The unlit, unpaved road to somewhere

[updated below]

Paul Krugman, to put it mildly, does not show his work in his latest column. The picture he paints is a grim one, to be sure, even if it is only half the picture. It is also wildly misleading.

Krugman writes:

The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno.

Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel.

A few points and then back to the column.

Krugman invokes a number of instances of government services being slashed around the nation and the worrying effects of these cuts. Let’s take the first example, Colorado Springs, whose local government has turned off a third of its streetlights in order to trim the proverbial fat from its tightened budget. This is a pretty bizarre way to save money, no doubt about it. Government exists to provide basic services like streetlights and certainly when government walks back on even this most mundane of missions there’s a problem. Of course, Krugman does little to offer a remedy for this or any of the other problems he lists beyond raising taxes. I find this about as compelling as a conservative Op-Ed which focuses solely on cutting taxes.

Terry Tamminen also discusses Colorado Springs, but compares it to another American city, Lexington, Massachusetts. which has decided to save money another way: by replacing old inefficient lights with new energy efficient ones:

The brightest bulbs, literally and figuratively, are in Lexington where town Selectmen approved a plan to replace inefficient streetlights with newer energy and carbon saving models. The move will cut electricity costs from over $286,000 per year to under $70,000—a dramatic 75-percent reduction.

The cost of the retrofits will be repaid by savings in under four years, after which the town pockets those substantial benefits. Energy-efficient lights last about six times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, so the town will also cut its labor cots for streetlight maintenance by more than 80%.

It’s also good for the environment. See how much more compelling that is than simply raising taxes? It cuts spending, cuts energy usage, saves money for the local government and residents, and keeps the bulbs lit. It also puts people to work in the short term which is stimulative, but saves labor costs in the long term.

Now let’s move on to the paved roads conundrum. Krugman uses the pavement problem as a guiding analogy for the rest of his column, but doesn’t go into much more detail. For instance, he doesn’t mention that the most common type of asphalt used to pave roads is petroleum asphalt, and that petroleum asphalt prices have skyrocketed. In some states, the price of asphalt has actually doubled since 2008. This is central to the decision by some counties and localities deciding to let dilapidated roads go to gravel. Far from the failure in the social contract which Krugman makes it out to be, these are hard decisions being made by local governments in places where not only the government itself is strapped for cash, but people working outside of government face their own belt-tightening. Perhaps raising taxes to pay for expensive pavement on rural roads is simply not the best priority in the middle of a recession.

Nor am I arguing against government paying for roads. We need roads, obviously. The economy would go to gravel without them. Nevertheless, perhaps people concerned with the environment should consider the environmental implications of maintaining our current infrastructure. Petroleum asphalt doesn’t just eat up oil for its own production, it facilitates the use of gas guzzling cars. Forward thinkers might take this opportunity to begin looking harder at alternative transportation options, though admittedly the rural areas in question will be a ways down on the list when it comes to passenger rail. Again, this isn’t quite as simple as just raising taxes. Oil, I imagine, isn’t going to get cheaper any time soon. Priorities have to be made.

Okay, back to Krugman:

And a nation that once prized education — that was among the first to provide basic schooling to all its children — is now cutting back. Teachers are being laid off; programs are being canceled; in Hawaii, the school year itself is being drastically shortened. And all signs point to even more cuts ahead.

Well it’s true that teachers have been laid off, along with numerous other workers inside and out of government. But teachers have also been siphoned off by charter schools. In my home town we had to close a few schools this year which was obviously not something anyone wanted to see, but the fact was the student population had simply dropped way off as more and more charter schools opened up. This could easily spin off into a school-choice debate, I realize, but the point I’m making is not whether or not charters are good or bad – the point is that a lot of teachers moved from public schools and into public charter schools because that’s where the students went. This is true in many, many cities across the country.

Besides that, the government reports that employment prospects for teachers have overall remained steady, and that employment of teachers in elementary and secondary education “is expected to grow by 13 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.” There is little to suggest in these projections that somehow Americans are on the verge of nixing the educational social contract. Nor have I found any statistics which would suggest teacher employment will actually be lower in 2011 than it was prior to the housing bubble.

Krugman again:

We’re told that we have no choice, that basic government functions — essential services that have been provided for generations — are no longer affordable. And it’s true that state and local governments, hit hard by the recession, are cash-strapped. But they wouldn’t be quite as cash-strapped if their politicians were willing to consider at least some tax increases.

And the federal government, which can sell inflation-protected long-term bonds at an interest rate of only 1.04 percent, isn’t cash-strapped at all. It could and should be offering aid to local governments, to protect the future of our infrastructure and our children.

Once again the only solution Krugman provides to this mess is a tax hike. While this may be part of the solution, the examples above show that it can’t be the only solution. Yet it is the only solution Krugman offers. Saving a teacher’s job, he suggests, aids unemployment numbers. But what if the kids are over at the charter school? Does saving that teacher’s job really aid the unemployment numbers then? Emerging nations are upgrading their roads, Krugman writes, but he never once discusses the rising cost of asphalt or the environmental costs of paved roads or old light bulbs. Instead he simplifies:

How did we get to this point? It’s the logical consequence of three decades of antigovernment rhetoric, rhetoric that has convinced many voters that a dollar collected in taxes is always a dollar wasted, that the public sector can’t do anything right.

The antigovernment campaign has always been phrased in terms of opposition to waste and fraud — to checks sent to welfare queens driving Cadillacs, to vast armies of bureaucrats uselessly pushing paper around. But those were myths, of course; there was never remotely as much waste and fraud as the right claimed. And now that the campaign has reached fruition, we’re seeing what was actually in the firing line: services that everyone except the very rich need, services that government must provide or nobody will, like lighted streets, drivable roads and decent schooling for the public as a whole.

So the end result of the long campaign against government is that we’ve taken a disastrously wrong turn. America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere.

Is any of this even remotely true? And even if there is some truth to it, is it the whole truth or just one spin on the bigger picture?

Krugman leaves off the whole bit about a recession, about falling revenues due to things like falling home prices and the subsequent drop in revenues which were for several years based on vastly inflated real estate numbers. He sets up and knocks down one myth – the myth of the welfare queen and the dystopian bureaucracy – and replaces it with another: the myth that the only reason we are where we are today is because we’re spending less on public services like education because we refuse to raise taxes. In fact, education spending has increased dramatically at all levels of government. Between 1991-1992 and 2004-2005 education spending increased by 105%. Nor is there evidence that this trend shows any sign of reversing. Perhaps the reason Krugman can get away with this rhetoric is that the public overwhelmingly thinks the system is failing – while at the same time most of us consider our own children’s school a success:

satisfaction_with_k12_education

Public spending cuts are never pleasant. Someone is always hurt in the process – just like when private sector layoffs occur, or when companies not designated as Too Big To Fail actually fail. This is why spending responsibly is important, and why social safety nets are one area where government spending really can alleviate the problems inherent with a market economy (and with reality, for that matter). But part of the reason why private markets work at all is because failure occurs. And while we don’t want our government to fail, we do need to have mechanisms in place to ensure that it is effective and that people aren’t kept on the payroll merely to keep them on the payroll, or to break windows just so they can be paid to fix them.

Furthermore, if the only answer to a problem is to raise taxes, we miss out on all the good ways we can save money and improve outcomes – like replacing old light bulbs with new energy efficient ones. Taxes are obviously a necessary part of all of this – and we’re going to need to raise some and at the very least we’ll probably need to let the Bush cuts expire. I’m equally unconvinced that paying the same rates Americans paid during the Clinton years will have deleterious effects on the economy. Whether raising taxes or cutting spending is the right policy move right now is another question entirely. But to suggest that we’re headed toward a future of unpaved roads and empty public schools is little better than to engage in the sort of scare tactics Krugman has accused his political opponents of himself. Surely he can do better.

Updates and comment responses.

Sentient Puddle and Raoul both mention the upfront costs associated with capital investments such as new lighting infrastructure. One thing the light-bulb piece points out is that city officials have worked out deals with private suppliers to pay for these investments over time, so that the savings discovered in the new energy efficient bulbs can offset the costs. This makes it much easier to afford upfront and avoids the need to hike taxes. This isn’t always going to be an option, but it’s a great idea!

Bobby Thompson points out that investment in infrastructure is economically essential in the longterm and expensive in the short term. Very true. This may require tax hikes. Many localities around the nation are increasing property and sales taxes. I voted for these increases here. My point is not that we can do all of this without ever raising taxes. It is that there is a limit to what can be done by solely increasing revenue or solely cutting spending. Other solutions exist – like the light-bulb example.

Glenn – bonds = debt. It’s cheap debt, for sure, but I think there’s merit to not simply throwing money at a problem.

Dave – thanks, and I’m perfectly willing to concede that Colorado Springs is mismanaging their responsibilities. The hardcore anti-tax message is pretty useless and can be downright antithetical to properly managing government.

To those of you who have nothing better to write than to label my post as a screed or hackish, I guess your minds are made up. I’m glad for you.






426 replies
  1. 1
    General Stuck says:

    oooh, taking on Krugman, Yer gonna make Little Baby Che cry.

  2. 2
    bookcat says:

    People concerned with the environment ARE the ones concerned about the sustainability of our current infrastructure! Who do you think has been raising the issue about that these last years? Who do you think HAS been pursuing all those alternative energy ideas? The GOP?? I mean, come on!

  3. 3
    Bulworth says:

    petroleum asphalt prices have skyrocketed. In some states, the price of asphalt has actually doubled since 2008.

    Any idea why? Couldn’t really tell from the link.

  4. 4
    Stephen1947 says:

    Krugman gets a lot less space on the NYT op-ed page to make his case than you do here to semi-rebut it. He is pointing to trends. You try to prove him wrong by showing that there are other solutions to the problems he points to than those who are creating the problems are using. As far as I can see, you didn’t even lay a glove on him. Also, too – he would probably agree with some of your alternatives.

  5. 5
    Punchy says:

    What sucks is knowing that there’s several points of Kain’s of with which to quibble, but that he cant (wont) respond to any of them, so whats the fucking point?

  6. 6
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    I thought asphalt was a rectal disease…

  7. 7
    Dork says:

    @Bulworth: Last time I checked, asphalt’s black. Like the President. See the connection now?

  8. 8
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Krugman does little to offer a remedy for this or any of the other problems he lists beyond raising taxes.

    Paul Krugman has spent the last several years offering remedies for this, and not just “raising taxes”. This is simply false.

    Krugman leaves off the whole bit about a recession, about falling revenues due to things like falling home prices and the subsequent drop in revenues which were for several years based on vastly inflated real estate numbers.

    Again, he’s done nothing but write about those things for quite some time now. Which also means that your next claim:

    He sets up and knocks down one myth – the myth of the welfare queen and the dystopian bureaucracy – and replaces it with another: the myth that the only reason we are where we are today is because we’re spending less on public services like education because we refuse to raise taxes.

    Is also simply false. Krugman has acknowledged countless times that the current disaster is due to many things, not the least of which is a massive, devastating financial collapse of the kind not seen since the Great Depression.

    All I can imagine that you’re doing here, trying to give the benefit of the doubt, is taking only what’s written in this article, word for word, as if he’s never written anything else or as if the entire story isn’t well-known.

    However when you start stating that he’s spinning a “myth” that “the only reason where we are today” is because of smaller public spending, it seems more like willful misinterpretation. To use the mildest word I can think of.

  9. 9
    Legalize says:

    @Punchy:
    Exactly. Hate to say it, ’cause he seems like a nice enough guy, but it’s no different than trying to argue specific points with conservatives / libertarians generally: strawman after strawman, false dichotomies, and opinion / belief stated over and over as if they were fact.

  10. 10
    someguy says:

    Gravel roads, no streetlights, alternative transportation? Clearly you’re a fan of night mountain biking. I knew you were a fucking hippie, E.D.

    No mention of the possibility of getting federal help for the localities of course… Nope, it’s gravel roads or bust.

  11. 11
    blahblahgurgleblegblah says:

    Most street lamps going back for decades use high pressure sodium bulbs. Those are highly efficient. Lexington will transition _some_ incandescent bulbs used in the town square to compact florescent. The savings are real, and it is a positive move.

    However, your argument does not refute Krugman’s point on communities shutting down street lighting to save costs, as most roadways are lit not by incandescents but by high pressure sodium bulbs. Which are _more_ energy efficient than compact florescents, but do give off an ugly yellow tint to the light.

    One could not save money by replacing high pressure sodium with compact florescents. It is an apples to oranges comparison. And further, to shut off street lights in order to save money is a direct safety concern for all citizens in the area. It might save local city and state budgets, but at the cost of increased car accidents; in other words: human lives.

  12. 12
    Stillwater says:

    Krugman does little to offer a remedy for this or any of the other problems he lists beyond raising taxes.

    It may be because Colorado Springs’ shortfall in the budget was directly caused by a low-tax policy championed by Douglas Bruce.

    In 1991, TABOR (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) passed in Colorado Springs with 61% approval. At that time, voters also approved my tax cut petition, which ended city taxes on telephone, electric, gas, and cable TV bills; lowered property taxes; and phased out a “temporary” 0.5% sales tax rate increase the city council had imposed since 1984.

    Tax reductions got worse from there, with tap-fees and building permits supplementing anemic city revenues. When the building boom ended, so did the flow of money to the city.

  13. 13
    General Stuck says:

    I am all for spending cuts. It’s just which ones that causes consternation. I say cut military spending that is out of control, not only for the stupid Iraq War the GOP brought us, but mostly for the enormous waste, fraud, and abuse to where the GAO says a trillion or so bucks is unaccounted for, largely because they also say the Pentagon is unauditable due to insane book keeping.

    Then we should start in on all the wingnut welfare for big business like oil and big pharma, etc.;.. etc…….., And giving tax and other incentives for corps to outsource our jobs whilst claiming tax shelters in the Caymans and elsewhere.

    The last thing we cut are social programs for the poorest among us, like welfare, SS et al. Not only because it hurts directly folks who have no other resources, but because great nations are judged that by how they treat those citiens with the least. I realize that is contrary to standard gooper philosophy, and is why I despise republicans and others who would sell their own mother down the road for under the banner of anti income redistribution.

  14. 14
    Midnight Marauder says:

    Furthermore, if the only answer to a problem is to raise taxes

    Funny. I missed the part in his article where Krugman explicitly said raising taxes was the only way to get out of this mess, as opposed to being a very obvious and effective solution.

    Funny that.

  15. 15
    Steve M. says:

    Wait — your response to an increase in the price of asphalt is to propose a gazillion-dollar remaking of our entire transportation grid? I’m actually in favor of something like that, to save the environment and screw the oil exporters, but are you seriously arguing that that’s more economical? In the short term? Really?

  16. 16
    NonyNony says:

    @Punchy:

    What sucks is knowing that there’s several points of Kain’s of with which to quibble, but that he cant (wont) respond to any of them, so whats the fucking point?

    Exactly. If he’s not going to engage or reply – but instead just post essays full of pontification – then there really isn’t a point. He constructs essays full of both decent points and straw, people in the comments point it out the straw to him, and he never engages the criticisms but instead just posts the next straw-filled essay. Plus he has the strangest ideas of what “liberals” believe in – like he’s never actually known any liberals except for a few rich-kid dilettantes and he’s constructed his view of “what liberals believe” from those kids and a heaping dose of movement conservative caricatures of liberals.

    It would be different if he engaged in the comments – even if it were just posting new essays full of his pontification in response to questions/criticisms raised in the comments. But he doesn’t. So what’s the point?

  17. 17
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    E.D.:

    John Cole asked us to, if we disagree with you, make intelligent, detailed rebuttals so as to help facilitate a healthy discussion of each topic on its merits. With that in mind, I think I speak for all of us here when I say HAHAHA COCKS

  18. 18

    Engagement on infrastructure! Hooray!

    I think that Krugman went over the top a little bit in this essay.

    But the issues he is emoting over need to be addressed.

    In my not-very-humble opinion :-), any government that wants stability would be wise to try to keep up with local governmental services such as utilities, roads, garbage pickup, firefighters, police, EMS, and schools.

    And any government that wants stability would be very wise to tend to these matters ESPECIALLY during difficult times.

  19. 19
    tomvox1 says:

    Um, the only “tax hikes” Krugman mentions in this column are to allow the Bush tax cuts on the affluent to expire…as they were originally designed to do. Paying the same tax rates as the Clinton years for the greater good of the country is hardly punitive and allowing the sunset date to take effect on Bush’s tax cuts as was legislated is not, I repeat NOT, a “tax hike.”

    And I’m not sure how you can read the whole (short) column and not come away with K-thug’s main point: more federal aid to the states. That is really what he is advocating, not “tax increases.”

    BTW, get ready for more cuts that are non-constructive, non-stimulative, non-good ways we can save money and improve outcomes at the state and local level as the Obama stimulus peters out. This is something Krugman also predicted back when, I imagine, you were rooting instead for the invisible hand of the marketplace to work its wonders and pull us back from the brink of depression without all that pesky government spending but merely some good ol’ fashioned light bulb changing or some such. Yipes.

  20. 20
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    I find this about as compelling as a conservative Op-Ed which focuses solely on cutting taxes.

    The difference being, of course, that raising taxes could actually help to solve the problem.

  21. 21
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @tomvox1: to allow the Bush tax cuts on the affluent to expire…as they were originally designed to do.

    Remember, the only reason they put the expiration on there was so that they could sneak them through using reconciliation. I don’t believe for a minute that they ever really wanted them to expire.

  22. 22
    Face says:

    Perhaps the reason Krugman can get away with this rhetoric is that the public overwhelmingly thinks the system is failing – while at the same time most of us consider our own children’s school a success:

    Are you fucking high? You’re trying to assess the quality, effectiveness, and thoroughness of this country’s educational system based on whether parents are “satisfied” with it? You rhetorically sweep away myriad quantitative studies showing the signficant defeciencies and continual decline by American students by showing a graph that parents are pleased with their PTA and that their kid’s teacher doesn’t cuss in the classroom?

    Edit: Rereading, I see that you’re not really commenting on the quality of education, but the spending. But many would see a direct coorelation of the two, and expect that higher taxes should address the problem.

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist: Of course they didn’t want them to expire. However, lemons into lemonade.

  24. 24
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    I don’t believe for a minute that they ever really wanted them to expire.

    Bingo. They didn’t have the votes to beat a filibuster so they went through reconciliation figuring that in 10 years they could pound the Democrats for supporting a tax increase by allowing these cuts to sunset, and that our dipshit media would play right along. Mission accomplished, I’d say.

  25. 25
    eco2geek says:

    Here’s a NYT article, Governments Go to Extremes as the Downturn Wears On, that describes the ways local governments are cutting back on things like full school years, bus systems, and streetlights in the absence of revenue to pay for them.

    Here’s a Glennzilla column, What collapsing empire looks like, commenting on the NYT article and comparing the way we’re (deficit) spending money on two wars while our local governments can’t afford things like full school years, bus systems, and streetlights.

    And if you’ve been reading Atrios’ blog at all, you’d know that he’s been saying for quite some time that the federal government could and should do something about the long-term unemployment rate by spending money on fixing infrastructure.

    Let’s see, how can we possibly fix the problem of an unemployment rate stuck long-term at 9.5% and the problem of crumbling infrastructure?

    And while we don’t want our government to fail, we do need to have mechanisms in place to ensure that it is effective and that people aren’t kept on the payroll merely to keep them on the payroll, or to break windows just so they can be paid to fix them.

    Surely you can do better.

  26. 26
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    In my city, due to the dramatic loss in tax revenue, the school system is filling the positions at the new middle school (which is a remodeled freshmen center) by taking from every other school in the district. Let me say that once again: Loss of tax revenue. I’m in Texas, the place that pays so little in sales and property taxes that a quarter of the state’s population does not have health insurance even though we have a lower than national average unemployment rate. And no, teachers here are not magically being sucked off by charter schools: Teachers are getting laid off. Teachers are not working. The myth you seem to have is that we are keeping schools open even if they don’t have enough students. Where in the hell did you get that idea?

    As for the paved roads, you’re arguing that Krugman is wrong because Krugman is right? That because local governments are having to make hard choices about how to pay for roads, which improve the economy by lowering the cost of shipping, Krugman is wrong to suggest that the federal government should help. Because, if they did, then local governments wouldn’t have to make hard choices about roads?

    And Krugman and others have proposed in other articles ways to save money, such as a Medicare Buy-In/Single Payer healthcare system, bringing all of our troops home and reducing the size of the military.

    I can’t wait for when you argue that rural areas don’t need electricity.

  27. 27
    jfxgillis says:

    Erik:

    Lexington, MA. Smart, educated voters with enlightened representatives.

    Colorado Springs, CO. Stupid wingnut ignoramuses with shortsighted representatives.

    Is this sinking in yet or would you like me to expand on it?

  28. 28
    j low says:

    Weak Tea. There is no local and state budget crisis? There are no furlough days? There are no shortened school years? At least there wouldn’t be if everybody just bought energy efficient light bulbs? Way to totally take down Krugman! I bet he wants to give that nobel prize back now that he’s been so thoroughly schooled.

  29. 29
    licensed to kill time says:

    @FormerSwingVoter: Made me laugh, you did!

  30. 30
    Downpuppy says:

    Getting away from a highway based system is a lovely, urgent goal. It also has as much to do with Krugmans point about not throwing in the towel on a just society as a charter school does with teacher layoffs. Charters are just a different form of governance of publicly financed education.

  31. 31

    …perhaps people concerned with the environment should consider the environmental implications of maintaining our current infrastructure. Petroleum asphalt doesn’t just eat up oil for its own production, it facilitates the use of gas guzzling cars.

    Is E.D. Kain suggesting we invest in public transit? I LOVE that idea! Supertrains! Yessss!!!

    Of course Republicans keep deriding such ideas as a liberal tree hugging waste of money. But I think that’s *exactly* what we need.

    Unfortunately, as I wrote about this issue here (no, Krugman and I do not attend the same cocktail parties, we just caught the same wind of inspiration), public transit funds are being slashed right and left, too! Nashville cut bus service. Clayton County, Georgia has completely eliminated its bus service. All of it. Shutting down the public bus system means that’s a bunch of employees now out of work, exacerbating our unemployment mess. We’re in a death spiral.

    So it’s not like we can choose between paving roads and having a supertrain. We’re not getting *either.*

    Seems to me I read of the latest unemployment numbers that a large chunk of those people are government employees — not the Census workers, but people like bus drivers, teachers, librarians, etc.

    I keep waiting for the free market fairies to show up and save us but I guess they’ve all “gone Galt” until we no longer have a black president.

  32. 32
    Jeff Spender says:

    This is about as funny as the time that bastard Parkhill set up a hotdog stand on Mars.

  33. 33
    Trentrunner says:

    Ok, this is wrong in so many ways that I don’t know where to begin…

    But let’s start here:

    You compare private sector industry/job losses with public sector industry job losses, saying effectively, “Hey it hurts when the private industry cuts jobs; of course it’s going to hurt when we cut public sector jobs.”

    Horseshit. If HP cuts 10% of its workforce, we might get slower chips and crappier laptops, but if we cut 10% of, say, our education budget, we get UNEDUCATED CITIZENS.

    These false public-private equivalencies drive me nuts.

    Yes, raise taxes. We’ve been systematically cutting taxes for four decades. Time to raise ’em, get our streets paved, turn our lights on, and fucking educate our children.

    Sheesh.

  34. 34
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @fasteddie9318: they went through reconciliation figuring that in 10 years they could pound the Democrats for supporting a tax increase by allowing these cuts to sunset

    Yup, either that, or if they were still in charge because of the Permanent Republican Majority™, just wink wink pass an extension with deeper cuts for good measure.

  35. 35
    t says:

    how about just putting the “continue reading…” link higher up in this baloney sandwich so it’s easier to ignore on the front page?

  36. 36
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Midnight Marauder: Paul Krugman actually writes mostly about the government using funds they have or have access to in order to put stimulus where it’s needed, for the express purpose of getting the economy going again so that existing taxes, not new ones, bring in enough to start paying down the debts.

    Because as every sane economist knows, you’ll never pay down the debt by cutting back, or even by raising taxes, but only by getting the economy growing at a healthier rate again.

    James Galbraith puts it that there are bad deficits and good ones; a deficit that gets you nowhere and can never be paid off because you’re cutting things back, and a deficit that you use to pump money into the economy and so can be paid down eventually.

    And we did it in the 1990s.

    I mean, there are real arguments to be had here, conservatives want to argue about how to stimulate the economy and so on, but simply saying “Krugman only has one solution: raise taxes!” is just engaging in Wingnut talking points, if you ask me.

  37. 37
    cmorenc says:

    As someone who’s both an avid amateur astronomer and someone who’s had an avid interest in environmental issues long predating my involvement in astronomy, I am more keenly aware than most of the immense amount of profligately wasteful, inefficient, poorly designed lighting throughout the United States. When you’re flying over the United States at 35,000 feet and see many square miles of brightly lit suburban lights directly visible at that altitude, the vast majority of that represents (literally) needlessly wasted energy from poorly designed lighting, as well as vast sums of money wasted paying for that needlessly wasted energy. In part, it’s because so many people have been falsely conditioned to associate optimal useful visibility and safety from a light source with the ability to see the exposed direct light source itself, e.g. the traditional pyramid-shaped bulb in the ubiquitous cobra-headed streetlights. Or, the common unshielded bare-bulb garage-side spotlight or 360-degree transparent outdoor light fixture. However, this assumption is false – you actually lose visibility in the glare directly in your eyes, which interferes with your ability to see more than a short distance and renders you unable to see past the most brightly lit area much at all. Of course, better lighting practices will have a personally significant secondary benefit to folks like me of reducing urban/suburban skyglow, so we can once again see and appreciate the night sky, but the main reason we should change our lighting practices toward better-shielded, more energy-efficient designs is to save money and save the environment (e.g. reduce our carbon footprint).

    This country will inadvertently benefit in the long run if more of America DOES go darker with fewer, but better-designed streetlights and houselights. It reflects very poorly on the education and awareness of our society that only a small fraction of the population anymore, especially younger people, can successfully identify any celestial objects other than the sun or the moon, having no idea that the very bright “star” currently up just at sunset is Venus, or the very bright “star” currently up toward midnight is Jupiter.

  38. 38
    Clown Shoes says:

    Really expected more. Its all well and good to criticize Krugman. Its not all well and good to give us more hot air. Sad to see this post.

    Also, too, I’m invoking the Delong rule here.

  39. 39

    And while we don’t want our government to fail …

    Beg your pardon but this is precisely what the Newts and Grovers and Kristols want. They want the government to fail so corporations can run things …. at a profit to them and the rest of the elites.

  40. 40
    matoko_chan says:

    the only solution Krugman provides to this mess is a tax hike

    no, he is proposing letting the Bush TAX CUTS expire.
    liar liar pants on fire.

    Perhaps the reason Krugman can get away with this rhetoric is that the public overwhelmingly thinks the system is failing – while at the same time most of us consider our own children’s school a success:

    and this is exactly why you conservative fucktards can spoof the electorate with your voucher crapology.
    You can’t spoof the world though.
    the world is smarter on the average than the conservative base.
    FYI, the US has fallen in the number of college diplomas issued from 1st place to 12th.
    jesus-mary-an-joseph, Kain, stand and deliver or STFU.

  41. 41
    Anonymous says:

    TL;DR.

    Don’t you people have jobs?

  42. 42
    cleek says:

    Perhaps the reason Krugman can get away with this rhetoric is that the public overwhelmingly thinks the system is failing – while at the same time most of us consider our own children’s school a success:

    see also “Keep The Government Out Of My Medicare”.

    let’s see if you can identify the GOP’s role in the problem.

  43. 43
    Emma says:

    Anecdote is not data. But prior to my current job I spent two decades plus working with freshmen in a large sub(urban) University, and I can testify that if the kids’ preparation for college is any indication, the educational system in this country has been trending towards disaster for a while now.

    When I arrived in this country in 1970 I lived in a large midwestern city and attended as close to an inner city high as made no difference. There were music and art classes as well as regular subjects, and college prep was taken seriously. The last time I checked, most high schools were dropping all elective courses, not to mention basic things like geography and math above basic calculus. When I first started my career in librarianship, remedial classes for entering freshmen were considered a last resort. In the last three years of my employment in said sub(urban) university, remedial classes on basic things like writing a paper and doing basic research were part and parcel of the library’s mandate.

    Whether parents are happy with the PTA or not, their offspring don’t come out of the pipeline ready for college.

