From the very beginning of the movement, people have asked ‘so what has OWS achieved’? Well, as Zhou En Lai is meant to have said about the French revolution, it is too soon to tell what the movement’s final achievements will be. But it is probably reasonable to say that if not for the movement, Washington Post’s economic policy expert would not have been discussing inequality with the White House’s chief economist.
Q&A: CEA Chair Alan Krueger on inequality
On Friday morning, Alan Krueger, the Princeton economist who is on leave serving as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, gave a speech at the Center for American Progress on the causes and consequences of inequality. Excerpts here, full speech here. On Thursday night, I spoke with Krueger about the speech, his past as an inequality skeptic, and Rep. Paul Ryan’s allegation that the Obama administration is looking for “equality of outcomes.” A lightly edited transcript follows.
Posted by Ezra Klein
–>at 01:30 PM ET, 01/13/2012TheWashingtonPost
Populism usually has the connotation of demagoguery, of rabble rousers, of irresponsible politicians pandering to the baser instincts of human nature. But sometimes, populists actually make perfectly legitimate, indeed prudent demands. Simon Johnson, an economics professor at MIT, argued in NYT that now is one of those times.
When Populism Is Sound
“Populism” is a loaded term in modern American politics. On the one hand, it conveys the idea that someone represents (or claims to represent) the broad mass of society against a privileged elite. This is a theme that plays well on the right as well as the left – although they sometimes have different ideas about who is in that troublesome “elite.”
At the same time, populism is often used in a pejorative way – as a putdown, implying “the people” want irresponsible things that would undermine the fabric of society or the smooth functioning of the economy.
Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson are not radical or heterodox by any stretch. The former teaches economics at MIT, the latter is a political scientist at Harvard. And their school of thought is hardly the stuff of revolution. Their work is firmly rooted in neoclassical economics, and Acemoglu won the John Bates Clark Medal — the biggest accolade an American economist can dream of — in 2005. So when they say OWS deserves respect, it means even in the movement is taken seriously in some very unlikely places.
Their Huffington Post article from 11 March is over the fold.