 

Elsworth Toohey
Dr. Krugman,

Is it possible to be both moral and a capitalist?

Hello Mr. Toohey.

Your question reveals the innocence of a pupil approaching the enormity of an accomplished intellect with a boundless capacity for educating others.

Therefore, I cannot give you an answer, Mr. Toohey, because I am not a moralist. I only see things through the cold prism of science...for I am a scientist. A scientist like no other, perhaps, blending complex theories with an intuitive brilliance to produce a supply of policy recommendations that have no equal. And yet, I am a mere scientist.

So, I will list a few terms below, Mr. Toohey, and then I will ask that you think about these terms and how they interact with morality and capitalism. And then, you, and only you, can determine the morality of capitalism. Your morality, and your capitalism.

  • Inequality
  • Quagmire
  • Cronyism
  • Enron
  • Budget deficits
  • Immoral tax cuts
  • Stagflation
  • Passing the buck
  • Economic misery
  • Trickle-down economics
  • Halliburton
  • Wal-Mart
  • 44 Million uninsured Americans: They will die for the unilateral oil wars
I gave you the facts, now you must do the thinking. A rather clever teaching device of mine, wouldn't you say?

Your welcome,

Professor Krugman, Ph.D.

 

 

Ehn Ron
Prof. Dr. rer. pol. h.c. Paul Krugman, Ph.D,


We all know that with the right people in charge, Socialism would be a fantastic success. I have some ideas of my own, but which leaders do you think would be capable of making the dream of a communist utopia a reality?

In humbleness,

Ehn Ron

Hello Mr. Ron.

The short answer is "Lionel Jospin".

But the thinking person has no short answers. That's the easy way out for Republicans who deceive people into believing that they can live well today without suffering horribly for it tomorrow.

And so, I will explain that Communism is not the answer. In fact, there is nothing wrong with capitalism and making money, as long as you pay your taxes. And do not discriminate. And support social programs, submit to government regulations, only hire union labor, restrict your purchases, vote for politicians who want to make everything free, welcome oversight for everything you do, support foreign enemies, and accept that everyone who is not a Leader is equal and must be rewarded as such.

So, the longer and better answer to your question is: "It doesn't matter who our leader is, as long he (or she!) follows my policy prescriptions".

Enjoy your elated sensation, Mr. Ron, for you have learned something from me today.

Sincerely,


Prof. Dr. rer. pol. h.c. Paul Krugman, Ph.D,
Economic Leader

 

 

R. Q. Moonbeam
Paul,
It's Rainbow again, and I really could use some help!
I was trying to remember the URL to moveon.org and I accidentally found my way onto a horrible right wing blog site called powerline.
I should've shut down the window and disinfected my monitor immediately, but I started reading, and they were really ripping on you about your article about the USS Bataan.
Obviously I won't bother asking which side was right - after all, if it's a question of who to believe - you or Lt. Commander Sean Kelly (an officer aboard the ship), the ship's official military web page, and the injured that were treated by the ships medical crew - then the decision is obvious and I know you wouldn't lie to us.
Since this is obviously a government conspiracy to try to defame you, could you put my mind to ease and let me know which of these mentioned parties are culpable?

Lt. Commander Sean Kelly (Bataan officer)
Johnny Ramirez (Bataan Aircrewman)
LCDR David Hopper (Bataan Detachment Officer)
Cmdr. Jeffrey Bocchicchio (Bataan Air Boss)
Cmdr. Michael Illovsky (Medical Services Director)
US Navy
USS Bataan Web Page
Google (directed the wingnut to the USS Bataan page to begin with)

- Rainbow Q Moonbeam
aka Kevin

 

 

George Soros
Paul,

I am deeply disturbed by your theory that the tax rate should be 100%. Such a proposal has a fundamental flaw.

Consider the case of an average worker. He or she will have little motivation to work harder, as all of their salary will be promptly taken by the state. Why increase productivity if there is no reward?

No, Paul, I'm afraid a tax rate of *above* 100% is needed (my calculations show 115%-120% is optimal.)

Now consider the case of an average worker. Instead of being at an unsatisfactory equilibrium, they will be indebted to the government. Psychologically, they will feel a need to repay this debt, thus securing the state even more loyalty.

Hi George!

If anyone's wisdom can approximate mine, it would be yours. But unlike me, a humble economist, you are also a legendary moralist -- a man who has been unaffected by wealth. We listen to you for your ideas, never for your money. Despite your celebrity, you have a common touch -- though of course without the many flaws that common people generally have.

I respect your view that tax rates should exceed 100%, but please remember that personal debt will only follow the period when their assets are contributed to the government. That is, if you make my proposed minimum wage of $200 per hour, your taxes might be $220. That means that you will have the opportunity to contribute something you own that is worth $20.

