Originally published 05/20/2013
Paul Krugman is a Princeton economist and an op-ed columnist for the New York Times.Matt O’Brien is probably right to suggest that Michael Kinsley’s problems — and those of quite a few other people, some of whom have real influence on policy — is that they’re still living in the 1970s. I do, however, resent that thing about 60-year-old men …But it’s actually even worse than Matt says. For the 1970s such people remember as a cautionary tale bears little resemblance to the 1970s that actually happened.In elite mythology, the origins of the crisis of the 70s, like the supposed origins of our current crisis, lay in excess: too much debt, too much coddling of those slovenly proles via a strong welfare state. The suffering of 1979-82 was necessary payback.None of that is remotely true.There was no deficit problem: government debt was low and stable or falling as a share of GDP during the 70s. Rising welfare rolls may have been a big political problem, but a runaway welfare state more broadly just wasn’t an issue — hey, these days right-wingers complaining about a nation of takers tend to use the low-dependency 70s as a baseline.
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