Nobel Prize-winning economist: We need Watchmen's alien invasion

Contributed by
Dec 15, 2012

In a recent interview, economist Paul Krugman reminded us that World War II helped play a part in getting the U.S. out of its economic troubles in the '40s. He drew a comparison to the present day and said that the fastest way out of our current turmoil would be an alien invasion. Sound familiar?

Krugman explained it this way:

"Think about World War II—that was actually negative social product spending and yet it brought us out ... If we discovered that space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive build-up to counter the space alien threat, and inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months. And then if we discovered, "whoops, we made a mistake," we'd [still] be better... There was a Twilight Zone episode like this, in which scientists fake an alien threat in order to achieve world peace. Well, this time we need it to get some fiscal stimulus."

And you can give a listen to him here:

If that idea rings a bell, it's because that plot has appeared in several places. While it originally appeared in an episode of The Outer Limits called "The Architects of Fear," most of us remember this plot from the most-taught graphic novel ever—Watchmen. In it, Adrian Veidt (once the hero, Ozymandias) is willing to murder his former friend and fake an alien invasion in order to prevent nuclear war between the United States and Russia.

The end of Watchmen paints a complex picture in which [spoiler alert!] most of the "heroes" (save Rorschach, who, too, is killed) agree that the lie must persist. In the final pages, the truth arrives in the form of Rorschach's journal at a small, right-wing publication so that one day the truth might be known.

Krugman, ultimately, seems to side with Veidt's solution. The question is, would you? Can a lie of that magnitude be justified in the name of economic stability?

If Krugman is Veidt, then who is our Rorschach?

(via Comics Alliance)