  44. 44
    Bob says:

    Sure, not having enough money to maintain government services so that rich people don’t have to pay more taxes doesn’t have to be a problem at all! How about cases where local municipalities are laying off police and firemen? That’s not a problem! We could, for example, just provide citizens with their own guns and buckets for water and save tons of cash right there. You see, it’s a win-win, not a problem! How about if our schools are going broke? We’ll just double class sizes and eliminate sports and humanities education. Again — it’s a win-win! See how easy this is?

    Heck, why worry that the rich keep getting richer and our government priorities seem to be constantly shifting towards the benefit of the big-shots and against those of the middle class. Without having the threat of actual poverty and starvation, most lazy middle-class Americans would have no motivation at all. It’s just another win-win for society!

  45. 45
    beltane says:

    As someone who lives on a gravel road, I can tell you that any tax savings are clearly outweighed by the added cost of automobile maintenance. I suppose it helps out my local mechanic.

    There are also no fuel savings. I get much better mpg on the paved road.

  46. 46
    Punchy says:

    we’ll probably need to let the Bush cuts expire.

    “probably”…heh. And I’m sure he’s fiscal conservative.

    hacktacular.

  47. 47
    Michael says:

    The part that is so sucktastical about ED’s pointless little screed is the notion that all this infrastructure was there, painstakingly built over decades. Why is it crumbling? Because the pocketbooks that fund the echo chambers of conservatard/libertariatards decided to scream “WE MADE OUR ZILLIONS ON OUR OWN WITHOUT ANY HELP FROM GUBMINT!!!!!”

    They then went on a 30 year crusade to let it fall apart, because government does nothing right.

    See, the guy with 47 antique cars in his garage, a private jet that plows the skies, solid gold toilets, 18 mansions and 4 yachts isn’t benefitting from good roads that distribute goods and services, an educated, literate customer base that feels secure in middle class status, a stable court system to reliably administer justice, a set of administrative rules to keep the playing field even, good communications networks or the societal stability that comes from these things.

  48. 48
    Roger Moore says:

    @blahblahgurgleblegblah:

    One could not save money by replacing high pressure sodium with compact florescents.

    Actually you can; my employer did so a few years back. Sodium lamps are very efficient at converting power into light, but the quality of light is very poor. It turns out that a substantially dimmer white light source can give better real-world viewing conditions. If the whiter light source is reasonably efficient, the reduction in needed light level lowers the power requirement more than the loss of efficiency increases it. It’s not a huge advantage, and it’s bad for any nearby astronomers (who like sodium lamps because light pollution from them can be filtered easily), but it works.

  49. 49
    blahblahgurgleblegblah says:

    Hey, where’s Kain – the author? Shouldn’t front page submitters be required to at least respond on point to refutations in the comment section?

  50. 50
    Dave says:

    Personally, I like having E.D. present a differing viewpoint that is unpopular with many. He does it in a calm way that doesn’t involve the mouth-foaming insanity that too many conservatives are afflicted with these days. I thought his pointing out how Carter used de-regulation to the nation’s benefit in a couple of areas was excellent.

    In this post, though, what gets lost in the shuffle is that Colorado Springs is one of the most tax-adverse localities in the nation. They rejected a raise in property taxes to mitigate just some of their budget deficit. A deficit that couldn’t be bridged just through changing bulbs and the like (which is still a good idea).

    The citizens of Colorado Springs willingly chose to gut their city because too many of them buy the GOP bullshit line that “taxes=evil” and the idea that there is no left side to the Laffer Curve. In that light, taxes do need to be raised just so the city can fulfill their end of the social contract.

  51. 51
    beltane says:

    @Bob: We could just be like any other self-respecting third-world country and permit our civil servants to be paid on commission, i.e. bribery. You want that EMT to bring your dad to the hospital after his heart attack? You better have enough cash on hand to make it worth their while.

    Why do I get the distinct impression that conservatives are people who haven’t traveled outside of the US all that much? The general rule is that in places where the government is poor and weak, organized crime is wealthy and powerful.

  52. 52
    Glenn says:

    Doesn’t offer anything other than raising taxes? Funny, how about this paragraph from his column:

    And the federal government, which can sell inflation-protected long-term bonds at an interest rate of only 1.04 percent, isn’t cash-strapped at all. It could and should be offering aid to local governments, to protect the future of our infrastructure and our children.

    Christ, if I wanted to read lying conservative bullshit I wouldn’t come here, I’d just read the WaPo or WSJ editorial pages.

  53. 53
    Raoul says:

    Good contrarian column. I see your contrarianism and double it. 1-Lights: your proposal will take an increase in capital expenditure – pray tell where the money will come from: taxes? Also, though new lighting is more efficient I think the 6X sounds like a salesperson’s pitch. In my home experience I have yet to see the savings promised for a variety of reasons. Lights degrade for many reasons, obviously, the early degradation of the most expensive lamps will cut substantially into savings. 2- Roads. This is simple, essentially an unpaved road is a closed road except for local traffic. Have you ridden one? The damage they do the engine, chassis and glass is overwhelming. But who cares about poor rural folks? And why did you toss public transportation? That really has nothing to do with anything. But keep trying: PK 1 E.D. 0.

  54. 54
    catpal says:

    most of us consider our own children’s school a success And Who was Gallup polling there?

    Have you ever read Jonathan Kozol who writes about the Poorest schools in the US – his books Savage Inequalities and Shame of the Nation will tell you more about the True state of Education in the US.

    I bet that the parents of the poorest schools were Not polled by Gallup.

  55. 55
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Well it’s true that teachers have been laid off, along with numerous other workers inside and out of government. But teachers have also been siphoned off by charter schools. In my home town we had to close a few schools this year which was obviously not something anyone wanted to see, but the fact was the student population had simply dropped way off as more and more charter schools opened up. This could easily spin off into a school-choice debate, I realize, but the point I’m making is not whether or not charters are good or bad – the point is that a lot of teachers moved from public schools and into public charter schools because that’s where the students went.

    Complete non sequitur. Teachers leaving schools doesn’t lead to layoffs. Quite the contrary. If those districts are financially strapped, administrators will just decide to accept the attrition because that’s one less teacher they have to remove from the list.

    As for Krugman offering “only” tax increases as a way of maintaining the level of public services such as teachers, there are two basic ways of dealing with local budget deficits: increase revenues or reduce services. Your coy framing of the issue betrays your own lack of solutions. Yes, Krugman’s “only” suggestion for increasing revenues is to increase revenues (and please, spare us the historically disproven Laffer nonsense), but that’s hardly a shortcoming. You, on the other hand, have offered no means of keeping educational services at their already inadequate levels without increasing revenues. If what you mean to say is, “we could always allow McDonald’s to open a franchise in the schools and kill our kids in exchange for a piece of the action,” say it. If what you mean to say is, “we could always have the kids wear coats inside and turn the heat off,” say it. Otherwise, your criticism of Krugman for not offering more, different solutions is beyond hollow.

    In the long term, investing in infrastructure such as mass transit saves municipalities money. In the short term, it costs a shitload of money. Money that has to come from somewhere. Unless you can produce a revenue fairy, you have to live in a reality where revenues come from taxes.

  56. 56
    Sentient Puddle says:

    I’m a bit strapped for time to give this post the full reading (made it to about the fold), but a quick off-the-cuff critique from what I’ve read so far…

    The choice of making investments now to reduce costs later on (i.e., energy efficient lights) would be great. I mean, what kind of downside is there? Comparable services, cost savings, and no tax hike…what’s not to love? Problem is, we don’t really have that option. Investments have an up-front cost, and as long as states and counties can’t go into deficit, then really, the only choices they realistically have are tax hikes or spending cuts, neither of which are good.

    It’d be great if we could get a states aid package that was contingent on these kinds of investments. But of course, we all know how realistic that is right now, and how much less realistic that will be in 2011.

  57. 57
    AdrianLesher says:

    And I thought “hippie-bashing” was just a term of speech:

    Hippies with iPhones
    by E.D. Kain

    I was at the natural health food store last night with my family and there was this hippie girl there, completely decked out in hippie garb with a guitar, a knapsack – the complete bohemian package. She was singing to herself and looking a little spaced out. Very much the prototypical modern day hippie. And she was sitting there playing with her iPhone.

    Okay, so I don’t begrudge people their lifestyle choices. I had my hippie phase, too (well, my quasi-hippie phase in any case). But an iPhone – or really any cell phone, but especially the really expensive ones, the ones that require you to pay for the internet as well as phone service – just strikes me as really about as anti-bohemian as anything I can think of.

    In fact, I bet if the iPhone (and the internet) had been around in the 1960’s there would have been no hippie movement at all. Yes, these tools are great for organizing movements. But the power of distraction and the distraction of materialism are both exacerbated by our many digital toys. And when hippies with all the trappings of a drifter are still packing iPhones…well, I think it pretty much puts the nail in that particular counter-cultural coffin.

    http://www.ordinary-gentlemen......h-iphones/

  58. 58
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @beltane:

    As someone who lives on a gravel road, I can tell you that any tax savings are clearly outweighed by the added cost of automobile maintenance. I suppose it helps out my local mechanic.

    But some enterprising entrepreneur could start a business located right at the end of the paved road wherein the client is charged a monthly fee for parking his or her car in a structure there and renting a donkey to ride home over the gravel and then to ride back to the parking structure in the morning to exchange for the car. Think of all the useful tax revenue that such a business could generate right up until the point where the entrepreneur became wealthy enough that Republicans would start bitching about how he or she shouldn’t have to pay taxes because as a Galtian Titan he or she should be free from the petty concerns of society’s scum. I like this car-to-donkey idea.

  59. 59
    Guster says:

    What I hate is liberals who think that the best way to pay my mortgage is with money. They’re the equivalent of those conservatives who think the best way to pay my mortgage is by declaring myself a sovereign citizen.

  60. 60
    Butch says:

    There are many more problems in the Springs than just the streetlights: maintenance has ended at most city parks, bus service has been severely cut back, even the police department had to auction off its helicopters, and it was because of TABOR, and that’s a partial list. The whole anti-tax thing is starting to seem childish to me. If we’re going to have infrastructure and police departments and fire departments and healthy schools and a whole bunch of other things then there will be taxes. I hope nobody will counter with this point: OF COURSE I want to see the tax money wisely and well spent; I happen to live in another area of Colorado where any tax increase, no matter how worthy or needed, is doomed – so if you need police protection in this area in the middle of the night, the dispatcher has to call one of the deputies and get him out of bed. Not comforting….

  61. 61
    blahblahgurgleblegblah says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Sodium lamps are very efficient at converting power into light, but the quality of light is very poor. It turns out that a substantially dimmer white light source can give better real-world viewing conditions.

    Tell that to drivers. Your employer did that in a parking lot, where cars travel at fifteen miles per hour or less. I’ll take the sodium bulbs on major highways and lesser traveled rural roadways, thank you.

    However, assuming a township did transition from high pressure sodium to compact florescent street lights, there would actually be an energy savings _loss_ per unit bulb. It would cost _more_ to light streets, with less light emitted per bulb. So where is the recurring cost savings from energy expenditures? Nowhere. Thus, were a town to replace high pressure sodium bulbs with either compact florescent (or LED), Mr. Kain’s so-called energy savings simply would not exist.

    Lexington has a special case situation where they had deployed incandescents in the town square in order to improve the ambient light. They did so because the town was willing to spend extra money in bulbs and energy costs to provide better lighting in its town square. But the town also has many high pressure sodium street lamps throughout the township; a majority of its street lighting. They are NOT replacing those street lamps with compact florescents. I know this because I grew up in Concord, MA and spent countless hours biking throughout Lexington back in the 1980s.

    My point stands. Mr. Kain simply doesn’t understand the limits of the technology which he discusses. Thus, he offered up a technically false argument by making a comparison that doesn’t stand factual muster.

  62. 62

    We’ve seen all these arguments before, from McArdle or Suderman or any one of a dozen other overeducated and underbaked cookie-cutter “pundits.” The post is full of irrelevent, unproven statements and ignores any benefit to raising taxes while making meaningless concessions to bipartisanship.

    Stop pissing down our backs while telling us it’s raining.

  63. 63
    suzanne says:

    @cmorenc: I agree with much of what you’re saying. However, let us not forget that outdoor lighting is one of the most effective crime-prevention tools we have, and so any transition will have to provide adequate downlighting while reducing light pollution. I lived in Tucson, AZ for four years. For three of those years, Tucson had the highest crime rate of any metropolitan area in the country. Tucson also has some of the strictest night-sky ordinances in the country, due to its proximity to Kitt Peak and the UA Observatories. According to the Tucson Police Department, the lack of adequate street lighting was a primary contributor to the high crime rate. (I personally can attest to being chased on foot by a would-be attacker down a downtown street, my best friend was attacked and raped in a parking garage after dark, and another classmate escaped an attacker carrying a machete in an alleyway.) Better lighting in our outdoor spaces can both preserve night-sky views as well as contribute to security.

  64. 64
    Morbo says:

    Surely he can do better.

    Yaaaay, and concern trolling as the cherry on top!

  65. 65
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Susan of Texas:

    It’s not raining; it’s trickling down. Feel the economic success!

  66. 66
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Glenn: What was even more puzzling was that EDK’s post included the same quote from Krugman about selling low-interest bonds, and directly followed it with the line: “Once again the only solution Krugman provides to this mess is a tax hike”. I didn’t know what to make of that, just bizarre.

  67. 67
    jonas says:

    We have entered a downward spiral in which governments — from local to state and federal — can cut critical services to the neediest and most vulnerable (while shielding those most able to pay from higher fees and taxes) and not fear any kind of voter backlash. With the working poor even further immiserated and with no hope of upward mobility, they will have even less political capital and thus be vulnerable to more cuts. Cuts to social services, public transportation, health care, etc., don’t really impact the wealthy (and, statistically, White), who also have the politicians in their back pockets, so there’s no price to pay for balancing budgets on the backs of the poor.

    Can you imagine the US Senate 30 years ago telling ten million unemployed Americans to go fuck themselves? And really not be worried that there would be any political backlash for doing so? Says a lot about where we are as a country right now.

  68. 68
    ET says:

    E.D. I think you ultimately miss Krugman’s point. He is pointing out a few things localities are doing to deal with their budget crisis based on their political situation. Lexington, MA decided to think long term Colorado Springs not so much. Cutting back on fixing/paving roads – short term (though one that does make some sense). However, Krugman is using these example to not just show these local cut but using them (and all the other he didn’t mention because he was writing an op-ed and not a book) to point out that Republicans and their anti-tax message has consequences that people will actually notice. And in this context anti-tax really means anti-government. If you don’t understand what this is then you haven’t been paying attention to the types of Republicans who have been running the GOP since Newt. When the government shut down for awhile a decade ago my mother was thrilled thinking that this was somehow saving money (not) and that government was way to bloated so this was good (not sure how). I had to point out a few downstream thing and remind her that I was getting on plane and flying and frankly the FAA was a good thing before she even had a glimmer that – oh maybe it was bigger than she had though.

    No I don’t think massive tax hikes are the cure all but frankly cutting spending isn’t the magic cure all either.

  69. 69
    Karmakin says:

    One more thing about it, is that there’s a real difference of opinion. Progressives see more productivity and say yay! There’s money for higher wages and more employment. Conservatives see more productivity and say yay! There’s money for higher profits and lower taxes.

    The problem is that during a recession, you want the first. You want higher wages and more employment, because you’re looking to increase aggregate demand to stimulate the economy. So the last thing you want to do is make the problem worse via public service layoffs. That’s what Krugman is saying.

    That said, I think the worst thing about the conservative argument about all this, is that it’s VERY possible that the private sector could take steps to fight and end a recession, and that conservatives, instead of attacking progressives should be encouraging the private sector to take these steps in order to prevent the need for eventual higher taxes to change the direction of the economy.

    Those steps being, of course, to increase wages across the board, and to hire people. Both those things will lower unemployment, and increase demand, and start things back up in the right direction.

    Any “conservative” argument about the recession, any talk about public “austerity” without talking about how the private sector can dig us out from the mess they created, is basically useless.

  70. 70
    cleek says:

    Mr Laffer has a lot to answer for.

  71. 71
    JGabriel says:

    Paul Krugman (via E.D. Kain @ Top):

    The antigovernment campaign has always been phrased in terms of opposition to waste and fraud — to checks sent to welfare queens driving Cadillacs, to vast armies of bureaucrats uselessly pushing paper around. But those were myths, of course; there was never remotely as much waste and fraud as the right claimed. And now that the campaign has reached fruition, we’re seeing what was actually in the firing line: services that everyone except the very rich need, services that government must provide or nobody will, like lighted streets, drivable roads and decent schooling for the public as a whole.

    And here comes E.D. Kain, with an entire post against Krugman’s argument framed in terms of opposition to waste and fraud with penny ante examples that would have, at best, marginal effects in overall budgets.

    E.D. Kain @ Top:

    Krugman leaves off the whole bit about a recession …

    Only if you believe the current recession isn’t the result of the anti-government deregulation Krugman diagnoses above.

    .

  72. 72
    El Tiburon says:

    Saving a teacher’s job, he suggests, aids unemployment numbers.

    Um, yes. Saving a job will in point of fact aid unemployment numbers.

    But what if the kids are over at the charter school? Does saving that teacher’s job really aid the unemployment numbers then?

    I like how you set up your straw-man and assume it now to be the case everywhere a teacher is fired due to a lack of money.

    Emerging nations are upgrading their roads, Krugman writes, but he never once discusses the rising cost of asphalt or the environmental costs of paved roads or old light bulbs.

    Look, the fact is that for the most part, cities and towns are cutting back on what they used to do because of a severe lack of funds. They are not using gravel due to environmental concerns, but financial concerns.

    Instead he simplifies:

    Thank God.

  73. 73
    Captain Goto says:

    Shorter BJ commentariat to E.D.:

    “didn’t show your work! FAIL.”

  74. 74
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @suzanne:

    Better lighting in our outdoor spaces can both preserve night-sky views as well as contribute to security.

    But what would be even better is if we turned off all these socialist public lights and allowed the free market to work its magic. Imagine a new product; the personal street-lamp. Anyone who could afford one could carry his or her own lighting system along with them everywhere they wanted to go. Jobs would be created, good solid manufacturing jobs that would be a tremendous boon to the people of China or whatever unregulated country we outsourced this to. Businesses would make money on this project, money that they could then siphon offshore in order to avoid paying any taxes on it. And crime could be kept localized to the undesirable/peasant/morlock communities where it belongs, helpfully whittling down their populations. This is a great idea.

  75. 75
    J Smith says:

    Not to pile on… oh wait, that’s exactly what I want to do. I’ve NEVER commented at this site before, and I’ve been a longtime many-times-a-day creeper here. I love the frontpage stuff, and I rarely if ever venture into the commentariat.

    It says a lot that ED Kain is the thoughtful conservative, given that he just vomited out a (well-written) few hundred/thousand words totally playing smoke and mirrors with a considerably shorter Krugman column. The gist? Krugman did not offer all possible solutions to the evident and creeping problem of American infrastructure decay. Ergo, Krugman creates a strawman, and since all strawmen are equal, he is just as dishonest as the Republicans who have chosen to starve the nation literally into gravel.

    Cole, please man… maybe you know Kain personally and he’s a great guy. But this shit on the front page is just maddening and total weak sauce. If I wanted to read this kind of warmed over conservababble Brooksian tripe, I’d go find David Brooks at the Applebees salad bar.

    Kain, make a graceful exit, please. This is my favorite blog, and you are shitting on it.

  76. 76
    beltane says:

    @AdrianLesher: Is there some kind of unwritten rule which states that conservative columnists attempting to sound reasonable are required to present anecdotes relating to people they have observed at shops or restaurants? (I’m looking at you, too, David Brooks) Could it be that their only encounters with the outside world are in commercial venues?

    The problem with conservative “thinkers” is that they obviously do not get out much, and have become like foreigners in their own country.

  77. 77
    matt says:

    LOL, just because road paving material is costing more doesn’t mean it’s cheap to lose the investment in them. That’s idiotic.

  78. 78
    Proudhon says:

    Be careful when you accuse a Nobel Prize winner of not showing his work, or at least make sure you’ve done yours. You probably would have been better off looking directly at the PPI data than using an industry source for your asphalt price figures. According to the PPI, asphalt paving material prices are up slightly less than 1% from June 2008 to June 2010 (last available on their site).

    At current prices, the 30-odd billion appropriated last month for the new “surge” in Afghanistan would buy enough asphalt to pave about 31,000 miles of 2-lane highway. The whole damned interstate system is about 47,000 miles. So the money’s there.

    While China builds railways up and down and across their vast country we eat our seed corn.

  79. 79
    fasteddie9318 says:

    Effing moderation…

    @suzanne:

    Better lighting in our outdoor spaces can both preserve night-sky views as well as contribute to security.

    But what would be even better is if we turned off all these soshulist public lights and allowed the free market to work its magic. Imagine a new product; the personal street-lamp. Anyone who could afford one could carry his or her own lighting system along with them everywhere they wanted to go. Jobs would be created, good solid manufacturing jobs that would be a tremendous boon to the people of China or whatever unregulated country we outsourced this to. Businesses would make money on this project, money that they could then siphon offshore in order to avoid paying any taxes on it. And crime could be kept localized to the undesirable/peasant/morlock communities where it belongs, helpfully whittling down their populations. This is a great idea.

  80. 80
    Hugin & Munin says:

    Pardon the lack of substance, but this guy is so full of shit that his Q-Tips(TM) are classified as a biohazard.

  81. 81
    beltane says:

    @Morbo: Concern trolling? This is more like a T-ball coach complaining about Derek Jeter’s stance at bat.

  82. 82
    cleek says:

    @Guster:

    What I hate is liberals who think that the best way to pay my mortgage is with money.

    yeah, those fucking liberals. all real Americans know mortgages should be paid in chickens and blow jobs.

  83. 83
    Mac G says:

    Wouldnt the current crop of conservative policy makers be against spending money on new light bulbs? Unless, maybe their buddies own the company that would be getting the government contract or the company’s CEO is a big financial supporter, then they would be all about energy efficient light bulbs.

    Anything Green=Bad.
    Anything that pollutes=Good.

  84. 84
    John O says:

    E.D. would go a long way towards making me understand what he’s talking about if he would give us some information regarding his own wealth, or lack of it.

    What is it with these guys and taxes? Until someone on the Right starts getting serious about the military budget, it’s all just wealth distribution upwards, to me, because that’s the natural order of wealth, (and power, for that matter), and government should be at least a modest break on that tendency. It isn’t anymore, and hasn’t been for the last 30 years or so. Reagan was a transformational POTUS, all right. We’ve been transformed to decline, largely on the basis of the government IS the problem b.s.

    I got mine. The conservative movement in a nutshell.

  85. 85
    JGabriel says:

    ET:

    No I don’t think massive tax hikes are the cure all …

    Maybe not a cure all, but I bet we could cure 85% or so, just to pull a number out my ass, of our current financial problems with massive tax hikes on the egregiously undertaxed top percent.

    .

  86. 86
    matt says:

    speaking of showing your work, where’s the information on charter school enrollment eating up the jobs of the laid off public school teachers? I didn’t see where you posted that. Until then let’s just treat that as something Snopes hasn’t gotten to yet.

  87. 87
    morzer says:

    Does ED Kain live in the US? Has he not yet figured out that if you want roads (and sewers, bridges, libraries etc) you have to pay for them. Asphalt doesn’t just fall from the heavens, you know. Of course, Kain isn’t going anywhere near the fact that his party – the cretinous, racist, fucked-up GOP – is responsible for the vast bulk of the deficits, as well as the grossly irresponsible attempt to starve the beast, i.e. wreck the government. No, for Kain it’s just a matter of offering up “reasonable” sounding garbage, and getting his snout into the pseudo-conservative gravy train stat. I am all for an intellectual debate, but this series of miserable contributions by Kain simply confim that pseudo-conservatives are deeply entrenched in the cephalo-anal position.

  88. 88
    Spencer says:

    Sorry John

    This is one of the stupidest things I have ever read on balloon juice. It makes me sad. All these posts about how stupid Megan McArdle is, then balloon juice goes and gives her thinking front page status.

    I mean, seriously, it hurts my brain how stupid this post is. I’d love to argue with it, but it shuts down my brain to read it.

  89. 89
    Pangloss says:

    One line in this documentary says infrastructure spending as percentage of GDP declined from 3% in 1980 to 1.3% in 2006.

  90. 90
    You Don't Say says:

    Who isn’t for more efficient spending? But you’re not proposing that everything can be solved through Better Spending the way you accuse Mr. Krugman of relying solely on Tax Hikes, are you?

  91. 91
    John Cole says:

    Now you all are just being stupid. ‘He hasn’t answered my point by point criticism in detail IMMEDIATELY. ED IS THE SUXXOR.”

  92. 92
    Shygetz says:

    Did E.D. seriously make the argument that paved roads encourages the use of gas-guzzling cars? Did he just make the argument that teacher lay-offs aren’t real because some teachers have also moved from public schools to public charter schools, which I guess magically makes laid-off teachers no longer count? Did he argue that saving public school teachers’ jobs doesn’t help unemployment if kids are moving to charter schools?

    He did, didn’t he?

    When the argument that paved roads lead to wasteful driving carries the day, then yes, you are leading to a nation of gravel. Tax increases could solve these problems that Krugman listed…every one of them. Sure, one could reasonably argue that it would bring about other problems, but to argue as E.D. did that Krugman is merely using cheap scare tactics by pointing out the real effects of the tax cut craze that has gripped this nation for almost thirty years is just disingenuous. E.D. should be embarrassed by this post.

  93. 93
    Triassic Sands says:

    @tomvox1:

    …allow the Bush tax cuts on the affluent to expire…as they were originally designed to do.

    In truth, these taxes were never intended to expire. That was just a Winger ploy to make it seem like the tax cuts were responsible and in response to large budget surpluses.

    The way the Congress works now is all smoke and mirrors. This is easy to see when the tax cuts are due to expire, Wingers and Blue Dogs start screaming about “TAX HIKES” and the biggest tax increases in history. It never fails. And weak kneed Democrats cringe at the idea of having to defend what are now classified as tax increases. Meanwhile, the budgetary circus becomes more and more dysfunctional.

    The end goal for Wingers in essentially zero tax rates on wealth, disproportionately high tax rates on moderate and low incomes, and the complete gutting of the social safety net in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.

  94. 94
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    Of course, Krugman does little to offer a remedy for this or any of the other problems he lists beyond raising taxes.

    No, Krugman’s been saying for a while, and says again in this column, that the real answer is for the federal government to borrow money at low interest and give it to state/local governments.

  95. 95
    Josh James says:

    Crikey … why are we supposed to be nice to this guy again? No, not be nice, we’re supposed to STFU, right?

    This is an entirely dishonest essay from the get-go, is it not?

  96. 96
    General Stuck says:

    I think Mr. Kain’s decent contrarian post is a good thing generally for liberals to stir up their brains with. It isn’t overtly supply side trickle down crap we usually get from the wingnuts. The problem is, the substance seems relative more to 1974 or 1979. What we are faced with in the here and now is 30 years of right wing econ theory that has been fully assimilated into our economic engine and controls and has brought the nation to a near stand still with so many obstacles to overcome or fix, that balanced thinking of some tax increases and some reductions in public spending might have been the antidote before 1980. But not now.

    It is supply side bloat and demand side starvation that has now become structural in our economy and in the thinking of the nation, it’s people and business sector. Some fairly drastic change is needed just fast enough that it doesn’t send the system into fatal convulsions. But pretty damn fast, and I think Krugman is right about raising large amounts of revenue, or increased taxes, IS the only way to save ourselves and return to the eternal balance of supply and demand and solid rules for the road to blunt human nature in pursuit of boundless greed. Or measured greed, if you will.

    I think Krugman is mixing politics however, in claiming borrowing more money will create private sector jobs in the very near future. But it is politics I agree with to help keep dems in power, until all this gop caused mess can be cleaned up.

    I like this post by Kain though, and such alternate theory is needed, even if outdated to our current plight. Though daffy with the whole graph thing about parents being happy with their kids education somehow relating to actual quality of teaching and learning in our schools.

  97. 97
    You Don't Say says:

    @John Cole: All?

  98. 98
    blahblahgurgleblegblah says:

    @John Cole:

    Were 100 comments in, John. I don’t expect a FP poster to respond to me personally, but I do expect your blogger compatriots on the site to join in on the discussion. Just like you do.

