Saturday, 27 November 2010

Krugman and the Irish

Paul Krugman's written a good article to read à propos today's protests against the Irish austerity plan.

I wish more economists would think like this. Above all, I wish they would devote some time to figuring out a way for national economies to be rescued or bailed out without at the same time rescuing the financial elite that by rights ought to have been hit hardest by the mess they've caused.

What's most depressing about all this - including the earlier protests in Portugal, France and Britain - is the utter helplessness of the protesters. The big political parties as well as the big newspapers have already agreed that the poor will have to be sacrificed again. There's contempt in the air, and it's so thick it's suffocating. The crisis that ought to have been visited on the rich is turned into yet another occasion for transferring wealth to the rich from the poor. The is class-war, no doubt about it - and it's waged from above, by an almost invulnerable elite against everyone else in society.

While this sad war is raging, in Sweden the government coalition is more popular than ever (the conservative Moderate Party alone getting an all time high 37% support in the latest opinion survey). Uh-hum, yes, a remarkable number of Swedes seem quite happy about things! A smug feeling is gaining ground. We think we've been spared. We're feeling grateful to Reinfeldt and Borg for their superior handling of things. And we've totally forgotten that the unemployment rate is still close to 10%. This is how hegemony works. There are convictions everywhere, but they rest on amnesia and stupidity - and in their fringes one feels the smell of cynicism and timidity.

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