Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dear Dr. Krugman

I may not be a Nobel Laureate but I think that I can explain Obama's speech to Paul Krugman.

Krugman writes:
Thus, in his speech Mr. Obama attributed the economic crisis in part to “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age” — but I have no idea what he meant. This is, first and foremost, a crisis brought on by a runaway financial industry. And if we failed to rein in that industry, it wasn’t because Americans “collectively” refused to make hard choices; the American public had no idea what was going on, and the people who did know what was going on mostly thought deregulation was a great idea.

Obama's perspective entails:
1) holding the purchasers of subprime mortgages to account for their decision-making
2) at the same time, implying that such debacles of overleveraging are bound to happen in an unequal society, i.e. the poor are likely to overspend to try to keep up, at least, with the middle class
3) supporting the poor in their ambitions by developing new opportunities for them make economic contributions
4) recognizing that such 'opportunity development' is especially crucial when economic structures change (viz. globalization, the decline of American industry, the growth of the information economy)

It's a complex view that makes room for both individual responsibility and acknowledgment of social tendencies. Or, like others, I have simply divined in Obama's spacious words the perspective that I, myself, hold.


Jeff DeGrasse said...

I agree!

Just as the populace, as well as the industries, is responsible for climate change, we too share the burden of this current economic downturn.

We consume too much without regard for the future.

Andres said...

Well said Barak and Jeff!