What else can this guy do?

Congrats on winning the Nobel for economics.

So he teaches at Princeton, has a regular column in the NY Times where he gets to excoriate deserving Republicans all the time and now has a Nobel. And the guy is only 55 years old. Today he admitted regret, in an interview with NPR, that he couldn’t foresee the extent of the current economic crisis. I guess that makes me feel a little better…if he couldn’t predict it, it’s safe to say that few could have predicted the depth of this crisis.

I think Martin Chalfie who won this year’s Nobel for Chemistry (along with two others), may also be Jewish – Chalfie is a Sephardic name, to my knowledge – but I haven’t seen any corroborating evidence, so we’ll thank him on behalf of all of humanity and if he turns out that he’s a MOT, we’ll add a mazal tov and get somebody to drink some schnapps in commemoration (not me, I don’t drink “schnapps”).

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  • The economic crisis was to be expected and has been in the making for quite some time as the construction of generous credit / mortage policies based on next-to-no real securities combined with a high level of consumerism paired with little awareness of the importance of sustainability topped off with outsourcing leading to higher unemployment / lower wages in the secondary economic sector and partly also the tertiary one inevitably had to collapse at some point. Build a pc-fence of entitlement around it suggesting people are deserving without or with only little effort, and you’re on a downward road. The founders of the first stock market (pic below) would be spinning in their graves.
    De Beurze

    BTW, Middle, I don’t drink schnapps either. Can we be friends?

    P.S.: Some research suggestion, I’d like to know how certain dietary fads of the recent years (e.g. low- / no-carb diet) have affected the output by workforce in the US.

  • Actually, I was just dropping by to see if my lovely American Jew cousins would have anything to say about Obama Surrogate Jesse “Hymietown” Jackson’s latest pro-Israel comments:


    ” He promised “fundamental changes” in US foreign policy – saying America must “heal wounds” it has caused to other nations, revive its alliances and apologize for the “arrogance of the Bush administration.”

    The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” would end.

    Jackson believes that, although “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades” remain strong, they’ll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House. “

  • Chalfie is Jewish – I worked in his lab for a bit and found that out incidentally. Don’t know if there’s any sephardic ancestry though.

    It’s awesome that he got a Nobel – the research he worked on really changed the face of biology and chemistry research. I really can’t imagine doing the research I did, in his lab and two others, without GFP (green fluorescent protein). Amazing stuff.

  • Alex, why in here? Post the same thing in a more relevant discussion please so I can delete this comment from a celebration of significant achievements. I’ll respond to it in whichever other post you place it.

    Thank you, Labworm, for the confirmation about Chalfie. I have no idea what green fluorescent protein is but as long as they don’t serve it in my smoothie, I’m okay with it.

  • Alex, why in here?


    I’m fairly certain that when dealing with someone whose habit is to take a shit in the middle of a subway car, you’re unlikely to elicit a meaningful answer when asking why he prefers using the D-train to a toilet bowl.

  • When using public transportation, always carry toilet paper. Always.

    Middle, please feel free to delete my comments since CK has created a new post dedicated to Jesse Hymietown Jackson’s comments. I apologize for having too little faith that this little speed bump on Obama’s ascent to his deserved presidency would make the rounds as an actual headline here. Thanks for proving me wrong. If it takes losing some tact in order to help some American Jews deal with their crisis of conscience when it comes to voting (ie. the enemy of my enemy is my friend) then I guess I should be flogged before my peers.

    And with people like ds around to provide the wit, everyone wins!

  • Alex, it’s not our fault things have gone so terribly wrong under a Republican President who had a Republican majority in both Houses for 6 of his 8 years in office. We just report the lousy news when it’s lousy and the good news when it’s good.

    Jesse Jackson may be predicting the future of an Obama Administration or projecting what he would do and his reasons. I’m much more concerned about Obama’s years in Wright’s church than about Jackson’s personal prognosis of what Obama will do.

  • An Open Letter to Paul Krugman

    Dear Paul:

    Forgive my rudeness in calling you by your first name. I have been reading your writings in New York Times, Slate and other fine publications for years. I even read your book “The Conscience of a Liberal.” I have gotten to know you so well that, I feel, we could be on a first name basis. Besides, if we are to create a class-less, hierarchy-free society, calling you Professor Krugman would instantly create a deplorable hierarchy — perhaps falsely indicating that you might know more about economics than I do. We simply cannot encourage such elitist hubris.

    Now that we have established that in our class-less Utopian society everybody’s opinion is equally valid, I am compelled to offer you mine about what you should do about that Nobel Prize thingie. Hopefully, you will take my advise a bit more seriously than that damnable Bush-Cheney administration has taken yours.

