(Chatham House/Wikimedia Commons)

Harvard University historian Niall Ferguson, prized by many conservative economists and politicians, joins us to discuss his latest book, “The Great Degeneration”. Ferguson recounts what he sees as the decline of the era of Western progress and power. We’ll also get Ferguson’s thoughts on recent news from unrest in Egypt to impediments to the Affordable Care Act.

Guests:
Niall Ferguson, professor of history at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University; and author of "The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die"

  • Carter

    It is Neoclassical economists who are largely to blame for the mess we’re in. I think it’s unfortunate that dissident economists were not invited to be guests on this Forum program. Steve Keen and Michael Hudson in particular could have fostered a useful and deep debate on the economy if allowed to go up against Ferguson, but KQED as usual limits important discussions to those who, like Ferguson, are the anointed ones.

    • thucy

      But Carter, Niall Ferguson is not an economist. That’s why he continually misinterprets, and sometimes just lies about, everything from the CBO report to the ACA. I don’t want to defend the enormous piece of dogdoo that the ACA is, but an accurate assessment of its flaws is not being delivered by Fergie. Again, from Krugman:

      “Now, people on the right like to argue that the CBO was wrong. But that’s not the argument Ferguson is making — he is deliberately misleading readers, conveying the impression that the CBO had actually rejected Obama’s claim that health reform is deficit-neutral, when in fact the opposite is true.”

      http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/unethical-commentary-newsweek-edition/

      • Carter

        All the more reason why he needs to be debated and preferably by non-anointed, non-Neoclassical economists who aren’t associated with the Council on Foreign Relations.

        If I made a documentary called The Descent of Money I should think I’d be required to debate economists at every turn.

        • OldVet

          I am afraid the discipline of economics, neo or not, has been denigrated into a bankers rationale. It does not include environment, nor distribution of Income, nor politics, nor indeed the inherent moral turpitude of making appetite the supreme virtue. It is corrupt at its root. See The Economics of Good and Evil by Thomas Sedlacek.

          “Growth Economics” is perfect, if you have a new ’empty’ continent, but absolute madness if you have global warming and seven billion human beings.

          • Carter

            Then you should really look at what Steve Keen has done. He’s brought discipline to economics rather than the usual groupthink.

      • erictremont

        Professor Ferguson is well qualified to call himself an economic historian, and he is widely recognized as such even by colleagues who do not agree with him on certain issues.

        • Carter

          Yes, within the Neoclassical club they will disagree, but the Neoclassical economists have always sided with and served the rich, and they barely recognize the existence of dissident economists who point out the leaps of faith and logical contradictions in the basic claims of Neoclassical thinking.

      • Plenty of card carrying economists also misrepresent and lie about things. You don’t need any special training for that, and no special training seems to be effective at preventing it.

        In any event, many common observations in macroeconomics are counter-intuitive, and many aspects of how it works are poorly understood. It is an active area of research, and so researchers have opinions and argue about them. That’s fine.

        What’s frustrating is when settled questions are presented as controversial. The situation we’re in now is, and has from its beginnings in 2007, been clearly and accurately described by what can be fairly characterized as Economics 101 — the century-old basic Keynesian orthodoxy. Nothing particularly surprising has happened except for policymakers’ rejection of the facts and of the theory that best explains them.

    • VegasNed

      Carter, you must be new to KQED? I agree that a debate would be great, but KQED trolls out Krugman and Reich like once a month of forum or the commenwealth club. That’s why there are so many comments for this guest – it gives a chance for the left to vent and actually disagree with a forum guest. KQED rarely bring out neoclassical economists, which Ferguson is not one.

  • thucy

    Niall Ferguson on the degeneration of the West? Please. Why not get Daniel Mendelsohn as a guest to expound on the degeneration of Niall Ferguson, who seems dead-set on destroying what remains of his own reputation?.