  99. 99
    ET says:

    If you want a cut you nose off to spite your face, take the case of libraries. I won’t go into all of more esoteric reasons libraries are good because that is frankly not totally helpful when it’s all about money.

    The state of New Jersey is going though a massive budget cuts across the board. One of the areas getting hit hard is the state library system. One of things the state library system does it to facilitate the localities with access to databases (i.e. make it possible for everyone to pitch in so everyone can get access). There is a big trickle down – because it is being massively cut so too are all of the county/city libraries are also loosing out. Add that in with the local cuts and you see where I am going.

    Like other jurisdictions all over the U.S., Camden, NJ (from what I can tell sort of working class) is quite possibly going to close all of their libraries. And in these case it is all about the money.

    They say that can’t afford them anymore. Some will say that they can buy books, or look it up on their computer – so who need libraries. What they fail to understand is there are a whole bunch of people who can’t afford computers much less Internet connection. These are people most likely, who if unemployed, will have to go to the library to fill our job applications for jobs that only accept online applications (as is becoming increasingly the case). That doesn’t even count the borrowing of books, using of online databases, etc. that many still need/want.

    Not only is closing the library going to cost them (they have to get rid of all of the contents somehow) but now all the staff becomes unemployed (and Republicans love the unemployed), and all of those in the jurisdiction that don’t have jobs are quite possibly going to have an exponentially harder time finding jobs – thereby they staying on unemployment (again we know how Republicans love the unemployed).

    Take the case of libraries. Camden, NJ is quite possibly close all of their libraries. There are a few other jurisdictions around the country that are going to do the same. In these case it is all about money. Some will say that they can buy books, or look it up on their computer – so libraries can go away and no one would really notice. What they fail to understand is there are a whole bunch of people who can’t afford computers much less Internet connection. These are people most likely, who if unemployed will have to go to the library to fill our job applications for jobs that only accept online applications. That doesn’t even count the borrowing of books, using of online databases, etc. Just because some people don’t need the library doesn’t mean that there aren’t a whole lot that do.

    Like you said it is all about the choices. I think Krugman’s point is that government does provide useful services for all of its residents but it has to be paid for and cutting doesn’t always get you there and there are always consequences.

  100. 100
    catpal says:

    and cutting City Services – by not raising taxes – could mean the death of a child.

    A 12-year-old autistic child who died in a West Philadelphia rowhouse fire Saturday night might still be alive if not for a recent city policy of temporarily shutting firehouses to save money, the head of the firefighters union and community members said Sunday.

    city’s Fire Department brownout

  101. 101
    John Cole says:

    @blahblahgurgleblegblah: Did you miss the damned post where he pointed out he can not comment during the day?

    One commenter snarks the post is too long, and says “Don’t you have a job,” another is so overtly hostile he misses the fact that yes, ED does have a job.

    I need to take a break from this blog.

  102. 102
    meander says:

    In comment #56, @Sentient Puddle says exactly what I was thinking about lighting efficiency, transportation infrastructure and etc. with “Comparable services, cost savings, and no tax hike…what’s not to love? Problem is, we don’t really have that option. Investments have an up-front cost, and as long as states and counties can’t go into deficit, then really, the only choices they realistically have are tax hikes or spending cuts, neither of which are good.”

    There are a multitude of investments we could make in the public infrastructure if we only had some money available. But states are broke and can’t borrow quickly (some can issue bonds, but not quickly). Cities and counties could reap huge windfalls in the future by retrofitting their office buildings with energy efficient windows, new furnaces and so forth, but unfortunately in energy efficiency you need to have money now to save money in the future.

    This is where ideas like Los Angeles’ 30 / 10 plan comes in. In recent years, L.A. County voters have approved sales tax increases that are dedicated to improved transportation (both roads and public transit). They will run for 30 years, but LA needs better transportation infrastructure and people need jobs right now. So the idea is to structure a loan from the federal government that would essentially advance the 30 years of taxes to the County over a period of 10 years so the work can be accelerated, and then the federal government would be paid back over 30 years with the tax stream from the county.

    For California’s medical care needs, in an OpEd in the New York Times, the dean of the UC Berkeley law school proposed this idea: give them an advance on future federal aid and let them pay it back over time. Basically, the federal government is going to be giving states billions of dollars in the next few years to run various programs like Medicaid. So why not advance them that money and adjust the future payment plan so that the advance will be paid back in the future.

  103. 103
    morzer says:

    @Shygetz:

    I have it on good authority that ED Kain, like all real conservatives, travels everywhere by a coach-and-four.

  104. 104
    beltane says:

    @John Cole: Come on, he could have included the relevant data in his diatribe if such data actually exists. Megan McArdle is rightly pilloried for this kind of dishonest nonsense on a regular basis. I really don’t mean to be hostile, but to rebut Krugman armed with fact-free assertions about gravel roads and fuel economy is a big no-no.

  105. 105
    El Tiburon says:

    From ED:

    Now let’s move on to the paved roads conundrum. Krugman uses the pavement problem as a guiding analogy for the rest of his column, but doesn’t go into much more detail.

    Now it’s a conundrum because you and a WSJ article says so?

    Perhaps we should spend more time on the “TWO WARS and TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY” conundrum.

  106. 106
    jabuhrer says:

    Modernizing our national transit system is going to cost money. I don’t see why the suggestion of a tax increase is considered irrational. The alternative (the libertarian fantasy that private enterprise is going to step up to the plate and solve the problem) is demonstrably impossible: the current, poor state of national transit illustrates the private sector’s inability to meet this need. Even the brilliant, groundbreaking idea of installing efficient light-bulbs (?!??) costs money.

    Your team starved the beast, and now you are saying to let it eat cake. I am so fucking sick of these posts.

  107. 107
    blahblahgurgleblegblah says:

    @John Cole:

    Did you miss the damned post where he pointed out he can not comment during the day?

    Yeah, I did. So what? Perhaps then the content should go live _when he’s available to join in on the discussion._ Doesn’t that make better sense than hit and run FP posts?

  108. 108
    fasteddie9318 says:

    Hasn’t ED already said that he’s probably never going to be able to engage with the comments here? So griping about that seems pointless. And on the principle that if you can’t say something nice you shouldn’t say anything at all, maybe the solution to keep everybody’s heads from asploding is to just stop commenting on these posts.

  109. 109
    El Cid says:

    These are excellent points. I too am all for the cutting of spending which may not be replaced by better alternatives but since there are imaginary situations in which the budget cutters could do those necessary services more efficiently than just cutting them, it follows that it is wiser to go ahead with service cuts rather than raising taxes.

    Which is of course all liberals want to do, is continually raise taxes like of course they’ve done over the past 30 years raising taxes on the rich to almost slavery like levels.

    Cutting out publicly funding obstetrics facilities might prompt more work for unlicensed midwifery. Now, it’s possible that at some locations new models of organizing medical obstetrics might be invented to get by for the cut amount, so, it’s worth going for it now.

    If we stopped giving so much money to public and private prison systems, it’s conceivable that communities could develop much more voluntary based crime avoidance programs, so these spending cuts should go forth.

    We give a lot of money to fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa. Surely in some parts of Africa HIV rates are much lower than in other places, so we know those other places are doing something right, so donation cuts would surely prompt the aid-dependent, tax-consuming high HIV nations to look to the lower-HIV nations for models.

  110. 110
    DanF says:

    @fasteddie9318: fear not fast eddie – it was even funny the second time.

  111. 111
    cleek says:

    @Triassic Sands:

    That was just a Winger ploy to make it seem like the tax cuts were responsible and in response to large budget surpluses.

    it was a requirement the GOP made in order to get around the Senate rules which prohibit bills which increase the deficit beyond a ten year term.

    in other words: the GOP knew exactly what the 2001 tax cuts were going to do to the deficit. and in order to get them passed, they had to specify that the cuts were only temporary.

    that they are singing a different tune today is not really surprising, the GOP is well-known to have a wide repertoire of silly songs.

  112. 112
    General Stuck says:

    @John Cole:

    I need to take a break from this blog.

    Naw, what you need to do is bring in another Kain to balance the Yin Yang. Maybe a conservadem with some honesty, or something along those lines.

  113. 113
    Jim Pharo says:

    “I find this about as compelling as a conservative Op-Ed which focuses solely on cutting taxes.”

    This supposed an even-steven false dichotomy that assumes that cutting taxes and increasing spending are the right’s/left’s presumed agendas. It’s a straw man, at least on the side of the left. (I can no longer tell what the right believes in other than cutting taxes.)

    It also ignores that last 25 years of anti-tax fever, the result of which is that our governments (excepting of course the real government — the defense establishment) are working with sparse and declining resources. It’s simply not the case that there’s been this back-and-forth battle between tax-cutters on the one hand and spending increasers on the other. Dimwit pols of both parties have latched onto the tax-cutting mantra since it sells soap, and the ones it harms are unlikely to complain too much — the poor, kids, the infirm, the imprisoned and the unborn.

    Nearly-required meta note: I’m glad to have a conservative voice, but I’d really appreciate a conservative voice that’s working from the same dataset as everyone else. In other words, real opposition that we can actually benefit from, and not straw-men bashers and reality-ignorers.

  114. 114
    morzer says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    Logically, the best solution would be to remove all possibility of commentary by not writing the posts in the first place.

  115. 115
    PaulB says:

    Of course, Krugman does little to offer a remedy for this or any of the other problems he lists beyond raising taxes. I find this about as compelling as a conservative Op-Ed which focuses solely on cutting taxes.

    First of all, Krugman wasn’t offering a remedy in that column. He was pointing out the problems with the current Republican theology. His thesis is summed up in this paragraph:

    How did we get to this point? It’s the logical consequence of three decades of antigovernment rhetoric, rhetoric that has convinced many voters that a dollar collected in taxes is always a dollar wasted, that the public sector can’t do anything right.

    The Republican party of today has one and only one solution for all economic woes: cut taxes. Krugman is simply pointing out that this has consequences for the future of this country, a point that appears to have sailed right over your head.

  116. 116
    dhd says:

    Although I credit this post with convincing me to take the gun out of my mouth after reading Krugman’s column this week, I have to file this article under “pointless contrarianism” and “strawman arguments”.

    Of course we want government to work more efficiently, and we want to save energy. But to take the example of buying energy-efficient streetlights, well, you need money to buy them in the first place – you have to spend money up front, make capital expenditures, in order to save money (operating costs) in the long run, and as we saw from the “debate” over the stimulus package, this is “not politically possible”.

    While I’d like to think that sensible conservatives exist who actually want to make our government more efficient and our infrastructure more sustainable, at a national level, these people do not exist, with the exception of a Ray Lahood here or there…

  117. 117
    Turgidson says:

    “Liberals heart Krugman and all he ever wants to do is raise taxes! He totally forgot about this one kind of light bulb!”

    …almost as good as the other day’s “the left thinks the sky will fart money and unicorns if we just regulate everything in sight!”

    yawn.

  118. 118
    Karmakin says:

    You can’t blame people for taking economics personally.

    The unfortunate reality is that this sort of argument has real world effects and causes a lot of pain and suffering in a lot of people. And that..

    Well…

    Pisses people off.

    There’s a lot of people who like to think themselves as being “above the fray”, like Erik here. Quite frankly, I don’t think he even realizes what he’s saying.

    He’s saying that we should slash the public sector to encourage wages to come down even further. He’s saying that we should make less money. All of us. Just so that the very rich can pay a bit less in taxes.

    It’s insanity. It’s insulting. And above all, it’s not “nice”. It’s horribly passive-aggressive. And if there’s one thing that annoys me, it’s passive-aggressive behavior.

  119. 119
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @ET:

    They say that can’t afford them anymore. Some will say that they can buy books, or look it up on their computer – so who need libraries. What they fail to understand is there are a whole bunch of people who can’t afford computers much less Internet connection. These are people most likely, who if unemployed, will have to go to the library to fill our job applications for jobs that only accept online applications (as is becoming increasingly the case). That doesn’t even count the borrowing of books, using of online databases, etc. that many still need/want.

    But why do we need soshulist libraries when the obvious and responsible solution here is to let people who can’t afford books and computers go illiterate and drop out of the workforce? Once the safety net is done away with, most of these people will either return to a primitive hunter-gatherer lifestyle or be culled from the populace altogether. Either outcome would prove once again that the conservative solution is the only true way forward.

  120. 120
    morzer says:

    To those of you who have nothing better to write than to label my post as a screed or hackish, I guess your minds are made up. I’m glad for you.

    Megan McArdle, be very scared. Your natural successor has emerged this day.

  121. 121
    eyepaddle says:

    @Guster:

    Is there a currency aside from money that is acceptable to pay mortgages? Barter?

  122. 122
    El Cid says:

    By the way, the American South did just fine without paved or even well-graveled roads until those meddling women of the Good Roads campaigns of the 1920s got all hoity-toity and imposed their nanny-state tax and spend campaigns.

  123. 123
    Remember November says:

    It’s bravado and bluster by E.D, masked in a hoard of anecdotal evidence. Tilting at straw men is fatuous.

  124. 124
    Daveboy says:

    I know I’m a little late, but my personal favorite thing about this article is the author’s assertion that revenue-starved governments are somehow good, because they will come up with all these amazing and clever solutions to save money! Even though the examples we’re getting are all along the lines of: “Town X loses basic service to save revenue.”

  125. 125
    Karmakin says:

    And yes. My mind IS made up.

    Jobs and wages are more important than clutching pearls about taxes on the top 1%. Full stop. I’m a full supporter of doing things efficiently. But like I said, doing things efficiently means that you can then do MORE things efficiently when they need to be done.

    Although to be honest, I personally think that the best solution for the current economic woes would be a 50% increase in the minimum wage, and mandatory double-time overtime for any work over 32 hours. Would create many openings, give a drastic boost to the economy, and without spending a single red cent.

  126. 126
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @cleek:

    all real Americans know mortgages should be paid in chickens and blow jobs.

    If this system would mean that I could tell my banker to “keep fucking that chicken,” I’m all in favor of its implementation.

  127. 127
    Shygetz says:

    My point is not that we can do all of this without ever raising taxes. It is that there is a limit to what can be done by solely increasing revenue or solely cutting spending.

    None of the examples you gave could not be solved by increasing revenue. Now, if you were upset about the disappearing honeybee, I might be sympathetic to that POV.

    It’s cheap debt, for sure, but I think there’s merit to not simply throwing money at a problem.

    When the problem is literally “We don’t have enough money to pay for essential services”, then no, there’s no merit to not simply throwing money at the problem. While your Bhuddist method of eliminating desire for essential services may give you spiritual satisfaction, your gravel roads are ruining my alignment.

  128. 128
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @John Cole: Uh, no, John. We’re saying that we’re not digging his straw men. It’s not like Krugman is some random person who has written one article. And people are posting plenty of stuff refuting ED’s post.

    This post feels to me a lot like the Second Law of Thermodynamics arguments that anti-evolution people make. They make a statement, then the pro side refutes it with data, and by then the anti-evos are off on a totally bogus different point.

    I have an idea, John, post one of ED’s articles under your name, and see what happens.

  129. 129
    beltane says:

    @eyepaddle: In the old days you could agree to toil in your lord’s fields for three days a week in lieu of payment. Maybe that is an idea whose time has come again.

  130. 130
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @John Cole:

    Now you all are just being stupid. ‘He hasn’t answered my point by point criticism in detail IMMEDIATELY. ED IS THE SUXXOR.”

    Because this is only his first post in this utterly vacuous, intellectually dishonest fashion? It isn’t like it’s been his entire M.O. since you brought him on board? Why are you pretending that the (general and specific) criticisms in this thread are unsubstantiated by the past week of reality?

    Again, I understand your desire to defend your decision, but you need to start owning up to just how miserable a job E.D. Kain is doing thus far. His entire “case,” as it is, is nothing but gross misconceptions of actual liberal positions and an egregious denial of the Republican Party’s role in most of the problems he continues to lament.

    Stop taking it out on the commentariat for doing what you asked them to do just because the new guy is a fucking unmitigated failure thus far.

    EDIT: Unless you brought him here for performance art purposes. If that’s the case, then kudos indeed.

  131. 131
    El Cid says:

    @Turgidson: Also, ‘the dam libruls just wanna throw on any dam kinda regyoolayshuns and they done never thought that some reglayshuns is good and some of ’ems dumb. You dum libruls ortta think a’that.’

  132. 132
    Guster says:

    @John Cole: This is McArdle level bullshit, and either you know it or you’re a fuckwit. And you’re not a fuckwit.

    Maybe you do need a break.

  133. 133
    BCHS 1980 says:

    I appreciate the idea of having a non-apostate conservative on the site, but some of the commenters have points. Yoiu seem to be willfully missing Krugman’s point, while not addressing the anti-tax fervor that led to so much of that. CO Springs, as possibly the most wingnut town in the country is the poster child for that movement.

    Also, BJ front-pagers do not hide from the comment section. I applaud John allowing front-pagers carte blanche, but hiding is bad form.

    Also some of the above post reminded me of the commenter from the Olson post who viscerally disliked SSM but couldn’t find a cogent reason for that dislike. Though you don’t seem to share that dislike, it seems on the economic side you have some gut reactions re: taxes. That’s fine, but share them with the class and don’t go McMegan on us by pretending those basic feelings aren’t there.

    EDIT: I forgot that he has a day job. OK then. I’d still say that a post as purposefully incendiary as this one would be best posted while he is in fact around. And that a smart phone and a lunch hour could allow for causal comment-scanning.

  134. 134
    Cassidy says:

    Colorado Springs, CO. Stupid wingnut ignoramuses with shortsighted representatives.

    You’d be surprised. There is quite the progressive population in the city and area.

  135. 135
    Cermet says:

    Well, Mr. Ed our talking horse has proven that he is stupid (didn’t get his points right), a liar (deigned that any solution but raising taxes was offered), and typically like all so-called repub-a-thugs – wrong (too many to list but everyone here did a better job listing) just to create noise – he’s batting a 1000!

    Still, it is fun to read such total ignorance written using words (rather than finger painting) that palin couldn’t read, much less spell. Hope our talking horse continues – just to see how much a rear end of Mr. Ed his thinking really is (he may be a nice person to meet) – someday, he’ll make some good points if only by accident.

  136. 136
    BTD says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Exactly. This post is a joke.

  137. 137
    Guster says:

    @eyepaddle: Sure, the same currency that pays for government services without taxes: lafferbucks.

  138. 138
    shortstop says:

    @You Don’t Say:

    @John Cole: All?

    I believe that was a suthrun “you all,” not an “all of you.” However, it’s still fail, since maybe three people complained about how Kain doesn’t engage in comments and at least 50 are criticizing specifically where the new boy’s arguments have gone terribly wrong.

  139. 139
    El Cid says:

    @Daveboy: This is true. The fact that some better alternatives are being done somewhere, or imaginarily, for less money, means that it’s a good idea to go ahead and slash budgets on the assumptions that those better and cheaper approaches will, or at least should, materialize.

  140. 140
    ksmiami says:

    Ed does not get off that easily. For decades, the only infrastructure spending that conservatives championed was for more and more high tech military equipment. Now you can argue that some of that spending paved the way toward consumer advantages, but have you seen America’s infrastructure recently? Rusted bridges, a creaky energy grid, antiquated public transportation. It’s friggin embarrassing to anyone who has traveled to the socialist nations of England and France. But by all means go ahead and say that liberals have no ideas to fix it, or that Krugman (the guy who is basically always right) should focus on lightbulbs. Whatever, you see, your side has shrunk government in the places that matter and now we are headed toward a 2-class system unless drastic measures are taken like policies of full employment.

  141. 141
    wasabi gasp says:

    I’m thinking tax cut if we would just ditch the bulbs and make Mexicans catch lightning bugs in pickle jars.

  142. 142
    Cassidy says:

    But, what get’s lost in Kain’s alternatives, which seem to be pretty viable, is that the only solution to Colorado Spring’s problems, at this point, is a tax hike. Tourism revenue isn’t doing it. Real estate isn’t moving. These people are gonna have to suck it up and give up some dough if they want the city to stop laying of public service workers.

  143. 143
    El Cid says:

    @wasabi gasp: Hey, maybe if we made them eat all the fireflies then we could just rent Mexicans as streetlights.

  144. 144
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    Hasn’t ED already said that he’s probably never going to be able to engage with the comments here? So griping about that seems pointless.

    I don’t plan to. If he says something dishonest or stupid, I’ll probably mention it, but I won’t expect a response. It’s not his fault. On the other hand, it perhaps falls to the front pagers to post the occasional retort for the benefit of those who never read comments, and some have.

    And on the principle that if you can’t say something nice you shouldn’t say anything at all

    I only follow that principle when it comes to offering compliments.

  145. 145
    James Hare says:

    @Trentrunner:
    HP doesn’t make chips. They make prefabbed systems. AMD and Intel make processors. Their research budgets determine speed of chips a great deal more than their staffing.

  146. 146
    BTD says:

    @John Cole:

    Come on John. this is a really awful post. If someone not on this blog had written it, you would be mocking it mercilessly.

    For crissakes, Krugman has ignored the recession? Are you fucking kidding me?

  147. 147
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    I will agree with John on one thing: It’s time to stop the “He’s a conservative” or “He’s not around to rebut the post” statements. He gives us enough in his posts to talk about. Attack the argument, not the person. (I believe that was a GOS post recently.)

  148. 148
    MTiffany says:

    Government exists to provide basic services like streetlights and certainly when government walks back on even this most mundane of missions there’s a problem. Of course, Krugman does little to offer a remedy for this or any of the other problems he lists beyond raising taxes.

    Well then where the fuck else is the money going to come from? You talk a great game about a local government finding savings by switching to more energy-efficient lightbulbs and working out a deal to pay the bulb vendors over time, but you gloss over the fact of where the local government is getting its money to pay for the bulbs in the first place. And that would be… eek… taxes.
    How awful! Citizens having shell out their hard earned money to pay for the government services that make it possible for them earn their money in the first place. Like roads, those socialist, expensive roads with their expensive socialist asphalt that make it possible for good capitalists to drive off to work every weekday morning.
    If the cost of asphalt doubles in ten years, then people are going to have to either pay more in taxes to maintain their roads, or accept the fact that that being cheap with taxes means accepting cheap government services.
    Want more? Then you pay more.

  149. 149
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @wasabi gasp:

    I’m thinking tax cut if we would just ditch the bulbs and make Mexicans catch lightning bugs in pickle jars.

    There you go, trying to take away good American catching-lightning-bugs-in-jars-to-light-the-way-for-rich-people jobs and handing them over to the Mexicans. Any member of the American peasantry should be thrilled to catch lightning bugs in jars and hold them over the heads of their social superiors in exchange for a mere passing glance of approval from the Galtian Titan in question. Maybe, if said peasant caught a lot of lightning bugs and held the jar just so, the Galtian Titan could be convinced to gift that peasant with a used tissue or perhaps a rag coated with the Titan’s ball sweat.

  150. 150
    BK says:

    Yup. This notion that NOW is the time for states to make large capital investments on efficiency upgrades is ludicrous at best. The OP essentially admits as much, noting that it will be four years before savings are actually realized. The problem is that states and locals need savings now, not in four years. It’s not like these folks are saying “we need to decide between efficiency and cutting services”. They’re deciding between cutting the lights or the cops.

    And the idea that teachers are being laid off due to movement of students from the public system to the charter and/or private system is bunk. Public school class sizes are growing because teachers are being let go due to budget cuts. School facilities that are in desperate need of modernization — to bring those vaunted energy efficiencies, among other needs — are being left to continue their slow decay due to lack of funding. (As a side note, after years of classrooms being constructed to meet the smaller mandated class sizes, schools are finding that it’s not as easy as it used to be to cram 35 kids into a classroom.) I’m watching districts grapple with unprecedented shortfalls. And it’s not due to declining enrollment.

    And finally, the roadways. I’m sympathetic to the idea that we need better planning of our roadway system, and that more rural roads leads to more sprawl, and that the government has a compelling interest in deciding the extent of where it is in the best interest of the locality that it will provide services. But again, like with the lights, the decision is being made out of desperate necessity, not out of any long-term view of what’s best for the city. Perhaps municipalities will be better served by returning these roads to gravel. But that’s not the case the munis are making.

    And I find the idea that better mass-transit is in any way a solution to a rural roadway problem to be a point so unserious that it doesn’t even merit a rebuttal any more than if one told me with a straight face that 2+2= pizza.

  151. 151
    Jordan says:

    Er, doesn’t this miss the entire point of Krugman’s column, which is that cash-strapped cities forced to cut back on essential services (or fire employees) is *exactly the opposite* of stimulus for the economy?

    Nitpicking his examples while ignoring the overarching point is not helpful.

  152. 152
    ksmiami says:

    And if E.D isn’t making over 500,000/ year, then he should know that the Republican economic policies are BAD for him and if he is making more then he should understand that most Republican economic policies are bad if you want a functioning society.

  153. 153
    morzer says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    No handouts for peasant welfare queens! Anyway, the bastards have got magical unicorns shitting out nice little nuggets of gold as approved by Glenn Beck. Must you strip the defenseless rich of even their genital sweat-rags?

  154. 154
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Thinking about it, there is another myth that ED is holding onto: That Democrats only want to raise taxes.

    But lets look at the Clinton-Bush-Obama presidencies. Clinton and Obama have both pushed to raise taxes to pay for things, but both have also put in commissions for reducing spending and making government more efficient. Clinton actually reduced the size of government; Obama’s still working. Bush on the other hand cut taxes and expanded government.

    So, who has been replacing light bulbs again?

  155. 155
    Pat says:

    Back to the original point, Raising taxes on the richest 1% will raise revenues, something the states are seriously lacking.

    Maybe when your trash is piled 4 feet high, and you have to wait for the snow to melt off the paved road that are left you might not think raising taxes on the super rich is a bad idea.

  156. 156
    daveNYC says:

    But what if the kids are over at the charter school? Does saving that teacher’s job really aid the unemployment numbers then?

    Um, yes it does. Is this some variation on the ‘government jobs aren’t real jobs’ meme?

  157. 157
    kindness says:

    Ya know E.D. I have thought you were an OK commentator. A bit harsh and a bit more conservative than myself, but OK. I mean, I am free to go to the next post if I don’t want to read you, right?

    Well, I read you, again. I always have as you haven’t sent me into a banshee rage yet…..but with this post you seem to be pulling out all the stops trying to do just that.

    Honestly, I think you are full of shit. Krugman details his stuff just fine for my taste and you are on the verge of just making fucking shit up. What is up with that, eh?

  158. 158
    matt says:

    Public school enrollment isn’t declining, so the charter school theory is disproven.

    http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=65

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....02023.html

  159. 159
    Phoebe says:

    Yay! I hate streetlights and I hate highways. This is nothing but good news, the first blurb, anyway.

  160. 160
    eyepaddle says:

    @Guster:

    Okay, I get you now, I thought that maybe you had left a word out and inadvertently changed the meaning of the sentence.

    Even though I did sorta think this was where you were going with your statement.

    OT Do you mind if I borrow “lafferbucks?”

  161. 161
    El Cid says:

    Let us assume that some percentage of a government system’s budget is fraud, waste, and inefficiency.

    We can call this variable FWE.

    Let us then assume that FWE = 33%.

    Since we have now established that 33% of this government system’s budget is FWE, we have also proven that it would be in everyone’s interest to cut that government system’s budget by 1/3rd.

    Q.E.D.

  162. 162
    Lesterbut says:

    Oh my, BJ has been one of my favorite sites for some time now; I’ve never commented before, but I’ve visited often and will continue to do so…. I know I’m only one guy, but I am thinking I am glad Mr. Kain’s posting here now….it gives me a safe place to stand and look over the edge into how so-called ‘reasonable’, ‘sane’, ‘thoughtful’ conservatives/libertarians….uh, ‘think’…..
    I urge fellow readers not to be too rough on him and run him off….seriously, it’s nice being able to read this kind of crap – in small doses – without having to permanently damage my browser and cache…
    Cheers.

    Lesterbut

  163. 163
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @morzer:

    Must you strip the defenseless rich of even their genital sweat-rags?

    Damnit, you’re right. In all my anti-brown rage about the Mexicans taking our lightning bug jobs I was just babbling incoherently. You know who made rich people give their ball sweat to the poor? Hitler, that’s who. Or so I’ve been led to believe.

  164. 164
    The Moar You Know says:

    But teachers have also been siphoned off by charter schools.

