The Brave US Liberal Paul Krugman rails against his government and the AOLTimeWarnerGeneralElectricDisneyWestinghouseNews
Book Review of Paul Krugman's "The Great Unraveling", 2004
[This review of Paul Krugman's The Great Unraveling. How the Bush Administration is Ruining America, 2004 was published in: junge Welt, August 10, 2004 and is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.jungewelt.de/2004/08-10/020.php.]
From Campus publishers known for dry scholarly specialized literature, a polemical book against the US administration has appeared that rivals Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11" in sharpness of words. Its author is Paul Krugman, liberal US professor of economics and candidate for the Nobel Prize in economics. Under the title "The Great Unraveling", the professor from Princeton University compiled his columns ;on US economic-, social and budgetary policy that appeared in recent years in the New York Times along with current commentaries.
"We face one of the most wicked rogue governments on earth in democratic enlightened America", Krugman begins. "This administration "denies the legitimacy of the existing political system and seeks to abolish it." The "radical rightwing" around Bush & Co. wants to make out of the US a country "in which there is no social security system, that forces its will on the world with military power, where religion is taught in the schools instead of evolution and democratic elections if necessary are only a camouflage."
The politics of the republicans is a result of the extreme social polarization that has occurred in the last decades and will intensify. In tax policy the administration pursues the old goal of the radical rightwing, the end of all taxes on capital revenues and only taxation on wages. Journalists should understand "that high government dignitaries consciously lie". He urges and hopes for a counter-movement so "this dreadful period in American history will be finally over."
Krugman continues with detailed criticism of Bush policy after this fiery prelude. All the quotes are found on the first 35 pages. The detail precision is somewhat inadequate because Krugman assumed knowledge of his themes from New York Times readers. German readers do not have this knowledge. A few comments on the questions discussed by Krugman are necessary.
The deficits expected in the near future will prompt the Bush administration to dismantle social security and revitalize private insurances instead of investing the reserves for "strong pension age groups". Krugman calls these plans "Voodoo economics. The government's assertion about the supposed payment of interests of private life insurance companies is "pure wishful thinking not supported by any economic theory". "The American state can be best described as a mammoth insurance company with an incorporated army", Krugman says. Statements of a supposedly high payment of interest of private life insurance companies have recently spread in Germany. Meanwhile the hangover is great after the crash of stock prices. That the hangover will not last long is ignored. Life insurance companies always had a risky form of old-age provision, more risky than legal pensions.
The tax policy of the Bush administration - enormous tax gifts for the rich so the budget surplus of the Clinton administration was reduced $570 billion a year within a few years and chang3ed into a gigantic deficit - was decried. In the meantime the "cart is in the mud"... What military options do we have? Krugman quotes a cartoon from the New Yorker magazine as an example of the US administration's attempt to justify its whole policy with the supposed necessities of the "crusade against terror". Krugman's alternative - "a rational state investment program", "increasing unemployment assistance" and "financial injections for the states" recall union demands. The sums are American, "$100 billion", Krugman says.
Readers learn much about the cronyism of the Bush clan and its sponsors, by business, especially the energy branch and about the Enron scandal and other scandals. Early on Krugman blamed the energy crisis a few years ago on manipulations of energy corporations. At that time people like US vice-president Richard Cheney spread the lie that environmentalists were responsible for the crisis. US district attorneys were supplied with the documents of manipulations - telephone records, mail of corporations like Enron & Co. to plant managers urging them to turn off their power plants to trigger an energy shortage.. "Never in the history of the United States was a government so unmistakably a marionette of the economy", Krugman said.
Krugman's polemic against the control of the media by the rightwing is interesting but unfortunately too general. "AOLTimeWarnerGeneralElectricDisneyWestinghouseNewsCorp keeps us informed", he rants and raves.
This polemical book that delights in controversy is worth reading even if its author is basically a brave US liberal.