    Forget Ferguson dismissing Keynes outright because Ferguson claims Keynes was gay, that’s really the least of it. Here’s Nobel-Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman’s takedown of the historian Ferguson pretending to be an economist:

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/02/liquidity-preference-loanable-funds-and-niall-ferguson-wonkish/

    • Carter

      Keynes versus Hayek, a classic:

  • OldVet

    Ah, degeneration. It inevitably follows the greatest generation. And with a philosophy that… you are on your own, personal liberty trumps any sort of social cohesion, indeed if we social animals act that way then we are attacked as being ‘socialist’. That anti-social impulse seems to be a prod to this obvious degeneration.

    I do appreciate bringing in history to the discussion of our future. I would love it if Michael Krasny interviewed Scott Reynolds Nelson, author of ‘A Nation of Deadbeats’ about bank crashes and panics since Alexander Hamilton’s bank went down. He is not an economist either. That is a good thing. Economists know zip about the creation of money… They have forgotten their charge. As Abba Lerner used to say: “Economics is about people”.

    • Berkeley Restaurant Alliance

      We’ve put the cart before the horse. Economists should first start as a small business owner/person before they approach the topic as an academic or politician. People drive economics. If you don’t consider small business as the nuts and bolts of a healthy, growing democracy, you’re thinking too much and overlooking your foundation. Ferguson, a HISTORIAN, not an economist is telling us “the emperor has no clothes.” Where do we go from here with these college degrees? We DO. We get off academic high horses and do something about it like start a small business, learn from the trenches up, earn your debate. Corporations are wearing the crown while small business gets the banana. The more hardship put on small business and the more we shrink, the greater the dependence, the apathy. Not everybody has to run the business but most employees will tell you they would rather be employed by a small business/company than a large one. We do more, we contribute more, we employ more. We ARE the community of America. We are the nation of doers. We stick our necks out. We are the economy everyone is debating about.

  • OldVet

    Question for Nial: Since banks are political and make long term technological bets, how is that playing out in the contest between solar and oil and between China and America. Also when bankers lie to each other , ratings agencies included, how often do these lies end in wars (often), and most significantly, what stops a war from happening after a bout of lying to protect a technological bet.

    Second question.
    Material degeneration is called war. But the Fed ‘owning’ $3.5 trillion in inventory is another huge degenerative impulse on the assets under their ‘ownership’. To expect banks to materially maintain housing stocks are naive.

    • Carter

      There is but one solution: Debt jubilee. The banks will hate it though, and they’ve controlled the USA since Woodrow Wilson let them create the Federal Reserve, which is neither federal nor a reserve. The banksters would rather crash the economy and buy up assets on the cheap like they did during the 1930’s Depression than forgive a dime of anyone’s debt. Since the Fed is a cartel of the major banks it manifests the strategies of those banks.

      • OldVet

        I concur, but there is more. Few, I believe understand how the force of interest is the impulse to manic growth…. alternated with collapse. To have the populace take advantage of the creation of money, instead of the forces of empire doing so would reduce the tax load on everyone, and allow the economy to adjust to the requirements of global warming. The new book the Public Bank Solution has a history on this. But first.. Other than creating a new party with Elizabeth Warren and dealing with the too big to jail crowd and creating some form of BIG, we are in a death spiral with WWIII as the exclamation mark for the bansters to ‘create more demand’.

        How Much Is Enough, by Robert Skidelsky also has some good guidance.

  • Jason

    Great to hear someone who ‘gets it’ in regards to economics. Current conservatives spend almost as much as liberals. Only Ron Paul understood the true depth of cuts needed.

  • $2870056

    “Just fatigued” or “too casual,” using gay, or homosexuality, as a way to taint any person, any issue, especially economic theory, is the epitome of “degeneration.”

    Apology not accepted Mr. Ferguson. You do not just “move on.”

