Krugman Brings His Brand of Bad Economics to GQ

Economist and columnist for The New York Times Paul Krugman is interviewed in the September issue of GQ magazine where he says that he "has a very strong, economist's sense about the advantages of open markets," but claims a total shutdown in free trade would barely affect U.S. GDP. He also called for a shift to a high-tax Franklin Delano Roosevelt economy and universal health care.

On the income gap between rich and poor:

PAUL KRUGMAN: I have spent a lot of time looking back at what happened under FDR, when we narrowed the income gaps between rich and poor through stronger unions, wartime wage controls, and a change in tax policy. We can do some of that.

GQ: "Well, what happens if we let the income gap remain?"

KRUGMAN: It's bad for democracy. The ugliness of our politics is closely tied to the inequality of income. You start to get a society in which the elite is just not living in the same material universe as the rest of the population. The people who have the most influence are not interested in having good public services, because they don't use them. You just get a bad society.

The Business and Media Institute pointed out early this year that just because someone has more does not mean that someone else has significantly less:

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor, on February 16: "This is not new to the 21st century; it has always been this way in America. Getting rid of inequality is practically impossible because there will always be low-skill workers entering the labor force." Furchtgott-Roth is now director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Employment Policy.

Economist Tyler Cowen boiled it down in the January 25 New York Times: "the broader philosophical question is why we should worry about inequality - of any kind - much at all." 

"Life is not a race against fellow human beings, and we should discourage people from treating it as such," Cowen wrote. "So why should economists promote this same zero-sum worldview?"