Pensions

Krugman's WPA: The First Rule of Bailout Club Is to Never Say the Word "Pension"

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Your daily reminder of the intellectual/public policy universe we live in (read: come back Woody Guthrie, come back to us now), comes care of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman:

Can't you just FEEL the progress?

So our best hope now is for a somewhat cheaper program that generates more jobs for the buck. Such a program should shy away from measures, like general tax cuts, that at best lead only indirectly to job creation, with many possible disconnects along the way. Instead, it should consist of measures that more or less directly save or add jobs.

One such measure would be another round of aid to beleaguered state and local governments, which have seen their tax receipts plunge and which, unlike the federal government, can't borrow to cover a temporary shortfall. More aid would help avoid both a drastic worsening of public services (especially education) and the elimination of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, the federal government could provide jobs by … providing jobs. It's time for at least a small-scale version of the New Deal's Works Progress Administration, one that would offer relatively low-paying (but much better than nothing) public-service employment. There would be accusations that the government was creating make-work jobs, but the W.P.A. left many solid achievements in its wake. And the key point is that direct public employment can create a lot of jobs at relatively low cost. In a proposal to be released today, the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, argues that spending $40 billion a year for three years on public-service employment would create a million jobs, which sounds about right.

Love that "about right"….Here's what I don't understand: How is that tax cuts "only indirectly" lead to job creation, compared to bailing out fiscally irresponsible states that, on average, expanded their budgets by 80 percent from 2002-2007? State bailouts aren't "creating" jobs in any significant sense, they are–once again!–ensuring that incompetent teachers still don't get fired. All while locking in the gold-plated and actuarily insane pension promises to existing, unfirable state employees.

Talk about "many possible disconnects"….Krugman and his intellectual/policy ilk (who have their hands much closer to the levers of power than you or I ever will) are asking taxpayers to not just accept but double down on ever-declining returns on investment so that the White House's favorite visitor, Andy Stern, can say "democracy is an ugly thing" all the way to the bank.

Any time one of your friends forwards you a Krugmanesque argument to bail out every state government, forever, send them not only our classic May 2007 cover story (pictured), but this New York Times link, from July:

pension pension pension pension

Local governments in New York State face an unprecedented increase in pension costs that will force them to triple their contributions to the state pension system over the next six years, according to an analysis prepared by the comptroller's office.

By 2015, pension costs borne by local governments upstate, on Long Island and in New York City's suburbs will exceed $8 billion a year, compared with $2.6 billion last year, under the analysis, which was circulated to legislative and county leaders and obtained by The New York Times this month.

The analysis predicts that counties will have to contribute an amount equal to nearly one-third of their civilian payrolls to the state pension system and more than 40 percent of their payrolls for police and fire departments.

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  1. Yes, yes. Krugman didn’t really win the Nobel Prize in Economics. There is no Nobel Prize for Economics, just a prize for Economics decided by the Nobel organization.

    Can we move on now?

    1. It is given by the Central Bank of Sweeden if I am not mistaken. Further, Nobel Prizes are not what they used to be. And I am not just talking about Al Gore, President Baby Jesus and Arrafat getting one. When they first started giving them in the early 20th Century, you had a huge selection of worthies since no one had ever gotten one. And the first sixty years of the 20th Century was probably the greatest explosion in scientific knowledge in human history. So, you had lots of people who were deserving. The problem is that after a while, the Ensteins, Friedmans, Faulkners and Feynmans of the world have already gotten theirs. So, the quality starts to go down. The really are not enough scientists, writers and economists worthy of such a prize to be given every year. They ought to give them every five years. As it is, the prizes give to an occasional worthy recipient. But, mostly they give them to make political statements (Al Gore President Baby Jesus) or to complete mediocrities who are PC enough to make it in the right circles (Harold Pinter)

      1. No, you’re right. It’s a Nobel Memorial Prize. But my point remains. Every time Krugman comes up, someone has to chime in that he really didn’t win a Nobel Peace Prize, which, while technically correct, is still not how it is noted colloquially.

        It’s as if anyone talking about Brazil nuts were constantly corrected that they should be called Brazil seeds, “since in nuts the shell splits in half with the meat separate from the shell.” Technically correct, but irreverent to the speaker’s meaning.

        It’s just a pet peeve.

        1. I always say that he won it in “Home Economics”. It really pisses liberals off, especially if you say it without any irony in your voice.

