David Brooks’ Column on ‘Class War’ Gets Pushback – From Fellow NY Times Columnist Paul Krugman

“My colleague David Brooks asserts that rising inequality is about productivity, not power,” Krugman says

New York Times columnist David Brooks has come under heavy criticism for his Thursday column disputing that there is a class war — including from fellow Times columnist Paul Krugman.

“My colleague David Brooks asserts that rising inequality is about productivity, not power,” Krugman tweeted on Friday morning to dispute Brooks’ arguments. “People used to say that a lot, but the preponderance of economic analysis has moved the other way, for good reason.”

Krugman, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in economic science in 2008, followed with several detailed critiques of Brooks’ column, “The Bernie Sanders Fallacy,” in which he criticized the Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential contender for pushing what he called “class-war Theyism: The billionaires have rigged the economy to benefit themselves and impoverish everyone else.”

“Over the past few years wages for workers toward the bottom of the income stream have been rising faster than wages for those toward the top,” Brooks wrote. “If the bosses have the workers by the throat, how can this be happening?”

But Krugman cited research making an opposite argument. “Consider just one piece of data: CEO pay. Do we really thing CEOs have gotten hugely better since the 1960s, while workers haven’t?” he wrote in a string of tweets, while posting a graph showing that CEOs make 278 times more than typical workers.

“Bear in mind that CEOs get lavishly rewarded even when they screw up massively,” Krugman added, while using recently fired Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg as an example.

“I’d add that even to the extent that free-market forces drive market inequality — which is dubious — tax and spending policy can offset much of this rise,” he concluded. “Not doing so is a choice.”

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