    Bullshit. You’ve posted some good stuff in the last week here, but this is a flat-out lie.

    I am an accredited teacher, but went into software, and ultimately into owning my own business. My wife is a teacher with 20-plus years of experience. I bring all this up simply as a way of making sure that you understand that I am not some yahoo talking out of my ass here.

    No competent teacher has ever left a school to go teach at a charter school. Not one. The pay is dismal, about 25% of what a regular public school teacher makes, and to make the employment scenario even more dismal, there is no retirement, no union backup, tyrannical administration, and frequently no tenure.

    Charter schools are a refuge for brand-new, degree-in-hand graduates during hard times, alcoholics and dilettantes. None others. The free hand of the market rules in education just as it does anywhere else, bitches, and good teachers don’t stay at schools who pay and treat their teachers like chattel. They go to the highest bidder.

  165. 165
    debit says:

    @Pat: Well, you could always go with the Tim Pawlenty example: promise not to raise taxes no matter what then act all shocked when a major bridge collapses because of lack of maintenance. I guess, just like petroleum products, bridge parts are just too expensive.

  166. 166
    J says:

    I think it’s OK to read stuff I disagree with.

    I think it’s OK if not all counterpoints to a post are addressed in the comments by the original poster.

    I mean, somebody is wrong on the internet all the time. It might even be me.

    That having said, this post is utterly dishonest (as pointed out out in several comments).

    I don’t even think it’s intentional, but the result is nonetheless a steaming pile of hacktacular crap.

  167. 167
    Midnight Marauder says:

    thanks, and I’m perfectly willing to concede that Colorado Springs is mismanaging their responsibilities. The hardcore anti-tax message is pretty useless and can be downright antithetical to properly managing government.

    To those of you who have nothing better to write than to label my post as a screed or hackish, I guess your minds are made up. I’m glad for you.

    How in the world do you possible reconcile these two statements? You go from acknowledging a common criticism in this thread that people used to signify how intellectually unserious your post was, and then you magically pivot to a passive-aggressive slight of those same critics for saying your post was the stuff of hacks, even though you just admit a central part of your “analysis” was bogus.

    You know what is indicative of behaving like a hack? Building an entire post around an idea that Paul Krugman never even advocates. It’s stunning, really, that for you to make that kind of comment after you had the audacity to begin your incredibly deceptive column that ignores all of Krugman’s previous work and rhetoric on this subject in the following:

    The picture he paints is a grim one, to be sure, even if it is only half the picture. It is also wildly misleading.

    You know what else was misleading? Your entire “analysis” of Colorado Springs, which also featured your favorite running trick in this post, the “wildly misleading” claim that all Krugman talks about is raising taxes:

    Of course, Krugman does little to offer a remedy for this or any of the other problems he lists beyond raising taxes.

    Far from the failure in the social contract which Krugman makes it out to be, these are hard decisions being made by local governments in places where not only the government itself is strapped for cash, but people working outside of government face their own belt-tightening. Perhaps raising taxes to pay for expensive pavement on rural roads is simply not the best priority in the middle of a recession.

    Again, this isn’t quite as simple as just raising taxes. Oil, I imagine, isn’t going to get cheaper any time soon. Priorities have to be made.

    Once again the only solution Krugman provides to this mess is a tax hike. While this may be part of the solution, the examples above show that it can’t be the only solution.

    Krugman leaves off the whole bit about a recession, about falling revenues due to things like falling home prices and the subsequent drop in revenues which were for several years based on vastly inflated real estate numbers. He sets up and knocks down one myth – the myth of the welfare queen and the dystopian bureaucracy – and replaces it with another: the myth that the only reason we are where we are today is because we’re spending less on public services like education because we refuse to raise taxes.

    Furthermore, if the only answer to a problem is to raise taxes, we miss out on all the good ways we can save money and improve outcomes – like replacing old light bulbs with new energy efficient ones.

    But then, the kicker, is when you immediately follow that sentence up with this one: Taxes are obviously a necessary part of all of this – and we’re going to need to raise some and at the very least we’ll probably need to let the Bush cuts expire.

    Serious question, E.D. Do you honestly even know what Paul Krugman was arguing for in his column? I mean, really? Do you?

  168. 168
    kay says:

    E.D. I don’t expect you to respond to every comment, so if you don’t see this I’ll ask again, but I’d like you to expand on this, with maybe an entire post:

    On a related note, I still think the best way (though certainly not the only way) to alleviate the short and long-term budget woes of the states is not more bailout money but a direct transfer of the administration of Medicaid from the states to the federal government. This would immediately free up state funds for other programs like education and other public services, while putting Medicaid on a much more even footing going forward.

    I’m curious
    Thanks.

  169. 169
    The Moar You Know says:

    Come on John. this is a really awful post. If someone not on this blog had written it, you would be mocking it mercilessly.

    For crissakes, Krugman has ignored the recession? Are you fucking kidding me?

    @BTD: For the first time in my life, I am in 100% agreement with you. This post is utter crap.

    What’s sad is that he has posted some really good work here. I know he’s capable of much better, which is why I’m truly pissed that this steaming turd of conservababble is gracing the front page.

  170. 170
    Poopyman says:

    @J Smith:

    Cole, please man… maybe you know Kain personally and he’s a great guy. But this shit on the front page is just maddening and total weak sauce. If I wanted to read this kind of warmed over conservababble Brooksian tripe, I’d go find David Brooks at the Applebees salad bar.
    //
    Kain, make a graceful exit, please. This is my favorite blog, and you are shitting on it.

    Au contraire. There are plenty of places on the intertubes where I can read progressives violently agreeing with each other, this blog included. It’s refreshing (granted, sometimes annoying) to get a different opinion on the front page.

    But I come here for the comments, the best on the web. What I read I don’t always agree with, but at least people usually do show their work. Mr. Kain is driving people nuts, but he’s also driving a lot of good, substantive rebuttal. I just hope he doesn’t mind being the pinata around here.

  171. 171
    debit says:

    Also, too, Cole, does E.D. really need you charging to his defense every single time? You’re just chumming the waters when you do that, you know. He’s an adult; let him duke it out on his own. If he can’t, then ask yourself if he really belongs here.

  172. 172
    ksmiami says:

    @John O:

    no – it’s I got mine and screw you… Now let me drudge up some neanderthal social issue to distract you with –

    gay marriage, immygrants, San Francisco.

    BTW John, economics is my passion and it has been aggravating as hell to watch the right sell our economic advantages downriver for nearly 30 effin years. Krugman may not be perfect, but dammit he is right like 98.7% of the time and he has a soul; unlike the true jackals on the right and that is why Ed’s posting is so unbelievably insulting. Has he not seen what Bush’ ownership society has squandered? Has he even been outside?

  173. 173
    Legalize says:

    Many localities around the nation are increasing property and sales taxes. I voted for these increases here. My point is not that we can do all of this without ever raising taxes.

    So you are in favor of (a) a sales tax – perhaps the single most regressive tax there is, and (b) higher property taxes, which have become more regressive due to a shrinking middle class. Both taxes that do not burden the wealthy as much as the lower and (shrinking) middle class.

    You recognize that things need to be paid for. But just like every other winger column, put the cost on the least able to afford it, while letting the wealth skate.

    And the people who read this blog regularly are supposed to smile and say, “hmm, interesting point of view.”

  174. 174
    Hugin & Munin says:

    I fear that all if thepeple remarking that Kain isn’t that bad, and that it’s good to have a conservative voie are the samegoddamned fools tha bought this shit the first go round.

    Fucking idiots.

  175. 175
    Zach says:

    “the myth that the only reason we are where we are today is because we’re spending less on public services like education because we refuse to raise taxes”

    Where is the myth here? Krugman is saying we’re spending less on public services than we could because we refuse to raise revenue or borrow when it’s cheap (and, frankly, profitable) to do so. He doesn’t blame the entire state of America on this fact in the way that welfare critics caricatured everyone receiving welfare benefits. Incidentally, today’s welfare queen is the ACORN-inspired deadbeat borrower.

  176. 176
    Alwhite says:

    Ah! E.D. Now I see why people here are upset with you. For as long as your screed is there sure isn’t any there there.

    I can see why John is upset that people are taking shots at you without refuting your ‘points’. There is nothing in there worth arguing about, it is so poorly thought out & empty that as to be unworthy of response.

    Sorry, now I am guilty of ridiculing you with out refutation. I won’t do that again.

  177. 177
    maskling says:

    my job takes me to west africa. alot. for long periods of time.

    in conakry, the garbage collection and sewage system is called “the tide”. it is entirely automatic and dirt cheap. why can’t our coastal cities use this efficient system?

    roads in conakry, where they exist, are full of potholes. traffic control is non-existent. very soon, i hear, the invisible hand of the free market will repair these roads and install traffic lights. it’s in the works – automatic like the sewer system! no need to tax and spend.

    in conakry, if you want to sell delicious diseased monkey meat by the side of the road, feel free! the market will reject any non-delicious too funky monkey meat thus regulating the quality and health of food without any pesky gubmint bureaucrat cramping your style. the tide takes the bodies out, and republican paradise tramps forward into a future nasty, brutish and short.

    i wish all conservatives would come here! no, i do. i really, really do. please. and don’t come back until you have learned something.

  178. 178
    Poopyman says:

    @morzer:

    Asphalt doesn’t just fall from the heavens, you know.

    Just wait until the first good hurricane in the Gulf.

  179. 179
    jwb says:

    @John Cole: This really is not a very good post, dishonest in a very pernicious way, and the commentariat has every right, I think, to point this out and mock it mercilessly. If ED can’t respond because of other commitments, that’s really his problem—either he needs to post less contentious material or you have to let him take his lumps.

  180. 180
    sylvainsylvain says:

    Not enough time to read through the comments, sorry…

    The main point I got from Krugman’s op-ed is that state revenues are falling because of the Great Recession, and the way to bring them up to a functional level is through U.S. government borrowing. Seems like I read the cost of U.S. bonds right now is 1.04%, can’t find the link, sorry.

    That doesn’t seem so hard to understand. You want to avoid the ‘double dip’ recession, where states have to lay off public sector employees right when the ‘green shoots’ are starting to bloom, causing another economic downturn.

    This is a note to EDK…while I’ve actually enjoyed some of your posts here, this one is more of what I’ve come to expect from the right wing, be it blogs, media types/Limbaugh etc, or Repubs in Congress. You seem to have missed the point of Krugman’s op-ed completely, and instead have picked and chosen other things he’s said to justify your world view, that of ‘Dems always want to raise taxes, and there are other ways solve our problems’.

    Krugman is saying that the problem is there’s no money for the states to fulfill their basic function, and the Feds can do it for cheap, so why not?

    EDK, you’re probably pretty smart, and I trust Cole, so I’m not gonna grinch that you shouldn’t be here. But I expect more from you. Address the issue, don’t tell me how effing streetlamps can save us.

  181. 181
    Mark says:

    So many people have already written so eloquently what I wish I would have had I stumbled upon this post a little earlier.

    We have a giant $600B military that sucks money from each and every one of us. And it is untouchable. So we screw our children. What a country.

    Americans will soon learn how bad even their own childrens’ schools are. In 2000, polls showed something like 80-90% of Democrats thought the US had the best health care system in the world. Now barely 50% of Republicans believe that propaganda.

    I stopped reading ED at his other sites because he spends too much time making strawman arguments like this. It’s too bad he’s over here now.

  182. 182
    Paula says:

    I want to know, how much tax is acceptable to conservatives? Really, I want to know.

    What hear is a form of social Darwinism.

  183. 183
    BTD says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I assume so. Cole has pretty good judgment in writers. I gotta believe this fellow is capable of better than this.

  184. 184

    Actually, colorado springs turned out the lights back in January, and it has less to do with the recession than the fact that the town is run by anti-tax wingnuts.

    as for the rest, I’m laughing at, not laughing with.

  185. 185
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    I will agree with John on one thing: It’s time to stop the “He’s a conservative” or “He’s not around to rebut the post” statements. He gives us enough in his posts to talk about. Attack the argument, not the person. (I believe that was a GOS post recently.)

    This is a total fucking red herring, if it’s coming from John or anybody else. Every goddamn thread this know-nothing puts up has seen an incredible number of people vociferously pointing out just how vapid E.D. Kain’s “analysis” has been thus far. And the criticism (just like it is in this thread) is focused on what he is saying, not who he happens to be.

    Stop offering up this patently ridiculous defense and let this guy defend himself in his next sprawling, ennui inducing epic. Hopefully, that one will also feature more understated hostility towards the commentariat here, as well.

  186. 186
    El Tiburon says:

    BTW, whatever happened to the “Ask a Conservative” over at Salon?

    Just saying.

  187. 187
    beltane says:

    @Mark: While I like and respect my children’s teachers, I am not terribly satisfied with the curriculum. My cousin teaches English and German in a public elementary school in poor, benighted Italy. I would love for my children to have a similar opportunity, but learning foreign languages is hardly a high priority here. The differences in the curriculum are stark and depressing.

  188. 188
    scarshapedstar says:

    Of course, Krugman does little to offer a remedy for this or any of the other problems he lists beyond raising taxes.

    And?

    Bush cut taxes. The country went broke.

    If you were writing a novel and you accidentally erased the whole thing, would you simply hit the undo button or would you seek a different solution?

  189. 189
    BK says:

    One further comment on the update: Just when exactly is taking on debt OK? The OP hurries to point out that the city won’t actually be out a bunch of money if they spring for the light upgrades, because they’ve worked out a way to take the cost on as additional debt — and that it’s a Good Thing to do so:

    “One thing the light-bulb piece points out is that city officials have worked out deals with private suppliers to pay for these investments over time, so that the savings discovered in the new energy efficient bulbs can offset the costs.”

    Yet then he replies to another commenter about K-thugs bond proposal that

    “…bonds = debt. It’s cheap debt, for sure, but I think there’s merit to not simply throwing money at a problem.”

    So within the space of a couple sentences, he’s both advocating for taking on more debt to provide better services, and against taking on new debt to provide for better services.

    I’d also like to remind everyone of how screwed some municipalities got by getting into financial relationships with lenders who turned out to be happy to loot city wealth. I’d be hesitant to suggest that cities resort to the vagaries of the free-market lending world as opposed to highly controllable bond issuances to solve fiscal problems.

  190. 190
    licensed to kill time says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Oh gawd, that was so awful. “Hope that helps!” Passive-aggro to the max.

    eta:I had that very same thought when I first read EDK.

  191. 191
    patroclus says:

    The formatting is weird, so I’ll only briefly comment to say that Mr. Kain makes some good anecdotal counterpoints to Mr. Krugman’s column, which contained some good anecdotal points. Neither offered much in the way of substantive non-anecdotal policy proposals – although Krugman, at least, has done so at length in other writings.

    As to style, Mr. Kain’s disdainful attitude towards Mr. Krugman is far too obvious and annoying and Mr. Kain’s habit of baiting Krugman/his readers with little bits of RepublicanSpeak in virtually every sentence is obnoxious. It is a baldfaced lie to assert that the only policy Krugman suggests is a tax increase and it is a smear (at least amongst economics professionals) to imply that Krugman won’t show his work.

    I really wish Mr. Kain would cut it out and behave like an adult, but I suppose that if you are a lying smearing Republican, it is only second nature to ti lie and smear. Even if you’re just doing a bland economics column.

  192. 192
    John O says:

    E.D., maybe it would help if we went backwards, and you explained to us how the mega-rich, as a group, are NOT the cause of a great deal of our current economic woes, and then you can explain to us why, logically, they shouldn’t have to cough up hard when the trouble comes.

    Since most of national elected and appointed officials have money coming out their private asses, it doesn’t even have to be partisan!

    At least some rich Dems feel some guilt over how bad they’ve screwed us down here in the rank (and increasingly ranker) and file.

  193. 193
    Draylon Hogg says:

    How about a really fast train instead of roads? Could call it the Comet or summat.

  194. 194

    I’ll point something out to ED and some other posters with a personal reference. My work truck is a 1978 Chev K20 which gets 8 mpg and that does suck. The problem, and it is economics, is that to replace it with a truck which can get 16mpg (100% increase) would cost me around $40K and it takes a shit load of +8mpg to cover that number. By the time the new one could cover that it would be costing me so much in maintainance that I’d be buying another one.

    I can keep the current one going for a very long time even with what wears out and not get anywhere near the increased cost per mile of a new one.

    The point is that sometimes what looks like waste has nothing to do waste. 8mpg sounds like wasteful behavior. This is a specialized truck and has to be to accomplish its mission and replacement costs are more horrid because of that. Add to that the fact that I can take this truck apart and put it back together personally (and have) and not so with new iron and economics get even a bit more interesting.

    The very raw data of 78 truck @ 8mpg without explanation is easily taken as bullshit waste.

  195. 195
    Dave says:

    “Well it’s true that teachers have been laid off, along with numerous other workers inside and out of government. But teachers have also been siphoned off by charter schools.”

    And that’s where I decided that this concern troll post asked for one crumb too many. What if they haven’t been siphoned off by charter schools? What about higher ed? The social educational contract has been shredded there for a couple decades at least.

    Krugman wants paved roads. Unprincipled conservatives would just shout no. You’re like, not sure paved roads are such a good idea. So, uh, bite me.

  196. 196
    debit says:

    @John O: Seconded!

  197. 197
    blahblahgurgleblegblah says:

    I have half a mind to drive to downtown Lexington and photograph the bulbs they’re replacing, along with a few standard high pressure sodium street lamps, just to show you you’re WRONG about which bulbs the town plans to replace.

    There is no savings potential for scaling up a transition to compact florescent, because per unit erg a high pressure sodium bulb emits more light than compact florescent. Lexington is NOT replacing their high pressure sodium bulbs. No town _could_ do that and save recurring energy costs.

    It’s a basic engineering issue.

  198. 198
    birthmarker says:

    @El Cid: This is funny because this post immediately made me think of Huey Long and the unpaved roads in Louisiana.

    http://www.hueylong.com/programs/roads.php

  199. 199
    General Stuck says:

    is focused on what he is saying, not who he happens to be.

    Most of the boo hoo about what Kain is saying are some general throw away insults to Paul Krugman. My guess it to highlight and annoy liberals who hang on K thugs every word as though it was from gawd his self.

    So far, he is bringing out the worst in BJ commenters, maybe that is something that needs some bringing out. Otherwise, whether Kain thinks and believes differently than we do, and even if those beliefs are crap and even offensive, he himself shouldn’t matter. What should matter is how we respond, and how that enlightens our thinking, or not. Mostly, or not so far.

  200. 200
    Turgidson says:

    “Why raise taxes when we can screw in better lightbulbs and let some of our less important roads turn to shit?”

    Because that’s like trying to plug Deepwater Horizon with your fucking pinkie finger. Just because there are things besides letting irresponsible tax cuts expire that might have some excruciatingly modest positive effect doesn’t mean we can do without the real solution.

    It’s like telling someone who needs life-saving surgery that they should just ease the pain with some Advil instead and they’ll end up in the same place. Ugh.

  201. 201
    gwangung says:

    Hmf. I’m still at the gentle disapproval stage, waiting for the work to be shown phase (ironic, given the post itself). It oversimplifies Krugman to the point of straw-mannishness, ignoring his past writings which are more detailed oriented. Not nearly as nuts and bolts useful in counter proposals as it should be.

    Not at the heavy artillery phase (though I have no problem with people setting it us).

  202. 202
    Darkrose says:

    Come on, John. The problem isn’t that ED is a conservative, or that he’s not responding immediately to comments. The problem is that while he builds technically sound, attractive strawmen, they’re still strawmen. Do you really think your commenters are going to let him slide on a post that amounts to, “Paul Krugman is wrong because taxes are bad because I said so, that’s why!”

  203. 203
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    The education chart is interesting. If funding has increased like the charts say it has, then why is it that every year I see some new fee I have to pay for that didn’t exist before? Examples:

    1. Part of the school supply list includes now includes supplies for teachers.
    2. If you play an instrument supplied by the school system, such as my son’s baritone, you have to pay a renters fee.

    Education is definitely one of those places where I will always be willing to pay more taxes for, but it is interesting that what I am seeing doesn’t necessarily match the graphs. I wonder how much of this can be attributed to the fact that where I live is about in the middle of the state as far as per student tax revenue? Some of the richer schools in the metroplex pull in a lot more tax money.

  204. 204
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Draylon Hogg:

    How about a really fast train instead of roads? Could call it the Comet or summat.

    Why are we worrying about cars or trains at all? Can’t the poor just carry the rich from place to place on litters or something? Another problem averted with a Sensible Conservative Solution.

  205. 205
    Violet says:

    Leaving aside the bulk of the content of the post, I didn’t appreciate this bit at all:

    See how much more compelling that is than simply raising taxes?

    It’s patronizing.

  206. 206
    debit says:

    @fasteddie9318: Pity the schmucks who draw Limbaugh’s number.

  207. 207

    If the EDK mission is to have his stuff read and commented on, at +200 comments I’d say “Mission Accomplished.”

  208. 208
    birthmarker says:

    I always trash the links! I won’t relink b/c you can quickly just google Huey Long. It basically says that LA. had 300 miles of paved roads in the twenties, 60 of which were maintained by the state. This is what Long campaigned on–paving the roads!

    Also, Wikipedia confirms that Colorado Springs has a huge federal/military presence. The most significant segment of the economy, in fact. Just more food for thought…

  209. 209
    silentbeep says:

    What you said here:

    “Taxes are obviously a necessary part of all of this – and we’re going to need to raise some and at the very least we’ll probably need to let the Bush cuts expire. I’m equally unconvinced that paying the same rates Americans paid during the Clinton years will have deleterious effects on the economy.”

    Is really what I take from what Krugman is sayining as well, for the most part. I don’t know, I don’t consider Krugman simplistic, because what I always assume he is usually speaking to is what you say here:

    “The hardcore anti-tax message is pretty useless and can be downright antithetical to properly managing government. ”

    And that’s the point. He speaks to a hardcore anti-tax message. I don’t think for a moment he literally means, “raise taxes no matter , for all communities, at all times, environmental restructuring and more efficiencies found, be damned.” He is shrill, but his shrillness is always against the hardcore.

    Anyways when he says:

    “But they wouldn’t be quite as cash-strapped if their politicians were willing to consider at least some tax increases” the operative word in there is SOME. Not always, don’t ever think about anything else, ever.

    I’m confused why you find this a problem. There’s always room for nuance. And I don’t think he’s speaking out against being creative and thinking of new solutions. Like I said he’s speaking out against the anti-tax hardcore.

  210. 210
    Paris says:

    I live in a rural area so I don’t mind gravel roads. I hate street lights and think they should be banned for ‘light pollution’. Basically this post is somewhat irrelevant. Krugman was making one point and used some examples. Kain picks on the details of the examples to make different point. And since Krugman’s point did not include Kain’s, Krugman was wrong? WTF?

  211. 211
    jman says:

    Paul Krugman frequenty gives a shout out to Arios, Dibgy or MattY. I wonder if he reads Ballon Juice?

    How many prize-winning economists does it take to correctly change a light bulb and not raise taxes? Infinite if all you got is them daw-gone tax-n-spend libruls!

  212. 212
    beltane says:

    Reading the comments to this post has been a positive experience. All it takes to unite a community is to come face to face with an example of intellectually lazy, or simply naive, conservatism. Now I know that when arguing with a conservative, the best approach is to make up anecdotes and rely heavily on the use of straw men.

  213. 213
    silentbeep says:

    @Stephen1947:

    “also , too he would probably agree with some of your alternatives”

    Well, yeah. I can’t imagine any liberal saying “no please don’t make our infrastructure more environmentally sound.”

  214. 214
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @debit:

    Pity the schmucks who draw Limbaugh’s number.

    If those people didn’t want to die of extreme physical exertion then they should have eaten better and gotten plenty of exercise before they became poor. The Free Market doesn’t abide a lack of foresight.

  215. 215
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @El Cid:

    Let us assume that some percentage of a government system’s budget is fraud, waste, and inefficiency.
    We can call this variable FWE.
    Let us then assume that FWE = 33%.
    Since we have now established that 33% of this government system’s budget is FWE, we have also proven that it would be in everyone’s interest to cut that government system’s budget by 1/3rd.
    Q.E.D.

    Bingo.

    EDK, the unstated assumption in your argument is that spending cuts are 100 percent congruent with waste, etc. In the real world that is a difficult level of efficiency to achieve, whether in the public or the private sector. And the smaller the level of current waste, the greater the probability that cuts will hit bone and muscle rather than fat, or generate additional waste that did not previously exist (example: cutting bus routes and schedules has the effect of suppressing ridership levels, which means the remaining buses are being used less efficiently than before the cuts).

    It would really help clean up these arguments if you would sit down and construct a Venn diagram of the alternatives and think thru the problem that wya rather than relying on one-dimensional binary logic. A lot of your strawmen and false equivalencies that commentators are object to here come from areas of the Venn diagram that you seem blind to.

  216. 216
    JGabriel says:

    jman:

    Paul Krugman frequenty gives a shout out to Arios, Dibgy or MattY. I wonder if he reads Ballon Juice?

    I don’t if Krugman reads it regularly or only when he gets sent the occasional link, but he’s given a shout-out to Balloon Juice a few times. So the answer to your question is a qualified yes.

    .

  217. 217
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @General Stuck:

    Most of the boo hoo about what Kain is saying are some general throw away insults to Paul Krugman. My guess it to highlight and annoy liberals who hang on K thugs every word as though it was from gawd his self.

    Nonsense. Most of the comments are very specific rebuttals to very specific elements of E.D. Kain’s post. People are dismantling every aspect of it, from the bullshit protestations about Colorado Springs’ current plight being the result of anti-tax zealotry, or his egregiously misinformed claims about Krugman’s history as a writer, to the basic framing/construction of his argument, which once again propagates Kain’s apparently most treasured idea that all liberals care about his raising taxes on EVERYTHING becasue SHUT UP, THAT’S WHY!

    So far, he is bringing out the worst in BJ commenters, maybe that is something that needs some bringing out. Otherwise, whether Kain thinks and believes differently than we do, and even if those beliefs are crap and even offensive, he himself shouldn’t matter. What should matter is how we respond, and how that enlightens our thinking, or not. Mostly, or not so far.

    The worst? I haven’t seen that at all, in my opinion. I’ve seen a lot of people up in arms because they feel their intelligence is being insulted by the most recent addition to this site’s front page, a gentleman who traffics in completely farcical notions that are by no means reflected in reality.

  218. 218
    Punchy says:

    To those of you who have nothing better to write than to label my post as a screed or hackish, I guess your minds are made up. I’m glad for you.

    Translation: How fucking dare you call this trash trash?

  219. 219

    E.D., I think you’re making a reflexive conservative argument, in the same way you accuse K-man of a knee-jerk progressive argument.

    Taxes are at the lowest point since the Truman administration (so I hear, but I don’t have the source at hand), yet conservatives STILL complain about ‘out of control taxes.’ Exactly how are services going to be provided if taxes can’t be raised to cover the increased cost? The increase in oil may be the major factor in letting some county roads revert to gravel, but what do you do when you’ve graveled the roads, gas keeps going up, and now you can’t fuel the police cars? What happens when you have to cut services because costs have gone up and you can’t even think about raising taxes to cover the increased cost of providing the service? Costs rise in the public sphere just as fast as they do in the rest of the economy, but any public servant who points that out is committing political suicide. No matter how modest the tax increase is, it should be avoided because we can just cut “waste” and “fat” from the budget, no matter how efficient that budget may be.
    My cousin works in city management in Stuart, Fla. He’s an engineer, so he’s not just one of those ‘excess bureaucrats’ that people the conservative imagination. He and his colleagues gave back their health-care plan to avoid having to suffer a round of crippling layoffs. He’s always been a hard-core Republican, but I’m pretty sure he’s having second thoughts about the “no tax increases, not ever” philosophy.
    E.D., it’s nice to have you around, but you should think about this one some more. Government is going to have to be creative with its more limited resources, just like the rest of us, but the conservative trope that taxes can’t ever, ever, ever be raised is a formula for disaster.
    Welcome to California!

  220. 220
    The Other Chuck says:

    Of course, Krugman does little to offer a remedy for this or any of the other problems he lists beyond raising taxes. I find this about as compelling as a conservative Op-Ed which focuses solely on cutting taxes.

    Well here’s one difference: one approach produces revenue, and the other does not. Ain’t that something?

