Unlike economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, Dean Baker hasn’t won the Nobel Prize. But like fellow progressives Krugman and Stiglitz (and that’s how they refer to themselves), Dean Baker called the tune on the economic calamity that has befallen us (he was first of the three, actually), and, sans Nobel, he is finally receiving long overdue recognition for his prescience, and, more important, for his uncanny ability to strike exactly the right note in the ongoing conversation we need to have with Obama: comradely but critical, when that’s what’s called for. Like now, with the larger economic stimulus that Obama rightfully pushing for, but which contains some disturbing features (tax breaks anyone?).
Dean was out here a mere eleven days ago. I asked him, on the way to his SF event for Progressive Perspectives: “Well, how does it feel to be getting all this recognition?” He looked over at me – I was busy negotiating the insane SF traffic – and said, “What recognition?” I was surprised, but when he explained how thoroughly his insights and predictions have been ignored, I got it. I know that some of you don’t totally understand that it was progressive economists who could look at the emerging breakdown objectively and not via ideological blinders, but, sorry, that’s the way it was and that’s why we need to support progressives doing independent research “for the rest of us,” as I.F. Stone reminded us.
Anyway, in the last eleven days, Dean Baker has been interviewed twice on Rachel Maddow, today on Terry Gross’s Fresh Air, and, even more unlikely, recognized on the Jim Lehrer News Hour as one of the handful on economists who were in touch with Reality about the imminent Collapse.
More about the respectful dialogue we (progressives) need to establish with Obama: somewhere out there (someone help me out) there’s a piece Dean wrote critical of Obama’s evident calls to scale back Medicare and Social Security. Senior Action Network – we should all be so politically active at that age – has asked me to invite Dean for a return visit to address these vital issues, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he said Yes. I’ll let you know.
Update: here’s the link (Guardian) about Obama on “entitlements” (what an obnoxious word) like Medicare and Social Security.
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