  • Mrs. Eccentric

    Does Mr. Ferguson have any strategies on *how* we make any of these felicitous situation occur? “Wouldn’t it be fantabulous if laws were simple!” hardly strikes me as trenchant analysis, and at any rate i would think we can all agree that the fundamental problem we face today is how we go about making positive changes in our society, not necessarily what they may be. steph

  • Chris OConnell

    Wow, I was listening to this blowhard spinning his tales but I can’t take HIS ad hominem attacks and misrepresentation on Krugman. He talks of Krugman and ad hominem attacks and building straw men but that is exactly what he is doing. He says Krugman can say anything on the internet and there is no check. Hello!?!? He has editors! And he has people like you and anyone else in the world that can call him out.

    Regarding Reinhardt and Rogoff (or was it Siegfried & Roy), their paper was a disaster. They did not make their data available, it was not peered review. A long time after publication and the damage was done, they made their data available where it was QUICKLY debunked.

    P.S. Ferguson may think he is the only one who gets grief, but Krugman has his flamers and haters and they tend to be a lot more powerful and influential (like Ferguson).

    • Chemist150

      Herndon is not published and he used only public debt as opposed to the more accurate number of total debt. In this case, the popular site that reports debt and outlay leave out key numbers such as social security and local spending. Thus the debt of borrowing from Social Security, medicare, etc are left out in Herndon’s assessment.

      That’s why Rognoff and Reinhart said go ahead get it published because they knew they’d get their arse handed to them and shut them up. It should be quite embarrassing fo them.

      I suggest actually reading the papers and understanding the differences and who actually made the errors.

      • Chris OConnell

        Is R&R’s 90% figure meaningful or not? From what I can tell, it is NOT and that defeats the thesis of their paper.

        • Chemist150

          see other post..

      • econdataus

        Once again, Herndon is using R&R’s own numbers! I’ve crunched the numbers and provided the sources at http://usbudget.blogspot.com/ . Also, HAP (Herndon, Ash, and Pollin) posted the following text at http://www.peri.umass.edu/236/hash/31e2ff374b6377b2ddec04deaa6388b1/publication/566/ :

        >> Additional spreadsheet with the following columns: country; year; public debt/GDP ratio; public debt/GDP category; real GDP growth. Columns are calculated from data and formulas in the Reinhart and Rogoff working spreadsheet and can be used, e.g., with pivot tables, to replicate the results in RR 2010 and HAP.

        If you have a link to a source that says otherwise, please post it!

  • gmax18

    How can Ferguson claim that Reagan “rolled back the state”? Reagan was the beginning of big deficits and lead the way for the NeoCons during Bush 2’s administration that created even larger deficits. One could also argue that Reagan’s ideology of individualism was the beginning of the breakdown of the social contract between generations.

    • Chemist150

      Reagan realized by his second term that he was heading down the wrong road and began correcting it his second term. IMO, it was Bush pulling the strings at first to leap frog into office by using an icon with the older voting population until Ronald got his head wrapped around the problem and took more responsibility.

      Then Bush flushed the toilet on the economy.

      • OldVet

        It is amusing to read David Stockman’s current take.
        He quit the Reagan administration, but was big when he was there. I would say today he is 80% correct, except about gold.

        • VegasNed

          Stockman was on this show a while back. You should listen to it. He claims that he was a counter figure in the Reagan administration and that he quit because he didn’t jive with the policy decisions.

          • OldVet

            I did, and then I listened to him at the Commonwealth Club. Oh how he as changed. What he says now, especially about the corruption is right on. He can reframe himself all he wants, some of us remember.

          • VegasNed

            I’ll check out the cwealth interview, missed that one. I agree with him in his modern day version that low fed interest rates are causing some unhealthy bubbles in stocks (late 90’s) and housing (2000’s) and the only people benefiting are speculators,…it is aggravating inequality and could perhaps hurt the economy, though I’m not sure yet on the current stock market situation. I’m tempted to call it a bubble but there is analysis suggesting that stock prices are still somewhat undervalued.

          • OldVet

            Hmm, Do you call it a bubble when the Fed is pumping in $85 Billion a Month? I might, especially when super-storm Sandy that put Manhattan underwater only was $80 billion.