    Oh but I forgot, all taxes on anything are always bad all the time. Screw it, maybe the country needs to burn a little more before enough people figure it out.

  221. 221

    This comment will not say anything that hasn’t been said before. But I would really like E.D. to respond to some key points.

    Let us grant that in this column Krugman does not “show his work”. This leads to question 1:

    E.D., do you concede that in a space constrained forum (i.e., 600 words) it is permissible to not show all work if the IOU is cashed out in a reasonable accessible forum? Esp. if the forum is reasonable thought of as a serial work? If so, do you concede that Krugman’s column is this sort of serial work?

    Krugman has advocated for two years now that the right general move is to provide enough stimulus to close the demand gap thus mobilizing underutilized capacity and growing the economy at a healthier clip. He was consistent in claiming that the stimulus package, even on the Obama team projections at the time, was too small, that the economy was worse than predicted, and that the state budget implosion acted as counterstimulus. He also consistently advocated aid to the states to bolster their budgets. He has a, to my mind, rather reasonable background theory which is fairly sophisticated (e.g., he’s not a “spend in all circumstances” advocate — he believes that the conditions are special (look for “liquidity trap”). The background thought that if the economy were better things would be easier (less people in need of services, greater tax revenue, etc.) I trust is uncontroversial. This leads to Question 2:

    Given that background, do you still believe that “Of course, Krugman does little to offer a remedy for this or any of the other problems he lists beyond raising taxes.” Or is that limited to “in that column”?

    Question 2.1: Why is “in that column” the reasonable standard?

    Even in that column, Krugman says that (local) tax hikes and (federal) borrowing are part of a better alternative (local tax hikes because *there’s no other way for states to deal with budget shortfalls of this sort other than cutting*). Given that, we have question 3:

    How can you say that “Once again the only solution Krugman provides to this mess is a tax hike.” Isn’t that rather an overstatement? Wouldn’t a perfectly reasonable, and perhaps preferable, Krugmanesque alternative be for the Feds to cover everything for a while? (Do you concede that there are case wehre cheap debt is better than destructive savings? For example, if my business has a cash flow problem and I can borrow really cheaply, does it make sense *not* to borrow but instead lay off my workers? Esp. if doing so lowers my current revenue *more*?)

    Question 4: Why do you think Krugman would be against replacing the “petroleum asphalt” infrastructure with alternatives (including public transportation)? Indeed, why do you saddle him with only bad policy choices rather than policy choices it’s pretty clear he’d support? Surely an upgrade to our infrastructure would be a better stimulus from his perspective?

    Finally, (though there could be more), question 5: Do you really think Krugman’s overall position is analogous to the “tax cuts all the time” (e.g., like the Republican leadership)? Did you mean to insinuate that?

    (Ok, can’t stop: Have you noted teacher furloughs? Here’s some layofflinks (I use the Google.). Note that many have been adverted by federal intervention (which is opposed by people who want to extend the Bush tax cuts).

    At the moment, I’m afraid I do label your post as pretty hacktacular (rather, I judge it to be based on the sorts of consideration I raised above). I take it that this is not out of bounds to you as, well, that’s pretty much what you are doing to Krugman. I would prefer you address the questions I (and others) have raised instead of dismissing them. (After all, one hackish post does not a hack make. So, please, raise the discourse.)

  222. 222
    JGabriel says:

    @Paris:

    Krugman was making one point and used some examples. Kain picks on the details of the examples to make different point. And since Krugman’s point did not include Kain’s, Krugman was wrong? WTF?

    Yes, I noticed that too. Just because certain measures (infrastructure investment in energy efficiency) may help reduce the scope of a problem, doesn’t mean a wider diagnosis (too low taxes due to anti-government deregulation and tax-cutting rhetoric) is wrong.

    Bit of logical fallacy there.

    .

  223. 223
    Cain says:

    @General Stuck:

    Naw, what you need to do is bring in another Kain to balance the Yin Yang. Maybe a conservadem with some honesty, or something along those lines.

    Naw, you need a dirty fucking hippie.. Free love and everything. It’ll make everybody’s head explode as we go on a roller coaster where in one post we’re bashing the crap out of ED, and then in the next post we’re bashing the liberal sensibilities of some other FP. It will be awesome.

    That said, some of you guys need to get over it. It’s good to have an alternative. If anything it’ll keep your claws sharp. I keep seeing some of you try to mold E.D. into your prejudices. You might want to think about that a bit.

    cain

  224. 224
    gwangung says:

    @Darkrose: Yeah, this. The arguments are quite defensible…but the nuts and bolts of the defence aren’t there (at least to where they’re usable by the folks in the trenches).

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: This, too. In any human endeavor, there’s waste and inefficiency. We want to make it as low as possible, but you have to think it through and make sure you’re not generating more waste and inefficiency than you were trying to eliminate.

  225. 225
    The Other Chuck says:

    Shorter Kain: TAX HIKE SCREEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

  226. 226
    eastriver says:

    Hey, Juicers, I can’t believe you’re commenting on this. You’re just playing into JC’s cynical attempt to drum up the comment numbers by having an obvious muckraker post petulant claptrap.

    Sheesh.

  227. 227
    Guster says:

    @eyepaddle: ‘Laffer’ is the sort of name that makes you wonder if we’re living in a mediocre novel, by an author with a clumsy sense of humor. Like Dick Chainy.

  228. 228
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Cain: Hasn’t someone had to say this about every new FPer? You’d think we were a bunch of “c”onservatives.

  229. 229
    Brachiator says:

    Forward thinkers might take this opportunity to begin looking harder at alternative transportation options, though admittedly the rural areas in question will be a ways down on the list when it comes to passenger rail.

    This is insane.

    You gotta have roads to move goods. Even if you have rail. Otherwise you are going to need wagons and horses to get stuff from the train stations to people’s homes. What kind of 19th century vision are you pushing here?

  230. 230

    @Legalize:

    Yep. That’s the pose of the of the so-called “reasonable conservatives” like Kain., Friedersdorf, Bartlett, Frum, etc. “Tax consumpstion,” they say: a.k.a., place the tax burden on those least able to afford it. Scum bag central.

    I used to be a True/Slant contributor, like Erik. He’s been singing this tune for a long time.

    For example, I pointed out in this piece he wrote that he, wanted to tax the poor and protect the wealthy. He worships Chris Christie, who raised taxes on the poor to balance the budget. And looks at his responses in the comment section.

    “50% of the nation can’t keep not paying taxes, plain and simple,” he said.

    In short, he’s a regressive reactionary. Very disappointed that balloon juice brought him aboard.

  231. 231
    General Stuck says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    I’ve seen a lot of people up in arms because they feel their intelligence is being insulted by the most recent addition to this site’s front page

    Poor babies, a sad state when front papers on a blog are responsible for people feeling “intelligent”, or not.

    Nonsense. Most of the comments are very specific rebuttals to very specific elements of E.D. Kain’s post. People are dismantling every aspect of it, from the bullshit protestations about Colorado Springs’ current plight being the result of anti-tax zealotry, or his egregiously misinformed claims about Krugman’s history as a writer, to the basic framing/construction of his argument, which once again propagates Kain’s apparently most treasured idea that all liberals care about his raising taxes on EVERYTHING becasue SHUT UP, THAT’S WHY!

    You mean like this anti tax zealotry.

    Once again the only solution Krugman provides to this mess is a tax hike. While this may be part of the solution, the examples above show that it can’t be the only solution

    Not hardly anti tax zealotry the way I read it. More like a reasonable and qualified dissent to me. And he fucking agrees that tax hikes may be part of the solution.

    The most egregious bullshit I have seen on this thread is this comment of yours. I do not agree much with Kain, but he is being rational, though kicking some sand in the face of Krugman worshippers. For which I have no problem with.

  232. 232
    taylormattd says:

    Can’t wait for John’s next post defending this guy.

  233. 233
    sven says:

    E.D.,

    You said:

    Besides that, the government reports that employment prospects for teachers have overall remained steady, and that employment of teachers in elementary and secondary education “is expected to grow by 13 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.” There is little to suggest in these projections that somehow Americans are on the verge of nixing the educational social contract. Nor have I found any statistics which would suggest teacher employment will actually be lower in 2011 than it was prior to the housing bubble.

    The 13% figure is derived from the BLS National Employment Matrix. As suggested by the 2008-2018 estimate, the report you cite was created in the years prior to 2008 and released in 2009. The next report, which will include data from 2008, 2009, and 2010, will be released in 2011. It is clear then, that any impact from the current downturn on employment in public schools is not included in the report you site.

    Nor have I found any statistics which would suggest teacher employment will actually be lower in 2011 than it was prior to the housing bubble.

    Remember, this kind of data requires the aggregation of literally thousands of school districts, expect to see real numbers around 2013.

    Saving a teacher’s job, he suggests, aids unemployment numbers. But what if the kids are over at the charter school? Does saving that teacher’s job really aid the unemployment numbers then?

    Charter schools are still public schools and usually funded by the same sources. If a district announces budget cuts of x% that will usually also apply to the charter schools. Because charter schools often lack a union presence or have a younger and non-tenured workforce they have sometimes seen larger reductions than more typical public schools. This will vary state-by-state but it seems unlikely that budget-induced staffing cuts at most public schools are being somehow offset by hiring at charter schools. (I can state with certainty that they are not in my state)

    E.D., this is the heart of the problem:

    In fact, education spending has increased dramatically at all levels of government. Between 1991-1992 and 2004-2005 education spending increased by 105%.

    This time last year the Health Care Reform ‘debate’ was in full swing. Among the most politically controversial aspects were reductions to Medicare Advantage and proposals for non-binding cost effectiveness research. Instead of a reasonable discussion we got ‘Keep Government Out of My Medicare’ and ‘Death Panels’. I’m all for a serious effort to reform our education system but you’re nuts if you think that’s what you’re going to get during an economic crisis!

  234. 234
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @General Stuck:
    Let me highlight the relevant part:

    Once again the only solution Krugman provides to this mess is a tax hike.

  235. 235
    Keith says:

    @kay: That would be interesting to hear, wouldn’t it.

    For the moment I’m taking this to indicate support of a sly attempt to move forward with a centralized Gubbmint takeover of health care (we’re all going to be poor soon if this economy keeps going down) – combined with a slap in the face of State’s Rights.

    That, or $$$ alone.

  236. 236
    John Cole says:

    Why are some of you getting pissy with me? I think taxes need to go up, and I think changing light bulbs is a pretty silly way to deal with the kind of massive budgetary short we are dealing with across the nation. I’m all for good government solutions, and were we just suffering mild budgetary issues, I think the kind of examples ED gives here would be great.

    But we aren’t in times that call for minor fixes. We’ve cut taxes so low while gleefully running up tabs for two wars and the prescription drug debacle and any number of other things, not to mention the recession brought on by excess capitol lying around being fed into the great American bubble machine and the systematic neutering of our regulatory process, that we need major changes. Taxes need to go up. A lot. More than just letting the Bush tax cuts expire.

  237. 237
    Anne Laurie says:

    @beltane:

    In the old days you could agree to toil in your lord’s fields for three days a week in lieu of payment. Maybe that is an idea whose time has come again.

    Sure, you think it’s a joke. Me, I’m betting the words “company scrip” give Mr. Kain a tiny metaphorical woodie. Socially efficient!

  238. 238
    TBogg says:

    My. What a McMeganesque post.

    Cole- Are you just trying to cut out the Atlantic middleman?

  239. 239
    blahblahgurgleblegblah says:

    @John Cole:

    …I think changing light bulbs is a pretty silly way to deal with the kind of massive budgetary short we are dealing with across the nation.

    It’s not just silly, it’s _technically impossible_ to replace the output efficiency of high pressure sodium bulbs with any technology on the horizon – including LEDs, never mind compact florescents.

    The portion of the article where the author asserts that the lighting solution the town of Lexington is implementing might somehow be scaled up to a general solution to reducing energy costs for street lighting is flat out WRONG.

    It will not work.

  240. 240
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @General Stuck:

    Not hardly anti tax zealotry the way I read it. More like a reasonable and qualified dissent to me. And he fucking agrees that tax hikes may be part of the solution.

    Oh, shut the fuck up with that bullshit. As someone highlighted for you just a few comments after this nonsense, the crucial part you overlook in your rebuttal to me is that Kain continuously pushes the idea that all Krugman advocates is raising taxes, which is in no way accurate or reflective of Krugman’s record. Kain contends that this is Krugman’s position (and the position of liberals, as a whole) repeatedly throughout his post. I’m sorry if you failed to noticed his entire thesis.

    The most egregious bullshit I have seen on this thread is this comment of yours. I do not agree much with Kain, but he is being rational, though kicking some sand in the face of Krugman worshippers. For which I have no problem with.

    Who gives a fuck if he’s rational? He’s wrong on the facts and wrong on the merits. It has nothing to do with people worshipping Krugman, and has everything to do with people not standing for letting patently obvious bullshit go by without calling it out.

  241. 241
    Cacti says:

    Late to this party, but as others have so eloquently pointed out, the problems of Colorado Springs are the chickens of Reaganomics come home to roost.

    For 30 years, the right has told the public that tax cuts pay for themselves and that we can have the best of everything without anyone having to pay for it. Of course people lapped it up. Everybody wants something for nothing.

    Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind Colorado Springs. And from a purely schadenfreude standpoint, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer place than the home town of Focus on the Family.

  242. 242
    Poopyman says:

    @TBogg:

    Cole- Are you just trying to cut out the Atlantic middleman?

    Hey, it’s just a business decision.

  243. 243
    General Stuck says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): If that isn’t accurate then Kain needs to be called on it, but my main point is that he is hardly bringing the “anti tax zealotry” claimed. Christ, right or wrong, labeling this guy your average, or even moderately wingnut is bizarre. He has some of the right side general thinking on things, but is willing to moderate that when confronted. Or, in other words, he is not an ideologue.

    I happen to think raising taxes is a way big part of the solution, whether Krugman says that or not. Maybe not 100 percent, but upwards to there. Companies aren’t hiring despite sitting on bunches of cash because it gives them, rightly or wrongly, foreboding on the future when the treasury is empty and we are borrowing money to stay afloat. The same kind of foreboding an individual citizens feels when in that state. They may on one level hate higher taxes for the short term bottom line, but a more solvent government creates a better view of future prosperity for them. I don’t know why, but it does.

  244. 244
    Anne Laurie says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Charter schools are a refuge for brand-new, degree-in-hand graduates during hard times, alcoholics and dilettantes. None others. The free hand of the market rules in education just as it does anywhere else, bitches, and good teachers don’t stay at schools who pay and treat their teachers like chattel. They go to the highest bidder.

    You say this like it was a bad thing. Kain’s sure that he’ll be able to send his kids to well-established high-quality schools (private, “magnet”, or in a district carefully drawn to keep the non-gated-community-dwellers out). If a bunch of mouthy welfare queens and rural peasants get distracted from agitating their betters with the promise of “charter schools” that’ll keep their worthless spawn safely off the streets until they’re old enough to be locked up (in private prisons) for “drug possession” or “mouthing off to cops”, then charter schools will have fulfilled the aims of their conservative promoters.

  245. 245
    Turgidson says:

    Cole, people are pissy in your general direction because you’ve repeatedly told the commentariat that they’re a bunch of whiny bitches who aren’t properly refuting his arguments, when in fact that is exactly what people are doing in all of Kain’s threads. Some more civilly than others, but this blog ain’t beanbag. That’s part of its charm.

    He’s throwing false rightwing frames, insulting caricatures of what liberals think, and strawmen around like they’re going out of style, also too.

  246. 246
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    Kain,

    Well, you tried. Links and responses and everything! Wish I had the time to get into a full-blown discussion, but I hope that you’ll recognize that the asshats are the loudest and most productive, but not necessarily the largest part of the constituency here.

  247. 247
    General Stuck says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    Oh, shut the fuck up with that bullshit. As someone highlighted for you just a few comments after this nonsense, the crucial part you overlook in your rebuttal to me is that Kain continuously pushes the idea that all Krugman advocates is raising taxes, which is in no way accurate or reflective of Krugman’s record. Kain contends that this is Krugman’s position (and the position of liberals, as a whole) repeatedly throughout his post. I’m sorry if you failed to noticed his entire thesis.

    Oh shut the fuck up with that bullshit. Whether Kain exaggerated or not about what Krugman’s position is on taxes, your statement of Kain’s “anti tax zealotry” is the point I was making, as being a hysterical falsehood cause he upsets your comfy worldview here on BJ>

  248. 248
    Matt C. says:

    @blahblahgurgleblegblah:

    Huh? LED street lights aren’t just some pie-in-the-sky future hope. They’re being manufactured and used today. And the cost savings over the lifetime of the lamps are significant.

    And for the record, I absolutely love Krugman, especially when he gets going on some wonkish discussion on his blog, but his latest column really felt like he was phoning it in.

  249. 249
    John Cole says:

    @Turgidson: And I’m pissed off because damn near every single one of you is assuming bad faith on ED’s part, rather than just being wrong. Comparing him to McMegan? For fuck’s sake.

  250. 250
    El Cid says:

    @General Stuck: I know I didn’t respond to ‘boo hoo’ about Krugman. Most of the comments I have been reading didn’t.

    I know you think you’re on some sort of Balloon-Juice hippie patrol, think that any points made that you don’t agree with are about cults of personality, and perhaps deludedly imagine that people give a shit about your blog comment authoritay, but it’s unconvincing, not to mention so predictable as to be tiring.

  251. 251
    El Cid says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Shut up. You’re clearly deranged because someone left a fingerprint on your golden calf statue of Krugman. This is the only explanation I can possibly think of for you making your points.

  252. 252
    Lincolnshire Poacher says:

    Who is this E. D. person and why do they have a blog here? Is this for an ultra conservative counterpoint? This has to be one of the worst ideas I have seen here. What next George Will and John doing the macarena ? Will Phyllis Schlafly come by for tea with Tunch?

  253. 253
    El Cid says:

    @John Cole: I do think McAddled is a worthless piece of shit as far as a public commentator goes, but I’m not sure I think she was acting ‘in bad faith’. I don’t particularly imagine that she’s even encountered the notion to think about the things she writes and says, though I’ve no doubt she imagines herself to be correct.

  254. 254
    patroclus says:

    John, what’s Mr. Kane’s policy solution??

    He doesn’t seem to offer much other than some minor counter-anecdotes.

    If, as alleged upthread, he wants sales taxes, a VAT or to increase taxes on the poor and those with moderate incomes, then I don’t agree with him.

    How can Mr. Kain criticize others for not proposing solutions while not offering any himself?

    Why can’t he more civil to Krugman? Why the steady insults?

  255. 255
    Cacti says:

    @Turgidson:

    He’s throwing false rightwing frames, insulting caricatures of what liberals think, and strawmen around like they’re going out of style, also too.

    But he does it in a warm, conversational way.

    It really makes all the difference.

    Woohoo! Special Olympics!

  256. 256
    General Stuck says:

    @El Cid: Shut up you ideologue asshole, go back to whatever left wing shit hole you crawled out of.

    Most of the comments I have been reading didn’t

    It’s your bonehead filter dipshit. Turn it off and learn to read what is written.

  257. 257
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Turgidson: You totally failed by not ending that with a “You Betcha.”

  258. 258
    blahblahgurgleblegblah says:

    @Matt C.:

    Huh? LED street lights aren’t just some pie-in-the-sky future hope. They’re being manufactured and used today. And the cost savings over the lifetime of the lamps are significant.

    First of all, Lexington is replacing some incandescents used in the town square with compact florescents. They are NOT replacing their high pressure sodium street lamps. And they are NOT buying LED lighting for general street use.

    Secondly, High Pressure Sodium is more efficient at outputting light per unit energy than LEDs. It’s also _cheaper_ to manufacture than LEDs – right now. That plenty of R&D is going into LED lighting, and that one day we may all transition to LEDs from compact florescents is not in question. Though OLEDs are also in the running. But that is in the future time. Not today. Because LED lamps are still quite expensive to manufacture. The transition to LED for general use is at least a decade away.

  259. 259
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Lincolnshire Poacher:

    Who is this E. D. person and why do they have a blog here?

    John is expanding the views on the front page to include the full spectrum of political thought from far right to center right.

  260. 260
    James Gary says:

    Comparing him to McMegan? For fuck’s sake.

    Juding by what he’s posted so far (two posts), E.D. Kain seems more like David Brooks to me: cherry-picked instances in place of actual data, and (more annoyingly) overwhelming strawmannery (To write “the only solution Krugman provides to this mess is a tax hike” is, as others have noted, an infuriatingly simplistic reduction of Krugman’s position.)

    That said: I’m with Sven in wanting to know more about why education spending has gone up 105% in the last fifteen years. Seems like there’s a story there.

  261. 261
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @El Cid: I’m trying to keep from having to melt it down, mix it with water, and make everyone drink it. My shits already worth more than most people.

  262. 262
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @General Stuck:

    Oh shut the fuck up with that bullshit. Whether Kain exaggerated or not about what Krugman’s position is on taxes, your statement of Kain’s “anti tax zealotry” is the point I was making, as being a hysterical falsehood cause he upsets your comfy worldview here on BJ>

    You’re right. I guess when someone misrepresents a preeminent economic scholar’s work and positions on the biggest issue of the day, all in the name of pushing a narrative that literally includes the line “See how much more compelling that is than simply raising taxes,” it has nothing to do with the credibility of the person who exaggerated that scholar’s position. Silly me.

    And how doubly silly of me to find egregious falsehoods that have been debunked at length on this site noxious and intellectually dishonest. My comfortable worldview has been turned so upside down, all I can do is repeatedly demonstrate and point out how the party responsible for that travesty is a highbrowed fraud.

  263. 263
    General Stuck says:

    @Cacti:

    Woohoo! Special Olympics!

    I must say your comedy production here lately has been impressive. I want whatever you are taking.

  264. 264
    Turgidson says:

    @John Cole:

    Fair enough. No one deserves to be compared to McMegan. Still, the point remains that people ARE pointing out where he’s wrong, all over the place, in the comments sections after his posts. Like I said, some do so more politely than others.

    Bad faith? I wouldn’t dare make that judgment of someone whose work I don’t know very well yet. But statements like this:

    You often hear on the left that we just need to regulate such and such and then all will be fine and good with the world

    (for example) are going to ruffle feathers around here. And, IMO, he deserves serious pushback when he makes lazy (and frankly, false) statements like that.

  265. 265
    TXG1112 says:

    bonds = debt. It’s cheap debt, for sure, but I think there’s merit to not simply throwing money at a problem.

    Umm….isn’t throwing money at a problem a perfectly good solution to not having enough money? Borrowing cheaply is the correct answer when temporary crises would force cuts that will extend and/or exacerbate your problems. Are you the sort of person that would get rid of your car rather than borrowing to repair it when unemployed and then complain that you can’t get a job because you have no car?

  266. 266
    Cain says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    @Cain: Hasn’t someone had to say this about every new FPer? You’d think we were a bunch of “c”onservatives.

    It’s a bit lame, sometimes blind hatred based on a label is just as stupid coming from progressives as it is from anyone else. I’m probably of the same streak of conservative as E.D. in a lot of ways so I can understand in some manner what he means. The problem with this point is that he’s not really making any substantial point. I’m not sure what I’m being convinced of. If you have that kind of ambiguity it opens up using your prejudices to fill in the blanks.

    I will say that Michael D. had it worse! Good times, eh?

    cain

  267. 267
    General Stuck says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    Kain’s egregious falsehood, does not diminish your egregious falsehood. They have nothing to do with one another.

  268. 268
    Svensker says:

    Gee, whillikers, we get someone posting here who doesn’t fit the normal run of things and, next thing you know, our regulars are at each others throats.

    I think the terrorists are winning. Can’t we just all get along?

  269. 269
    Turgidson says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    Oh, balls. You’re right. I was too busy drafting unnecessary regulations, like all good libruls ought to be doing with their spare time.

    :)

    (you betcha!)

  270. 270
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Svensker: I never liked all the touchy feely stuff.

  271. 271
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @General Stuck:

    Kain’s egregious falsehood, does not diminish your egregious falsehood. They have nothing to do with one another.

    You’re right. Because you just invented my “egregious falsehood” out of thin air. Let’s go back to when I first actually used the phrase “anti-tax zealotry,” shall we?

    Most of the comments are very specific rebuttals to very specific elements of E.D. Kain’s post. People are dismantling every aspect of it, from the bullshit protestations about Colorado Springs’ current plight being the result of anti-tax zealotry, or his egregiously misinformed claims about Krugman’s history as a writer, to the basic framing/construction of his argument, which once again propagates Kain’s apparently most treasured idea that all liberals care about his raising taxes on EVERYTHING becasue SHUT UP, THAT’S WHY!

    Do you notice how the anti-tax zealotry comment is directed towards the government and citizens of Colorado Springs, and NOT E.D. Kain? How I never once accused E.D. Kain of personally being an “anti-tax zealot?”

    You do?

    Then shut the fuck up about it.

  272. 272

    I just erased a very careful post that explained what Kain was doing, dammit. Briefly–Kain doesn’t provide evidence that teachers are going to charter schools (his link doesn’t even mention the effect of the recession on hiring), his solution of new bulbs is not supported by any numbers, and his statement about roads is little more than “let them go back to gravel.” He insists tax cuts and low taxes on the very rich are not the problem, therefore his admission that some tax hikes are utterly necessary is faux bipartisanship. Most of all, his entire attitute is that increasing taxes on the rich is a bad course to take while eliminating services for the poor and middle class is the inevitable and necessary path to take.

    Screw that.

  273. 273
    Matt C. says:

    @blahblahgurgleblegblah:

    Thanks for the response, but there are several cities across the United States (and around the world for that matter) performing significant replacements of general-use sodium-vapor street lights with LED street lights. Just search for “LED street lights” on Google News if you don’t believe me. Yes, they are expensive to manufacture, but some of the articles I’ve read indicate up to a 50% savings on electricity costs, 5 times the lifespan (realizing cost savings on labor), and an ROI of around 4 years. I’m not arguing they’re a panacea, but stating that general LED street lighting is a decade away is not correct.

  274. 274
    matoko_chan says:

    @John Cole: Kain’s remarks on the whole education bullshytt package are in total bad faith.

    is that the public overwhelmingly thinks the system is failing – while at the same time most of us consider our own children’s school a success:

    America’s educational standing is falling like a stone in world rankings, and he just vomited forth the stealth reason that pumps up conservative dreams of school vouchers……the broken system is failing YOUR GENIUS CHILDREN.
    Alas we have known since the 50s that the variable contributing MOST to student performance is parental involvement, which correlates highly with parental SES.
    Or to put it more succintly…..schools in rich neighborhoods perform better.
    charter schools perform better, because they force parental involvement.
    Much like COIN and the Bush Doctrine, voucher theory has a tragic flaw at its heart.
    IQ is not that plastic, and your children are just not that smart.
    :)

  275. 275
    Cain says:

    Gosh I guess this is a bad time to start a drinking game where I drink when someone says ” go fuck yourself”.

    cain

  276. 276
    The Moar You Know says:

    If a bunch of mouthy welfare queens and rural peasants get distracted from agitating their betters with the promise of “charter schools” that’ll keep their worthless spawn safely off the streets until they’re old enough to be locked up (in private prisons) for “drug possession” or “mouthing off to cops”, then charter schools will have fulfilled the aims of their conservative promoters.

    @Anne Laurie: You forgot the primary goal of breaking the goddamned teacher’s union, who in spite of their members getting paid a salary that might equal a fraction of what most conservative pundits spend on cable TV in any given year, STILL won’t get with the program and keep voting Democratic. It’s almost like they give a shit about kids or something, the stupid idealistic fucks.

    All the money’s apparently in streetlights these days.

  277. 277
    sukabi says:

    @Cain: no it’s a great time to start one …. if you’re suicidal…

  278. 278
    Ailuridae says:

    @John Cole:

    And I’m pissed off because damn near every single one of you is assuming bad faith on ED’s part, rather than just being wrong. Comparing him to McMegan? For fuck’s sake.

    Sorry, John, nobody here is assuming bad faith on ED’s part. He is demonstrably acting in bad faith in his assessments off Krugman’s column even if you buy that he is only looking at this specific column in isolation. That much has been clearly and repeatedly shown by many posters.

    He’s also doing something really bizarre here in suggesting that spending cuts in current time can meet revenue shortfalls but that spending cuts in future times can’t offset current borrowing (direct aid to states from the federal goverment). Money is money is money is money.

