Friday, January 6, 2012

Don't know much about history...

Krugman quotes Robert Samuelson saying that government debt was "modest" in the 1930s. Then PK shows a graph contradicting Samuelson.

I had to go back to Krugman's post a second time before I noticed that his post title is a line from an old Sam Cooke song.

First time I read the post, this comment from johnwerneken was right up near the top:

Stable money and a functioning economy are BOTH more important to most people than subsidized fake jobs for the unemployed. THAT is what the argument is about.

I thought John's comment was really good. He emphasized the same two goals I do: growth and price stability. To me he was saying: Why are we bickering over nonsense? Why can't we get the economy to work like it's supposed to work? He was saying that instead of sticking a finger in Samuelson's eye, Krugman should be talking about how to achieve BOTH growth and stable prices.

But not everyone read John's comment the way I did. Several people seemed to take offense at the word "fake" and the concept of fake jobs:

Only those who don't work for a living could conceptualize something like a "fake job".

How is a job 'fake' because the employer is the government? ...If you're a veteran, the next time you go to the VA and the nurse takes your blood pressure, ask yourself if her contribution to the economy is fake.

But, hey, if American voters are so fanatical in their hatred for government stimulus that they'd rather have another 10 years of dismal economy and risk world depression and global destabilization, I say give them what they want. Just don't whine about it later.

Thin-skinned twits, bickering over nonsense. But I'd best not say that. Because their skins are thin, and they're twits.

Listen, twits: Anybody old enough to remember a line from a Sam Cooke song from 1958 is old enough to remember when the economy was good. In a good economy, you don't have to have the government providing jobs, because the private sector is growing and healthy. And inflation is like nothing, or one percent. That's what we need to get back to.

Why can't we have an economy like that again? Or, better: How can we have an economy like that again? That is the question. Gosh, did somebody offend you by using the word "fake"? Is that really more important than fixing the economy?

Here, here's a band-aid for your thin skin: If the private sector can create enough jobs all by itself, that's good. Anything else is faking it. And this doesn't mean that the work is fake. It means the economic vigor is fake. And economic vigor is something we really don't want to fake. Okay? Feel better now? Mommy kiss it.

But please, if you want to fix the economy, don't take offense at every four-letter word.


The same guy that said "give them what they want" also said this:

Sadly it turns out what you call "subsidized fake jobs for the unemployed" are the key to "stable money and a functioning economy."

Sadly. But it doesn't "turn out" that way. That's a bad guess.

It doesn't "turn out" that the government has to create jobs so that we can meet our two economic goals. The words imply that that is the way the economy works. It isn't. Yes, the economy has been behaving that way for some time now. But that is not the same thing. That behavior is the economy's response to a particular problem.

And anyway, given our tendency to generate credit-use in this country, if the government goes ahead and generates jobs, the outcome will not be anything like "stable money".

But why has the economy been behaving that way? Why can't we get a "functioning economy" without "subsidizing" employment? How can we make the economy "good"?

Everybody says debt is the problem. And "it turns out" everybody's right, except for one particular thing. It is not really the government debt that hurts private sector growth. It is private debt that's killing us.


nanute said...

Shame on you! It's not even the end of the first week of the New Year, and you've already broken you resolution. You twit! lol

The Arthurian said...

Oh, well. Maybe next year...

You crack me up, Nute!

nanute said...

Maybe if we had a bit more humor and a lot less polarization, "what a wonderful word it would be." Glad I could be of service.

Jazzbumpa said...

The problem with johnworneken's use of "fake" isn't that it's offensive, it's that it's stupid.

Nobody talks about subsidized fake jobs unless they believe the canard that government jobs aren't real jobs. And it's part of the right wing party line. I've heard this lie several times in the last year from Rethug leaders.

Emphasizing good goals does not justify the use of a blatant lie, and I'm surprised you embraced his comment.

The problem we see at the ZIRB is that essentially all the new money has gone into reserves, not into circulation.

The whole point of fiscal policy is pump priming. Get people working and spending and kick start the economy. When things are rolling again you can go back to monetary policy.

You might note that, as PK has pointed out repeatedly, Keynesian theory has been quite consistent with results since the crisis. The ideas of people who believe govt jobs are fake have been consistently wrong.

JzB aligned with the twits

The Arthurian said...

Bickering over nonsense, Jazz.