Sun, May 05, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Tone of austerity conversation has seen big change

By Paul Krugman  /  NY Times News Service, NEW YORK

Is the story really that simple and would it really be that easy to end the scourge of unemployment?

Yes — but powerful people do not want to believe it. Some of them have a visceral sense that suffering is good, that we must pay a price for past sins (even if the sinners then and the sufferers now are very different groups of people). Some of them see the crisis as an opportunity to dismantle the social safety net. And just about everyone in the policy elite takes cues from a wealthy minority that is not actually feeling much pain.

However, what has happened now is that the drive for austerity has lost its intellectual fig leaf and stands exposed as the expression of prejudice, opportunism and class interest it always was. And maybe, just maybe, that sudden exposure will give us a chance to start doing something about the depression we are in.

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