Paul Krugman on Living in Ugly Times

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Economist Paul Krugman recently joined Bill to talk about the new academic book rocking the best-seller lists: Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. In this clip, Krugman says that our debates on income inequality, and how to combat it, have gotten downright ugly.

Watch the three-minute clip:

“There’s a level of harshness in our debates mostly coming from the people who are actually doing very well,” Krugman tells Moyers. “We’ve had a parade of billionaires whining about the incredible injustice that people are actually criticizing them. And then comparing anyone who criticizes them to the Nazis. It’s almost a tic that they have.” Krugman recently wrote about the billionaires — including Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone — who have spoken out and surmised that the idea that income inequality is the result of a systemic problem and not a lack of sufficient effort on the part of those struggling to get by “is anathema” to them.

Watch Bill’s full interview with Paul Krugman »

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  • DavidW

    Income inequality isn’t the real problem, it’s a result of “Ownership” inequality.

  • Barbara Bowman

    They are virtually the same thing. Why parse pen strokes when the problem is so immense?

  • DavidW

    I have a cough, treat the symptom. Is it because of a cold virus? Is it environmental such as smoke or dangerous gases causing my cough? Could it be lung cancer. Find and diagnose the cause and treat that. Giving me cough syrup when the cause is environmental such as odorless, colorless gas or smoke is that a waste of resources?

  • Ironside Guitars

    Fact is, that our species has been rewarding psychopaths and sociopaths for their ruthlessness and lust for power. We know these people are monsters due to a malady of the mind and the most obvious thing to do is to separate them from the vast majority for treatment in order to follow a more enlightened progress. If not, they will follow the lust for power and externalize the damage they do believing they can fly above it or away from it with the power they’ve acquired. I call this Helicopter logic and it’s not going to be easy to stop this human problem, a problem of our species. Power is insignificant compared to the growth and continuance of our species, other species and our biosphere… to the point of actually helping ourselves and the world that spawned us.

    This needs to happen or we’re doomed and condemned to self damnation. :-/

  • Leslie Scott Cliff

    The debate isn’t mean spirited. The inequality is mean spirited. The debate is naturally going to reflect this.

  • Anonymous

    Wait. So Bill Moyers and Paul Krugman and liberals have been demonizing and attacking the 1% (specially corporate executives) and they are shocked that these folks are fighting back?


    These attacks will cause the 1% to further self segregate from society at large, erect metaphorical moats around their lives and wealth, hedge by moving assets offshore, lobbying with all their might, and being generally less even less inclined to support progressive policies.

    When you pick a war, don’t be surprised that the other side fights back.

  • Invasive Evasion

    I think baron95 is an employee of a right wing propaganda organization, perhaps some “think tank.” He seems to be one of the first commenters on every topic on the Moyers site, and the comments are always some silly CPAC appropriate right wing talking points. He also won’t debate or defend his comments. It seems to be a single post on every page. If I am right, this would make him not merely a troll, but a professional troll.

  • Invasive Evasion

    If you own a corporation, it provides you with income. If you have income you can buy ownership. I agree with the other commenter, this is a trivial technicality.

  • DavidW

    With ownership comes control. Those making minimum wage have not the same opportunity as the one percent, the same one percent who have the control and ownership. Raise the minimum wage and eventually it will have to be raised again, after a political debate. If there were more cooperative enterprise where workers are given a chance to own their business on a equal basis with others wages and profit share would be more equitable than today.

  • Jasef

    Sure. Working like a rigged game should work.

  • Invasive Evasion

    Paul Krugman and Bill Moyers are not demonizing the 1%, they are pointing out how the 1% rig the system, and cheat the majority of the population out of their income and wealth.

    A movement to seek fairness, justice, and morality in economic policies is not an “attack,” but rather a long overdue defense against economic exploitation (the real attack) which has been perpetrated for decades by the plutocrats.

    Regarding my “ad hominem diversion,” your posts are not merely “divergent,” but the polar opposite of everything that this site and the people running it represent. You seem to search for new articles on this site, and then post right wing talking points in response.

    People will not of their own free will spend their time on a site dedicated to a movement to which they are diametrically opposed. The sincere expression of a personal viewpoint also does not involve the kind of manipulative twists of logic which you typically employ. A convoluted logical fallacy doesn’t happen accidentally, it only results from a deliberate and intentional effort to deceive. For this reason I suspect that you are an employee of some right wing propaganda organization who is paid to post comments here. If that is the case, then your comments are not the dissenting opinions of an individual, but instead a form of purchased propaganda or political advertising, essential right wing “spam,” which would violate the commenting policy. I ask the moderators to look into this.

