Paul Krugman Wants to “Balance Out” the Power of…

posted at 12:15 pm on February 22, 2011 by John Sexton

Paul Krugman has another hysterical column in today’s NY Times:

What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy.

There are liberal diarists at Daily Kos who would be embarrassed to publish this sentence. This goes far beyond calling someone unpatriotic. Krugman is accusing one party of wanting to destroy the Republic. So when Republicans aren’t offending Krugman’s sensibilities by reading the Constitution aloud on the House floor, they’re tearing down democracy. And then his column gets dumber:

And that’s why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators’ side.

In case you thought this was a throw away line, he comes back to this point later in the piece:

On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate. Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money.

Do you immediately see the problem here? How exactly are public sector unions a balance to the power of big money? Granted, if Krugman were writing about private sector unions this would at least be arguable. As it is, he’s writing about public sector unions. And guess what, public sector union aren’t in a struggle against the titans of industry. They get their money from the government.

If you want to simplify it even further, public sector unions are a special interest aimed at extracting more money from taxpayers. So let it henceforth be known that Paul Krugman wants a check on the power of Big Taxpayer. Does that sound like a sensible idea to you? Me either. Maybe that’s why there is a long history of exempting the public sector from union organizing. Perhaps Mr. Krugman should check out this article in his own paper and get back to us.

But he’s not done yet. Next we come to the big lie in Krugman’s pro-union opus:

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.

Notice he says public sector unions make slightly less than their private counterparts if you rank by level of education. This last bit is critical because it happens to be the only way the numbers come out right. In fact, as I explained here (in regard to the same debate over New Jersey public workers) even the liberal EPI agrees that public sector employees are only behind until you correct for the number of hours they work relative to their private sector counterparts. Yes, it’s true that public school teachers make less on an annual basis than private sector workers with college degrees, it’s also true that teachers only work 9 months a year. If you look at their salary and benefits on an hourly basis, they come out ahead (often well ahead) of private sector employees. Manhattan Institute has a paper on correcting for this difference here.

Paul Krugman isn’t a dumb man. He knows where he is eliding the truth in these columns. He also knows that most of his readers won’t know. He’s obviously counting on their ignorance. As for myself, I’m selling out to the power of Big Taxpayer. Let’s break up the public sector unions, especially the teacher’s unions which do as much harm to our children as they do to our budgets.

Update: Looks like Krugman made a factual error in this column that I overlooked. He wrote:

Tellingly, some workers — namely, those who tend to be Republican-leaning — are exempted from the ban; it’s as if Mr. Walker were flaunting the political nature of his actions.

Add it to the list of Krugman’s mistakes. Turns out only 4 of 314 police and firefighter unions in WI supported Gov. Walker. The largest statewide unions all supported his opponent. Click over to Newsbusters for proof courtesy of Noel Sheppard. Krugman made a complete hash of this column.

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