In his most recent screed, er, column, Paul Krugman inadvertently validates my two previous posts. First, he flogs the new meme (that I discussed yesterday) that collective bargaining has nothing to do with the fiscal Armageddon facing states:
For what’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t about the state budget, despite Mr. Walker’s pretense that he’s just trying to be fiscally responsible.
Indeed, Paulie Nuts feels so strongly about this, he is compelled to repeat it:
Why bust the unions? As I said, it has nothing to do with helping Wisconsin deal with its current fiscal crisis. Nor is it likely to help the state’s budget prospects even in the long run: contrary to what you may have heard, public-sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are paid somewhat less than private-sector workers with comparable qualifications, so there’s not much room for further pay squeezes.
As for the last line: Ha!
Yesterday I wrote that only the clueless and the disingenuous could push this meme. Given his record of serial recidivism, I must put Krugman in the latter category.
But in his haste to hurl himself in the defense of public sector unions, Krugman neatly impales himself on the second horn of the progressive dilemma that I wrote about in my Friday post. Specifically, most of Krugman’s column is a jeremiad against the capture of government by “oligarchic” interests, which he claims that unions are necessary to counter.
But you can’t be a little bit pregnant, Paul. (Sorry: very frightening mental image.) Once you have bought into the public choice premise that government is suborned by the pressure of private interests, the entire case for a powerful, active and minimally limited state collapses. That case you have trumpeted for years, Dr. Conscious Conscientious Liberal, without paying the slightest attention to the public choice problems that you hyperventilate about in this column. Your strident defense of unions undermines completely your other progressive sermons on the virtues of big government.
Thanks for that, giving such a lurid demonstration of the progressive paradox that I wrote about Friday. You can get dressed now.
Krugman sets out a Galbraithian vision in which the influence of countervailing powers, organized labor and organized capital, are offsetting, and an activist government wisely directs the polity and the economy. As if. In practice, what occurs instead is corporatism of a sort described by Mancur Olson, in which concentrated and organized interests exploit the power of the state to extract rents from diffuse consumers, investors, entrepreneurs and taxpayers.
Thus, Krugman’s unwitting endorsement of the public choice perspective torpedoes his own defense of public sector unions. Because they are just organized groups that exploit the power of the state for their own benefit and impose costs on those lacking such privileged influence. Once it is admitted that that’s the way the game is played–and Krugman jumps into that puddle with both feet–the immediate conclusion is that it is imperative to constrain the power of such bodies, and the power of the state that they exploit for their gain and to our detriment.