“I never use a big, big D” – The Captain, W.S. Gilbert, HMS Pinafore, in “I am the Captain of the Pinafore.”
The Captain’s “big, big D” is, of course, “Damn,” which many of us say in one form or another about every couple of sentences, and most of the rest of us don’t bat an eye when we hear it.
Paul Krugman’s big, big D, his ‘D’-word, is “depression” … he says we’re in one now:
It’s time to start calling the current situation what it is: a depression. True, it’s not a full replay of the Great Depression, but that’s cold comfort. Unemployment in both America and Europe remains disastrously high. Leaders and institutions are increasingly discredited. And democratic values are under siege.
On that last point, I am not being alarmist. On the political as on the economic front it’s important not to fall into the “not as bad as” trap. High unemployment isn’t O.K. just because it hasn’t hit 1933 levels; ominous political trends shouldn’t be dismissed just because there’s no Hitler in sight.
My, oh my: Krugman throws caution to the winds and breaks Godwin’s law, sort of. But exactly where is he in error as he does so? Right… he isn’t.
Krugman follows up with references to the problems of the euro, the effects of austerity in the European community, the rise of right-wing populism in Austria (Austria, no less!), and the undermining of democratic institutions in Hungary (Hungary… they only managed to rid themselves of Communist rule in 1989; are they returning to their past?):
One of Hungary’s major parties, Jobbik, is a nightmare out of the 1930s: it’s anti-Roma (Gypsy), it’s anti-Semitic, and it even had a paramilitary arm. But the immediate threat comes from Fidesz, the governing center-right party.
And they also need to rethink their failing economic policies. If they don’t, there will be more backsliding on democracy — and the breakup of the euro may be the least of their worries.