Paul Krugman on the American Political System

Question: Is the American political system broken?

Paul Krugman: “Broken” is too strong a word.  It’s not . . .  It’s certainly true that when the public gets fed up . . . really, really fed up with politicians they get turned out.  You know you can talk all you like about    . . .  I have a whole shelf of books written in 2005, 2006 about how . . . how the Republicans had a lock on power and it didn’t matter.  They had so many advantages.  And then comes the 2006 election and they get . . . they get tossed out.  So the political system is not broken, but it certainly is distorted.  You have enormous monetary influence of the lobbyists.  You have a lot of . . .  Very often people are not getting their views reflected.  Most conspicuously right now everybody . . .  Not everybody but a heavy majority wants out of Iraq, and somehow it’s not happening.  But also you can see we have something like, “Should hedge fund managers pay taxes like you and me?”  And it’s hard to think of any argument that they shouldn’t.  And yet even the Democrats in Congress are dragging their feet on closing that tax loophole.  And if you don’t think that has a whole lot to do with campaign contributions, you know, I’ve got a bridge you might wanna buy.

Question: How do we fix it?

Paul Krugman: Well the first thing just for the …, the possibility of voting fraud is just . . .  Although it’s not clear that it’s had a tremendous influence, the possibility is that it’s enough to be terrifying.  So I actually want a technological revolution in vote counting.  I think we need to use the cutting edge technology which is hand-counted ballots with lots of people watching the counting.  That’s the way that other countries have done it.  It’s you know . . .  The amount of money involved relative to the important of safeguarding democracy is trivial, so we should do that.

Public funding for elections.  Campaign finance reform, limits on contributions you can do up to a point.  But the fact of the matter is vast amounts of money have a way of flowing around any barriers you try to erect.  So there’s no real substitute for making sure the candidates can be adequately financed even if they don’t have big money behind them.

Broken is too strong a word, but there are problems.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less