      • gmax18

        True, Reagan was more likely to correct course when things didn’t go his way.

    • VegasNed

      Explain to me more about how Reagan’s ideology of individualism contributing to the breakdown of the social contract.

      I would argue that the less reliant we become on gov’t, the stronger as a community we become because we have nobody else to turn to. You have incentive to create stronger social ties if federal gov’t doesn’t pay for your cradle to grave benefits.

      Meanwhile, I would argue that as gov’t expands more into our lives, it divides and separates us. It has to in order to divide benefits among people and pick winners and losers with its tax codes and other various policies. It has to put people in certain classes to determine who gets what and who pays what.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    So what good is a global economy if it drives wages down in favor of cheap, disposable frills? Robert Reich, the UC Berkeley economist, often repeats that wages of the middle class have not increased for 30 years. American nostalgia for the 1950s is grand, yet that’s when the elites at the top of the earnings ladder payed far more in taxes. Both of these facts point out the lie of trickle down economics. The rich pay less, and the middle class gets driven down as their better paying jobs go overseas to the lowest bidder. Comments?

    • Chemist150

      One trickle down economics does work but has not existed since the Clinton administration where the republican led bill balanced the budget and which increased the money supply by reducing debt. For trickle down economics to exist, you need the money to not be “trickling out”.

      Wages are driven down by a creation of labor surplus. Labor surplus is fundamentally created by a decreasing money supply however that happens.

      In the case of the US, it’s likely due to the increasing debt outlays as suggested by the statistically derived inflection point around 90% TOTAL debt to GDP where the use is over 105%.

    • VegasNed

      Good article refuting Krugman’s claims about taxes in the 1950’s. Due to factors like deductions and loopholes and other sorts, the NET effect of the higher tax rates in the 1950s is similar to today.

      http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/ib_19.htm#.UecrqndJlks

      I hope somebody can prove me wrong about this article because Krugman puts a lot of his reputation at stake with the claim than the economy was better in the 1950’s BECAUSE of the higher tax rates.

      Krugman also doesn’t like to admit that in the 1950’s (post WWII) American owned 50% of the world’s industrial capacity as all the other industrial countries were wiped out during the war. We would have experienced huge economic growth during the 1950’s no matter what gov’t policies were erected. If we were forced to literally carry monkies on our backs we still would have had amazing and very equitable growth. What Krugman will never say is that those were extremely rare and fortunate times for any country in the history of the world to see that type of growth. That type of growth will never come back again unless something really crazy happens. I find Krugman interesting and entertaining, but not intellectually honest. Robert Reich is more intellectually honest.

      • Chris OConnell

        Your screed against Krugman is ridiculous. You talk about him putting his “reputation at stake” on 50s tax rates when his reputation, good or bad, is quite enormous without this issue. By the way, he won the Nobel Prize in Economics. And you or I ain’t ever taking that away from him. And even without the Nobel Prize, his reputation on Keysian and austerity easily trump this 50s stuff.

        Since you talk so much about Krugman without citing him, I would guess that you hate Krugman because he so effectively neuters the conservative economic position. He does it plainly, with no personal attacks, just the truth, which can be very harsh if you are trying to obfuscate it.

        Please demonstrate for me how he is not intellectually honest.

        • VegasNed

          There is a summary of Krugman’s point of view in the article (link provided). It is a fair description of Krugman’s stance on raising
          federal income tax on the wealthy. His
          stance is that the economy of the 1950’s roared with a high tax on the wealthy. And this justifies why we should bring back high taxes on the wealthy today because the economy prospered. So far, so good. The problem is that Krugman doesn’t talk
          about the most important factor of tax policy, which is NET revenue. And this is the most important part about policy, not what behavior that should come about but what behavior actually does occur.

          http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/ib_19.htm#.UedsYndJlf1

          http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/19/opinion/krugman-the-twinkie-manifesto.html?_r=0

          “America in the 1950s made the rich pay their fair share” – my response is no, not really. Maybe a handful of people paid more in taxes, but the net effect on the “rich” were minimal and most likely the policy had little effect on society and economic prosperity because there were so many other factors in play that Krugman isn’t considering.

