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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Krugman, "Here Comes the Sun": Krugman Wages War Against Brooks

In case you haven't noticed, a war has erupted on the op-ed page of The New York Times with ultra-liberal, Nobel economist Paul Krugman lashing out at David Brooks.

In his prior NYT op-ed entitled "Oligarchy, American Style" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/opinion/oligarchy-american-style.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), Krugman took a nasty swipe at fellow New York Times columnist David Brooks, who had the audacity to opine several days earlier in an op-ed entitled "The Wrong Inequality" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/opinion/brooks-the-wrong-inequality.html?_r=1&ref=opinion), that the lack of higher education is the most important barrier to economic equality. Krugman wrote in a veiled reference to Brooks:

"Whenever growing income disparities threaten to come into focus, a reliable set of defenders tries to bring back the blur. Think tanks put out reports claiming that inequality isn’t really rising, or that it doesn’t matter. Pundits try to put a more benign face on the phenomenon, claiming that it’s not really the wealthy few versus the rest, it’s the educated versus the less educated."

Today, in his op-ed entitled "Here Comes the Sun" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/07/opinion/krugman-here-comes-solar-energy.html?hp), Krugman would have us believe that solar energy is the wave of the future, while demeaning the possibility of allaying America's dependence on Middle Eastern oil by means of domestic oil shale. Krugman claims:

"Fracking — injecting high-pressure fluid into rocks deep underground, inducing the release of fossil fuels — is an impressive technology. But it’s also a technology that imposes large costs on the public. We know that it produces toxic (and radioactive) wastewater that contaminates drinking water; there is reason to suspect, despite industry denials, that it also contaminates groundwater; and the heavy trucking required for fracking inflicts major damage on roads.

. . . .

Let’s face it: a large part of our political class, including essentially the entire G.O.P., is deeply invested in an energy sector dominated by fossil fuels, and actively hostile to alternatives. This political class will do everything it can to ensure subsidies for the extraction and use of fossil fuels, directly with taxpayers’ money and indirectly by letting the industry off the hook for environmental costs, while ridiculing technologies like solar."

In case you didn't notice, David Brooks's prior op-ed, "Shale Gas Revolution" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/opinion/brooks-the-shale-gas-revolution.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), was devoted to the potential benefits of oil shale and fracking:

"So far, the Obama administration has done a good job of trying to promote fracking while investigating the downsides. But the general public seems to be largely uninterested in the breakthrough (even though it could have a major impact on the 21st-century economy). The discussion is dominated by vested interests and the extremes. It’s becoming another weapon in the political wars, with Republicans swinging behind fracking and Democrats being pressured to come out against. Especially in the Northeast, the gas companies are demonized as Satan in corporate form."

Neither Krugman nor Brooks mentions that there is an alternative to fracking: Microwaved oil shale releases its fuel.

Solar power? I'm in favor of that, too. Anything that will relieve the US of its dependence upon foreign oil, create jobs at home, and improve the balance of payments.

Meanwhile, however, Krugman tussles with Brooks as The New York Times continues to founder.

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