    Paul, as a matter of principle, you should reject that Nobel Prize.

    That’s right. You should just flat-out tell those Swedes that you don’t want that prize. It just wouldn’t be the right thing to do, considering your progressive ideals.

    First of all, it’s just not fair that only you should get this prize this year when there are hundreds of thousands of other economists in this world. Honoring only one person in this way is a totally non-egalitarian thing to do. Either we should honor them all or none at all. We are fighting for equality and justice in this society; not giving Nobel Prize to everyone creates Haves and Have-nots, and we just can’t tolerate that.

    Second of all, a white man like you getting the prize — again! — is racist and sexist to the max. I just checked out the list of laureates in economics since 1969 and almost all of them are white men!! (There were two names — Amartya Sen and Arthur Lewis — who appeared to be non-white, but that just proves tokenism, you know! It has never been awarded to a woman.) Why do we see heterosexual, white men chosen so often? Why don’t we ever see any black lesbians getting this prize? Paul, I want you to make a statement against this institutional racism and sexism; and reject this symbol of discrimination and marginalization.

    Third of all, the amount of money — $1.4 million — that Riksbank is offering is obscene. Who deserves that kind of money anyway, when coal miners in third world countries — many of them barely 14 years old — don’t make even $30 per month — and they are the ones risking their lives every day! As you have pointed out in your writings, the gap between the rich and the poor is rapidly widening. You getting that $1.4 million will only make the situation worse. I know you are a man of principles. If you wanted to make millions you could have easily chosen a crass and tasteless career, something like a Wall Street CDO structurer. I mean, you certainly had the brains. And the right pigmentation. And the right pair of chromosomes. But, no. You instead chose the noble profession of teaching. You have worked long and hard to build your moral authority; don’t destroy it in a nano-second by succumbing to the temptation of money. Love of money is the root of all evil. If you accept this monstrously large sum of money, you will forever lose all moral authority to talk about the unfairness and inequality in the society. If you lose that moral authority, who will rail against all the greed and injustice in this increasingly oligarchic society? Who will stand up to corporate plutocrats? Those damnable conservatives tried to drag your name through mud when the news came out that your worked as a consultant for an advisory board for Enron. I am pretty sure that you handled the conflicts of interest in the Enron affair adequately, but why hand your critics further fuel now to blow-torch your reputation? Should your reputation get tarnished, who, pray tell, will be our champion? Who will battle evil media-types like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh?

    Fourth of all, the selection process employed by Riksbank was neither transparent nor democratic. I mean, I never got to vote on that decision! What right does Riksbank have to hand out this prize without getting the people involved? It might be Riksbank’s money, but we the people should have the final say in how it gets doled out. But no. Riksbank doesn’t want to do the morally correct thing. They want to exclude everybody but their pals from the decision-making process. This is just like Dick Cheney and his buddies cutting back-room deals to divvy-up Iraq spoils. It smells of favoritism; it smells of cronyism; it just stinks. Paul, would you ever go hunting with Cheney and his buddies? If the answer is no, then please don’t accept the prize that was bestowed by this elitist and exclusionary committee.

    Fifth of all, the prize sends a wrong message to the society. We agree that you worked hard all your life. You went to MIT, you got your Ph.D. You didn’t drop acid like some bozos in the 70s. (At least, a quick googling on your name didn’t turn up any such dirt.) You were studying your ass off while others were partying like crazy. Now you got the Nobel Prize and they don’t. That’s just not fair. Do you know what message it sends? That if you work hard in life, you can achieve things that others can’t! That’s a nasty and brutish message to send. Conservatives say things like that, not liberals like you! Radicals of the right believe in this “every man to himself” bullshit (and they don’t even apologize for the non-PC nature of the phrase), not enlightened progressives like you!! Defenders of inequality believe in this myth about individualistic bootstrapping, not a seasoned class warrior like you!!!

    Sixth of all, the prize perpetuates the shameful legacy of colonization and imperialism. Almost all of the laureates have been from the first-world countries. Don’t you know that the vast majority of humanity lives in third-world countries. To systematically exclude people from poor countries from participating in the intellectual dialogue means further polarization. If people from third-world countries don’t win such prizes often enough, what kind of role models will kids there have growing up? Won’t they fall prey to false prophets? No wonder religious radicalization is rampant in countries from Somalia to Afghanistan. Paul, by the mere act of accepting this prize you will be promoting global terrorism. And many of these terrorists also subjugate women. So you will be participating in women’s subjugation too.

