At “MSN Money” — which presumably is the world of finances what MSNBC is to the world of politics, Michael Brush asks, “Is fear of President Barack Obama one reason we’re stuck with sluggish economic growth?”
That’s the message the CEOs of several major companies are sending out.
In unusually vitriolic attacks on a sitting president, including references to communist Russia and Adolf Hitler, CEOs have complained they can’t predict what Obama will do next — and how his new regulations and taxes might hit their companies.
The argumentum ad Hitlerum comes here:
Blackstone Group CEO Steven Schwarzman seemed to compare the Obama administration to Hitler by saying in a recent private meeting that Washington’s push to increase taxes on private-equity firms is war, “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939,” according to Newsweek.
Here’s the situation: The U.S. economy has been crippled by a financial crisis. The president’s policies have limited the damage, but they were too cautious, and unemployment remains disastrously high. More action is clearly needed. Yet the public has soured on government activism, and seems poised to deal Democrats a severe defeat in the midterm elections.
The president in question is Franklin Delano Roosevelt; the year is 1938. Within a few years, of course, the Great Depression was over. But it’s both instructive and discouraging to look at the state of America circa 1938–instructive because the nature of the recovery that followed refutes the arguments dominating today’s public debate, discouraging because it’s hard to see anything like the miracle of the 1940s happening again.
What Krugman calls “the miracle of the 1940s” is more commonly known as World War II, a ruinous conflict that cost some 60 million lives, including more than 400,000 American ones, and that entailed the near-extermination of Europe’s Jewish population.
World War II is sometimes called a “good war,” meaning that few dispute American intervention was necessary or that we fought on the right side. But this easy moral clarity is possible only because the Axis actions that started the war were unambiguously evil.
In April 2009 we noted that David Leonhardt, a Krugman colleague at the Times, had praised the economic policies of Germany’s National Socialist Party. Now Krugman calls World War II itself a “miracle.” The Old Gray Lady is in the grips of utter madness.
And speaking of Krugman, as Russ Smith writes, the former Enron-advisor turned Timesman doesn’t seem to realize that he himself is a member of that Wealthy Ruling Class that he so frequently berates:
[R]ichness abounds in Krugman’s 800 words. Buckle up: “The spectacle of high-income Americans, the world’s luckiest people [some wealthy Americans worked very hard, and took risks, to accumulate their fortunes, but in Krugman’s world, they’re all layabouts], wallowing in self-pity and self-righteousness would be funny, except for one thing: they may well get their way… You see, the rich are different from you and me: they have more influence.”
It goes without saying that 100 percent of America’s unemployed would gladly trade bank accounts with Krugman, and might well be offended that he has the audacity to link himself with the less fortunate who have no money and no influence.
And, in fact, in Krugman’s blog “The Conscience of a Liberal” later on Sept. 20, he sort of fesses up, perhaps because of what’s perceived as a less formal venue. He writes: “I lead a very privileged life (yes, I’m well into the range that will pay higher taxes under the Obama plan), yet even now I find myself experiencing occasional flashes of green-eyed envy. (What? You’re driving me back to the airport in Sao Paulo, in all that traffic? Don’t I rate a helicopter?)”
I don’t begrudge Krugman his wealth or privileged lifestyle; he’s fulfilled career goals not by luck but by dint of his own industry. And though of course he has an accountant who works on his annual taxes, I’ll take him at his word that he won’t grumble if the Bush cuts expire. But he’s not unemployed, he hasn’t lost one of his three houses to foreclosure and he’s not going to bed hungry. Krugman’s words wouldn’t have the whiff of the left-wing equivalent of a “birther” if he were to admit that he’s not an “ordinary” American.
Which brings to mind a classic quote uttered by two multi-millionaire rock stars, who like many on the left, must keep up appearances of being Working Class Heroes no matter how silly it makes them look. As I wrote last year:
“Don’t let this club membership change you, John. Stay ornery, stay mean. We need you to be pissed off, and restless, because no matter what they tell us – we know, this country is going to hell in a handcart. This country’s been hijacked. You know it and I know it. People are worried. People are scared, and people are angry. People need to hear a voice like yours that’s out there to echo the discontent that’s out there in the heartland. They need to hear stories about it. [Audience applauds] They need to hear stories about frustration, alienation and desperation. They need to know that somewhere out there somebody feels the way that they do, in the small towns and in the big cities. They need to hear it. And it doesn’t matter if they hear it on a jukebox, in the local gin mill, or in a goddamn truck commercial, because they ain’t gonna hear it on the radio anymore. They don’t care how they hear it, as long as they hear it good and loud and clear the way you’ve always been saying it all along. You’re right, John, this is still our country and we’ll always be victims of powerful people.”
No matter how big the football stadiums we play, the amount of records we sell, or the size of our net worths.
“What? You’re driving me back to the airport in Sao Paulo, in all that traffic? Don’t I rate a helicopter?”
(Incidentally, that’s a good quote to keep in mind whenever Krugman or any of his fellow Timesmen goes off on a global cooling/global warming/global climate change/global climate disruption rant.)