  279. 279

    @John Cole: Does it matter whether ED’s writing in bad faith or just wrong? At least, at the level of wrong that seems to be going on?

    I have to say that I found it more than a bit shocking to read “Nor have I found any statistics which would suggest teacher employment will actually be lower in 2011 than it was prior to the housing bubble.” I would think that the ton of articles about prospective teacher layoffs that googling for us teacher layoffs should be both findable and statistic which at least “suggest” that teacher employment will actually be lower in 2011 (esp., if there are neither tax increases or fed aid).

    Maybe they are all nonsense, but then 1) shouldn’t ED, by his own standards, actually show that they’re nonsense and 2) isn’t saying that he couldn’t find such statistics a bit bewildering?

  280. 280
    Svensker says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    You? No? I’m stunned. We may have to alert the media.

  281. 281
    HyperIon says:

    @Karmakin wrote:

    Quite frankly, I don’t think he even realizes what he’s saying.

    In his first post here he explained that he was pro-life but would not force his abortion views on others. Obviously he is not self-aware enough to realize that he is describing a pro-choice position.

  282. 282
    ondioline says:

    This is the weakest stuff I’ve read on Balloon Juice, and I’ve been hanging around for at least three or four years.

    It’s like this guy went to the same j-school McMarried went to.

    Uh, how exactly is Krugman “wildly misleading”? Can someone point out where he makes that case?

    Time for the hook, Cole.

  283. 283
    shortstop says:

    @John Cole: Serious question: How many more posts of this type would it take before you decide he’s not in good faith?

  284. 284
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @James Gary:

    That said: I’m with Sven in wanting to know more about why education spending has gone up 105% in the last fifteen years. Seems like there’s a story there

    Ditto that. Let’s take a stab at the problem. From the linked article, point 5, right after the 105 percent figure:

    On a per-pupil basis and adjusted for inflation, public school funding increased: 24 percent from 1991-92 through 2001-02 (the last year for which such data are available); 19 percent from 1996-97 through 2001-02; and 10 percent from 1998-99 through 2001-02.

    Seems like EDK perhaps should have mentioned that 105 is actually 24. But a 24 percent real increase is still worth asking about.

    I’d like to know how much of that 24 percent increase is due to energy costs, e.g. fuel for student transportation, heating and cooling costs (if they have increased faster than overall inflation during the time frame covered), and how much is due to increasing public pension funding and healthcare insurance costs.

  285. 285
    t jasper parnell says:

    @John Cole: He is, no doubt, a nice guy, but he is more like McMegan than not. And this post is seriously flawed, in particular in its representation of Kthug.

  286. 286
    Gaardian says:

    Anyways, E.D. I respect your argument, but I think that it misses a general point. How has Colorado Springs gotten to the point where it’s turning out streetlights? It’s the underlying ideology that even basic government business can’t possibly be paid for if it requires a tax increase. Even if you implement your ideas about lighting, those savings still aren’t going to replace the dozens of laid off police officers. Not to mention the economic impact of laying off municipal workers which further cripples the local economy which cause more municipal layoffs and the cycle continues. At a certain point someone has to be the grown-up and say that the cycle has to stop. A way to do that is to raise revenues (taxes) on the municipal level so that no more layoffs have to occur and the local government in it’s role as an employer at least no longer contributes to the economic downturn.

    Now many conservatives might say that the adverse economic impact of taxes far offsets the benefits of saving a few city jobs. Great, then please suggest a way to stop the adverse cycle that addresses the cycle and not merely the symptoms. Most of the good and easy smart government solutions, like changing the lightbulbs have probably been considered in most municipalities who despite these fixes STILL having to lay off workers.

    The streetlights are only a symptom of an overall budgetary problem. It’s like approaching someone tuberculosis who has chapped lips from coughing so much and giving them some chapstick and pronouncing them cured. It doesn’t quite work that way. Now I think that the larger point of the article is that Krugman is a little over the top in todays OP-ed in warning of impending government failure. My question is, “Is He?”.

    He picks some extreme examples to illustrate an overall point that in many municipalities services are being cut to the bone, that job losses and service cuts are reaching levels which are ridiculous. Some municipalities are very, very broke, and especially in conservative dominated areas like Colorado Springs in which every tax hike requires voter approval from a populace (which thanks to decades of conservative anti-tax rhetoric won’t approve them anyways) local governments are really cutting things that most people if allowed to think about it don’t want cut. This I think is true across a wide slew of the country, and it’s quite frankly insane that its gotten to this point. Thus I wonder, is he over the top or merely descpriptive of a rality which of itself has quite exceeded reason and is itself “over the top”.

  287. 287
    matoko_chan says:

    @John Cole: dude Kain IS McMegan with a dick, and Douthat without the protective layer of sterile latex that keeps him from touching icky grrlparts.
    there is NO DIFFERENCE between them.
    They are all just porn fluffers for hoary old conservative failmemes.
    Reading this post is like pushing my head around in a bowl of oatmeal.
    Let me translate for you.
    1. liberals want to RAISE TAXES to give shit to black people.
    2. laissez faire unregualted free market capitalism in its purest form is THE ONLY SOURCE of american innovation.
    3. every child is a genius, and the system is broken.
    simple, huh?

  288. 288
    mario says:

    I’m confused.

    Which one of the front-pagers is supposed to be the smart conservative?

  289. 289
    Janus Daniels says:

    “Once again the only solution Krugman provides to this mess is a tax hike.”
    How is that not a lie?
    Please explain.

  290. 290
    Martin says:

    Not wanting to pile on, because I’m not, the main flaw I would point to here is a case of deception by averages. Average education spending may not be changing much, but that doesn’t mean that education spending is not seeing an increase in variation across school systems.

    So far, the local spending issues that I’m seeing as evidence of broad trends are largely anecdotal. My city of ~150K is seeing teacher layoffs but is also installing new facilities in all of the high schools. This has outraged some residents, as they see it as a failure of getting priorities right, but the reality is that more than anything else the often well-balanced system of specific pockets of funding has been thrown way off. Payroll budgets that originated from property taxes is way down, but funding that has come from easements or other sources is up, but is limited to capital improvements, or specific components of the curriculum. That’s not to say that these aren’t real problems, but they aren’t necessarily evidence of a society in decline.

    Our city swapped out incandescents for LEDs in traffic and some street lighting starting a decade ago, recognizing that a budget surplus was precisely the right time to make these investments, and as a result the budget is a fair bit easier for them to manage right now – enough so that they’ve continued to make street improvements from the general fund.

    The lesson from cities like Colorado Springs isn’t that economic liberalism is finally casting us into bankruptcy, rather that a city run by economic libertarians and teabaggers is going to make draconian and reckless decisions in order to make an ideological point, and that Krugman and others shouldn’t take the bait. As it is, Colo Springs is assumed to be a perfectly rational local government forced to make insane decisions, rather than an insane local government choosing to make insane decisions. California is the common standard-bearer for how fucked the states are, but no state is saddled with the mixture of libertarian economic experimentation on tax policy and liberal economic experimentation on spending that CA is, and as a result shouldn’t be held up as a representative of any other state government.

    I’m going to give some kudos to ED for not taking the bait here, when so many others are eager to. Colorado Springs is a bellweather of jack shit. California is a bellweather of jack shit (though it is large enough to do harm all by itself.) Show me evidence that isn’t purely anecdotal (and doesn’t mask the growing funding discrepancy in local areas under the cool veneer of ‘averages haven’t changed’) and we’ll talk, but Krugman is overreaching here, at least given the evidence he’s presented. Good on ED for calling him out. And good on some of you guys for calling out ED where he’s also glossing over things.

  291. 291
    ondioline says:

    I’m not objecting to this poster because he’s conservative.

    I’m objecting to this poster BECAUSE HE’S SHITTY. He makes bad arguments, either out of stupidity or bad faith.

    C’mon. This guy is not Larison, Cole. Don’t delude yourself.

  292. 292
    General Stuck says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    Okay dude, I took a little more time to read his post more closely, and a few points.

    Of course, Krugman does little to offer a remedy for this or any of the other problems he lists beyond raising taxes. I find this about as compelling as a conservative Op-Ed which focuses solely on cutting taxes.

    Krugman does in fact advocate largely that raising taxes is a prime remedy to our situation, and I agree. If you want to quibble about whether “it’s all he advocates for”, or it’s 70 or 80 percent, then knock yourself out. It is a minor point in the overall point being made. And did you catch the part where he bashes conservatives taking the opposite extreme. I bet you dint.

    It’s also good for the environment. See how much more compelling that is than simply raising taxes? It cuts spending, cuts energy usage, saves money for the local government and residents, and keeps the bulbs lit. It also puts people to work in the short term which is stimulative, but saves labor costs in the long term.

    Kain is playing small ball, imo, with his example of city lights and practical things that can be done like buy more efficient bulbs in lieu of raising taxes. That makes sense to me, and should to liberals as well, as a general rule. But of course our problems are more than that. And I don’t think Kain is nitpicking Krugman for his not listing all the small changes in use of technology for saving money and needing less taxes to collect. But is rather using Krugman’s article as a jumping board to discuss these progressive ideas. But the true believers here have jumped his bones for dissing their hero.

    Nor am I arguing against government paying for roads. We need roads, obviously. The economy would go to gravel without them. Nevertheless, perhaps people concerned with the environment should consider the environmental implications of maintaining our current infrastructure. Petroleum asphalt doesn’t just eat up oil for its own production, it facilitates the use of gas guzzling cars. Forward thinkers might take this opportunity to begin looking harder at alternative transportation options, though admittedly the rural areas in question will be a ways down on the list when it comes to passenger rail. Again, this isn’t quite as simple as just raising taxes. Oil, I imagine, isn’t going to get cheaper any time soon. Priorities have to be made.

    I think this is a statement on what I’ve been preaching here for the past couple of months, and getting flamed for it. also too. And that is the overall, not only need, but requirement that we Americans are going to have to contract our high living standards in some pretty big ways to return health to our economy for living within our means, and this example, as well as others, can also portend benefit to the environment.

    I grew up on gravel roads, wouldn’t bother me a bit to drive on them again.

    And again, I don’t think Kain’s intent was to bash Krugman, as it should be obvious Kthug would likely agree with many of Kain’s suggestions, but you all took it that way right off the bat and parsed every word to find ill intent. Reactionary posturing for heresy to your hero. Grow up already.

  293. 293
    matoko_chan says:

    Cole, you have to get over this……all memes are not deserving of equal representation. Bad, stupid, wrong, and provably false memes don’t deserve equal air time.
    They just don’t.

  294. 294
    les says:

    I don’t know if ED Kain is supposed to be a respected thinker or some such; but this little screed is not evidence. It’s bad enough that he attacks a straw caricature of Krugman’s point, but he’s hardly alone in that; it can even be instructive, if admitted and done for a point. Which it wasn’t near as I can tell. And of course the generic generalization of the straw man to all liberals–our only solution is raising taxes, you betcha!!1 If I thought Kain was intelligent or considering what he wrote, I might be insulted. As it is…

    But Jesus, taking Colorado Springs as an example? It’s the poster city for the ravages of Republican anti-tax frenzy, and has problems that can only be solved by raising taxes. It’s dominated by mega-churches (significantly lowering the property tax rolls) and retired military, with the accompanying anti-tax, anti-services I ain’t using mentality. See here–they’re firing teachers and police, they’re turning off half the lights, they’re begging citizens to mow the parks and empty trash cans–yeah, ED, all they need is a little creativity and efficiency. For fuck’s sake, either he can’t craft an argument or he doesn’t give a shit about doing so.

    Finally, where should we go to look for creativity/efficiency? Democrats/liberals, who see a role for government and a desire for it to work well? Or republicans/conservatives, with a generic dislike of government and a track record of fucking up its operations, all in aid of keeping what they got?

    This was a lousy, lazy, talking point fucking post; and it ain’t redeemed by ED coming back and saying he’s not against every tax, gee golly! Commenters put more work and honesty in their responses than Kain did in this drivel.

  295. 295
    DPirate says:

    Good post.

    To some commenters above, I think the point of this whole exercise is not to malign Krugman, but to expand or expound upon the dialogue.

  296. 296
    dms says:

    @blahblahgurgleblegblah:

    ‘Course John forgot to mention that in that same post, ED stated he has “a three week old son and a three year old daughter and an overly worked wife. So I can’t do much at night. It’s a stretch just to take the time to post at all.

    So, basically, he doesn’t have time to do the job. He’s just here to hit and run. Which kinda makes one wonder why John brought him on board.

  297. 297
    taylormattd says:

    @John Cole: It’s ironic that you think the comparison to McMegan is terrible, given he has praised her and linked to her on your front page.

  298. 298
    General Stuck says:

    Okee dokee, Time for a libtard tribal bonding dance to cast out this devil. Who brought the Bongos?

  299. 299
    MTiffany says:

    @Jordan: Well that IS what Republicans were put on this Earth by their deity to do…

  300. 300

    The idea of “making the hard choices” is something that needs to be examined very carefully. Who is making the choice and who is making the sacrifice? Are sacrifices made because they are necessary or because it’s easy to call for sacrifice and it’s hard to change one’s thinking?

    There’s a post at Reason about how liberals are immature because studies prove that people become more selfish as they grow older, and if small children are unselfish and empathetic, it just proves that charity and empathy are childish. It’s utterly backwards thinking, that leads to the weak being sacrificed because it’s the hard thing to do, and the right thinks hard and selfish solutions demonstrate maturity (and power).

    Raise taxes on the rich. 33% is far too low, especially during a depression. The right can do it now and look good or they can do it later after the social unrest starts.

  301. 301
    taylormattd says:

    @BTD: Holy crap, I’m agreeing with Armando. I swear, it’s been like 3 years.

  302. 302
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @General Stuck:

    General, I’m not going to get into a long thing here about this but this:

    Krugman does in fact advocate largely that raising taxes is a prime remedy to our situation, and I agree. If you want to quibble about whether “it’s all he advocates for”, or it’s 70 or 80 percent, then knock yourself out.

    Is utterly false. You need to go find out what Krugman actually thinks and stop just writing things based on the fact that you don’t. It’s not even controversial, it’s just not true.

    None of this is about caring anything really about Paul Krugman by the way, it’s because he’s a strong voice out there who’s called this whole thing, from the start, and got it right. And others still don’t listen.

    Peace out brother.

  303. 303
    Adam Lang says:

    I’d love to respond to your article in depth somewhere where someone might actually read my response, but I have a blog that consists of dog pictures that nobody looks at. I do not have a blog where I can post 2000-word essays that you will ever bother to look at (this is not criticism of you: I do not expect you to read my dog blog), and the vast majority of commenters here are in the same boat. I will grant you the intellectual honesty that would mean that you actually do welcome rebuttals: try to post on a scale that makes rebuttal in the comments section possible, or else you’re just overwhelming all of us with crap.

    That said:
    You saying ‘communities shouldn’t turn out the lights, they should buy more efficient lighting’ is not only silly because the up-front costs are significant, as others have pointed out. It’s also silly because in many cases the up-front costs are simply impossible, as when the communities either have extremely outdated lighting infrastructure which cannot handle the newer, more efficient lights, or when they gambled on a newer lighting technology which is incompatible with the more efficient newer ones. The pricing can be the same as putting up entirely new streetlights everywhere. The choice is simple in many of these places: more revenue, or less light. Except, mind you, for the rich, whose lights will stay on.

    You said ‘not repaving roads is a perfectly reasonable thing, if you are instead looking at better ways of providing transportation.’ They aren’t. Nobody is. Public transportation is being cut even more ruthlessly. Even if they were, there would be a huge ramp-up time before you could let some of those roads go back to gravel (which is incidentally MORE expensive to keep in good shape in the long run) let alone wilderness. The choice is simple: more revenue, or more people with transportation trouble. Except, mind you, for the rich, whose roads will continue to be paved just fine.

    You said, basically, ‘teachers being laid off is a much-overblown problem, according to this report here, and can mostly be attributed to charter schools and stuff like that’. This is crap. First, that report was compiled from 2008 through mid-2009, back when unemployment was supposed to have been below 7.5% by now, and state revenues were to have been back to pretty much normal. So yeah. Second, let’s look at what’s happening around me, in one of the largest population centers in the country. (The entire San Francisco Bay area contained about 2% of the US population in 2009. It includes urban areas and a huge number of suburbs.) Right now, schools are overcrowded both in urban areas and suburban areas, and most of them have class sizes larger than the legally mandated sizes already. Thousands of teachers, literally thousands, in this area have gotten pink slips for next year. Some of them may be rescinded, but at this point it looks very unlikely. So we’re going to take schools that mostly have class sizes of 30 to 40 people and pushing them up to 35 to 45, when the legally mandated limit is somewhere in the 20s. This is happening in central New Jersey, too, the only other place that I happen to be plugged into the education scene. So no, we’re not laying off teachers because their schools are empty, we’re laying off teachers because we can’t pay them. And so our students will fail to be educated properly. Except, of course, for the rich, whose children will do just fine, thank you.

    As for your next section, I am fairly sure you didn’t mean it to be deeply misleading (and, essentially, a lie), you simply don’t know which of your numbers are adjusted for inflation and which are not. In particular, the ‘Nor is there evidence that this trend shows any sign of reversing’ graphs are doubly deceitful, because they ARE NOT adjusted for inflation, NOR are they adjusted for population growth. So in 2001, per-pupil spending in the US averaged at $8997. Adjusted for inflation, this would be $10923.62 in 2009. Per pupil spending in 2009 was under $10000, and the number will be lower in 2010 and even lower still in 2011, almost certainly. So ‘nor is there evidence that this trend shows any sign of reversing’ could simply be an outright complete fabrication, but is more likely mere sloppiness. Either way, it totally undermines your entire point.

    Our local governments have been tightening belts until they hurt for a dozen years. And you can see exactly where that leads in California. It has led to just about all the innovation that can be expected from it. And from now on it’s just going to lead to dramatic losses in quality of life. Except, of course for the rich.

    Bah. Do your research, so I don’t have to.

  304. 304

    @General Stuck: You write:

    Krugman does in fact advocate largely that raising taxes is a prime remedy to our situation, and I agree. If you want to quibble about whether “it’s all he advocates for”, or it’s 70 or 80 percent, then knock yourself out. It is a minor point in the overall point being made.

    I’d like a bit more evidence than your bald assertion that Krugman “does in fact advocate largely” etc.

    My best understanding is that you and ED didn’t understand these passages:

    We must place priority on reducing the deficit, say Republicans and “centrist” Democrats. And then, virtually in the next breath, they declare that we must preserve tax cuts for the very affluent, at a budget cost of $700 billion over the next decade.

    In effect, a large part of our political class is showing its priorities: given the choice between asking the richest 2 percent or so of Americans to go back to paying the tax rates they paid during the Clinton-era boom, or allowing the nation’s foundations to crumble — literally in the case of roads, figuratively in the case of education — they’re choosing the latter.

    Krugman is describing someone else’s position, i.e., that we must reduce the deficit (now) (something he doesn’t agree with!) which leaves us with two obvious choices: Raise taxes (or let tax cuts expire) which are a) non-stimulative and b) deficit busting or do drastic cuts which (on his view) make the economy even worse (thus causing more cuts and greater deficits), there is a class of politicians who go with the latter.

    And did you catch the part where he bashes conservatives taking the opposite extreme. I bet you dint.

    That seems more as setting up a false equivalence than fair mindedness. Even how you put it (i.e., Krugman as an “extreme”) shows why this isn’t a plus for ED. We literally have politicians claiming tax cuts are the only remedy in every situation AND that they should never be paid for. How is what Krugman wrote, on the strongest, least charitable reading, remotely of the same order?

    BTW, Krugman has discussed all sorts of measures one can take (e.g., how the fed could act). So, your “70-80%, don’t y’all quibble” is not a particularly good argument.

  305. 305
    debbie says:

    @ Svensker:

    I think the terrorists are winning. Can’t we just all get along?

    Never thought I’d live long enough to quote John Wayne: “It’s getting to be re-goddamn-diculous.”

  306. 306
    Cacti says:

    @General Stuck:

    I must say your comedy production here lately has been impressive. I want whatever you are taking

    It’s just like a gift or something man.

  307. 307
    jacy says:

    @John Cole:

    Not assuming bad faith or good faith on his part, because I don’t know him. I only know what he writes. But accusing Krugman of “not doing his homework” while Kain was just the other day linking to McMegan unironically, well, wrong is wrong.

    Heat, kitchen, blah, blah, blah.

  308. 308
    El Cid says:

    @General Stuck: No, you don’t own this blog, you silly yet pompous ass; I’ll be happy to read and comment on whatever blog I god-damned well choose, no matter how much you think you’re maintaining OCD blog patrol; and, yes, that will include the very sort of left things you hate, because, of course, most of them make much more sense than you, and that’s why you inhabit and attempt to patrol a blog written by people who are fairly interesting, as opposed to you.

    You are free to think I’m too “left” and think you’re defending some sort of centrist sanity all you want — but it certainly won’t be worth your time thinking I care what you think, except getting tired every now and then, despite the usual willpower to ignore your shit, of these little blog infesters who think they’ve been called to duty to defend the comments section.

  309. 309
    les says:

    Re: the great gravel controversy:

    Petroleum asphalt doesn’t just eat up oil for its own production, it facilitates the use of gas guzzling cars.

    Well, no, sorry, that’s bullshit. Petroleum asphalt (and concrete and related surfaces) facilitate the most efficient transport of goods and people, when you consider cost and maintenance of the infrastructure and the equipment using it. The surface of the road does not dictate the type of equipment using it, and to suggest so is beyond stupid.

    The capital and operating costs of moving megatons of corn–to use one of many possible examples–from farm/factory to market/distribution center are immense, are far higher on unpaved roads than paved, and aren’t passed off by “I can live with a rock chip in my windshield.” The bankruptcy of the anti-spend, anti-tax argument is being played out in front of our faces–it is not cheaper for us citizens to refuse to raise taxes–and in the face of disintegrating infrastructure, reduced health/life expectancy, reduced educational outcomes, falling standards of internet availability/usability, etc. etc., we’re presented with little fables urging efficiency and new light bulbs on borrowed terms. bullshit.

  310. 310
    Cain says:

    @General Stuck:

    think this is a statement on what I’ve been preaching here for the past couple of months, and getting flamed for it. also too. And that is the overall, not only need, but requirement that we Americans are going to have to contract our high living standards in some pretty big ways to return health to our economy for living within our means, and this example, as well as others, can also portend benefit to the environment.

    I’m in total support of this idea as well. I think we want to look at a more progressive method and actually try to discourage car use if possible.

    cain with a c

  311. 311

    @DPirate: But it seems to “expound upon the dialogue” primarily by maligning (based on misrepresenting).

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone deny that congressional Republicans (with the blue dogs) have been blocking all sorts of stimulus/aid to the states/aid to the unemployed? Systematically? Does anyone deny that those very same people are championing extending the never paid for tax cuts which still won’t be paid for? Does anyone deny that those cuts almost entirely go to the very rich? And that such cuts are neither stimulative nor infrastructure building? Does anyone deny that those very same people are blathering on about the deficit?

    If you don’t deny all that, doesn’t Krugman’s point from within that article just follow? I.e., that a notable class of politicians prefer tax cuts for the wealthy to maintaining the basic infrastructure of the country.

    How does it helpfully expand the conversation to pretend Krugman wouldn’t, for example, endorse efficiency raising investments in lightbulbs?

  312. 312
    MTiffany says:

    @mario:

    Which one of the front-pagers is supposed to be the smart conservative?

    That would be the one who thinks that Krugman’s claim that raising taxes would increase government revenues, thereby allowing said governments to continue to offer essential services, is “as compelling as a conservative Op-Ed which focuses solely on cutting taxes.

    So you see, the smart conservative is the one who has now elucidated a new and improved (with 20% more glib bullshit in every ounce) conservatatrd economic theory: “tax cuts alone are not enough… ”

    What the extra part is he didn’t say — probably something very common sense and Mama Grizzlie, like put the queers back in the closet, the women back in the kitchen and the darkies back in the fields. Because, you know, the straight white guy is so fucking oppressed here in amurika.

    Not that I would cast aspersions on people.

  313. 313
    J Smith says:

    @blahblahgurgleblegblah:

    I’ve read a couple of your comments to this effect, and I think you make an important point that, if I’m understanding you correctly, the new more efficient bulbs reduce overall luminosity, so really you’re getting less light in the end. Right?

    I think this is only a flaw in the change to more efficient bulbs if you’re assuming that we have the right amount of light coming from the streetlamps now – depending on the amount of the reduction, I wouldn’t have a problem with somewhat dimmer streetlights. Personally, in my little suburban hamlet, the lights are sometimes oppressively bright and not properly directed, so that their light kind of spills everywhere a bit too brightly.

  314. 314
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @General Stuck:

    Krugman does in fact advocate largely that raising taxes is a prime remedy to our situation, and I agree. If you want to quibble about whether “it’s all he advocates for”, or it’s 70 or 80 percent, then knock yourself out. It is a minor point in the overall point being made. And did you catch the part where he bashes conservatives taking the opposite extreme. I bet you dint.

    Others have already addressed how deficient your comments are on facts and context, but I’ll just highlight the following as being representative of how you still aren’t getting it:

    And again, I don’t think Kain’s intent was to bash Krugman, as it should be obvious Kthug would likely agree with many of Kain’s suggestions, but you all took it that way right off the bat and parsed every word to find ill intent. Reactionary posturing for heresy to your hero. Grow up already.

    Again, who gives a fuck what Kain’s intent was, whether it was to construct a haphazard hit piece on Krugman or his critical reading skills just failed him the entire way through Krugman’s editorial? The fact of the matter is that throughout his entire post, E.D. Kain propagates a gross misunderstanding of Paul Krugman’s actual position, while simultaneously pushing a caricature of the supposed “liberal position.” That being, of course, that raising taxes is the only way to fix the current economic crisis the country is facing. It’s a point that E.D. Kain makes seven times in his post.

    It’s not a mistake that he focused on that theme so strongly, and it damn sure isn’t a mistake that he’s wrong on the merits about almost every single other “fact” contained in his writing.

    EDIT: I also find it hilarious you are stridently riding to E.D.’s defense, when his response to legitimate and factual criticism is to say, “To those of you who have nothing better to write than to label my post as a screed or hackish, I guess your minds are made up. I’m glad for you.” Yeah, you’re the man now, dawg.

  315. 315
    blahblahgurgleblegblah says:

    @Matt C.:

    Thanks for the response, but there are several cities across the United States (and around the world for that matter) performing significant replacements of general-use sodium-vapor street lights with LED street lights.

    Here’s one such study:

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t.....4CeVxylpHw

    In this case the town installed eight LED street lamps for a feasibility study. The town saw a 48% reduction in energy use per bulb over high pressure sodium. I admit, I’m impressed by that figure. HPS is typically in the high 60% to low 70% energy efficiency. If LEDs can come down in price to be ‘total cost’ competitive over the life of the bulb, and safety studies show that LED street lighting is at least as safe for drivers, this is a good solution. I’d be happy to see it implemented.

    But none of that is relevant, as that wasn’t Kain’s point.

  316. 316
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Bijan Parsia:

    BTW, Krugman has discussed all sorts of measures one can take (e.g., how the fed could act). So, your “70-80%, don’t y’all quibble” is not a particularly good argument.

    Krugman’s main recommendation in fact is for the government to stimulate the economy, using funds it either has already or can borrow, and pump enough in to the economy to get it going, because it’s the only way to get enough tax revenue coming in to lift things to where they need to be. Even if just with existing taxes, not new ones.

    The problem of course is the word “borrow”, which sets off tea partiers and other conservatives, because they’ve suddenly decided to worry about the deficit, at the worst possible time to start doing so.

    That’s for the short-term emergency. For the long term, he does recommend higher taxes, in particular letting the Bush tax cuts die their natural death. That’s actually long and short term, but the point is “He advocates almost entirely just raising taxes” is 100% nonsense.

    There are legitimate arguments here, about stimulus versus tax cuts and so on, but just imagining, or inventing false ones is just pointless.

    It’s actually depressing as hell to me, this whole thing. After spending a bazillion words on the subject in every forum he can find, “he just wants to raise taxes” is the message intelligent people have gotten?

    We really are screwed.

  317. 317
    Ailuridae says:

    @General Stuck:

    Sorry, the following is bull shit and you know its bull shit from an argument in a thread from a week ago:

    Krugman does in fact advocate largely that raising taxes is a prime remedy to our situation, and I agree. If you want to quibble about whether “it’s all he advocates for”, or it’s 70 or 80 percent, then knock yourself out. It is a minor point in the overall point being made. And did you catch the part where he bashes conservatives taking the opposite extreme. I bet you dint.

