This is what it looks like when someone with something like mainstream cred looks behind the curtain — in public. You get a narrative, an explanation, that (a) makes perfect sense, and (b) runs exactly counter to the "straight" (mainstream) analysis — what "everyone knows" to be true.
"Everyone knows" that the drive for austerity is sincere, but wrong-headed. Wrong, says the Professor. The goal of austerity is to destroy.
Krugman is in the U.K. at the moment and asking everyone he can find "why austerity now?" (my emphasis everywhere):
Over the past few days, I’ve posed that question to a number of supporters of the government of Prime Minister David Cameron, sometimes in private, sometimes on TV. And all these conversations followed the same arc: They began with a bad metaphor and ended with the revelation of ulterior motives.I'll leave you to read about the bad metaphor. It's an excellent, clear explanation of why a national economy is the opposite of a household economy.
Let's jump instead to those "ulterior motives":
[W]hen you push “austerians” on the badness of their metaphor, they almost always retreat to assertions along the lines of: “But it’s essential that we shrink the size of the state.”Again, factual, so far. Now the radical analysis:
So the austerity drive in Britain isn’t really about debt and deficits at all; it’s about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs. And this is, of course, exactly the same thing that has been happening in America. ... the direction of policy is the same [in the U.S. and the U.K.] — and so is the fundamental insincerity of the calls for austerity.Excellent work, sir. Blessings on you and your Times column inches.
The big question here is whether the evident failure of austerity to produce an economic recovery will lead to a “Plan B.” Maybe. But my guess is that even if such a plan is announced, it won’t amount to much. For economic recovery was never the point; the drive for austerity was about using the crisis, not solving it. And it still is.
I would just add this for our readers. Think a little down the road.
If the plan of Our Betters is to not-solve the crisis (see? I told you the analysis was radical), what will the country look like when they achieve their real goal — a big-time economic crisis during which the safety net is devastated?
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