          1. By the way, The Brazil Nut is kind of dirty:

            The Brazil nut tree’s yellow flowers contain very sweet nectar and can only be pollinated by an insect strong enough to lift the coiled hood on the flower and with tongues long enough to negotiate the complex coiled flower.

              1. Not bad; but you don’t know *real* green porn until you’ve seen slugs mating.

                1. Wow…honestly, that’s pretty surprising. Thanks for the clip, Rich.

  2. Meanwhile, the federal government could provide jobs by … providing jobs.

    Forgive me, I just had to check the link about that apparent ellipsis. But it’s not an omission.

    See how simple this all is?

    Moving on now.

  3. Meanwhile, the federal government could provide jobs by … providing jobs.

    seems they also have been creating money by … creating money

  4. Meanwhile, the federal government could provide jobs by … providing jobs.

    Paul Krugman, you have the critical thinking skills of a beardless man. On behalf of all men who look like lumberjacks, I hereby revoke your beard privileges.

    1. No sweat. Barry won’t mind if he shaves.

      1. What a strangely recursive experience.

    2. Economists and geologists. I swear the two professions have a mandatory beard clause or period. (even for some of the women)

      I guess you need something to stroke while waxing poetic about the origins of earth or the state of mankind. There are worse things that could be getting stroked.

      1. (even for some of the women)

        And the women without beards on their faces have them on their arm. They usually nickname them husbands.

    3. It is too late Warty. Back in the 20s lots of cool people had these funny little moustaches over just the center of their top lip. Then some drunken little Austrian corporal got one and that was it. Krugman is doing the same for beards.

      1. Meantime, I am keeping my awesome porn ‘stache forever, as it will NEVER go out of style.

  5. And the key point is that direct public employment can create a lot of jobs at relatively low cost.

    Hahahahahahaha!

    *weeps, bangs head on desk*

    1. I don’t understand your reaction.

      I said relatively.

      1. $120k/low paying make-work job, right? Or did I misread that?

        1. Right. What’s the problem?

  6. I can’t wait to see AFSCME’s reaction to a proposal to pay teenagers minimum wage to pick up roadkill along Interstate 90.

    1. As long as they also pick up roadkill on the Information Superhighway.

  7. Off topic, but I’ve always been amazed at how WPA “art” managed to look so Stalinist. I know that there is a direct correlation, but still, I would have thought that in their zeal to hide their real goals that they never would have let the iconography give them away so thoroughly.

    Even more off topic, Jehova’s Witness art depicting the earthly paradise looks like c. 1950 Soviet art showing loads of golden-haired happy wheat farmers with tractors…

    1. You have to remember that it was the 30s. People on the Left were defending Stalin. Duranty was covering up the Ukrainian famine in the NYT. Hollywood was making “Mission to Moscow”. Until the Nazi Soviet non-agression pact, most right thinking people thought Stalin was one of the good guys. Leftists have rewritten history and deleted all of that. But, that doesn’t change what really happened.

    2. Why speak you in the past tense? You’ve never really looked at the Obama ‘Hope’ poster have you?

  8. Friends don’t let friends send friends Krugman links.

    (at least not without copious amounts of MS Paint lollery)

    1. I await the Palin/Kruginator post. That would make an awesome death match.

  9. Every time Krugman has something published, someone punches a kitten.

  10. “In a proposal to be released today, the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, argues that spending $40 billion a year for three years on public-service employment would create a million jobs, which sounds about right.”

    Really? In bizzaro world maybe. Even if you had no administrative costs, Krugman’s million jobs would pay $40,000 a year. Even the Whitehouse estimates that the cost per job created by the stimulus last year is $92,000. And there is every reason to think that figure is too small by half.
    http://blogs.abcnews.com/polit…..abuse.html

    In order to create a million jobs for $40 billion a year, the government would somehow have to manage to create jobs at under half the price per job that even the most optimistic estimates of this year’s stimulus. Yeah, that sounds about right. I guess the NYT employs no editors. I can’t beleive any editor with an IQ above room temperature would let such a line of bullshit like that get by him.

    1. John, please. We are reporters, we just print whatever anyone says, period. That’s our job. We are not in the business of subjecting people’s statements to any sort of analysis or criticism. Unless you’re a right-wing nutjob, in which case we shall mock you mercilessly.

