Saturday, February 20, 2016

#51 / Facing Columns


For those who take their New York Times the old-fashioned way, by reading a physical newspaper, the photos above will be familiar. On the left is Times columnist David Brooks. His column ran on the lefthand side of the editorial page on Friday, February 19th. On the right is Paul Krugman. His column was on the righthand side of the editorial page on the same date. 

In terms of their political philosophies, this is a reverse of the normal polarity. Krugman is usually on the "left," and Brooks is generally more to the "right." On February the 19th, however, the column placements did seem to reflect the political points of view being expressed in the columns. Brooks penned a rather nice argument in favor of a more positive and welcoming approach to immigration

Krugman used his column to savage Bernie Sanders, suggesting that Sanders' suggestions on the economy were nothing less than "voodoo economics," and that Sanders had joined the Republicans that Krugman typically criticizes by opting for "economic fantasies." 

A writer for SalonElias Isquith, has noted how Krugman has veered to the right on Sanders, and is now using his considerable influence with political progressives to undermine Sanders' challenge to the candidate favored by the Democratic Party establishment, Hillary Clinton. 

Who comprises that "establishment?" I think you can get the idea from reading this excerpt from Krugman's column:

Mr. Sanders is calling for a large expansion of the U.S. social safety net, which is something I would like to see, too. But the problem with such a move is that it would probably create many losers as well as winners — a substantial number of Americans, mainly in the upper middle class, who would end up paying more in additional taxes than they would gain in enhanced benefits.

Krugman is arguing that protecting the economic position of the "upper middle class" should be a priority, and that anything that would reduce their economic advantages is not only politically difficult (which can be admitted) but is actually "wrong," and bad policy.

Obviously, Sanders is shooting to help the "ordinary" folks. 

I'm with Bernie!

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