So Paul Krugman got a little pink in his latest column:
The austerity agenda looks a lot like a simple expression of upper-class preferences, wrapped in a facade of academic rigor. What the top 1 percent wants becomes what economic science says we must do.
Does a continuing depression actually serve the interests of the wealthy? That’s doubtful, since a booming economy is generally good for almost everyone. What is true, however, is that the years since we turned to austerity have been dismal for workers but not at all bad for the wealthy, who have benefited from surging profits and stock prices even as long-term unemployment festers. The 1 percent may not actually want a weak economy, but they’re doing well enough to indulge their prejudices.
And this makes one wonder how much difference the intellectual collapse of the austerian position will actually make. To the extent that we have policy of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, won’t we just see new justifications for the same old policies?
I hope not; I’d like to believe that ideas and evidence matter, at least a bit. Otherwise, what am I doing with my life? But I guess we’ll see just how much cynicism is justified.
So there you have it, the New York Times, proclaiming class struggle across the land!
It’s definitely a little weird seeing this in the staid, bourgeois pages of the Grey Lady; her audience tends to be on the wealthier side, after all. But inequality has gotten so extreme that even a goodly chunk of the New York Times’ audience can justifiably feel that they’re on the outside, looking in on — or rather up at — the economic party being enjoyed by the select few.
Earlier in the column, Krugman cites a new paper by Bartels, Seawright, and Page which found that the wealthy’s policy preferences diverge considerably from everyone else’s. They tend to care first and foremost about the deficit — and their preferred solution is cuts, cuts, and cuts; to Medicare, to Social Security, to Medicaid. It’d seem odd if it weren’t mirrored in every way by the national dialogue, where the wealthy’s priorities masquerade as the national interest.
If this doesn’t sound like many people you know — or if you yourself are lucky enough to be financially secure, but still don’t particularly yearn for the return of social contract circa 1896 — it’s probably because you think you’re what the authors would consider “wealthy.” But when they say wealthy, they mean wealthy: the average wealth for those the study categorized as wealthy? Fourteen-million dollars.
And that, friends, is how you get the New York Times to sound like a gateway drug to Pravda. (Except, y’know, not really.)