Al Gore, George A. Akerlof (Nobel-Winning Economist), and the Bush Administration’s Disastrous Policies

You might be aware that former Vice-President Al Gore emerged from the shadows last week to deliver a major speech at New York University (NYU) in Manhattan, his first such speech in almost a year. For this one, his theme was the repeated pattern of “false impressions” that the Bush administration has fed the American people: that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and has worked closely with al-Qaeda, that Iraqis would greet invading GIs as liberators, etc. – but he cited plenty “false impressions” in economic policy, too.

The speech seems to have been a success (cf. an account of the event in the New Yorker), although in the course of it Gore reiterated that he is not a candidate for president, but will eventually endorse one. You can get the speech’s prepared text here. In it, Gore makes reference to a recent interview published in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel with Nobel Prize-winning (2001) American economist George A. Akerlof, and includes in his speech some eyebrow-raising citations: “This is the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history . . . . What we have here is a form of looting.”

So I had to go and find that interview on Der Spiegel Online. And a remarkable interview it is, too – the quotations Gore used in his speech were fully consistent with its general tone. Actually, Akerlof even goes further, advocating ziviler Ungehorsam – “civil disobedience” – against the Bush administration policies which he decries. (Although not pushed so far that people actually stop paying their taxes – he’s far too much of an economist through-and-through to go that far!) Ladies and gentlemen, here is the interview in English (the language in which it was originally conducted by Spiegel editor Matthias Streitz, of course); I recommend that you take a look at it.

(Note: “More” adds nothing more than an additional self-absorbed, personal note about this episode. Recommended only for die-hard €S fans or family members.)

Additional self-absorbed, personal note: Even if the interview was only in German, I was determined that my beloved readers were going to get to read it, even if I had to do the translation myself – and then, of course, write Der Spiegel for permission to post that translation on EuroSavant. I got as far as completely translating it, before I noticed at the bottom the link Das Akerlof-Interview im englischen Original. So I had wasted my time! – but at least that meant I could give you the link right away, without having to go through the legal niceties with Der Spiegel.

Any sympathy out there? I thought not – anyway, it was good practice, and naturally my translation was generally quite close to the original that you can read via the provided link. Aber natürlich!

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