« Economic Fluctuations and Growth Research Meeting | Main | Links for 02-23-18 »

Friday, February 23, 2018

Paul Krugman: Nasty, Brutish and Trump

"there’s a faction in our country that sees public action for the public good, no matter how justified, as part of a conspiracy to destroy our freedom":

Nasty, Brutish and Trump, by Paul Krugman, NY Times: On Wednesday, after listening to the heart-rending stories of those who lost children and friends in the Parkland school shooting — while holding a cue card with empathetic-sounding phrases — Donald Trump proposed his answer: arming schoolteachers.
It says something about the state of our national discourse that this wasn’t even among the vilest, stupidest reactions to the atrocity. No, those honors go to the assertions by many conservative figures that bereaved students were being manipulated by sinister forces, or even that they were paid actors.
Still, Trump’s horrible idea, taken straight from the N.R.A. playbook, was deeply revealing...
To see why, consider the very case often used to illustrate how bizarrely we treat guns: how we treat car ownership and operation...,there’s a lot of variation in car safety among states within the U.S., just as there’s a lot of variation in gun violence.
America has a “car death belt” in the Deep South and the Great Plains; it corresponds quite closely to the firearms death belt defined by age-adjusted gun death rates. It also corresponds pretty closely to the Trump vote — and also to the states that have refused to expand Medicaid, gratuitously denying health care to millions of their citizens. ...
For whatever reason, there’s a faction in our country that sees public action for the public good, no matter how justified, as part of a conspiracy to destroy our freedom.
This paranoia strikes both deep and wide. ... And it goes along with basically infantile fantasies about individual action — the “good guy with a gun” — taking the place of such fundamentally public functions as policing.
Anyway, this political faction is doing all it can to push us toward becoming a society in which individuals can’t count on the community to provide them with even the most basic guarantees of security — security from crazed gunmen, security from drunken drivers, security from exorbitant medical bills (which every other advanced country treats as a right, and does in fact manage to provide).
In short, you might want to think of our madness over guns as just one aspect of the drive to turn us into what Thomas Hobbes described long ago: a society “wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them.” And Hobbes famously told us what life in such a society is like: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
Yep, that sounds like Trump’s America.

    Posted by on Friday, February 23, 2018 at 09:30 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (59)


    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.