October 15, 2014 by Anders Ingemarson
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. The title does say “Paul Krugman is Right!” I’m the first to admit that I never thought I would agree with Nobel Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on anything. But, alas, I stand corrected. In his article “In Defense of Obama” in the recent issue of RollingStone, Krugman makes the case that “Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history.”
With consequential and successful, Krugman means leaving a concrete legacy, without necessarily evaluating whether that legacy takes the country in a good or bad direction. He offers as evidence of Obama’s concrete legacy the ACA (Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare), post-recession financial regulation (Dodd-Frank), and the environment (EPA regulatory enforcement).
In January of this year, I made a similar argument in “Obama In Pantheon of Most Successful U.S. Presidents?” I argued that in terms of leaving a lasting legacy, without evaluating whether that legacy is positive or negative, Obama may take the place alongside Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and LBJ in the pantheon of most successful U.S. presidents.
Krugman’s use of “consequential” and my use of “lasting legacy” are basically synonymous. But here ends the similarities. Krugman, being an arch-statist in politics and an arch-Keynesian on economics, cherishes what he sees, as it furthers his vision of subjugating the individual to the state. I, being a champion of Individualism, individual rights, Capitalism, and the moral case for separating state and the economy, dread the thought, for the same exact reason: it furthers the subjugation of the individual to the state.
Unfortunately, looking at where the political wind is blowing, I don’t see much evidence contradicting Krugman’s (and my) claim. Principled opposition to the ever-expanding welfare state appears non-existent.
Predicting the future of ObamaCare in “Obama In Pantheon of Most Successful U.S. Presidents?”, I said “When the kinks of the website have been worked out and most people have managed to enroll, when time has worked its therapeutic magic and the initial frustration has faded into memory, ‘ObamaCare’ runs the risk of becoming like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—another program that most Americans consider a fact of life and that most politicians on either side of the aisle loathe to question the existence of, never mind proposing radical alternatives to.”
So far, I’m sad to report that I have not seen any signs that leads me to revise my view. I haven’t seen anybody with a positive vision for removing the yoke of government regulation in favor of allowing and empowering Americans to take control of their lives: someone with a positive vision of an alternative to ObamaCare that returns control of my healthcare choices to me and my doctor; someone with positive vision of freeing the financial industry of regulation and cronyism; someone with a positive vision of repealing environmental regulation in favor of strengthening property rights.
I urge you to read Krugman’s article. Don’t sneer at it. Don’t brush aside his arguments. Ask yourself how the average not-so-politically-interested American would react to it, and I think you’ll find that he or she would likely buy into Krugman’s argument. And then give some thought to how you would refute him with a positive vision of the future in the areas he’s covering (healthcare, finance, the environment) anchored in a principled defense of Individualism, individual rights, and Capitalism.
That positive vision and that principled defense are the only remedies that will cure America of Krugman’s Statism, and replace the statists in the pantheon of America’s most successful presidents with champions of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.