  11. Yo, i second Warty’s revocation of Krugman’s facial hair. No man shall be suffered to bring such shame to the beard.

  12. I run by a WPA project every so often on winter runs. (I don’t go near the open sewage pit during summer unless I want to gag) It’s the same project that flooded the dipshits that bought a house next to a sewage ditch in South Saint Louis in 93. In fairness the “River Despair” could have been a mile deep and it still would have backed up off the Mississippi and flooded. I still chuckle about the misguided efforts of the Army CoE to control the river from tiling the lower half to the myriad of protective dykes. (of course by dyke I’m referring to, “The Mississippi River broke through a protective dike today. What is a protective dike? Is it a large woman that says “Don’t go near there! Don’t go down by the river!” …No, we can’t say “dyke” on the air, we can’t even say “lesbian” anymore, it’s “women in comfortable shoes.” )

    The Kruginator just loves the quirky little things left behind by the WPA.

  13. Until the Nazi Soviet non-agression pact, most right thinking people thought Stalin was one of the good guys.

    That phrasing gives the impression that they turned against Stalin. They didn’t. They added Hitler to the list of good guys, until his name looked bad there. But he remains in spirit.

    1. True. My mistake. I remembered the rewritten history that Leftists give saying how they lost faith in Communism after the pact. The reality, is more like what you say. Hitler became a good guy once COMINTERN told them he was.

  14. The analysis predicts that counties will have to contribute an amount equal to nearly one-third of their civilian payrolls to the state pension system and more than 40 percent of their payrolls for police and fire departments.

    It’s on thing to cut pensions for teachers or municipal workers, but how will cops’ pensions be cut? They are trainied in the use of guns and can defend their own rights.

    1. Huckabee’s already tackling that problem 4 cops at a time.

      1. I am really curious about the circumstances surrounding him granting clemency for that guy. Where there good reasons to believe he was dangerous? If so, then Huckabee deserves whatever scorn he gets. If not, the Reason ought to be the first place to defend him. One of the biggest reasons why so many injustices occur is governors are totally deliquent in their use of their clemency power. If governors used it more, a lot of injustices would be undone. But, the reason why they don’t is that they know if they let some guy out of jail and he goes and kills someone, it will kill their political careers. If you want governors to use their clemency power, you have to be willing not to blame them when one of the guys they let out does something wrong.

        I am very curious to see what the Reason staff has to say about this. It is a real test of their integrity. Are they more interested in the larger picture of the need for clemency or are they just looking to score cheap points against someone they don’t like? My guess is that it will be the latter. But I am cynical.

        1. From last night’s dim memory:

          The man had an extensive criminal record as well as a history of mental illness. Multiple prosecutors argued to keep the man in prison because it was too dangerous to let him out. One prosecutor has been quoted as “living in dread waiting for this day to come”.

          Huckelberry will have a somewhat difficult time explaining this one away.

          1. Few people dislike Huckabe more than I do. Why the hell did he let him out? If it was because he fell in with some snake handling preacher and claimed to be “born again”, I hope they shoot him for it.

            If Huckabee did screw it up as badly as it appears, I can’t stand him even more. His demise over this, no matter how deserved, will no doubt cause future governors to be less willing to commute sentences, which is not a good thing. Bastard.

            1. Haven’t heard Huckabee’s side yet. It should be entertaining — commuting a life sentence for a mentally-ill, career criminal.

              1. apparently the guy was sentenced to life in prison as a 17 year old, served 11 years before Huckabee granted him clemency. iirc the original crime was burglary and violent rape.

        2. Well, he was also out on bail for raping a 13-year-old girl, assualting a police officer and 6 other felony charges. Now, I know Lamar doesn’t have a problem with someone raping a 13-year-old, but I wonder why the fuck was this guy out on bail in first place? Known violent offender, pardoned under questionable circumstances in another state. Only $150,000 in bail?

          Huckabee commuted a 95 year sentence with only the fact that this guy was convicted at age 17. When he violated parole and was supposed to serve the rest of his term, the charges were dropped.

          I’m not a huge fan of the police, but this sounds like the sort of turd they should be flushing out of our society.

          1. It looks like the people up in Washington screwed up just as bad as Huckabee. The guy was completely insane.

            “Clemmons had been in jail in Pierce County for the past several months on a pending charge of second-degree rape of a child. He was released from custody just six days ago, even though was staring at seven additional felony charges in Washington state.

            Clemmons posted $15,000 with a Chehalis company called Jail Sucks Bail Bonds. The bondsman, in turn, put up $150,000, securing Clemmons’ release on the pending child-rape charge.

            Clemmons lives in Tacoma, where he has run a landscaping and power-washing business out of his house, according to a police interview with his wife earlier this year.

            He was married, but the relationship was tumultuous, with accounts of his unpredictable behavior leading to at least two confrontations with police earlier this year.