  • Chris OConnell

    Yes, we can’t run $Trillion deficits indefinitely, he keeps saying. Who said we could? Here is one of his strawmen.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Bill Clinton, not ronald reagan, eliminated regulation of commodities futures which turned into the debacle of 2008 where wealth was *transferred* from pension funds to wall street double-dealing (citicorp betting against junk they kept pushing)Wall Streeters.

  • erictremont

    Paul Krugman went ballastic on Reinhardt-Rogoff’s spreadsheet error based on the premise that economic policy makers (particularly in Western Europe) were promoting austerity policies based on Reinhardt-Rogoff’s findings about the relationship between national debt and GDP growth. This premise is highly questionable: for better or worse, the promoters of austerity policies probably would have cut government spending regardless of what any economists believed.

  • trite

    Do you believe that government has the duty to look after the sick, the old, the poor, children? If so, how? If not, who will?

    • Tyranipocrit

      these indivualist-tyrants willfully ignore the fact that governemnt is–or meant to be–the people. To reduce this part of gov is to stick your middle finger up at everyone in society–it is psychotic and hardly patriotic.

  • Chris OConnell

    “Betrays a willful misunderstanding” “willful irresponsible discussion” regarding Rogoff/Reinhardt. It is time for this guy to look in the mirror. No one cares about these individuals, it is not personal. It is all about their paper with the point about debt and the 90% figure related to GDP! And how politicians on the right used this paper to advance their agenda. And then how this paper was built on FUDGED numbers!!

    But Krugman, apparently, was too harsh in exposing this and he was not nice. He did not have the right style and manners, I guess.

    • Chemist150

      Herndon is not published and used public debt where Rognoff and Reinhart used Total debt. These things are not the same (public debt does not equal total debt) and Herndon et al failed to see the difference. Frankly, it’s embarrassing for “educated” scholars.

      The common source of information leaves out key data and if you do not look deeper, it’s easy to miss that zero was added to the debt from the borrowed money from programs like social security. When in reality, the total debt does include that.

      Read the papers, understand the differences and you’ll understand the attacks on Reinhart and Rognoff were irresponsible.

      • Chris OConnell

        Is their 90% figure meaningful or not? From what I can tell, it is NOT and that defeats the thesis of their paper.

        • Chemist150

          It is.

          In fact, what caught my attention was it was 100% true for the US which occured after their paper.

          I might have the exact dates wrong but approximately FEB, 2010 the U.S. exceeded 90% total debt to GDP. March 2010, the growth dropped by ~1%. We’ve been depressed since.

          Despite short term variations in the economy, that makes me fear the 165% total debt to GDP threshold.

          • Chris OConnell

            Preposterous evidence for an arbitrary claim (the 90% figure).

        • Chemist150

          Their position was that they did not have the “master equation” so they looked at it from a statistical view point the best they could and created bell curves. The 90% is meaningful. The most accurate data should produce the most accurate bell curves.

      • econdataus

        The Introduction in the R&R paper at http://www.nber.org/papers/w15639.pdf?new_window=1 includes the following:

        Our main result is that whereas the link between growth and debt seems relatively weak at “normal” debt levels, median growth rates for countries with public debt over 90 percent of GDP are roughly one percent lower than otherwise; average (mean) growth rates are several percent lower. Surprisingly, the relationship between public debt and growth is remarkably similar across emerging markets and advanced economies.

        They do mention total debt but their main results are based on public debt. Once again, Herndon was looking at R&R’s own data. If you have a link to a source that shows otherwise, please post it.

  • I am depressed to to hear Forum give Ferguson a pass as he misstates Krugman’s position on debts, deficits and austerity. Krugman has NEVER argued for deficit spending “indefinitely.” Krugman has actually offered ideas about how to deal with debts (get the economy really growing), rather than simply pointing at a number and sounding the alarm without saying what’s wrong with it.

