According to an old joke, a sign you're getting old is when you buy
Playboy to read the articles.
Although I've flipped a number of calendar pages, a number which some
might consider "alarming," I guess, as the old joke goes, I'm getting
old since I recently received my first issue of a twelve-issue
subscription to Playboy and I read the articles. (I was offered a
"professional" rate of $15.46 for 12 issues. I accepted, but Playboy
didn't tell me why it considered me a "professional." If I were a woman,
however, I'd hate to know what kind of "professional" Playboy thought I
One of the articles I read was the signature "Playboy Interview," in
which none other than Paul Krugman was interviewed. The subtitle went:
"A candid conversation with the Nobel Prize-winning economist and
controversial columnist about how the economy went crazy and whether it
can be fixed."
I don't know about you, but from what I read in his articles and op-eds
and from the many comments and editorials about him from writers in "our
camp," when I think of Paul Krugman, words like "buffoon," "charlatan"
and "crackpot," among others, come to mind. If you also associate
Krugman with these words, the interview will verify your association.
Unless you already subscribe to Playboy, you could read the interview by
shelling out $6.99 for the March 2012 issue. If you have trouble finding
it at the newsstands, which you probably will, or if you're
"funding-challenged," then you could read it for free by going to:
BTW, I did look at and enjoy the pictures, including Playboy's
trademarked "Playmate of the Month." So I guess I'm not completely
getting old (maybe half-way getting old?). You will, however, be
considered old if you say that those pictures of stunningly, if not
impossibly, beautiful women were "air brushed," to make them look "more
perfect." To avoid this gaff, you should say, "The pictures were
Anyhow, below are some of my favorite groan-inducing howlers Krugman
made; do enjoy:
PLAYBOY: It seems every month various people debate whether we're in
a depression or a recession. Where are werecession, depression? Or
is it something else?
KRUGMAN: . . . What we're experiencing is an economy that probably
feels in a lot of ways like the U.S. economy in 1937, when, almost
everyone now agrees, policy makers were way too complacent and should
have kept on pushing for more employment. It's lousy. [Anyone think
FDR's New Deal was "way too complacent"?]
* * *
PLAYBOY: What about Wall Street's role [in the housing bubble]?
KRUGMAN: If you're asking why people were buying those houses,
it's because the money was being made available. Why was the money
being made available? You had a whole machine making it seem as if dicey
loans were actually safe, and a fair bit of predatory stuff was also
going on. People were being pushed into mortgages they were told they
could afford because they didn't understand the fine print. Of
course there was the slicing and dicing and tranching and making
subprime toxic waste appear as triple-A bonds. [Krugman never mentioned
the government's or the Fed's role. Anyone surprised?]
* * *
PLAYBOY: Many complain that the Occupy Wall Street movement doesn't
have a clear message. What do you think?
KRUGMAN: I think OWS has done a great service. [Really.] We didn't
need 10-point proposals. We needed someone to declare that the emperor
was naked. The conversation has shifted since the protests began, and
* * *
PLAYBOY: You have written that race is central to why people vote for
Republicans against their economic interests. Is the Republican Party a
KRUGMAN: I don't think it's that simple. There's certainly a
racist aspect to it. It's not explicit, and the code has gotten
increasingly subtle over the years. You know, it was "the bums on
welfare." Now "big government" in general becomes a kind of
code for taking your money and giving it to "those people."
There's a fair bit of crude racism still, but that's changed.
We're actually a better country in that respect. [Too bad Krugman
wasn't asked, "Is the Democratic Party a racist party?"]
* * *
PLAYBOY: George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security. More
recently Rick Perry called it a Ponzi scheme. Is it?
KRUGMAN: It's a pay-as-you-go system. [Unbelievable!] Each
generation pays in while it's working and then collects when
it's retired. There's no reason that ever has to stop. It's
not going to run out of customers. End of story. It's a social
insurance program run on a pay-as-you-go basis. No Ponzi scheme has ever
lasted for 75 years. Let's put it this way. We've upped the
ante. Bush was saying untrue things about Social Security in 2000, but
they were nowhere near as untrue as the things Perry is saying now. Mitt
Romney goes around saying that Obama has been touring the world
apologizing for America, which is a flat falsehood. So you have to ask:
Are the Texas lies bigger than the Massachusetts lies? But it's not
as if Perry is being uniquely dishonest among the Republican contenders.
[Anyone suppose Krugman has FICA taxes deducted from his paycheck?]
* * *
PLAYBOY: When you look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, a
large number of the jobs of the future don't require a college
degree. Yet many people run around arguing that we have to educate
everybody, that the problem is a lack of education.
KRUGMAN: It's a very American thing to believe that education is a
panacea. It's always good. But we're not all going to be Ph.D.s
doing technical stuff. The task is to create a society in which
hardworking ordinary people can earn a decent living. But the idea that
if only we had a better educational system and invested more in
education the problem of jobs and inequality would be solved is wrong.
[With this view on education, it seems Krugman hasn't got it completely
wrong. But do you suppose he wants the government (implied in his "we")
to completely withdraw its role in providing education?]
* * *
So if you want some groans--and laughs, do read the full interview. And
do consider Krugman for President in 2016.
Thanks for reading.