by S.J. Masty: Defusing
the Foreign Policy Time-Bomb
take a seat," smiled the pretty receptionist. I did, leafing
disinterestedly through an out-dated copy of Keynesianism Today
and trying not to notice the patient waiting next to me, pulling
long gulps from a bottle of Jack Daniels wrapped in a brown paper
for the alcoholism recovery group?" he asked amiably and I
said no. It was my first visit to The Krugman Wellness Center. I'd
read about it in The New York Times of course, and everybody
in Mid-Town Manhattan swore by its revolutionary treatments. Some
even predicted that Dr. Krugman would be nominated for a Nobel Prize
asked my neighbour if he wasn't hitting the bottle rather hard just
before his consultation. He blew his nose noisily, explaining that
the sour mash was on prescription and Dr. Krugman had him up to
two quarts a day. "Since I doubled my drinking I feel a lot
better," he explained, "except I fall down a lot."
He pointed through the window to where a dozen gray-skinned people,
huddled outside in the cold, sucked on cigarettes furiously. "They're
giving up smoking," he added, "so Dr. Krugman has them
on three packs a day."
shuffled through the other old magazines but nothing caught my fancy.
A December 2009 copy of Fabian Holiday promised "Spend
Your Bailout in 10 Weekend Get-Aways," and an equally tattered
copy of Populist Mechanics proclaimed "For $80 Billion
Get Your Clunker Back on the Road."
well-dressed, blue-rinse lady wrapped rubber surgical tubing around
her forearm and held it tight in her clenched teeth. "Heroin
detox?" I asked and she nodded sweetly, extracting a syringe
from her purse.
pretty receptionist sashayed across the room and gave me a form
to fill out and a brochure entitled "Homeopathy & You."
It explained that homeopathy works by prescribing various poisons
in amounts so small that the water in which they were dissolved
only u2018remembered' any molecular presence of the additive.
Krugman's epoch-making advance," it continued, "was to
increase the additive dramatically and then keep upping the dose."
This explained why Krugman kept his alcoholics on the sauce, his
smokers sucking coffin-nails and grannies on smack. Eventually they
would get over it but it was not clear how.
portly man at the end of the room ate voraciously from a plastic
salad bowl full of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and various beans.
"Flatulence clinic," muttered my companion, offering me
a slug from his bottle.
the Financial Health & Recovery form I did not tick the box
asking if I was a Central Banker: similarly no for politician, financier
or stockbroker. I ticked yes for insomnia, credit card debt, negative
equity on my mortgage and migraines. I ticked no for savings and
hesitated when the form explained that treatment may require borrowing
up to twice my annual earnings each year, dining out at least four
times a week in expensive restaurants, buying a new car u2018on time'
and quarterly holidays in Bali. Sure, everyone swore that Dr. Krugman
was a genius but could I afford the treatment? They promised to
arrange loans but it just did not make sense.
I saw it: a little, hand-written note scribbled on a three-by-five
card that some other patient had stuck onto the bulletin board.
The pretty receptionist announced that Dr. Krugman would see me
now, but I did not answer as I keyed the numbers into my phone as
fast as I could.
Is this The Mises Clinic?" I asked. "May I please have
an appointment with Dr. Rockwell?"
[send him mail] lives
in London and Kabul.