The Shrill One Speaks

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Unwisdom of Elites

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: May 8, 2011

(W)hat we’re experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. The policies that got us into this mess weren’t responses to public demand. They were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people – in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious. And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes.

(I)t was the bad judgment of the elite, not the greediness of the common man, that caused America’s deficit. And much the same is true of the European crisis.

Why should we be concerned about the effort to shift the blame for bad policies onto the general public?

One answer is simple accountability. People who advocated budget-busting policies during the Bush years shouldn’t be allowed to pass themselves off as deficit hawks; people who praised Ireland as a role model shouldn’t be giving lectures on responsible government.

But the larger answer, I’d argue, is that by making up stories about our current predicament that absolve the people who put us here there, we cut off any chance to learn from the crisis. We need to place the blame where it belongs, to chasten our policy elites. Otherwise, they’ll do even more damage in the years ahead.


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    • banger on May 9, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    After the financial crisis there was was a Congressional election which the very forces that Krugman speaks of won. That speaks volumes to me–and they didn’t have to rig the ballots. At any rate, even had the Democrats won it would have made very little difference in terms of basic policy.

    Yes, the oligarchy runs things but not because “the people” have been elbowed out of the way, though they have to some extent, but because the people have suffered or enjoyed (depending on your POV) a regime of highly sophisticated mind-control based on social-science and the latest finding of neuro-science. As long as people are not aware that, whether they elected to or not, that they have swallowed the blue pill they cannot possibly begin to address collective issues in a rational manner. Krugman can state the obvious all he wants and  you and I can tell people that the Moon is not made of green cheese all we want but the people are not going to hear it. On some level perhaps they would agree but their needs for affiliation and emotional sustenance does not come from you and I and neither from Krugman or any scholar but from the mass-culture that has the vast majority of citizens entranced.

    Right now I think it is possible for the oligarchs to create whatever narrative they want and they can use the technical skills of the most intelligent and creative people on earth to control the minds of the populace to believe that up is down and Santa Claus has a vast estate on the North Pole.

    We are adrift.

  1. The continuing devastation in Ireland or Greece compared to the relative recovery in Iceland needs to be pointed out again and again.  

  2. be rational beings. Yet our viscera, spirit and mind inhabit completely separate realms. Ethics is still a brand, spanking new concept; never quite made it into the basket of mainstream, modern ideas.

    We always use the old lexicon to frame new ideas. Thus, we are embattled forever. The idea of brainwashing by the “elites” is, and has always been, a micro, transitory phenomenon in history. Unless we radically transform ourselves into reflective homo sapiens by developing a new lexicon, we’ll be looking out from the bars of our cage till we starve to death.

    Events appear to take place. Then they become symbolic. Then they are manipulated by story tellers. Then everybody has something to talk about. WOW, I’m late for an appointment. Got to run!!!!!!


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