Paul Krugman, the economist whose writings have graced the pages of the new York Times for years, has now been placed in an arena which would be the logical place for his emotional gyrations: the opera. Last summer, Krugman engaged in a twitter battle with Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves revolving around Ilves’ attempts to reform Estonia’s economy.
That Twiiter fight has now been set to 16 minutes of music for two voices and orchestra by Latvian composer Eugene Birman in a piece called “Nostra Culpa.” The piece has two movements.
The spat went like this:
Krugman: “Since Estonia has suddenly become the poster child for austerity defenders — they’re on the euro and they’re booming! — I thought it might be useful to have a picture of what we’re talking about.”
A chart tracking Estonia’s GDP since the first quarter of 2007 followed, which showed the first quarter of 2007 GDP at almost 100, then dipping to 80 in the third quarter of 2009, and then rising steadily to over 90 in the present.
Krugman: “So, a terrible — Depression-level — slump, followed by a significant but still incomplete recovery. Better than no recovery at all, obviously — but this is what passes for economic triumph?”
Ilves: “Let's write about something we know nothing about & be smug, overbearing & patronizing: after all, they're just wogs.”
Ilves: “Guess a Nobel in trade means you can pontificate on fiscal matters & declare my country a ‘wasteland.’ Must be a Princeton vs Columbia thing.”
Ilves: “But yes, what do we know? We're just dumb & silly East Europeans. Unenlightened. Someday we too will understand. Nostra culpa.”
Ilves: “Let's sh*t on East Europeans: their English is bad, won't respond & actually do what they've agreed to & reelect govts that are responsible.”
The “opera” isn’t going to supersede Mozart, Verdi or Puccini, but, on the other hand, if it is complimentary toward a president who works for austerity, it should be required viewing at the White House—every day for the next four years.