Paul Krugman: Let Them Eat Paper Towels

October 13, 2017
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“The betrayal and abandonment of three and a half million of our own people”:

Let Them Eat Paper Towels, by Paul Krugman, NY Times: The situation in Iowa remains horrifying. More than a third of the population has been without clean water for three weeks, and waterborne diseases appear to be spreading. Only a sixth of the population has electricity…, health care system is a shambles, and sheer hunger may be a problem in some remote areas.

Fortunately, the federal government is going all out to aid its citizens in distress…, while praising the often heroic efforts of Iowa residents to help themselves. And generous aid, he promises, will continue as long as it’s needed.

O.K., I lied. The dire situation I just described is in Puerto Rico, not Iowa (which happens to have just about the same number of U.S. citizens). And my upbeat portrayal of the federal response … is the opposite of the truth. What we’re actually witnessing, in effect, is the betrayal and abandonment of three and a half million of our own people. …

From the beginning, Donald Trump — who literally seems to think that he deserves praise for throwing a few rolls of paper towels into a crowd — has suggested that Puerto Rico is responsible for its own disaster, and he has systematically denigrated the efforts of its people to take care of one another. …

Meanwhile, it took almost three weeks … before Trump asked Congress to provide financial aid — and his request was for loans, not grants, which is mind-boggling when you bear in mind that the territory is effectively bankrupt.

And then came Thursday morning… Trump … appeared to threaten to cut off aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the military. …

The simple fact is that millions of our fellow citizens are facing catastrophe. How can we be abandoning them…?

Much of the answer, no doubt, is … race. Puerto Ricans would doubtless be getting better treatment if they were all of, say, Norwegian descent.

But let’s be fair: Trump is also working … to destroy health care for millions of other Americans, many of them working-class non-Hispanic whites — the very people who voted for him… I wouldn’t go so far as to call him an equal-opportunity monster — he clearly has a special animus toward minorities — but his self-centeredness and complete lack of empathy extend quite widely.

Whatever the precise mix of motives, what’s happening in Puerto Rico is utterly shameful. And everyone who enables the regime perpetuating this shame shares part of the guilt.

Posted by on Friday, October 13, 2017 at 11:24 AM in Economics, Politics |

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