Saturday, March 19, 2011

Eating Cake

For those who are neither economists nor actors who play them on tv, it is not as easy as it is for Paul Krugman. With a Nobel under his belt, his Princeton and New York Times credentials intact, and maybe with an eye to not having to run naked through the streets, he tells us he has

developed a strong tolerance for nonsense. After all, if I got upset every time powerful people were illogical and/or dishonest, I’d spend every waking hour in a state of raging despair

For the rest of us, whose only contact with the people who decide these things is through television, radio or what passes for news dissemination in other forms, it is hard not to begin emulate air raid sirens. As Dr. Krugman observed later the same week, the fairy tale land that houses our national government has decided that the aftereffects of the economic collapse that their groupthink devotion to "de-regulation" are no longer something they need to try to fix.

While almost all of us have either lost our job or know someone who has, the need for a new New Deal has apparently passed, according to the current version of the same groupthink that got us in this mess. When people and businesses are unable or unwilling to spend money, the government's obligation to do so, to stimulate the economy has been self-evident at least since 1933, though, of course, there is a large segment of the population (the "haves" and the "think they are or may someday be the haves") who dissent from this relatively simple point.

And since there are many things a government, particularly the federal one, can do to stimulate an economy that has a concomitant effect on the welfare of those in need, or even the rest of us who drive on highways, would like to find another way to get to work, or feel the need to educate our children and protect all of us from harm, the need for the government to spend can achieve some significant ends.

Hence, in the 1930s, it was decided to improve the system of benefits for the unemployed, and to provide social security, particularly to those who would spend too many years unable to participate in the marketplace, much less survive. The people who opposed the government's involvement in the economy, did not, of course, like any of this and since then they have tried to repeal them or set them back.

And while President Eisenhower might have told his brother that these efforts were "stupid" and the number of people supporting them "negligible" his confidence that foolishness would never reign was misguided.

In fact, as Doc Krugman has observed a couple of hundred times, or at least it seems so, it is the Official View of Official Washington that the social security system needs to be "fixed" even though there is no evidence to support alarms that are designed to justify more good ideas from the same people who told us deregulation was a necessary.

Since this nonsense has worked so well, these same forces (yes, the same general group that "hated" FDR and whose hatred he welcomed) they have added to their lexicon of Official Truths that the massive collapse of our economy was not the result of rampant speculation and financial chicanery by the newly dereuglated, but because of "entitlements": the protections from depredation that were the lasting legacy of the New Deal, and public employees (of which, as always noted, your blogger is one).

That Social Security must be fixed and the deficit (essentially the product, by the way, of reduced tax revenues given the massive unemployment, and the larger benefits that need to be paid to those who would otherwise have nothing) the most important issue facing the Congress, a group of politicians unable to see what the rest of us can not escape, has become the currency of political thought is unquestionable. Those who still work need a little distraction as they get ready to travel on broken highways or defunct trains, but what they get instead are Professors Scarborough, Barnicle and their little sidekick,
Brzezinski, agog when the Senate Majority Leader dissents from the wisdom of the sages.

That anyone could say such a thing---that Social Security is fine--- and there are way more important things to do, is seen in our nation's capitol as so absurd that it must be the product of insanity or craven politicians still fighting their last re-election campaign. That Senator Reid's election was not even remotely as close as the experts told us it would be, that perhaps that is because the unemployed know better, does not even begin to enter their worldview.

The tea party people might have been on to something, thought the other things that move them caused them to get to the wrong conclusion. That our government is populated in its legislative branch, and some pockets of its executive, it appears, by smug, know it alls who actually know very little except what they tell each other, is unquestionably so. And "unquestioned" is the right word, because many of them cannot even begin to question the nonsense peddled to them.

And so the rest of just look at them with crumbs falling from our mouths.

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