Friday, May 06, 2011

Krugman and what it means to be liberal

I greatly enjoyed this New York Magazine piece on Paul Krugman and his policy critiques of the current and previous administrations. I have much admired Krugman's work at the Times and online, and tend to agree with the way that he would like to see things pushed, so it was nice to see how he arrived at some of his arguments, and some push-back from those who disagree. Am amused by the description of Krugman as the "leading exponent of a kind of liberal purism against which the compromises of the White House might be judged," but we have so few audible voices on the actual left that he indeed has come to fill that role.
If you arranged members of Congress from left to right based on how they voted on welfare-state issues—Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance—it turned out that this left-to-right axis could predict every other vote: On Iraq expenditures, on abortion, whatever. “When you realize the fundamental divide in U.S. politics is just this one-­dimensional thing, and that is how you feel about the welfare state,” Krugman says, “that changes things.”
We have so little basis anymore for discussion of class issues or the value of the welfare state that we seem to be pulled hither and thither by the proposals of conservatives, unable to rally the public to a wider defense on the basis of values arguments. Perhaps we can find our way back, and along the way help Krugman feel less alone...

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