            During the confrontation in May, Clemmons punched a sheriff’s deputy in the face, according to court records. As part of that incident, he was charged with seven counts of assault and malicious mischief.

            In another instance, Clemmons was accused of gathering his wife and young relatives around at 3 or 4 in the morning and having them all undress. He told them that families need to “be naked for at least 5 minutes on Sunday,” a Pierce County sheriff’s report says.

            “The whole time Clemmons kept saying things like trust him, the world is going to end soon, and that he was Jesus,” the report says.

            As part of the child-rape investigation, the sheriff’s office interviewed Clemmons’ sister in May. She told them that “Maurice is not in his right mind and did not know how he could react when contacted by Law Enforcement,” a sheriff’s report says.

            “She stated that he was saying that the secret service was coming to get him because he had written a letter to the President. She stated his behavior has become unpredictable and erratic. She suspects he is having a mental breakdown,” the report says.

            Deputies also interviewed other family members. They reported that Clemmons had been saying he could fly and that he expected President Obama to visit to “confirm that he is Messiah in the flesh.”

            Prosecutors in Pierce County were sufficiently concerned about Clemmons’ mental health that they asked to have him evaluated at Western State Hospital. Earlier this month, on Nov. 6, a psychologist concluded that Clemmons was competent to stand trial on the child-rape and other felony charges, according to court records.”

            http://seattletimes.nwsource.c…..ght29.html

            How do you grant that guy bail? Although in fairness if considering Obama to be the Massiah were a reason to keep someone in jail, they would have to lock up Chris Matthews and Jacob Weisburg.

          2. Deputies also interviewed other family members. They reported that Clemmons had been saying he could fly and that he expected President Obama to visit to “confirm that he is Messiah in the flesh.”

            I am surprised this guy didn’t get a show on Air America or MSNBC.

            1. I hate to appear to defend Huckabe, but I don’t know under what legal circumstances he made the decision. It is possible the legal circumstances surrounding the man’s conviction were shady.

              Better a guilty man go free than an honest man imprisoned can be a bitch of a philosophy sometimes. But it’s better than tossing innocent people in the can based on shitty legal work.

              1. stupid threaded comments.

          3. All I know is, I wouldn’t want to be hoping for clemency from a politician running for re-election right now.

            That, and the guy was probably released to free up prison cells for drug offenders.

            1. That, and the guy was probably released to free up prison cells for drug offenders.

              This is actually a legitimate concern for me. Is the criminal justice system wasting time and resources on minor offenses like nonviolent drug crimes, when it should be focused on individuals such as this?

    2. They are trainied in the use of guns

      You’ve never seen a police shoot at a gun range, have you?

  15. Oh, are we back to talking about public employee pensions and how they’re going to bankrupt every municipality in the country? Sweet. Defined benefit plans FTW!

  16. These ditches aren’t going dig and fill themselves!

  17. I love the money hole!

    1. That’s a terrible thing to call your wife.

  18. The lesson to be learned from this terrible tragedy?

    WE NEED MORE PRISONS!!!

  19. I feel like I can confidently say I know more about economics than Krugman.

  20. Meanwhile, the federal government could provide jobs by … providing jobs.

    Excuse me, my head just exploded.

    A billion years in the hell of being sodomized by goats is not enough for Krugman.

  21. Here’s what I don’t understand: How is that tax cuts “only indirectly” lead to job creation, compared to bailing out fiscally irresponsible states

    Krugman did say “more or less directly”. Which either means both “more directly” AND “less directly” OR it creates “more jobs” AND “less jobs”.

    The use of the weasel phrase “more or less” is a dead giveaway that the writer doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.

  22. The Beard Curse

    It works better with the picture.

    1. Aaarrrrggg!! I’m melting!

      1. Well done, O SugarFree One.

  23. Well, they did write some pretty good travel guides. Just sayin’.

  24. More aid would help avoid both a drastic worsening of public services (especially education) and the elimination of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

    Yes, that has worked so well here in Hawaii, where the stimulus money meant for public education was spent other stuff, and now the public schools are closed most Fridays so the teachers can have “planning” days to figure out what to teach on those rare occasions where they deign to actually teach.

  25. It’s just a pet peeve.

    Silly Sugarfree; never tell people what bugs you. It’s like begging for it wearing a really really short skirt with brightly colored panties.

    1. So… you want me in plain panties?

  26. The funniest part was when he said that $40 billion could create 1 million jobs.

    How many jobs has the $800 billion stimulus created? Not even that many!

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