The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Paul Krugman's idea of "compromise" — what world is he living in?

A lot of the time, when I quote a column or a blog at length, it's because I agree with it, and would like to echo the sentiments posted there. This time, however, I wish to quote one which I think is so far from making sense that it boggles the mind to think that there are people who actually think that way. The column I am discussing was one dated October 13, 2013 on The New York Times' site, called The Dixiecrat Solution by Paul Krugman. He begins:

So you have this neighbor who has been making your life hell. First he tied you up with a spurious lawsuit; you’re both suffering from huge legal bills. Then he threatened bodily harm to your family. Now, however, he says he’s willing to compromise: He’ll call off the lawsuit, which is to his advantage as well as yours. But in return you must give him your car. Oh, and he’ll stop threatening your family — but only for a week, after which the threats will resume.

Not much of an offer, is it? But here’s the kicker: Your neighbor’s relatives, who have been egging him on, are furious that he didn’t also demand that you kill your dog.

The analogy that Krugman seems to be making assumes that President Obama and the Senate Democrats have a right to all they want to do with our government, that any attempt to oppose those plans is spurious, and that the Republican attempts to try to arrange a compromise is a phony compromise — in other words, that they are asking for everything and yielding almost nothing. In fact, if anything, it is the Democrats who have insisted they get everything they want — President Obama has even said that first they need to give up everything and only then will he talk! So when Krugman says:

And now you understand the current state of budget negotiations.

Stocks surged last Friday in the belief that House Republicans were getting ready to back down on their ransom demands over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. But what Republicans were actually offering, it seems, was the “compromise” Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, laid out in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article: rolling back some of the “sequester” budget cuts — which both parties dislike; cuts in Medicare, but with no quid pro quo in the form of higher revenue; and only a temporary fix on the debt ceiling, so that we would soon find ourselves in crisis again.

it is clear that Krugman's idea of “compromise” is a weird one. As he himself puts it:

I do not think that word “compromise” means what Mr. Ryan thinks it means. Above all, he failed to offer the one thing the White House won’t, can’t bend on: an end to extortion over the debt ceiling.

But this so-called “extortion over the debt ceiling” is the only weapon the Republicans have in the face of Democratic insistence that their entire program be allowed to go into force and the sequester rolled back. Krugman's idea of “compromise,” in short, is to allow the Democrats to have the whole of their wish list, without any give-back. This is a compromise? I certainly think not. And so, when he continues:

Yet even this ludicrously unbalanced offer was too much for conservative activists, who lambasted Mr. Ryan for basically leaving health reform intact.

it is clear that he considers Ryan's offer “ludicrously unbalanced,” without the slightest realization that it is his supposed compromise that would better be described in those terms.

I'm not going to continue further with his column, because it is easy enough to see how wildly out of touch with any notion of fairness Mr. Krugman is. And I assume he is not stupid. So my only question is, how can anyone take his ideas seriously?

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