    Ferguson then goes on to misrepresent the scholarly process by suggesting that journals do not require “complete spreadsheets.” As a publishing scientist, I have ALWAYS been required to disclose not only my raw data, but the software that I wrote to make the calculations. I don’t know how history journals work, but I don’t think Ferguson has a clear idea what publishing is like in other fields.

    • Chemist150

      FYI, Herndon mistaked total debt for public debt.

    • OldVet

      I grant you Ferguson’s miscue. Yet Krugman, while intelligent and had a big megaphone, does not quite grasp debt or the creation of money. Stiglitz is better on this subject. And if you are interested in this most seminal of subjects, read Web of Debt by Ellen Hodgson Brown. A rich history of money creation, and its ways into politics.

      • I’m pretty sure Dr. Krugman understands debt and money creation just fine. The points he’s been arguing on his blog for the last several years are well-tested tenants of modern economics. They’re not even his own ideas, nor have they been active areas of research in a century. I’m sure Krugman might have more interesting things to say about the topic, but someone has to carry the torch for Economics 101.

        • OldVet

          Look at endowed chairs and you have an idea of where Econ 101 comes from. Yes, Krugman states the catechism, but cannot hold prosperity and global warming in its mind at the same time. Thousands have degrees and will not object to their own confirmation bias… even if it took us off the cliff. I am not defending Nial, though I do think history has salient offerings. See A Nation of Deadbeats,

          My understand of money an interest creation is far distant for the catechism that Krugman textbooks. Soros spent $50 million looking for an alternative to that dead dog with INET.

          In short.. How do you see money created, and how do you see interest created? (Two separate questions.) Feel free to look in Paul’s textbook.

    • Chemist150

      Tell me when they get published.

      • 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2012…

        • Chemist150

          IN particular the Herndon paper claim.

          • Oh, you mean when will HE be required to publish his calculations? I’m looking at the paper now, and everything seems to be here. They’re just working off of the R&R spreadsheet, pointing out botched equations.

            The R&R paper pertains to “central government debt as a percent of GDP.” I’m not an economist, but that sounds like “public debt” as Herndon describes, not “total debt.” R&R use “public debt” throughout their paper. They’re talking about the same thing.

          • Chemist150

            You’ve still missed the point.

            Now read the published Rognoff and Reinhart paper and see that they use TOTAL DEBT (not public debt).

            Total debt is more accurate. Herndon criticized Rognoff and Reinhart and used public debt.

            Rognoff and Reinhart DID NOT USE public debt but used TOTAL DEBT. They are not comparable. If you criticize someone, you need to use the same concepts.

            TOTAL DEBT is not equal to PUBLIC DEBT thus his critique is moot and irrelevant.

          • Again, I’m looking at the R&R paper, and they definitely seem to be talking about public debt. That’s the exact term they use. Where are you looking?

          • econdataus

            I agree with Russell. I’ve crunched the numbers myself and posted them and all of my sources at http://usbudget.blogspot.com/ . As you can see, Herndon simply pointed out the flaws in R&R’s own numbers. As the at http://usbudget.blogspot.com/ shows, R&R’s data on debt of 90 percent and above was based on a mere 71 data points. And it was weighed such that one data point from New Zealand was one-seventh of the total! This is why we should ignore all economic data that is not peer-reviewed AND fully released to the public.

          • Peer review ain’t no magic bullet, sadly. But disclosure and documentation of methods is critical. R&R failed a simple test : no one could reproduce their results. Upon deeper scrutiny, they also failed to program their spreadsheet correctly. And even once the error was corrected (by others), the methodology fails to meet even the most generous interpretations of statistical integrity. It’s sloppy work, which isn’t in itself so bad except that every mistake slopps in one very political direction.

