Op-Ed Columnist - Fear and Favor - NYTimes.com. Paul Krugman's column today
A note to Tea Party activists: This is not the movie you think it is. You probably imagine that you’re starring in “The Birth of a Nation,” but you’re actually just extras in a remake of “Citizen Kane.”
I mean that literally. As Politico recently pointed out, every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn’t currently holding office and isn’t named Mitt Romney is now a paid contributor to Fox News. Now, media moguls have often promoted the careers and campaigns of politicians they believe will serve their interests. But directly cutting checks to political favorites takes it to a whole new level of blatancy.
Arguably, this shouldn’t be surprising. Modern American conservatism is, in large part, a movement shaped by billionaires and their bank accounts, and assured paychecks for the ideologically loyal are an important part of the system.
- Scientists willing to deny the existence of man-made climate change,
- economists willing to declare that tax cuts for the rich are essential to growth,
- strategic thinkers willing to provide rationales for wars of choice,
- lawyers willing to provide defenses of torture,
And these organizations have long provided havens for conservative political figures not currently in office. Thus when Senator Rick Santorum was defeated in 2006, he got a new job as head of the America’s Enemies program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a think tank that has received funding from the usual sources: the Koch brothers, the Coors family, and so on.
Now Mr. Santorum is one of those paid Fox contributors contemplating a presidential run. What’s the difference?
David Cay Johnston spoke to some of this in his writings about the effort to re-brand the estate tax, which affects a tiny fraction of households, as the "death tax," funded by those who would be beneficiaries. (Remember all that talk about saving the family farm? Think about that family-owned factory farm in Iowa which produces all those eggs. That's the sort of entity we'd be protecting.)
Might I encourage you to go read "The Corruption of Economics" by Mason Gaffney and Fred Harrison. Here's the product description:
The cover material reads,
'With the development of democracy . . . Mind control became the urgent need: neo-classical economics was the tool.' Economics was uprooted from reality and we are all paying the price today."
What comes to mind is that the vast majority of those who learned our/their economics from economists and instructors who only know neo-classical economists become highly useful idiots.
Schalkenbach.org may be your best source, at $16. And any purchase over $10 gets you a free copy of Henry George and the Reconstruction of Capitalism.
I hope you -- and Dr. Krugman -- will take a look at both.
What is it the plutocrats are protecting? The concentration of wealth in this country. If you don't have the statistics top of mind, here's a quick version, from the Federal Reserve Board's 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances, which under-reports the concentration of wealth because it expressly omits the Fortune 400 families, who represent about 1% of aggregate net worth.
1. EQUITY (stock in publicly held companies and equity mutual funds, whether held individually, in trusts, in retirement accounts):
2. BUS (the value of privately held businesses)
3. EQUITY and BUS combined
|Distribution of Wealth: Stocks, Privately Held Business, and all other, by percentile of NETWORTH
|Percentile of Wealth Distribution (NETWORTH)
|0 to 50th||50 to 90th
||90 to 95th
||95 to 99th
||99 to 100th
|HOUSES, net of
|Source: Ponds and Streams, reported at http://lvtfan.typepad.com/lvtfans_blog/