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Krugman's Bush Bashing Wins at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Written by Jeff Poor

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krugman.jpgOctober 17, 2008
Krugman Follows Well-Worn Path to Nobel Prize:
Outspoken Liberal Ideas Like Gore, IPCC and Carter, NYT columnist shows how Bush-bashing and promotion of the welfare state wins the favor of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. 
By Jeff Poor
Business & Media Institute
Call this free-market capitalism's nightmare. The global financial markets are struggling, both political party presidential nominees are promoting populist ideals in their stump speeches and perpetual Bush-basher and über-liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has been awarded the highest prize in the land for economists.

On Oct. 13, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded Krugman the 2008 Nobel Prize for Economics for his "analysis of how economies of scale can affect international trade patterns," but having seemingly ignored his vicious attacks on capitalism - a field of economics that has brought so many around the world out of poverty.

However, in the wake of this big announcement and all the media attention it garnered, international trade isn't where Krugman, a liberal ideologue is lending his expertise.

Anti-Bush Ranting Even at Height of Financial Crisis

But even as a few long-time banking institutions are failing and the public is looking for solutions - perhaps from a Nobel prize-winning economist, Krugman still won't let it go, even on the eve of a new administration.

 While on a media tour after winning the Nobel Prize, Krugman made a stop on CNBC's Oct. 12 "Squawk Box" and was asked why he was so "reviled" by many even though he's a distinguished professor of economics at Princeton University. Krugman, like he has in the past for so many other things, blamed Bush.

"I was out there - you know we went through a period when a lot of people were worshipping George Bush - if you can say that," Krugman said. "He had an 80 percent approval rating, people were saying he is wonderful, anyone who criticizes him is unpatriotic and I was saying, ‘No, he's actually a pretty bad guy. He's got bad policies and he's not being honest with us.'"

However, attacking a president by claiming he's dishonest and a "pretty bad guy" is par for the course with Krugman.

Krugman: A History of Over-the-Top Hyperbole
Perhaps this is the path to win the favor of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences - a long-history of inflammatory, left-wing writing disguised as though provoking liberal ideas. It worked for Krugman. On Jan. 29, 2002, just months following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks Krugman threw this bomb on the op-ed pages of The New York Times.

It was a shocking event. With incredible speed, our perception of the world and of ourselves changed. It seemed that before we had lived in a kind of blind innocence, with no sense of the real dangers that lurked. Now we had experienced a rude awakening, which changed everything," Krugman wrote. "No, I'm not talking about Sept. 11; I'm talking about the Enron scandal."

In other words, Krugman claimed the Enron scandal would have a far greater impact on the United States than the terrorist attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 innocent lives.

 "I predict that in the years ahead Enron, not Sept. 11, will come to be seen as the greater turning point in U.S. society."

Almost two years later, Krugman went back to his 9-11 playbook and praised documentary filmmaker Michael Moore's controversial film "Fahrenheit 9/11" for being a "public service."

"And for all its flaws, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11' performs an essential service," Krugman wrote in the July 2, 2004 Times. "It would be a better movie if it didn't promote a few unproven conspiracy theories, but those theories aren't the reason why millions of people who aren't die-hard Bush-haters are flocking to see it. These people see the film to learn true stories they should have heard elsewhere, but didn't. Mr. Moore may not be considered respectable, but his film is a hit because the respectable media haven't been doing their job."

In Krugman's most recent book, "The Conscience of a Liberal," the title of which plays off of Barry Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative," the Times columnist claimed conservative icon former President Ronald Reagan used racist tactics for political gain.

"His early political successes were based on appeals to cultural and sexual anxieties, playing on the fear of communism, and, above all, tacit exploitation of white backlash against the civil rights movement and its consequences," Krugman wrote.

But that's not the real Krugman - at least as he put it. Krugman told CNBC on Oct. 14 his inflammatory rhetoric is just a product of his writing - and not real life.

    "Well, I'm a pussy cat in real life," Krugman said. "But, give me 800 words, I start slashing."

But, maybe if it weren't for Krugman's printed "slashing," he would have never drawn the attention of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and never have been considered for the Nobel Prize in Economics.

IS the Royal Swedish Academy Politicizing the Nobel Prize?

In the 1970s, free-market economic icons Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek won Nobel prizes for economics, but the last few years have really shown a trend toward liberalism.

The academy has awarded the prize to former President Jimmy Carter and former Vice President Al Gore along with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as Australian Broadcast Corporation correspondent Lisa Millar pointed out.

"Economists around the world have congratulated him on the prize worth $1.4 million, although there have been mutterings about the politicization of the awards. Former Vice President Al Gore won the Peace Prize last year. Democrat President Jimmy Carter won it in 2002," Millar said. "And with an election just three weeks away, some believe the decision by the Royal Swedish Academy will provoke fresh criticism."

Millar called Krugman an "unabashed liberal who thinks the economics of the Bush administration have been terrible" and she pointed out his comments that dismissed the politicization of the award.

"A lot of intellectuals are anti-Bush," Krugman said at his Princeton news conference immediately following the announcement he won the prize.

Even Krugman's own paper, the Times has detected this trend. In October 2007, after Doris Lessing, a former member of the Communist Party of the United Kingdom, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Motoko Rich and Sarah Lyall noted the pattern of left-of-center ideologues winning Nobel Prizes.

"Although Ms. Lessing is passionate about social and political issues, she is unlikely to be as controversial as the previous two winners, Orhan Pamuk of Turkey or Harold Pinter of Britain, whose views on current political situations led commentators to suspect that the Swedish Academy was choosing its winners in part for nonliterary reasons," Rich and Lyall wrote in the Oct. 11, 2007 New York Times.

Still, Krugman's selection reeks of partisanship and it will have a regrettable impact, according to William L. Anderson of Forbes.com.

"Today's announcement that Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in economics, although not earth shattering, indicates that outright political partisanship is not a deterrent to winning," Anderson wrote on Oct. 13. "This is not as tragic a moment in western civilization as the sacking of Constantinople in 1453 or the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, but it suffices as one of those sad moments we will regret over time."

The Welfare State as Krugman's Utopia

In "Conscience of Liberal," Krugman predicted in 2009 the United States would have a Democratic president and a solidly Democratic congress. His proposal under this scenario - revive the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

"The question is, what should the new majority do?" Krugman wrote. "My answer is that it should, for the nation's sake, pursue an unabashedly liberal program of expanding the social safety net and reducing inequality - a new New Deal. The starting point for that program, the twenty-first century equivalent of Social Security, should be universal health care, something every other advanced country already has."

For Krugman, the welfare state is the best path to equality, a value he relentlessly has obsessed over in his writing.

"Yet you can't understand what's happening in America today without understanding the extent, causes and consequences of the vast increase in inequality that has taken place over the last three decades, and in particular the astonishing concentration of income and wealth in just a few hands," Krugman wrote in The New York Times Magazine on Oct. 20, 2002.

However, since Krugman was named the sole winner of the Nobel Prize, he is an instant millionaire and that begs the question how he will handle his automatic entrance into the club of the "rich and tasteless," as Business & Media Institute adviser Don Luskin asks in an Oct. 14 column for National Review.

     "Whatever the committee was thinking, the only remaining question is what the living Paul Krugman will do with his $1.4 million prize," Luskin wrote. "Will he pay taxes on it at the low rates established in 2003 by George W. Bush, a president and a policy that Krugman has worked so assiduously to discredit? Or will he voluntarily pay at the higher rates he advocates?"

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