Sunday, December 6, 2009

Liberalism, Krugman style

Getting off the island this weekend to hang out with my brother I found Paul Krugman's The Conscience of a Liberal (see my book list for a link) book lying around. As a Nobel winning economist and leading Democratic intellectual I thought he might have something interesting to say. So I read it. Here is a list of a few things I liked and didn't like.

Likes

1. He is right to be annoyed at the excessive decadence of the top 1% in America who unapologetically "earn" ridiculously large sums of money.
2. He is also right that progressive taxes are perfectly justifiable.
3. He is also probably right that racial and anti-immigration prejudices, even in the last fifty years, have continued to play a shameful role in American, and particularly Republican, politics.
4. Most broadly his distrust of large monopolizations of power by small minorities is well-founded.

Dislikes

1. He is too big of a cheerleader for the Democratic party. The arguments made in the book are not intellectually rigorous but rather blatantly politically charged and full of unbalanced scrutiny.
2. His obsession with achieving greater economic equality is philosophically shallow and unappealing.
3. Attached to #2 he presents American politics as very black (Republicans) and white (Democrats) and refuses to meditate on the tough philosophical questions that might blur, add a little gray, to this stark picture.
4. He is over-confident about the government's ability to manage economies and legislate social norms.

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