28 08 2009



(And he’s on the front line–out there in the world of the young and  still hopeful, unlike me.)


“Dr. Krugman’s nuanced assessment is correct, but regardless of the details, the US economy faces serious danger that will not easily be overcome. That’s because the true basis of the economic catastrophe here is cultural— the undermining of compassion, fair play, and the most basic sense of proportion in favor of outrageous greed, viciousness, and corruption in high places. Our economy is now a cruel, exploitative, predatory system of excessive crony capitalism.

As an old engineering professor, I’m on the front lines of this horrific debacle— my field has been eviscerated with particular ferocity. I teach a young American generation condemned to dismal indentured servitude- outsourcing and the H1B have decimated engineering in North America, since foreign grads, as in India, finish schooling with little debt and much lower cost-of-living.

My students by contrast, are inevitably saddled with staggering debt in their grueling years of training. Those drowning in student loans are “lucky”— if they also suffer injury, auto accident or crime (as victims, not perpetrators), then the vultures in our corrupt financial, health care and legal systems prey upon them relentlessly, reducing them to virtual serfdom (aggravating our recession by draining capital away from consumers and true producers). The brightest graduates suffer the most, and if they slip at any point, rather than being helped, they’re kicked harder and harder while down— apparently the highest “virtue” in our plutocratic Potemkin economy. As a further insult, they are confronted with usurious interest rates and then denied employment due to their credit ratings and unavoidable debt just to be trained— practices so outrageous, they are harshly punished as felonies elsewhere in the world.

Unsurprisingly, my students vote with their feet— by the spring of 2009, 40% were inclined to emigrate from the USA. They leave for engineering hubs like Korea, Japan, China, Belgium, Holland, Germany, France or Sweden, but also places like South America. Why? These are far better places to raise kids, and they cherish talent and creativity rather than squandering human capital in the neo-feudalism that now rules the USA. Only Britain and Australia suffer similar brain drains, mainly since they have adopted much of our own brand of neoliberalism and predatory capitalism.

My parents, immigrants to the USA decades ago, would weep if they saw what we have become. For young engineers, the future global languages of our field (and the sciences in general) will be Chinese and German, and anyone in the field would be well-advised to learn one (or both) of them to technical standard, write your papers and even found journals in them, whether or not you emigrate.

Commonsense and maddeningly obvious reforms, thus far stifled, are needed at once for these outrages and excesses that have stolen so much from the American populace. Our moneyed elites fail to realize that revolutions have started over far less.”


This post is to New York Times column of Paul Krugman of 8-28-09, and may be found here: