By William K. Black
June 4, 2016 Bloomington, MN
When last we read Paul Krugman he was repeatedly demanding that Bernie Sanders cease criticizing Hillary Clinton for a lifetime addiction of taking tens of millions of dollars in political contributions and hundreds of thousands of dollars in speakers’ fees from Goldman Sachs and other business interests. (I am an economic adviser to Bernie.) While Professor Krugman consistently stressed that the data show that business campaign contributions do rig the system, Hillary Surrogate Krugman suddenly professed that business political campaign contributions and speaker fees have no corrupting effect on politicians.
Economists should be honest for all the usual reasons, but economists who wish to affect policy have an additional reason to embrace intellectual honesty. Karma means that an intellectually dishonest economist is likely to be promptly confronted by the desirability of telling the truth in order to prevent disastrous policy on precisely the subject he or she just lied about.
Krugman suddenly felt the Bern and wrote a June 3, 2016 column denouncing the Koch brothers for “buying politicians” in order to prevent any effective policy against global climate change. “[B]uying politicians is a pretty good business investment for fossil-fuel magnates like the Koch brothers.”
Corporations buy politicians because doing so is a great business investment. As financial regulators we always said that a bank’s highest return on assets is on its political contributions. Krugman knows that the Kochs buy politicians in order to rig the system, but conveniently pretends to believe that Goldman Sachs does not buy politicians as a “good business investment.” As long as politicians take money from these corporations their CEOs and their political cronies will continue to rig the system.
Given that Krugman’s column describes Hillary’s nomination as “inevitable,” I have a question for him. Why aren’t you making every possible effort to convince her to take the Bank Whistleblowers United’s (BWU) campaign financing pledge to stop taking money from the Wall Street felons? Indeed why aren’t you urging her to stop taking money from big business, make public the texts of the speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs, and donate Goldman’s speaking fees to a real charity? Bernie has proven that Hillary need not take money from big business in order to raise ample funds for her campaign. She can run a clean campaign finance program and dramatically increase her popularity. In your eagerness to defend her you have become her enabler-in-chief. You encourage Hillary’s worst qualities, the ones that cause her terrible unfavorable ratings. Bernie is not causing Hillary’s problems, but you are adding to them.