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Paul Krugman: “When you’re confronting bad-faith [zombie] arguments, the public should be informed not just these arguments are wrong, but they they are in fact being made in bad faith.”


photo courtesy of Wikipedia

This quote comes from a review in the Guardian of a book that consists of copies of Paul Krugman’s old columns from the New York Times.  Paul Krugman is an economist who has won a Nobel Prize (not a Pulitzer Prize, pace He-who-must-not-be-named).

Paul Krugman has been a voice crying in the wilderness, complaining of the “zombie arguments” put forth by most, if not all, Republican politicians, pundits, and Very Important People.  Arguments such as: “All deficits are bad”, “tax cuts for the rich will increase revenues”, “rich people shouldn’t have to pay taxes”, and the like.

He calls them “zombie arguments” because no matter how many times these arguments are refuted, they will not die.  They keep being repeated over and over, in public, in newspapers, and on TV, until the general public either believes them or is too tired to fight them anymore.

He emphasizes that it is critically important, not just to refute the arguments, but to point out that they are made in bad faith: the people who make these arguments know that they are false, but they refuse to admit that they are wrong.  They just keep on repeating them, like the Big Lie, which, if repeated often enough and loud enough, is believed by enough people to tip society over into kleptocracy.

We may as well admit that we now live in a kleptocracy, not a democracy.  Rich people have taken over government and are using it to further enrich themselves rather than to serve the people.

The people who make these arguments are largely the ones who benefit from them (and the ones who have sold out to them): the one-tenth of 1% who save big money on their taxes.  These people get much more benefit out of government, mostly little government, than they pay for.  They don’t like (even though they can easily afford) having to pay taxes to support all the people upon whom they depend to buy their goods and shine their shoes.

For example, the owners of WalMart (a tiny few, mainly the Walton family, scions of Sam Walton) find it profitable to pay their employees minimum wage and give them less-than-full-time hours.  As a result, these same employees have to be on Medicaid to afford any medical care and have to use food stamps (SNAP, supplemental nutrition assistance program) to feed their families.  These expenses are borne by the federal and state governments and paid for by general tax revenue, which (as you well know) comes out of your pocket, not the pockets of WalMart employers (the Walton family).  The consequence of this strategy is that the Waltons are among the richest families on Earth (certainly in the top ten, I didn’t bother to check this assertion)– certainly the most profitable company in America.

This is called socializing your expenses and privatizing your profit, a pernicious consequence of unregulated capitalism.

I hope this explains why Paul Krugman won a Nobel Prize but is still pursued by zombie arguments.


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