    The moderators may, because of an inability to verify your purpose, or because of a more narrow interpretation of the commenting policy, or perhaps because they have more important things to do, or because I am just plain wrong, decide that your posting is perfectly acceptable. At the very least, I think it should be brought to their attention.

  • Anonymous

    “People will not of their own free will spend their time on a site dedicated to a movement to which they are diametrically opposed.”


    That is the difference between you and me. I like to get a 360 degree view of an issue, including different opinions and points of view, to learn and refine my thinking.

    You, and apparently many here, want a closed system, an echo chamber, where you hold hands and complain about unfairness, and how it could all be rainbows and stars, without ever wanting to hear an outside opinion.

    Are your positions so weak, so devoid of substantive backing, that the mere posting of an alternative view sets you off in a panic?

    Wow. Just wow.

    Thank you for the insight into the mind of a “progressive”.

    As I said. I learned something by being here.

    Have you?

  • Invasive Evasion

    While that sounds wonderfully enlightened and open minded, it ignores several key distinctions.

    Seeking to learn and refine one’s thinking is quite different than seeking to refine one’s talking points in selling a predetermined political position.

    An individual’s sincere and honest disagreement is entirely different than the prefabricated lies of a hired manipulator pushing an employer’s agenda.

    An “echo chamber” which echos facts and logic is entirely different than an echo chamber filled with lies. The scientific community for example very much protects the integrity of its “closed” echo chamber by disallowing non evidence based conclusions.

    If as I suspect, you fall into the latter category on all three of these distinctions, then excluding your voice has nothing to do with weakness of position, or lack of substance, and everything to do with removing political spam/propaganda/advertisements from the discourse.

  • Amyers

    I would hope that economists would provide us with thoughtful analysis about how to improve the economy for all. Question: While the 1% spend far more than the average person, most all of their money is parked in investments in businesses – not stuffed under a mattress. If those dollars are taken from investments and placed in the hands of the poor, what is the impact overall? More $ go to businesses that provide basic services (food, housing, entertainment)… How does that impact on the strength of our economy long term? Does this slow the investment in R&D or the long term drivers of our economy? Will the 1% stick around to get taxed? (I really don’t know, but would like to have a thoughtful perspective from an economist). I believe, the bigger issue is the loss of the middle class. The poor want to join the middle class, but now there are fewer and fewer job opportunities to achieve this goal and the middle class is becoming a quaint notion. The middle class is being gutted by taxes (income taxes, local and state taxes, sales taxes and investment income taxes). Stats show us declines in real income over the past 20 years, and let’s also overlay that with the total tax burden and then I think the shock re: the plight of the middle class would be much higher. And, sadly, we no longer have the luxury of another working income to save the average middle class family as most women already work (well I guess there’s the kids, if they didn’t spend so much time on video games). So maybe the answer is little increases in investment income tax…they’ll just impact the ‘wealthy’ — right? Not the poor middle class slob trying to save for retirement or trying to gain a bit of security by saving his $$ (who by the way, sees taking his family to the movies to be an expensive luxury)? I’d really like an economist to lay it out — because history would say high taxes aren’t the answer (if history serves me right, high taxes seem to correlate with a really bad economy and lack of jobs for all). Are there any ideas from economists that have a better success rate historically in promoting a strong economy and middle class? Personally, I’m not persuaded that Europe or even Canada (with it’s vast Oil Wealth) is the best ideal we can strive for.

  • leah #lovemyplanet

    do not need an economist to figure this out. Aside from the fact financial system rigged to milk the people with interest while banks get leveraged by our treasury for free basically, the biggest problem was created by multiple factors.
    Main one I believe is that business , corporations are focused on profit not betterment of society as a whole.
    Take a small town, i need men ties do i provide training and jobs for locals or do I order from China? I rather help the locals my friends and neighbors have jobs.
    So in corporate business the human factor is not considered only profit is. They made money by using Chinese slaves and bankrupt our middle class.
    Some Americans they are, only care about getting rich, So we have a strong defense and weak middle class. i would not mind corporations if they stopped stealing people resources with out paying for it or demanding subsidies