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Monday, June 10, 2013

Paul Krugman, "The Big Shrug": Where Is Tanzania?

Later this month, Obama will be traveling to Tanzania. Now I know that many of those who read this blog are professors, doctors, psychologists and law makers, but honestly, if I were to give you a map of Africa this very moment, how many of you would be able to pinpoint Tanzania? Frankly, if you wanted to get lost for a week or so, as scandals swirl around you, it sounds like a pretty good place to disappear, and this is where Obama will be traveling at the end of the month. Moreover, were it not for the fact that Tanzania, as noted by Dana Milbank in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama’s ill-advised visit to Tanzania" (, "has been in a multiyear diplomatic dispute with the United States over human trafficking," Tanzania might be a wonderful place to weather out the PRISM, Verizon, Benghazi, AP/Rosen and the IRS storms.

But let us not forget that in addition to PRISM, Verizon, Benghazi, AP/Rosen and the IRS, there is also the "small" matter of America's stagnant economy and an unacceptable level of unemployment.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Big Shrug" (, Paul Krugman asks:

"So how, in those long-ago days, would we have reacted to Friday’s news that the number of Americans with jobs is still down two million from six years ago, that 7.6 percent of the work force is unemployed (with many more underemployed or forced to take low-paying jobs), and that more than four million of the unemployed have been out of work for more than six months?"

Me? I would say that Obama has done an awful job of managing the economy since becoming president - yeah, I know, he inherited it from Bush. But heck, it's been more than four years since Bush departed, and Obama's name isn't even mentioned once in Krugman's op-ed.

Krugman concludes:

"The tragedy is that it’s all unnecessary. Yes, you hear talk about a 'new normal' of much higher unemployment, but all the reasons given for this alleged new normal, such as the supposed mismatch between workers’ skills and the demands of the modern economy, fall apart when subjected to careful scrutiny. If Washington would reverse its destructive budget cuts, if the Fed would show the 'Rooseveltian resolve' that Ben Bernanke demanded of Japanese officials back when he was an independent economist, we would quickly discover that there’s nothing normal or necessary about mass long-term unemployment.

So here’s my message to policy makers: Where we are is not O.K. Stop shrugging, and do your jobs."

"Policy makers" should do their jobs? Is Obama a policy maker? Or is he simply someone who is told by his closest senior advisers of disasters after the fact, so that he can claim that he read about them like the rest of us in the newspapers?

Whom in Washington would Krugman have shower additional federal stimulus upon the economy? The EPA? It can of course bankroll more Solyndras, but also note newly surfacing allegations of EPA discrimination against conservative organizations as described by John Steele Gordon in Commentary ( The IRS? They can make more "Star Trek" movies and continue hosting lavish conferences costing millions of dollars. Or perhaps, the NSA, which is doing its part to heal the economy by building a new $2 billion facility in Utah, where it will store and process details concerning your telephone and Internet activity.

US unemployment remains at a disastrous level, but who is ultimately responsible for championing a recovery? At the moment Obama can be found with China's Xi Jinping in a desert retreat named Rancho Mirage (see: Later this month, after reemerging from this mirage, Obama can be "found" in Tanzania.

Good luck to the unemployed and underemployed among us.

1 comment:

  1. WaPo reports today that the Sub-Saharan Obama trip cost estimate is 80-100 MILLION USD, but the safari was changed to a visit to Robben Island as South Africa and Senegal are also on the trip.

    Not clear if WH tours for schoolchildren still cancelled due to sequester.