          • econdataus

            Agreed. At http://usbudget.blogspot.com/2013/05/is-there-debtgdp-threshold-at-90_4.html , I quote an article on this which states: “So the answer is to only accept peer-reviewed work as economic knowledge, right? Nope. That would be a) too limiting, and b) wouldn’t advance the epistemological cause as much as you think. Peers have their own sets of biases, particularly as gate keepers”. It seems obvious that economic papers should disclose their WORK as well as their SOURCES. Then R&R’s mistake would have been obvious.

        • Chemist150

          To be more specific.. the paper titled:

          “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff”

          Herndon uses “public debt” throughout the paper where Rogoff and Reinhart use “total debt”.
          The two are not the same and I’ll be surprised if they get this critique published when they don’t understand the difference between public vs. total debt.

  • Chris OConnell

    If you want to say Colbert was unfair or used bad manners, fine. But oh was he funny. Krugman, though, only uses words – impersonal ones to boot – and if you can’t handle that, you are very weak.

    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/425748/april-23-2013/austerity-s-spreadsheet-error

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    I groaned when Ferguson opened with “the outrage of class action lawsuits and lawyer profiteers”. That’s a conservative favorite that signals favoring deregulation while encapsulating the crash of 2008 as an anomaly of few greedy good ol boys. I would rather hear NPR air sci-fi author william gibson who coined the word, Zaibatsu, for a corporation more powerful than a nation. We have seen a consumer financial protection agency formed to address financial institution abuse that keeps getting watered down as the corp interests carve out exceptions. It is the funding of politicians that is a central driver of bad legislation; it marginalizes the power of the citizen voter, such that we get hoary soundbites about freedom and democracy, while out of view, the game we’re pawns of gets rigged in yet another way.

    • Chemist150

      The military industrial complex that owns politicians and spread paranoia is a good example of corporations more powerful than the People.

  • Chris OConnell

    Typically, in crying about strawmen while creating them, and decrying personal insults as he spews them, Ferguson had this to say about Krugman: “His inability to debate a question without insulting his opponent suggests some kind of deep insecurity perhaps the result of a childhood trauma.”

    More on Krugman v. Ferguson:
    http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/05/niall-fergusons-latest-gay-bashing-is-the-least-of-his-problems.html

  • rematrav

    Thank you Michael Krasne. How can anyone deny the debt including our unfunded, off balance sheet, liabilities of $200 Trillion is a death knell more certain than global warming which may be adapted to? The debt cannot be.
    What Ferguson is saying is obviously true–it’s math–but can’t be honestly talked about by any politicians who want to be re-elected. We prefer to get what we want and let children and grandchildren try to pay the unpayable bill. Whooppeee–free money.

    We need to hear more of this truth for our own good because we won’t hear it from our politicians.

  • Tyranipocrit

    corporations control the government. Big money controls the government. So if there are problems with the government–look to the society destroying corporations. There is nothing–NOTHING–in what he says or what his supporters say that makes any sense. Complete BS. More propaganda.

    For one thing smart guy–the debt comes from continuous war and bank loters fleecing the poor. NOt society building structures such as medicaire or social securty. how do you even say that with a straight face. You complete ingore reality. We have a boated military infrastructure You sir are a farce– a minstrel. You are naive. you are of very low intelligence. And you are a shill for the 1%–the aritcoracy. You are the enemey of the people. We are in a recession dummy

    You are not a historian. You are a propaganda minister.

    the spell check doesnt work–i have no time to fix it.

  • I listened to this yesterday on my way back to Vegas from Walnut Creek, ’til I ran out of the coverage area. I wonder if this guy knows of and has an opinion of David Graeber’s book “Debt: the first 5,000 years.” Precursor article here:

    http://canopycanopycanopy.com/10/to_have_is_to_owe

    I read his book before I knew who he was, so my take was not polluted by knowledge of his “anarchist” politics.

  • rsparikh

    I find Ferguson’s books and view interesting, but he is far off when he makes the statement that he is a historian and is concerned about the degenerative and acrimonious nature of today’s debates. Wasn’t Ferguson the author of the Newsweek article, “Why Barack Obama Must Go”.

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