    Paul Krugman has not advocated that raising taxes is the way to pay for current budgetary shortfall at the state and local level. He has consistently, without fail, advocated that the best solution is for the federal government to give direct aid to states using its borrowing capacity (where again there is unlimited demand to lend the US money at an effective 1.08% rate). In lieu of doing that Krugman might think that states and local communities raising taxes (actually tax rates) where possible rather than laying off workers is preferable.

    Now what Krugman has advocated for is that letting tax brackets rise will increase long term revenue to begin to address the long term issue of federal debt. I don’t think he or any other Keynesian thinks that letting the tax brackets revert to form for top earners will have any noticeable effect on the recovery one way or the other. He contrasts that with state and local budget shortfalls which are currently adding to the unemployment rolls and directly and immediately impacting the recovery;

  318. 318
    les says:

    @les:

    I can’t seem to edit, so I should note–the roads going upaved, or reverting to gravel, will first be the farm to market roads. ED and the crowd will be just fine.

  319. 319
    LosGatosCA says:

    I gave him a try. This is just a dumb post.

    Will be skipping these in the future, not to keep my mind closed, just because it’s too cluttered with useless things already.

  320. 320
    General Stuck says:

    @Bijan Parsia:

    So, your “70-80%, don’t y’all quibble” is not a particularly good argument.

    My point was that Krugman does in part support raising taxes along with other measures, whether it’s 70 80 or 50 percent, you can’t say for sure and neither can I. Kain”s statement that it is “all” that Krugman offers is incorrect, for sure.

    What it highlights is the near fanatic response at the slightest slight of Krugman, some guy not in government, nor having any power, and disregarding the simple points Kain was making in his thread. Points that liberals should approve of, but instead parse and pendant the thread to pieces cause the guy makes some stock conservative blurbs, likely because HE IS A FUCKING CONSERVATIVE. Just like we do on the liberal side.

    This was not a blockbusting post by Kain, it was standard fair navel gazing at looking at government spending and taxation and alternatives to it. That was it. It had some misstatements, some factual error, that had little to do with the main points he was making.

  321. 321
    les says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    It’s actually depressing as hell to me, this whole thing. After spending a bazillion words on the subject in every forum he can find, “he just wants to raise taxes” is the message intelligent people have gotten?

    Take heart; neither Kain’s post nor defensive commenters are necessarily representative of intelligent people. Unfortunately, however, neither is our government nor the noisiest segment of the population, as far as I can tell.

  322. 322
    General Stuck says:

    Paul Krugman has not advocated that raising taxes is the way to pay for current budgetary shortfall at the state and local level

    Oh yea

    And I am tired of debating know everything liberal pundit heroes. You fuckers need that reassurance, have at it. I will take in all the information I can get.

  323. 323
    morzer says:

    @General Stuck:

    Unfortunately, the points he was making, or trying to make, were either false, erroneous, or based on hollow assumptions.

  324. 324
    DougJ says:

    You cherrypicked your education data very badly — I think parental satisfaction is a very, very stupid measure. I expect better from you.

    Other than that, you make a lot of good points. I’m sorry that you had to resort to the idiotic parental satisfaction measure. It ruins the whole piece.

  325. 325
    sven says:

    @John Cole:

    I’d look at two factors:

    1) After the Shirley Sherrod ordeal and the continuing ‘controversy’ over the Cordoba House (etc. etc.) liberals are increasingly unwilling to accept that anyone to their right is arguing in good faith. Is this fair to EDK? It’s not fair to EDK but I think more people will trust that he’s serious over time and there are more people giving him a chance than you admit…

    2) Liberals don’t understand why they should feel chastened right now. The 30-year long experiment with conservative economic policies is (achem) not going well. Despite this, conservatives, especially libertarians seem almost pathologically unwilling to concede that Liberals have been right about anything. EDK is much better about this than McMegan (who has never, ever, ever, ever been wrong) but he also doesn’t give the impression that his core beliefs have been shaken at all since 2001. The left steals ideas from the right all the time, I wonder where EDK would do the same? Engagement from the right isn’t just being sane, it is conceding that the left -big ugly institutions and all- has something to offer and I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of that,… so far!

  326. 326
    blahblahgurgleblegblah says:

    @J Smith:

    if I’m understanding you correctly, the new more efficient bulbs reduce overall luminosity, so really you’re getting less light in the end. Right?

    Actually, my point was that Mr. Kain cited the Lexington, MA town project to replace some incandescent bulbs with compact florescents, which had been used in the town square for nice white street lighting, as an example for solving local fiscal problems with providing general services to towns across the country, such as is happening in Colorado Springs. He ignored what technology Lexington is transitioning from, ignored what technology is deployed across most of the country, and cited as an example something completely irrelevant to make his point.

    Matt C., OTOH, fully refuted my claim that LEDs consume more energy per lumen than High Pressure Sodium. I was wrong about that. Perhaps federally funding a transition to LED street lighting does make sense. Which in no way supports Mr. Kain’s twisted logic in his post.

  327. 327
    tbogg says:

    @John Cole:

    In McMegan’s case she is quite capable of both bad faith and being wrong at the same time. She can probably also tie a cherry stem into a knot in her mouth while doing so.

    How do you think she landed a “catch” like Suederman?

  328. 328
    General Stuck says:

    @les:

    Take heart; neither Kain’s post nor defensive commenters are necessarily representative of intelligent people.

    Take heart, then go fuck yourself you smarmy arrogant ass.

    @El Cid:

    Sounds like I’m the black fly in your chardonay Cid. And truth be known, I am likely as left as you on many issues, especially social ones, but I am not an ideologue. You are, and therin lies the difference betwixt us. Bring your best flame game.

  329. 329
    les says:

    @General Stuck:

    What it highlights is the near fanatic response at the slightest slight of Krugman,

    Or, by my reading, what it highlights is a pretty disgusted response to an ill-thought out, badly argued, hackneyed post featuring typical conservatard tactics and arguments. I don’t see many commenters complaining that “ooh, the man dissed Krugman.” I see many commenters saying he misrepresented the article he’s responding to (which is not about who wrote it, but what was written), created a false equivalence, built and demolished a straw man, and generalized from an article to all liberals. In short, a lazy lousy post. If all you got was krugbot defenders, perhaps you read a little too quickly.

  330. 330
    General Stuck says:

    @DougJ:

    You cherrypicked your education data very badly—I think parental satisfaction is a very, very stupid measure. I expect better from you.

    LOL, I called it daffy, for lack of a better term.

  331. 331
    General Stuck says:

    @les: This comment is laughable.

  332. 332
    CircleSquared says:

    I’ve found it instructive, if troubling, to watch attempts to talk with someone of a different political stripe on a blog. The frustrations of conversation that normally can’t get caught (except on camera) get frozen in posts…such as the inability to get an acknowledgement of a point, the inability to see that the other guy’s value system doesn’t admit that point because it’s irrelevant, or the inability to tell which of these things is going on.

    The conversation dynamics here are now more interesting than the points, or lack thereof, in the original FP post.

  333. 333
    ThresherK says:

    I’m curious: How many more federal dollars should Dems fight to get in the hands of Republican governor and state leges without making the Bobby Jindals and Governor Goodhairs come on TV and beg for Big Cardboard Checks?

    Speaking of roads and schools, the last time we had an economic dip this large (no pun intended) we ended up with a pile of new infrastructure with 193x on their brass plaques and cornerstones. Now most of those need replacing, money costs about as little as it ever will, and we’re basically shoving people (still waiting for the Bush recovery to show up in their paychecks) into mud huts and telling them to wait til it gets better?

    And another vote for “Why are you conflating letting the Bush Budget Chasm expire with a tax hike?”

  334. 334
    Ailuridae says:

    @General Stuck:

    Wow, You’re intellectually dishonest (or possibly just stupid).

    You quoted this

    Paul Krugman has not advocated that raising taxes is the way to pay for current budgetary shortfall at the state and local level

    out of a paragraph where I typed this:

    Paul Krugman has not advocated that raising taxes is the way to pay for current budgetary shortfall at the state and local level. He has consistently, without fail, advocated that the best solution is for the federal government to give direct aid to states using its borrowing capacity (where again there is unlimited demand to lend the US money at an effective 1.08% rate). In lieu of doing that Krugman might think that states and local communities raising taxes (actually tax rates) where possible rather than laying off workers is preferable.

    Notice the third paragrraph.

    And then cited him saying that CA’s inability to do the responsible thing and raise tax rates given that no state aid from the federal government was coming somehow showed that Krugman’s larger point wasn’t exactly what I suggested.

    You really should stop venturing out of your depth. It is increasingly embarrassing.

  335. 335
    JohnR says:

    Hey, a belated welcome to BJ, Ed! I was going to say “do better next time”, but on the other hand, I suspect many of the folks here haven’t had so much fun (or so much to work with) in quite a while. As for the McArdle comparison, it’s not the being compared to that’s bad, it’s the being approximately equated with. You know, many of us liberal elitist academician pansies have to face this sort of flensing-knife critique on a regular basis and learn to do better as a result (or do what I did and just bail because our delicate sensibilities can’t take the abuse.) Anyway, I await your next post with keen anticipation! Have fun!

  336. 336
    General Stuck says:

    @Ailuridae:

    And then cited him saying that CA’s inability to do the responsible thing and raise tax rates given that no state aid from the federal government was coming somehow showed that Krugman’s larger point wasn’t exactly what I suggested.

    So because you took a position talking out of both sides of your mouth first saying one thing then disagreeing with yourself, I am the one dishonest and out of my depth.

    You really should stop venturing out of your depth. It is increasingly embarrassing.

    You live in the idjit double talking wading pool. And your rank worship to Krugman is what is embarrassing. Krugman isn’t against raising taxes, he is for them, and other things as well. So what is your moronic point again. that i threw out some percentages of how much Krugman thinks raising taxes is what we need. You don’t know the exact percentage either, but he surely does advocate raising taxes is a needed part.

    Paul Krugman has not advocated that raising taxes is the way to pay for current budgetary shortfall at the state and local level.

    Has not was bolded. I gave you an example where he had. I am sure there are others as well.

    No go fuck your simple self.

  337. 337
    Triassic Sands says:

    @cleek:

    Of course the GOP knew exactly what they were doing, but I’m not sure that this —

    in other words: the GOP knew exactly what the 2001 tax cuts were going to do to the deficit.

    is true. A lot of Wingers are pretty stupid. I don’t doubt that there are Republicans who still believe that cutting tax rates will always increase revenue and no amount of evidence to the contrary will convince them otherwise. Ignorant people believe all kinds of ridiculous things even when presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary (see Conservapedia). The real question in my mind is which of the Republicans are mostly stupid and which are mostly dishonest. And then there is that special group of Republicans whose stupidity and dishonesty are both unlimited.

    Regardless of their fundamental(ist) beliefs, all of the Republicans knew that once tax cuts became law they would be incredibly difficult to eliminate, no matter how dire the budgetary crisis.

  338. 338
    debit says:

    @General Stuck: You know, Stuck, you seem to be the one making arguments personal. If you can’t argue a point without resorting to insults and invitations to “go fuck yourself” perhaps you shouldn’t argue at all.

  339. 339
    General Stuck says:

    @debit:

    Wow, You’re intellectually dishonest (or possibly just stupid)

    I was responding to an insult, if the F bomb kind offends you, maybe you should just grab a fainting hankie and send Cole a whiny email.

  340. 340
    Mark says:

    @General Stuck:

    You completely misunderstood Krugman’s piece on Prop 13. California’s property tax system has shifted the burden of property taxation from 1) corporations to homeowners; 2) the elderly to the young; and 3) the rich to the middle-class.

    By capping assessment increases at 2% or the inflation rate, whichever is lower, Prop 13 created a situation where side-by-side identical homes can have 10x differences in property taxes.

    So long as inflation exceeds 2%, Prop 13 creates what amounts to an annual tax *cut*. After 30+ years of these tax cuts, California doesn’t have the money to run programs for one of the world’s ten-largest economies.

    Indexing the goddamn thing to inflation and making it so Warren Buffet doesn’t pay 1/10 the taxes on his mansion that I do on my shitty little house is a tax increase in the same way that having the federal tax rates at 27% every year is a tax increase.

  341. 341
    Ailuridae says:

    @General Stuck:

    Are you really this dim? Paul Krugman, and basically evey other Keynesian economist argued the same thing regarding the budget shortfalls at the state and local level once it was obvious that there was going to be a mammoth recession on the horizon: The federal government should provide direct aid to states to cover their budget short falls. The federal government, thanks largely to Ben Nelson, has failed to do that. Now given that is the case Krugman advocated in the case of California that it was preferable for them to pass a tax rate increase rather than put many people out of jobs and cut essential services. There is still a preferable solution out there though and it doesn’t mean that Krugman advocates that the best solution or even a good solution to state budget shortfalls is to raise state taxes. It means that it might be preferable to issuing draconian spending cuts.

    That doesn’t change what he and pretty much everyone else in the Keynesian crowd thinks is the obvious solution to these short falls: borrowing a large amount of money (100-200B) at the federal level and giving it to states rather than have them issue draconian cuts. Now whether that 200B is paid off in the future using spending cuts elsewhere or tax increases is wholly unrelated.

    Further, as much as Krugman has argued for letting the Bush tax cuts expire it has had nothing to do with state budget short falls or the recovery broadly but at the nearly wholly unrelated issue of the long term debt and deficit.

    No go fuck your simple self.

    How about instead of that you keep demonstrating you have no idea what the fuck you are talking about and I’ll keep pointing it out.

    Its the same thing with Corner Stone and Just Some Fuckhead and you. None of you have a vague fucking understanding of what the fuck you are talking about but think that your ignorance is made up for by volume.

  342. 342
    debit says:

    @General Stuck: And here you’re doing it again. I only brought it up because you seem unable to step back and be objective. Wasn’t it you who had the hysterical snit and demanded (in multiple comments) to be banned from this very blog? I don’t think your short self imposed exile taught you any perspective.

  343. 343
    General Stuck says:

    @Mark: The slam on me was simply stating that Krugman sees part of the solution for recovery as raising taxes, and as I read what he says, an important if not big part.

    I was responding to a flat statement that I was wrong about that. You can parse the meaning and details of the particulars in CA, and make stuff more complex than the original question, that is how people like Greenwald and Alluari argue.

    The only thing I was responding to were broad assertions that my broad assertions were wrong. Krugman believes in tax hikes to solve our problem. Whatever percentage that is, you all can work it out, and if my original estimate was wrong, then so be it. It is the same kind of nit picking bullshit on Kain’s post, that is really ideological, and using small points to attack him because he is a conservative.

  344. 344
    General Stuck says:

    @Ailuridae:

    Listen dumbass, you first dissented on my assertion that tax hikes were a big part of Krugman’s solution to our problems that are both long term and short term. I put out some guessed percentages. Until you can prove that tax hikes aren’t a big or necessary part of Krugman desires, and provide reliable percentages of your own if he does advocate for them, then everything else you have written here is Greenwaldian blather meant to obscure the stupidity of your original claim of bullshit.

    I mean you can keep calling me stupid, which btw is precisely what CS and fuckhead would do, but it doesn’t change the basic facts of your entry into my comments.

  345. 345

    @General Stuck: I would hope no one would deny that, all things being equal, Krugman would prefer to raise (certain classes of) taxes to slashing (esp. core) spending in this situation. Indeed, that is exactly the contrast he’s trying to draw. But raising taxes is not his goal or, afaict, a key mechanism for him. Certainly not in any way analogous to how tax cuts are for many Republicans (in power). I think he would tend to say that if we grow the economy sufficiently, many things become easier or more tolerable. Similarly, esp. in conditions of very low taxes on high earners and money not moving, it would be better to shift taxes to a more stimulative posture.

    My point was that Krugman does in part support raising taxes along with other measures, whether it’s 70 80 or 50 percent, you can’t say for sure and neither can I.

    And, so does ED. So what’s the point of criticism? I mean, what are you defending?

    Kain’’s statement that it is “all” that Krugman offers is incorrect, for sure.

    This isn’t a trival part of the post, right? I mean, it’s clearly a major point. Critical, in fact, to a good chunk of the critique.

    What it highlights is the near fanatic response at the slightest slight of Krugman, some guy not in government, nor having any power, and disregarding the simple points Kain was making in his thread.

    I endorse sensible infrastructure upgrades over “mere” status quo holding, and status quo holding over damaging cuts. So would Krugman. So too, I take it, would ED. So we all agree! Except ED claimed that Krugman doesn’t favor sensible infrastructure upgrades but, afaict, raising taxes to support the status quo no matter what. Isn’t this the key point?

    What it highlights is the near fanatic response at the slightest slight of Krugman, some guy not in government, nor having any power, and disregarding the simple points Kain was making in his thread. Points that liberals should approve of, but instead parse and pendant the thread to pieces cause the guy makes some stock conservative blurbs, likely because HE IS A FUCKING CONSERVATIVE. Just like we do on the liberal side.

    I dislike hatchet jobs and wrong (and wong headed) criticism. And, while it is true that one can reasonably say “Who cares, it’s a blog post” I don’t get that this post contained some “slight slights” along side some banal points. It starts with a pretty strong statement (Krugman doesn’t show work put it mildly, wildly misleading, etc.) and hatchets on from there.

    This was not a blockbusting post by Kain, it was standard fair navel gazing at looking at government spending and taxation and alternatives to it. That was it. It had some misstatements, some factual error, that had little to do with the main points he was making.

    What are the main points as you see them? It’s not “But to suggest that we’re headed toward a future of unpaved roads and empty public schools is little better than to engage in the sort of scare tactics Krugman has accused his political opponents of himself. Surely he can do better.”?

  346. 346
    Janus Daniels says:

    @General Stuck:
    “… No go fuck your simple self.”
    With that defense, Kain needs no enemy.
    Oh…
    Does “General Stuck” really exist, or did some joker invent it to spoof us?

  347. 347
    General Stuck says:

    @debit: What are you, my mother? and I remember your little shot when I left, so, for consistency sake, you can fuckoff too.

    This is how BJ used to be before it became a whiny ass chamber pot for disappointed so called progressives. Maybe it’s time to bring back the old way around here.

  348. 348
    El Cid says:

    @General Stuck: A black fly in my Chardonnay might actually bother me for a second, and then I’d pick it out and keep drinking.

    You thinking me an “ideologue” because I seem to appreciate arguments other than the ones you prefer is more akin to a gnat walking on the windowpane.

    I forgot you’re one of those troll lunatics who think that anyone who responds to inanities repeated 9,000,000 times every 2 or 3 seconds means that ‘you are important’ and ‘you are important because you must be bothering me.’

    It’s truly, truly weird. There were some people like that I knew in middle school. I hope they got better.

  349. 349
    General Stuck says:

    @Bijan Parsia: If you read the entire thread of my comments, I have answered most of these questions in this comment of yours. I am not going to do it again.

  350. 350
    General Stuck says:

    @El Cid: Dude, You first attacked me on this thread, not the other way You can’t even get that right. Hilarious!

    who think that anyone who responds to inanities repeated 9,000,000 times every 2 or 3 seconds means that ‘you are important’ and ‘you are important because you must be bothering me.’

    I am in a flame war all by my lonesome and greatly outnumbered. All this bullshit about me thinking I’m important and some kind of blog police has all been tried before by the likes of CS and fuckhead. I have the same access as you and no power to do anything other than type and hit send. That is it. Stop whining. or not. your choice.

  351. 351

    @General Stuck: You wrote,

    The only thing I was responding to were broad assertions that my broad assertions were wrong. Krugman believes in tax hikes to solve our problem. Whatever percentage that is, you all can work it out, and if my original estimate was wrong, then so be it. It is the same kind of nit picking bullshit on Kain’s post, that is really ideological, and using small points to attack him because he is a conservative.

    Ok, I’m a parser :)

    But let’s restrict ourselves to this Krugman article.

    I see him saying 1) local governments would do better to raise taxes than slash basic services (if they can), 2) the fed would do better to borrow some money to bolster the locals, 3) deficit hawks prioritize non-stimulative tax cuts on the rich over basic services (or economy growing stimulus; but let’s assume conservative don’t believe in the stimulus argument).

    None of this commits him to raising taxes. Since local government taxes are not likely to be highly progressive, they will be less stimulative neutral (though probably still worth it). Borrowing is dirt cheap and investing in infrastructure will be both short term and long term growth promoting. Finally, he is not a short term deficit hawk. Thus, to solve the failing infrastructure crises, it would be perfectly acceptable to borrow very cheap money and grow our way out.

    That’s all from this article except maybe that he’s not a short term deficit hawk. (It is, however, implicitly in there.)

  352. 352
    General Stuck says:

    @Janus Daniels: I am the ghost of Balloon Juice past.

  353. 353
    DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal) says:

    I think that E.D. can compose long, detailed (details that matter to E.D. anyway) explanations of his thoughts on an issue and he does it well. Change the e  in compose  to a t  and that is about all it is good for. But this is a good thing! E.D. tosses compost on the front page and BAM!, we get some excellent rebuttals and commentary that spring forth from it. IMO there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. IDK about you but I enjoy reading the commentary to everything he has posted here.

    John’s thumb is greener than he thinks it is. Bullshit is some of the best fertilizer. I vote that E.D. stays right where he is and I am dead serious about that.

  354. 354
    debit says:

    @General Stuck: Hmm, you mean when I said if one was going to flounce off, they should do so quietly, so they won’t be ashamed when they come crawling back? That wasn’t a shot, it was sound advice. I flounce out of places all the time, but no one knows because I don’t say anything. I just leave.

    And no, I’m not your mother, just someone who thinks you seems like a nice person when you’re not flipping out all over the place. I’d hope that if I was behaving like I’d lost all ability to be objective someone would say something to me. But you don’t want to hear it, so that’s cool. We can just nod politely in passing when in the same thread.

  355. 355
    General Stuck says:

    @Bijan Parsia: I am to the point where I don’t give a shit what Krugman says, we had an article posted the other day by an Ed Luce in the Financial Times. I think he makes better sense than Krugman because Krugman mixes politics with econ theory, imo, and Luce’s./ I could be a Lucite for the right money.

  356. 356

    @General Stuck: I just went back and I don’t see it. If you just point to the relevant comments that would help. Is it that you think the Krugman comments are throwaways which should be merely ignored?

    I get that you think we need a devil’s advocate to push against, but I’m still not getting that this post does that remotely well. I agree that it seems like ED’s substantive recommendations are reasonable, but then it makes the rest all the more puzzling. Ah well, whatever.

  357. 357
    General Stuck says:

    @debit:

    And no, I’m not your mother, just someone who thinks you seems like a nice person

    I don’t know what gave you that idea, at least for blogging. Long time well known asshole here, and for over three years now. Outside of blogging and politics however, I am a big puzzycat.

    And please, I want nor need your advice on doing this stuff.

  358. 358
    General Stuck says:

    @Bijan Parsia: No, I like Krugman, but he is not a hero of mine, and not the only economist in the country.

    I am not sick of Krugman, I am sick of abject fealty to his beliefs.

  359. 359

    @General Stuck: (By “Krugman comments” I mean ED’s critical ones.)

    Fair enough. However, I don’t think one need to have abject fealty to dislike a hack job. If there’s an interesting critique of Krugman’s article in here, I’ve not got it.

  360. 360
    JohnR says:

    Oh, c’mon Stuck:

    because Krugman mixes politics with econ theory

    You’d rather have Krugman do Ivory-tower theorizing? Isn’t some large part of our present problem exactly due to that whole “You’ve got chocoloate in my peanut butter” approach? The thing is, whose politics get mixed in – the Laffer comedians or the Keynesian “spend money to make money” guys, right? The Laffer boys have had 30 years to do it their way. The pump’s gasping because we’ve sucked all the water out of the pipe – let’s prime it and see if we can get it working again.

  361. 361
    Corner Stone says:

    @Ethan Epstein: Thank you so much for posting this link. It’s really everything needed:

    But one thing that irks me is the reaction that all these spending cuts “hurt” the poor, while not ratcheting up already high taxes on the rich somehow doesn’t hurt them enough.

    I think we blur the conversation enormously when we talk about those from the lower income “suffering” because of spending cuts while not making the rich “suffer” enough through higher taxes, as though state spending is the only determining factor of society’s suffering. What about lost jobs because of increasingly high taxes needed to pay for enormous public pensions? What about lost investment in the private sphere due to ever bloated tax rates to line the pockets of teachers unions and other public workers? Spending cuts do not equal “suffering” anymore than higher taxation means that someone benefits.

    “Austerity” is the wrong word altogether to describe what we do when we stop spending endless sums of other peoples’ money.

    Bad faith?

  362. 362
    Corner Stone says:

    @maskling: I do not care what happens next. I just loved this:

    too funky monkey meat

  363. 363
    Batocchio says:

    Raise income taxes to pre-Reagan levels and cut the waste at the Pentagon, and then we’ll talk about cutting education, the social safety net and infrastructure spending.

  364. 364
    General Stuck says:

    @Bijan Parsia: Maybe you haven’t gotten it because Kain’s main purpose was not to critique Krugman, but to use his article as a springboard to discuss ideas not in Krugman’s article. We do that sort of thing all the time around here in comments. I often quote something someone said not as a dissent, but to go off in another direction of debate that is related and in addition to.

  365. 365
    Corner Stone says:

    @General Stuck:

    No, I like Krugman, but he is not a hero of mine, and not the only economist in the country.

    I like Krugman, and he will always be a personal hero of mine for standing up to the bully Bill O’reilly on that PBS show, I forget the name,. Charley Rose, I think.

    Feeble minded

  366. 366
    jetan says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    Amigo, you are on fire today.

  367. 367
    Corner Stone says:

    @Ailuridae: Sad little blog stalker.
    You should stick to teasing Stuck with your tiny little stick. He’s more your speed.

  368. 368
    General Stuck says:

    @JohnR: I should have been more descriptive as to what I meant,, as in an earlier comment. But I am hungry and needing to take a break.

    I think Krugman is mixing politics however, in claiming borrowing more money will create private sector jobs in the very near future. But it is politics I agree with to help keep dems in power, until all this gop caused mess can be cleaned up.

    I am not against politics, and they are about impossible to cleanse from pure theory anyway. What is tiresome is arguing with people that Krugman is some kind of genius economist whose advocacies are pure , and though a very good one, I doubt there are any geniuses in the field.

  369. 369
    General Stuck says:

    @Corner Stone: Only a simpleton like you would confuse his personal standing up to O’reilly on a teevee show, with economic theory we are discussing here. Jeebus dude. lame.

  370. 370
    Nylund says:

    The Colorado Springs police department has also outright stated that if you call 911, there is a 25% chance that all available officers will be busy and no one will be able to respond to your call because of recent budget cuts and layoffs.

    You may be anti-tax and you may think certain cost-saving ventures are odd, but I think we can all agree that when the police can’t respond to a 911 call because of a lack of revenue, then its time to consider raising taxes.

    Although, I often get the feeling that conservatives would prefer a world where their 2nd amendment rights make up for this, and they just have free license to shoot anyone they suspect may be committing a crime.

    I don’t want to live in that world.

  371. 371
    JGabriel says:

    @General Stuck:

    Maybe a conservadem with some honesty …

    a-heh.

    Heh heh heh.

    A-Heh Heh Heh Heh.

    Bwahahahahahah!

    (Pause to catch breath.)

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    .

  372. 372
    General Stuck says:

    @JGabriel: There might be one somewhere out there in the hinterlands. Anything is possible, even Unicorns, maybe. no one can prove they don’t exist, can they?

  373. 373
    Ailuridae says:

    @General Stuck:

    Listen dumbass, you first dissented on my assertion that tax hikes were a big part of Krugman’s solution to our problems that are both long term and short term.

    But the point is that Krugman’s piece is explicitly about the short term budgetary gap and not the long term debt issue. So the suggestion by Kain that Krugman is advocating for tax increases to address the short term budget shortages is dishonest as is your assent that it is somehow reasonable.

    I put out some guessed percentages. Until you can prove that tax hikes aren’t a big or necessary part of Krugman desires, and provide reliable percentages of your own if he does advocate for them, then everything else you have written here is Greenwaldian blather meant to obscure the stupidity of your original claim of bullshit.

