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Ed Driscoll

Gray Lady = Great Timing

April 1st, 2013 - 9:12 pm

“As Judge Approves Stockton Bankruptcy, Krugman Praises California Comeback,” as spotted by Scott Shackford of Reason, who takes one for the team, reading Krugman so the rest of us don’t have to:

Does the air on Planet Krugman have higher levels of nitrous oxide than Earth’s? I always find myself trying to hold back giggles reading Paul Krugman’s columns. When last I touched on him, Krugman was weirdly blaming Hostess’ failure on the decline of union power and influence, even though union power most assuredly contributed to the company’s downfall.

Now, Krugman wants to tell us what we can learn from California’s comeback. Yes, he has bought into that narrative, while at the same time accusing the rest of us of buying into a narrative that the state is going to hell:

Meanwhile, back in this universe, Walter Russell Mead adds:

Stockton is already burdened with 18.7% unemployment and the highest foreclosure rate in the US, and now things are going to get much worse. These are the consequences of pursuing so many expensive public projects and endless employee benefits. The city’s leadership simply assumed that revenue would increase indefinitely. Now it’s all come tumbling down, and pensioners and the poor will suffer the worst of the fallout.

It’s hard to see how the state could be experiencing a “comeback” when multiple cities are declaring bankruptcy—San Bernardino is up next. This is just the beginning of Stockton’s legal and financial mess. The effect of today’s decision will be closely watched by unions and insolvent cities across the country.

Oh, and by the way, “Were California’s state government a business, it would be a candidate for insolvency with a negative net worth of $127.2 billion, according to an annual financial report issued by State Auditor Elaine Howle and the Bureau of State Audits,” the Sacramento Bee adds.

In a separate post, Mead writes that Times journalists who believe that a California comeback is either happening or right around the corner, “seem to look at tenured teachers, happy prison guards, and fleeced one-percenters and believe conditions are promising enough to move on to romantic dreams of the future. Over the heads of undereducated kids, the chronically unemployed, and the poor, they see a high-speed train zooming along the sparkling coast. This is not how progressives used to think.”

If they’re escaping further into fantasyland, it might because their ideas have once again been tested and proven spectacular failures. (Unexpectedly.) A decade ago, when California changed cruise directors from Gray Davis to Arnold Schwarzenegger and reshuffled its deck chairs, Ann Coulter wrote:

In June 2002, the liberal American Prospect magazine was hailing California as a “laboratory” for Democratic policies. With “its Democratic governor, U.S. senators, state legislature and congressional delegation,” author Harold Meyerson gushed, “California is the only one of the nation’s 10 largest states that is uniformly under Democratic control.” In the Golden State, Meyerson said, “the next New Deal is in tryouts.”

Unfortunately, like a badly directed play, this is one production that should have closed out of town, instead of being the prototype for Barack Obama’s Great Recession. Forward! (Into oblivion.)

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"When last I touched on him, Krugman was weirdly blaming Hostess’ failure on the decline of union power and influence, even though union power most assuredly contributed to the company’s downfall."

Of course. Krugman (likely) believes that if unions were powerful enough they would have protectionism and the same union contracts for all food processors. Hostess would probably still be in business since all of their competition would have the same contracts. It's Krugman's idea of a level playing field - everyone has the same cinderblocks tied to your ankles.
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