Krugman's Revealing Playboy Interview: Supports Occupy Movement, Defends Revolting 9-11 Anniversary Comments

The Times’ most reliably conservative-loathing columnist, Paul Krugman, was interviewed for the March issue of Playboy, where he defended Occupy Wall Street (never mind all the crime and arrests), claimed that “environmental regulations could actually be creating jobs right now,” and defended his loathsome blog post from the morning of the 10th anniversary of 9-11.

Sympathetic interviewer Jonathan Tasini didn’t challenge Krugman’s Keynesian premises, though the introduction to the piece hit some of Krugman’s irritating character traits, like his arrogance, while noting the Obama “administration frets about what Krugman says...mainly because his voice is listened to by legions of liberals.” Krugman also indulged in the "broken window fallacy" when he claimed that more environmental regulations could create jobs.

Some highlights:

PLAYBOY: Many people still believe efficient financial markets exist. Did that blind many economists to the biggest financial bubble in history?

KRUGMAN: Environmental regulations could actually be creating jobs right now, but people say, “Oh, that’s crazy. How could that be true? Regulations add to costs.” My answer is this: Does the story about the world that underlies what you guys are saying allow for what we see all around us? Do your theories explain nine percent unemployment and this monstrous economic collapse?

PLAYBOY: Is the United States becoming a banana republic?

KRUGMAN: In some important ways, yes. We used to talk about the classic problems of typically Latin American countries where the inability to achieve political consensus made it impossible to have effective economic policies. Well, that’s us. And, of course, there are the levels of inequality. In a lot of ways, America now looks like the classic Latin American problem.


PLAYBOY: Many complain that the Occupy Wall Street movement doesn’t have a clear message. What do you think?

KRUGMAN: I think OWS has done a great service. We didn’t need 10-point proposals. We needed someone to declare that the emperor was naked. The conversation has shifted since the protests began, and that’s good.


PLAYBOY: On the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, you wrote, “What happened after 9/11 – and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not – was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.” You lit a fire with those comments, but you didn’t back down. You followed up by recalling your previous attacks on the Bush administration’s decisions post-9/11, saying, “And there’s nothing I’ve done in my life of which I’m more proud.”

KRUGMAN: It just seemed I couldn’t let this 10-year anniversary go by without reminding people of what actually happened and saying, “Hey, you know, I haven’t forgotten.” It was a truly terrible time, with bad behavior by a lot of our political class, and we should not whitewash it. We need to remember that.

PLAYBOY: Back then people were being told they shouldn’t speak up. Did you get a lot of hate mail?

KRUGMAN: Oh, yeah. It was an odd period, all made tougher because the mail from the Times was being steamed open for the anthrax stuff. I’d get these big envelopes full of sticky pieces of paper, and many of them, of course, were vile attacks. It was a pretty awesome time. There’s a certain sense that if I got through that, then I’m certainly not going to be intimidated by anything now.

PLAYBOY: You pointed out it’s the closest we got to the McCarthy era.

KRUGMAN: For the most part, after the initial shock, people behaved pretty well. There were no lynchings of Muslims – or hardly any, not enough to make a lot of noise. There were no purges of people who were critical. The public seemed to get back on an even keel pretty quickly. It actually spoke well for the American people but not at all well for our political class.

-- Clay Waters is Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site