    To address the short term budget issues of state and local government I would guess that Krugman’s solution is nearly 100% direct aid to the states through federal borrowing as I have never seen him advocate a preferable scenario. He is probably in favor of having the federal government take over Medicaid but I don’t think I have ever read him on that.

    Where Kain and you seem to get lost in the Krugman piece is confusing his pointing out Republican hypocrisy on the long-term issue of adding to the deficit with him advocating that letting the Bush cuts for the rich expire as a stimulative measure or to cover non-federal budget gaps. The GOP is currently stopping at any cost items like extending unemployment insurance or providing aid to the states through federal government because they maintain that it would add too much to the deficit. At the same time they are arguing that raising taxes on the top 2% cannot be done because it will hurt the recovery. This despite allowing the Bush tax cuts to continue both increases the deficit much more and helps the economy far less than providing state and local aid through the government. So, no, he’s not advocating raising taxes to help state budgets he is, rightly, pointing out that the GOP is being completely dishonest: more than willing to add to the deficit to help the top 2% of earners while unwilling to provide state aid that would save many, many jobs.

    I mean you can keep calling me stupid, which btw is precisely what CS and fuckhead would do, but it doesn’t change the basic facts of your entry into my comments.

    I’m demonstrating your ignorance in pretty clear detail. Last week you were braying on in the same way and I pointed it out then, too. I will continue to do so.

  374. 374
    Ailuridae says:

    @Corner Stone:

    You’re the village idiot. Stuck was/is being an idiot. The comparison was and is obvious.

    Add something of substance to a discussion at some point, Tex and then I’ll stop making fun of you for not doing so.

  375. 375
    General Stuck says:

    @Ailuridae:

    Where Kain and you seem to get lost in the Krugman piece is confusing his pointing out Republican hypocrisy on the long-term issue of adding to the deficit with him advocating that letting the Bush cuts for the rich expire as a stimulative measure or to cover non-federal budget gaps

    Bullshit, I got lost on no such thing. You are splitting and parsing shit out what I believe, which is Krugman is for tax hikes and whether long term or short term, he is fucking for them. and you slammed me that he wasn’t and now are puking out a bunch of wordy drivel to cover your ass for spouting off in the first place. Period. Stop yer wanking.

  376. 376
    General Stuck says:

    @Ailuridae:

    You’re the village idiot. Stuck was/is being an idiot. The comparison was and is obvious.

    You are a conceited little shit, you know that?

  377. 377

    @General Stuck: Do you agree that even if the main purpose isn’t to critique but to riff that at least the strong surface form is a critique?

    I mean, “Krugman’s article is mostly focused on foo, but I want to riff off this tangential point bar” is a lot different from, “Krugman doesn’t show his work and is really just like the tax cut extremists.”

    So, I look again. I still don’t see it. Is it “We can preserve services by being clever?” (Lightbulbs.) “I can’t google? aka no teacher is in danger of losing their job?” Or, “Yes, grind up the roads because they are bad but let’s not seriously discuss the knotty problem of dealing with a roadcentric public infastructure”?

    Sorry to head into snark, but I don’t think you’ve stepped up to make the case. These riffs are positioned so as to back up dissent, afaict. I.e., I’m thinking in ways that Krugman is not. Unlike Krugman, I see that roads going gravel are an opportunity.

    I think we’re at diminished returns. If ED really was doing the not dissent but riff but, well, just about the worst at it ever, ok. We’ll see with the next post.

  378. 378
    Ailuridae says:

    @General Stuck:

    Bullshit, I got lost on no such thing. You are splitting and parsing shit out what I believe, which is Krugman is for tax hikes and whether long term or short term, he is fucking for them. and you slammed me that he wasn’t and now are puking out a bunch of wordy drivel to cover your ass for spouting off in the first place. Period. Stop yer wanking.

    Much like last week when you were too much of an intellectual coward to admit China wasn’t significantly financing our debt, now you are too dishonest to admit that neither Krugman or any other Keynesian would suggest that the preferable way to address the short term budget shortfalls of state and local governments is to raise taxes. His position there is plain and clear: allow the federal government to borrow and give them the money instead.

    My posts here in this thread were consistent, plain and clear and, as usual, right. Its not my or anyone else’s responsibility to force you or Kain to read an article honestly or accurately.

    And, now, like always you are back to pounding the table because the facts are in your face.

  379. 379
    Ailuridae says:

    @General Stuck:

    You are a conceited little shit, you know that?

    If you had to read dozens of posts by someone who had no idea what the fuck they were writing about and was completely unwilling to admit they didn’t understand something you might get exasperated with that person and appear conceited too. But, again, at least as it relates to economics you can never be in that positions as you are forever tilting at windmills in these threads.

    It is not in my nature to suffer fools.

  380. 380
    General Stuck says:

    @Ailuridae: China holds about one fifth of our foreign debt. I call that significant.

    And my statement on Krugman and being for raising taxes was a general one, and not limited to this single article. If I would have said it was, I WOULD HAVE SAID IT WAS.

    Kain can answer for himself.

    My posts here in this thread were consistent, plain and clear and, as usual, right. Its not my or anyone else’s responsibility to force you or Kain to read an article honestly or accurately.

    Like I said, conceited.

  381. 381
    General Stuck says:

    @Bijan Parsia: Well, okay, I will step up to make the case. And my case is, if he was dissing Krugman, I don’t care, though it was my impression he wasn’t, you will have to ask him to get his intentions.

  382. 382
    Xanthippas says:

    The fact that ED prompts such hyperbolic and dismissive responses is proof that John Cole was right to ask him to blog here. Between him and John Cole, maybe they can keep Balloon Juice from being the hangout spot for people waiting for a new post at Daily Kos.

  383. 383
    Ailuridae says:

    @General Stuck:

    China holds about one fifth of our foreign debt. I call that significant.

    You probably actually believe that. It doesn’t mean it actually is significant. But its still just 7% of our debt and it is nothing more than a right-wing Red Scare tactic to suggest otherwise.

  384. 384
    Belvoir says:

    I love all you smart, sexy people. And my dead gay son. E.D. Kain is just a terrible, dishonest writer.

  385. 385
    Ailuridae says:

    @General Stuck:

    And my statement on Krugman and being for raising taxes was a general one, and not limited to this single article. If I would have said it was, I WOULD HAVE SAID IT WAS.

    But that wasn’t the point in either Krugman’s article itself or Kain’s touching on it so even if that was your point it doesn’t matter.

    Again, it is nobody’s responsibility but your own to understand people’s clearly stated positions before commented on them. The fact that you and Kain but seem to not be able to do them is a defect on your part and not mine.

  386. 386
    Corner Stone says:

    @Xanthippas:

    maybe they can keep Balloon Juice from being the hangout spot for people waiting for a new post at -Daily Kos- Sullivan’s.

  387. 387

    @General Stuck: Now I’m really confused.

    Let’s put aside intentions and even form. Of substance, let’s filter out all the Krugman aspects. What’s left? Is what’s left interesting?

    Since, ED contradicts himself, I’m a bit unclear what is the substantive point. Or even the conversational starter. I see that DougJ things that ED “made some good points”, but the example is “the gravel road stuff is symbolic”. Well, ok, let me grant that. But the teacher stuff isn’t. Nor are unemployment benefit extensions. Nor is reducing public transportation service. Etc. etc.

    So, what’s the riff? What are the good points? At this point, I’m ok if they aren’t novel or insightful or even good.

    Most of your replies to me have been meta rather than substantive, e.g., that I’ve missed the point because it’s not a dissent but a riff. But let’s assume that I’m blinded by the dissent. What would be helpful is a somewhat better articulation of the interesting content.

    If the article is overall vacuous and we’re all silly to pay attention at all, that’s one thing. If the article has a good nugget obscured by other junk then please pan out the nugget (or point to the comment where you did that).

    As you might guess, I think there’s no there there. In fact, it almost seems less charitable to me to claim it’s a riff not a dissent because the riff reading makes ED out to be way more inept. But I’m ready to be convinced otherwise.

  388. 388
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @General Stuck:

    Kain can answer for himself.

    Dubious.

    +4

  389. 389
    General Stuck says:

    @Ailuridae: It does matter, I am not Kain, and I did not write this post nor link to the specific article Kain did. Nor did I confine my remark about Krugman being for raising taxes to said article. You read all that into your first comment to me. And You conflating Kain and I in that way is pure douchebaggery.

  390. 390
    General Stuck says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    Dubious

    Yes, and that is a problem Cole is going to have to deal with.

  391. 391
    Cain says:

    God, this is awesome just like the primaries. I’m in love with BJ all over again. As Eddie Murphy said in “Coming to America” and in that same context:

    FUCK YOU TOO!

    cain

  392. 392
    Anne Laurie says:

    @eastriver:

    You’re just playing into JC’s cynical attempt to drum up the comment numbers by having an obvious muckraker post petulant claptrap.

    How DARE you!

    The word you want is “shit flinger“, not “muckracker”.

    A muckraker exposes the filth hiding under the Conventional Wisdom. A shitflinger tries to cover up the original fraud, deception and filth by throwing around imaginary numbers, off-point statistical chaff, and friend-of-a-friend anecdotes.

    Anyone can be a shitflinger, but very few have the determination & fortitude to be muckrakers.

  393. 393
    Anne Laurie says:

    @John Cole:

    Why are some of you getting pissy with me?

    Lily & Rosie ask: Why’d JC get so pissy about a little judiciously applied goose poop? Smells just great to us, and it’s not like we asked HIM to roll in it with us!

    Stinky shit is stinky, and you’re the one who let the shit-flinger into the party.

  394. 394
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Anyone can be a shitflinger, but very few have the determination & fortitude to be muckrakers.

    GODDAMN, but give that woman an AMEN!

  395. 395
    Corner Stone says:

    @Anne Laurie: God damn. I am starting to see stars circle.

  396. 396
    veralynn says:

    I would like to say I enjoyed this very much. A sane conservative who I can listen to. I agree with Krugman and I agree with most of what Mr. Kain says.

    Thank you

  397. 397
    justawriter says:

    I would take issue (a substantive one, I hope) that ED underestimates the challenges of maintaining rural infrastructure. I went from being a librul commie symp to being a respected working local journalist in 1995 and I can say county commissioners in North Dakota (land of the infamous WSJ article) have been talking about grinding up their blacktop roads for at least the last 15 years. The radical increase in asphalt costs accelerated the decision making for a lot of counties, but it has been going on for a long time, at least since the curve of the presidential penis was an issue of national concern.

  398. 398
    patroclus says:

    Veralynn, indeed. Krugman made some points; Kain made some counter-points. Both avoided specific big picture long-term policy solutions (although Krugman, at least, has written extensively elsewhere, which wasn’t dealt with by Kain). Not too bad discourse; somewhat entertaining; albeit not particularly enlightening.

    But Kain also insulted Krugman/the readers with his lies and smears (“taxes is Krugman’s only solution”; “Krugman won’t show his work”). Hence, 300+ comments (and counting).

  399. 399
    fasteddie says:

    you cannot CUT your way out of a recession. That’s the point, and you missed it totally. The last recession this bad was back in 1929? And it was only solved when we REALLY spent a lot to grow the economy. Isn’t it interesting that we always have unlimited funds for bombs but not for bridges or books?

  400. 400
    General Stuck says:

    @Bijan Parsia:

    The entire section on education and parental approval as a legitimate indicator of quality of education was total crap as I indicated in one of my early comments in the thread.

    The symbolic example of gravel roads as a metaphor for adjusting our expectations for living standards above our means is an important one for me, though others disagree.

    The example of thinking of alternate strategies to lowering cost of government and the need for more taxes, concerning swapping out more efficient light bulbs was another metaphor for thinking outside the box using technology, so to speak.

    Nothing earth shattering, except the real or imagined insults to Krugman via using absolute language that did misrepresent Krugman’s position on tax increases, seemed to fate the thread into a pitchfork party. Which sent a pal out that Kain might be the return of Satan to Bj. That is why I got involved so much with this thread. To try and blunt some of that ugliness. And I admit, it was kind of fun. But Kain is going to have to show up to defend himself, or else this will only get worse.

  401. 401
    reality-based says:

    @Shygetz:

    While your Bhuddist method of eliminating desire for essential services may give you spiritual satisfaction, your gravel roads are ruining my alignment

    .

    Shygetz for the Win!

    My personal recommendation to Mr. Kain:

    1. Buy a house in the foothills around San Diego

    2. Vote down (three times) mill increases for better fire departments.

    3. Watch house burn down from wildfire, with county fire department too understaffed to answer the call/save your house.

    4. Demand that the State of Ca provide you – for free – with the fire protection you are unwilling to pay taxes for yourself.

    4. Complain about taxes and Government.

    Hey – it’s a perennial favorite sport among SoCal conservatives

  402. 402
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Ethan Epstein: Dude. What the hell are you talking about? You wrote articles at True/Slant about how public universities hurt the poor and about how we shouldn’t raise the gas tax. Not to mention plenty of anti-Obama nuttery. Now you post a link to one of my more reactionary posts and call it a day? You really are just an opportunistic, sanctimonious little prick aren’t you? At least all the rest of the commenters (from what I can tell) are True Believers. They may be assholes (some of them) but at least they have the courage of their convictions.

  403. 403
    E.D. Kain says:

    @sven: You’re right. An economic crisis changes everything.

  404. 404
    E.D. Kain says:

    @PaulB: But that’s a fallacy. If it’s just anti-government rhetoric that got us here, why are so many blue states peopled by pro-government liberals also facing such terrible setbacks?

  405. 405
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Anne Laurie: I’m sorry. Do you know me personally?

    Do you know where I live or the amount of money I make or whether I could afford private school for my kids?

    You certainly make plenty of assumptions.

  406. 406
    Woodrow L. Goode, IV says:

    Folks, when E.D. McArdle says a writer is short on substance and is slanting things, it’s similar to:

    1. Terrell Owens calling Donovan McNabb selfish.
    2. Tom Cruise calling Matt Lauer uninformed.
    3. Glenn Beck calling Barack Obama a racist.

    Smart people just laugh.

    John, I appreciate your adding a humor column to the blog. The problem is that he isn’t nearly as good as Stephen Colbert. Colbert’s gift is that he sounds like a blowhole– but he is simultaneously making a subtle point.

    Saying “My solution to communities that are out of money and can’t afford to maintain streetlights or roads is to begin an expensive capital improvement program to deploy new technologies” doesn’t work as satire. It just sounds like the writer is dumb as a box of gravel

    It would be much funnier if he were proposing to put coinboxes on lampposts so people could pay as they go for streetlight. Or write that it is merely common sense to unpave roads after every home in the area has been foreclosed.

    I dunno, maybe you’re an Andy Kaufman fan and Kain is one of those “plant someone in the crowd to act like a jerk and see how pissed off he can make people.”

    If so, be cautious. I get that your role requires you to keep telling readers who are unhappy “If you don’t like Kain, don’t read the blog”, but remember that Kaufman’s “Keep Andy/Dump Andy” call-in sketches on SNL were supposed to be a gag.

    The SNL people were stunned when the “Dump Andy” forces won and Kaufman lost a gig.

  407. 407
    Corner Stone says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    You certainly make plenty of assumptions.

    She’s giving you the benefit of the doubt. Either a) you’re well off to some degree and understand you can provide for the education and well being of your family with no public model, or b) you’re a flat moron arguing for positions and outcomes that will damage your family and you have no sense of understanding that reality
    So to be kind, IMO, AL is going with a.

  408. 408
    E.D. Kain says:

    You guys really don’t have anything better than insults, do you? I mean, doesn’t it get boring after a while?

  409. 409
    Mac G says:

    I just scrolled through 400 comments to see if Kain responded. Did I miss it?

  410. 410
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Corner Stone: When, pray tell, have I argued against government services, safety nets, or public education? That I’ve spent some ink arguing against reflexively raising taxes is certainly true – that I’ve called into question the importance of government services is simply an assumption you’ve made because I’m a dread conservative!

  411. 411
    roshan says:

    Can BJ run adverts after each comment on Mr.Kain’s post’s? He has the potential to make BJ break even or even turn profitable over the coming weeks.

  412. 412
    Ailuridae says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    The problem, is that nobody in question was ever arguing for raising taxes in response to the budget shortfalls of state and local governments. That’s why many posters are rightly pointing out you are FOS in respect to Krugman and, broadly, leftists’ understanding of the situation.

    I imagine at this point hat even if you could understand Krugman’s really clear initial point you lack the ability/perspective/courage to admit you got it wrong.

    And almost nothing defines the conservative point of view better than a refusal to admit you got it wrong/misunderstood/lied.

    Conservatives issue qualifications (as you did); liberals issue corrections.

  413. 413

    @General Stuck: Thanks. I pretty much agree with the assessment of the substantive bit (though I’d argue that the light bulb thing doesn’t really work, at least, not nearly as well for its point as the gravel road metaphor is for its).

    But then, whether you care about the content of the Krugman bashing bits or not, it makes for a pretty crappy post. I.e., at best, two bits of “good” metaphor jockeying. Not promising.

  414. 414
    shortstop says:

    You guys really don’t have anything better than insults, do you? I mean, doesn’t it get boring after a while?

    Man alive! If only people weren’t writing their scores and scores of very specific critiques of Kain’s individual points in invisible ink, we wouldn’t have to keep reading these embarrassing responses from him.

    Oh, wait–yes, we would, because apparently that’s just the kind of thoroughly dishonest–most notably with himself–individual he is. Nothing gets through his kryptonite filter of self-protection and denial. Just ick.

  415. 415
    A Guest says:

    @roshan: Truth!

  416. 416
    chaucer says:

    your counterpoints to krugman were very interesting. i’m very glad that john has brought on people with different viewpoints. reading every possible point of view on an issue can only be a good thing.

    keep up the good work, john, and thanks.

  417. 417
    chaucer says:

    your counterpoints to krugman were very interesting. i’m very glad that john has brought on people with different viewpoints. reading every possible point of view on an issue can only be a good thing.

    keep up the good work, john, and thanks.

  418. 418
    brantl says:

    E.D. Kain, you consistently argue with what you think someone meant to say or what you think they meant to write. (Like your assumption that Krugman meant that you would have to raise taxes.) When this varies drastically from what they actually said or wrote, your argument is a pile of shit. Like now. You want Krugman to second-guess people in the way that you did, or it makes his argument invalid. He said is was bad to turn out street lamps, (a pretty obviously ironclad argument), and you bitch that he doesn’t come up with the idea of flourescents (not a good replacement for the sodium bulbs, as pointed out to you above) and you claim it invalidates his argument. It doesn’t.

    You certainly make plenty of assumptions.

    As do you, sir, in ascribing positions and intent to Krugman that you couldn ‘t possibly prove, unless you are a mind-reader, which, sorry, I doubt. you impugn Krugman’s honesty based on what you just know him to have meant, when he never said the things that you know him to have meant. Projection, much?

    You put words in people’s mouths and argue with them. This is the quintessential straw man argument. Grow up.

    “Reasonable conservative”. Reasonable how?

  419. 419
    Grover Gardner says:

    You guys really don’t have anything better than insults, do you?

    Just what I come to Balloon Juice for–bad commentary defended by empty rebuttal.

  420. 420
    iLarynx says:

    Be glad for yourself E.D., since it sounds like your mind was already made up, too. You have some valid points, but you’ve peppered them with so much crap that you’ve spoiled the whole thing.

    First, Krugman picked a topic (the anti-government, anti-tax fetishists have succeeded in emptying the coffers of many municipalities) and wrote how that is adversely affecting citizens. You wrote about a few other issues that you felt were important to the topic. Krugman probably had, what, a 250 word limit or so? How long was your treatise? And you know what, as verbose as it was, there’s probably a hundred other issues that you didn’t cover. Will you now go back and parse your own screed to find all the “whole bits” you left out? Efficient light bulbs? Good idea, but in your original article, you left out the whole bits about the resources required to implement that ingenious idea. This is the folly of berating someone for not covering each and every little facet of an issue. It will come back to bite you.

    And berating someone for not providing a solution to a problem is a sophomoric and ineffective rhetorical trick. There is value in exposing problems even if you don’t have an immediate solution to offer. Go to the front page of this blog and count how many posts there are exposing a problem without offering a solution.

    As for your critique on Krugman’s summation, “Is any of this even remotely true?” My observation of this is, yes, it’s spot on. Simple math will tell you that implementing Tax-Cuts Ad Infinitum™ as we’ve seen promoted for the past few decades, will eventually result in a drop of revenues to the point where you can no longer afford to pay for basic government services. Now, the empirical evidence is there to see as well. Are there other factors? Certainly. YOU come up with your complete list, and I will then find 10 more factors you left out so as to deride you’re entire premise as being “not the whole truth.”

    Seriously, you need to think twice (or thrice) before you, and if you, decide to trod down the “kill Krugman at all costs” path. It’s clear that this was your objective, and it’s just as clear that your zeal to attack Krugman’s post, clouded your judgement when writing your article.

  421. 421
    Grover Gardner says:

    And just so I’m not accused of not having “anything better than insults,” I’ll add my own two cents.

    Well it’s true that teachers have been laid off, along with numerous other workers inside and out of government. But teachers have also been siphoned off by charter schools. In my home town we had to close a few schools this year which was obviously not something anyone wanted to see, but the fact was the student population had simply dropped way off as more and more charter schools opened up. This could easily spin off into a school-choice debate, I realize, but the point I’m making is not whether or not charters are good or bad – the point is that a lot of teachers moved from public schools and into public charter schools because that’s where the students went. This is true in many, many cities across the country.

    There is only one charter school in my area, a tiny Waldorf school that’s struggling to stay open. Charter schools aren’t the problem here. Krugman’s description fits us exactly–shortened school year, reduction of programs like music, art and sports, and reduced staff. The problem is NO MONEY. Part of that is due to Southern Oregon’s perennial employment problems, but a significant part of the problem is that people here don’t want to pay taxes! Which is fine, until they start complaining about the lack of good-paying jobs, ignoring the fact that no one wants to move to an area that refuses to support its schools and public libraries.

    “School choice” has nothing to do with it. There ARE no choices here–just an underfunded public school system. And for the record, we are NOT satisfied with it. It could be worse (and is, in other parts of the country). It has the advantage of being small and safe, but we are very concerned that the longer we stay here, the smaller our daughter’s world will get without exposure to a wider range of arts and sciences. We do our best to remedy this by traveling as much as possible, but then we can afford to. Other families cannot.

    That is one point, I could go on. But I think you’re blithely dismissing Krugman’s statement and trying to support your dismissal with vague and off-topic statistics about teacher employment and charter schools. All around the country, school systems that used to be the pride of the community are collapsing due to lack of funding. The lack of funding is directly related to lack of tax base, be it because of unemployment or some bone-headed political philosophy.

  422. 422
    Mike Toreno says:

    @Ailuridae:

    I imagine at this point hat even if you could understand Krugman’s really clear initial point you lack the ability/perspective/courage to admit you got it wrong.

    Not ability/perspective/courage.

    Integrity.

  423. 423
    mclaren says:

    I owe an apology to Corner Stone.

    This is one of the stupidest and most dishonest posts I’ve read in a long while.

    E. D. Kain lies “The picture [Krugman] paints is a grim one, to be sure, even if it is only half the picture. It is also wildly misleading.”

    That’s a lie and I can prove it. Krugman’s point is substantively true. Krugman is claiming that cities and towns are getting hit hard by this recession and are shutting down essential services. Meanwhile, the rich revel in tax cuts and get gobs of corporate welfare. Just to note several glaring example, for the last few years rich people paid zero estate tax. That’s “nothing.” As is nada, dick, zilch. That’s a huge giveaway to the rich. The rich have been getting a ridiculously low capital gains tax on gains held for more than 18 months — down at 15% now. That’s another huge welfare payment to the rich. Ordinary people pay nearly 15% just on FICA and social security and medicare deductions put together, then the ordinary person gets hit for another 8% or 10% of state tax and another 15% or 20% of federal tax on top of that. The rich guy with a capital gains pays only 15% — as Warren Buffett pointed out, his secretary pays a far higher tax rate than he does and it’s a huge giveaway to the rich and it’s grossly unfair.

    So Kain is just flat-out lying. He lies when he says Krugman is only telling half the story — what’s the other half of the story, that rich people are making out like bandits?

    And Kain is also lying when he claim Krugman is being “wildly misleading.” No, Krugman is being clinically accurate. Basic essential services are getting cut through America. Bus routes are getting ended, libraries are closing, street lights are turning off. Detroit is talking about shutting down fire and police services to whole sections of the city and bulldozing entire sections of the goddamn city, for Christ’s sake.

    Krugman is substantively accurate when he says “the lights are going out.” Essential services are getting cut. Kain is lying when he claim this is “wildly misleading.”

    Then Kain goes on to natter about picayune bullshit about where asphalt has petroleum in it or whether the streetlight bulbs should be replaced with energy-saving ones.

    Does it occur to you that all that stuff costs money?

    It takes money to save money. You have to invest. New bulbs for streetlights cost. Different formulations for roads cost. The goddamn problem is that the cities and towns don’t have the money required to invest in this new equipment that would save in the long run..

    This is the same kind of dishonest asshole conservative argument that claims poor (read: black) people are spendthrifts who don’t deserve welfare because they piss away huge amounts of money on overpriced groceries at corner stores that rip them off instead of buying at bulk at a place like CostCo.

    Hey! Assholes! Poor people don’t have a car and can’t get to the other side of town, and even if they could, they don’t have the $400 to buy huge amounts of food in bulk so they can save money in the long run. Poor people have to take the bus and they live from one meager paycheck to the next, so they’re forced to patronize the corner store — which takes advantage of them by overpricing groceries.

    Kain is critiziing cities and towns for being trapped in the cycle of poverty. That’s what happens you’re so strapped for cash you don’t have enough cash to get the things and do the things that would save you money. You can’t afford a car, so you can’t do bulk grocery shopping. You don’t have a computer so you can’t apply for jobs online. You don’t have a cellphone and you can’t have prospective employers call yo uat work so you can’t look for a better job. You have to work two jobs just to pay your rent and buy food, so you can’t go to school at night and get a masters degree and make more money.

    That’s what it’s like to be poor, asshole. Black people have known about that for years…now white people are discovering the cycle of poverty you get trapped in, and it’s hitting ’em hard.

    Kain’s arguments are so fundamentally dishonest and so infantile it’s hard to believe anyone would even try to make them. We’re better off without paved roads in the era of Peak Oil? Streets are better off dark because people have no business whizzing around at night in their cars anyway?

    These are insane arguments. They’re so stupid, no words exist in the English language to describe this kind of stupidity. Kain’s arguments are fundamental dishonest because he focuses on minutia and totally ignores the fundamental glaring fact, the giant elephant in the room that Krugman keeps hammering away at: 30 years of supply-side insanity have bankrupted America to the point where we’re now cutting essential services while the rich party hearty and the Pentagon budget keeps skyrocketing and the Wall Street sharks keep getting richer and the medical-industrial complex keeps jacking up medical costs.

    That’s insane. A society can’t function like that. If Kain doesn’t realize it, he needs to emigrate to North Korea and see how well a country functions when all its lights go out after dark and most of the roads are unpaved.

  424. 424

    @E.D. Kain:

    Good work proving my point, Kain! You link to two pieces I wrote, both predicated on the argument that gas taxes and extravagant funding for public universities are regressive. How does this contradict what I’m saying? You are showing – again – that reactionaries such as yourself and your fellow sainted “reasonable conservatives” blather on and on about how the poor need to bear a higher tax burden.

    And what does that have to do with my distaste for certain Obama positions? Ya know … usually the ones you and your ilk like. Like protecting the “environment” (whatever that is) at the expense of those of us who actually live in it. Pompous pricks like yourself who demand that the rest of us take the bus. Seriously, Kain, shove it.

  425. 425
    brantl says:

    Cole, you’ve really screwed the pooch with this Kain guy. Seriously.

  426. 426
    PaulB says:

    PaulB: But that’s a fallacy. If it’s just anti-government rhetoric that got us here, why are so many blue states peopled by pro-government liberals also facing such terrible setbacks?

    Sigh…. because so many blue states are dependent on assistance from the federal government, perhaps? Because so many blue states have red cities, counties, and communities? Because some idiotic citizens of those blue states want to have things both ways, as is true of California and is increasingly true of my home state of Washington? The anti-tax rhetoric is virulent and spreading. Ignoring it doesn’t make you look any smarter.

    Sorry, but you’re still striking out. What I wrote is anything but a fallacy.

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