    Seventh of all, you accepting this prize will lead to global warming. You and your loved ones will be traveling to Stockholm in an airplane that will be consuming hydrocarbons — yes the same hydrocarbons that pollute the environment and prop up the dictatorial regimes. Now, you could ask Al Gore about how many carbon offsets that you will need to buy for your flight to Stockholm — and he should know for sure — but that still won’t make it morally acceptable in the current economic environment. Just when millions of people worldwide are losing their jobs due to the worsening credit crunch, Nobel prize-winners feasting on a sumptuous dinner makes for a sad spectacle. Why don’t we just take the money that will be spent on your travel and spend it on installing solar panels in Sub-Saharan Africa instead? That will allow the disadvantaged African children to power up their One-Laptop-Per-Child laptops and that should go a long way towards bridging the digital divide. Isn’t that what we liberals should want, after all?

    To summarize, by accepting this Nobel Prize you will promote racism, sexism and inequality; suppress democracy; encourage terrorism; subjugate women; and cause global warming. Paul, I want you to stand up for your liberal values and reject this prize. If you do that, you will be a bigger hero for your liberal fans who read your newspaper columns so lovingly. With one act of sacrifice, you will enhance the moral authority of the liberal philosophy that puts people first and money last. Liberals will rejoice and celebrate. Given your passion for reducing inequality, you will be a shoo-in for the newly created post of the Wealth Redistribution Czar under the Obama administration.

    Paul, after all my exhortations against doing so, it’s still your decision to make. If you decide to go ahead and accept the prize, I will understand. I mean, $1.4 million is a lot of dough to walk away from. Besides, aren’t moral principles all relative to begin with? And since when has hypocrisy become such a big crime?

    If you accept the prize, you will be richer by several hundred thousand dollars even after paying taxes at the top marginal rate. I know you have often said that the rich don’t pay enough in taxes. Paul, this will be your shining moment to do things differently. Unlike other rich people, I am sure, you will write an extra check to the US Treasury because you believe, in the heart of your hearts, that the marginal tax rate on the rich should be higher. You will show your critics that you are a man of principles who puts his money where is mouth is — even though you came up somewhat short of your ideals in accepting the prize in the first place. A couple of hundred thousand dollars that you would voluntarily contribute to the US Treasury, in addition to your obligatory taxes, would go a long way towards paying for the universal health-care program. We are the only rich country in the world that doesn’t have that health-care safety net. While we are on the topic of single payer universal health-care system, let me tell you how eagerly I am awaiting the arrival of such a system. It wouldn’t come a day sooner for me. Recently, my immoral and greedy insurance company refused to pay for my bariatric surgery — they want me to exercise instead. Imagine their gall in holding me responsible for my own health! I don’t like to exercise and, frankly, I shouldn’t have to. I would rather watch Oprah in my free time — which I have a lot of since I don’t like to work much either. Paul, don’t you agree that it’s my fundamental right to get a free bariatric surgery? And all those rich people should be taxed more to pay for it. Furthermore, the cost of my bariatric surgery is such an infinitesimally small fraction of the funds that go to the military-industrial complex. Rather than wasting money on propping up dictators and tyrants around the world, it’s time we started investing in America and my bariatric surgery is a fine place to start as any other.

    Now we come to the topic that is near and dear to your heart. You have talked passionately about a need to promote a broadly shared prosperity. You will be happy to know that there are others who agree with you whole-heartedly and would love to share in your new-found prosperity. Even after paying for all the taxes and whatnot, you will still be left with a lot of money. Please take a look around — there are others in the society who will have much less. They certainly deserve your help. The case in point – your’s truly. I bought a house in New Jersey — not that far from yours — at the height of the housing bubble. My real estate agent told me that housing prices always go up and I believed him. Then the evil bank people lent me the money when they knew I will never be able to make the mortgage payments once the teaser rate expires. That’s what I call predatory lending and the regulators did nothing to protect me from these greedy and evil bankers. I am truly a victim of this lending fraud. Unlike Senator Chris Dodd I was never invited to be part of “Friends of Angelo” VIP clientele program and therefore never got a sweetheart deal on my mortgage. Paul, I am asking you — no I am begging you — to help out your fellow being who is down on his luck. I will drive my hybrid car to your house to collect the cash. Even a little bit would help. I am upside down on my home for $100,000. If you could just take care of that little deficit, I can start building equity in my home. After all, I too deserve to live the American Dream.

    Love and peace!


    Joe “The New Jersey Plumber”
    joe-the-plumber [at] gmx.com