What do minimum-wage people own? Perhaps a beer cooler? Or an old mattress? With Democrats in charge, we'll have commissions and committees guiding the common people appropriately.

Interestingly enough, "appropriate" also means "take away". Therefore, I have developed an intriguing play on words; i.e., a pun. You must admit that my sharp humor is unsurpassable.

Your Friend,

Paul Krugman

 

 

Kamerade Kurgman,
Vhy do you inzult us facists? Vhy do you insist on komparing uz to zhe kapitalistz?
I makes me zad, as Hitler vas a Socialist (Nazi means National Socialist) and build von of zhe stongest kommand ekkonomies in zhe vorld. Our two great nationz crushed zhe zionist Poles in zhe name ov our two breedz of socialism, zhan kame zhe paternity dispute (see first article by looking up name). My point iz zhat facism and socialism are couisns. And like all cousins we get along, zhan fight, zhan make up, zhan zhe cycle starts ovar again. But VHY DO YOU KOMPARE UZ TO ZHE KAPTIALISTS? VHY? VHY? VHY?

Reichfuher SS Hit H Ead

Hello Reichfuher SS Hit H Ead

Please indulge my rhetorical jiu-jitsu as I deftly turn your argument against you. That is, I do not compare fascists with capitalist; I compare capitalists with fascists.

See how I did that? Jiu-jitsu!

You see, Dick Cheney is an enemy of Global Socialism, and Hitler attacked the Soviet Union. Therefore, Cheney = Hitler. Of course, if you prefer, we can say that Bush = Hitler, but we all know who pulls Bush's strings.

And so, the world can be represented as having two sides:

The Fascists: Bush, Cheney, Hitler

The Socialists: Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot

Of course, based on the above, we also see why Hitler is so despised: He was the predecessor of Bush and Cheney. Fascists three, they are!

Also, may I add that to the extent that Hitler was a Socialist, he was a rather poor one, as the only beneficiaries of his economics plan were Jews and Gypsies. A true Socialist, such as Mao, will work to the benefit of the entire population.

Ergo, Hitler was a capitalist.

I trust that this was a clear explanation.

Sincerely,

Prof. Dr. rer. pol. hc Paul Kurgman, Ph.D.

P.S. You write with some odd spellings; are you a Canadian?

 

 

User avatar
Good Afternoon Professor,

I read your articles routinely and may I say, great work. There is no need for me to say that, because you know that, and you know that I know so obviously I am being unecessarily redundant. Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, my question is:

Which candidates in the upcoming do you support? Who gets your nod as most aptly suited to re-organize our unorganized economy. Strangely, I have fared pretty well over the last few years despite the rapid deline in new memberships (which results in some pretty creative money making schemes), but like the MSM says, its my neighbor I should be concerned about, even though I have never met them nor have any idea of their income level. If I read the paper right, most seem to be struggling.

So, when I pull on the strings so to speak of my loyal puppets, (and their purse strings) to whose camp should our loyalties lie? Have you sir, with all your wisdom and knowledge ever considered a run for office? You would make an excellent candidate, but you know that, and you know that I know that and....damn it...there I go again.

UB
Local 221

Hello Mr. Union Boss.

If my social status were considerably lower, I would apologize for the delay in my response.

In short, I am supporting the late Gus Hall for most elective offices. As you correctly point out, we are all suffering -- and the Christian right wing is impeding the unions' efforts to bring wealth to every man, woman, and child.

I believe that Mr. Hall will be on the Democratic ticket in most states. With enough support, he should win at least a few districts.

In answer to your other question, I do not run for office. My expertise lies in providing policy guidance and focused prescriptions for achieving optimal economic distributions and balanced social measures. And with Bush out of the way in '08, I expect every known problem to be promptly cured anyway.

Thank you for looking after the working people.

It is not often when I have an opportunity to communicate with someone of your somewhat low social order. It makes me feel “solidarity” with the people.

I trust that you understood my vocabulary.

Yours,


Professor Kurgman

 

 

Leon Triteski
Dear Professor Kurgman,

I abase my unworthy self at the feet of your 13 PhD's and I dare not even consider the sublimity of your IQ, which passeth all understanding. But I have a question.

During my college days a tentured professional economist told me that Demand is the word for what progressive students do when they march around the Student Union yelling slogans. Or were those demands? I can't remember.

Oh, I remember now. They were 'non-negociable demands'. What is the difference between demand and 'non-negociable demands'?
Hello Mr. Triteski

"Demand" is a verb, and "non-negotiable demand" is a noun. For example, the following phrase would be incorrect: "WE NON-NEGOTIABLE DEMAND THE END OF AMERICA AND ZIONISM". Instead, it should read, "WE DEMAND REPARATIONS TO THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE".

Yes, wearing my "English teacher hat" was beneath me, wasn't it?

Prof. Kurgman

 

 


 
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