Friday, June 1, 2012

Krugman v. Austerity

This BBC debate between Paul Krugman and two British austerity advocating conservatives is the best airing of the relevant issues I've yet seen on a regular TV segment.  I certainly think Krugman came out on top, as his opponents spent the entire debate avoiding his initial (factual) statements that austerity had resulted in weaker economic performance in Britain and especially mainland Europe, and had actually weakened the government budgetary situation leaving austerity without even a plausible claim to some kind of policy success.  It gets kind of darkly humourous at the end when one of his opponents ends up saying "well, austerity has some successes doesn't it?" and actually brings up Estonia as his example of austerity policy success.  The host intervenes that there isn't time to get into Estonia, but regular readers of Krugman's site know he's dealt with the Baltic states before, and well, if this is "success", I don't want to know what failure would look like:

I note of course that even the publicly funded BBC felt it was necessary to pair Krugman up against two conservatives.  Now, given that this is Krugman, it's possible this is just because he's such a towering figure that it really isn't fair to put him up against ideological opponents at a 1:1 ratio.  On the other hand, if this debate was held on US tv, Krugman would have been given an "ally" who was some DC centrist who would end up agreeing with most of the right wing position on austerity but with some trivial caveat like making the rich lose mortgage interest tax deductions on their summer homes.  So it's probably for the best that Krugman took that fight alone.  Some allies are worse than no help.

The other thing that would have happened on US tv, particularly Sunday morning shows, is that the host would not have let the debate go that long (8 whole minutes!) without intervening at a key moment (when austerians are clearly on the run) to change the subject to some trivial sideshow issue and save good Villagers from being public embarrassed.

Well worth the 8 minutes to watch.

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