Pope Francis would do well to reflect on what happened the last time a frustrated figurehead attempted to impose glasnost and perestroika on a moribund institution. Once he succeeds in driving all the money changers from the temple, he may find that they were the only ones holding it up.
When I first published the Layman’s Guide, I omitted any reference to economists as such, mostly because it seemed to me at the time that not even God himself, let alone an untutored blogger, could make anything either succinct or coherent out of their work. Since then, I’ve read more widely, if not more deeply, and, by George, I think I’ve finally got it.
Economists in General: The health of the economy does not depend on your having any.
Some Economists in Particular: And a damned good thing it is, too, which you would realize if only you could grasp the concepts involved.
The Brothers Koch: You can’t have any.
Ted Cruz: You don’t deserve any.
Goldman Sachs: You can’t have any until we’ve got ours, and most of yours as well.
Larry Summers: Once I’ve got mine, I’ll try really, really hard to get you some.
President Obama: Everybody should have some. Somebody should see to it.
To all of you with your well-rehearsed defenses of universal kill lists:
The quality of mercy is not feigned….
That is all.
Today Paul Krugman has discovered that, gasp, technological unemployment is really real! And it’s really, finally here! And it really, really will result in a permanent transfer of wealth from labor to capital, no matter how many college degrees laborers go into debt to acquire! (and, coincidentally, of course, this also seems to imply that Marx might actually have been a bit smarter than we thought.)
I’m being unfair, or at least uncharitable, to the penitent Dr. Krugman, who’s a nice guy, and would be a nice guy even if he weren’t an economist. Still, this is an amazingly belated observation on his part. I thought that these economist guys all knew this stuff, but were afraid to mention it for fear of devaluing their Keynesian cheerleading. Horrifying to think that they didn’t actually know it at all.
Brad DeLong at his finest. Proof positive that the talent’s out there:
I took my completed mail-in ballot to the drop-off bin this morning. So stop robo-calling me already.
In this crazy season just prior to the U.S. elections, I’ve found myself strangely unable to pay adequate attention to my own business. There are just too many people around me who’ve given themselves over to the din and the compulsion, and want me to join them in their last ditch defense against the unthinkable. I can’t do it, not least because I’ve long been convinced that the unthinkable is already upon us. We’re going to have to live with it at one level or another for as far as most of us can see into the future. That will take some doing, at least for those who will live through more of it than I’ll have to.
Still, it may be a good idea, in my current rattled state, which seems to recur every two years at about this time, to take stock of where in the landscape of our current discontents I find what Christians call the Rock Of My Salvation. Then, with any luck, I’ll be able to get back to business again:
1. Immanence rather than transcendence
2. Heraclitus rather than Aristotle
3. The Tao rather than filial piety
4. Blake rather than Newton
5. Marx rather than Keynes
6. A decent respect to the opinions of mankind rather than full-spectrum dominance
7. Mens sana in corpore sano above all (although I freely admit that this doesn’t mean to me what it seems to mean to most of my contemporaries.)
President Obama: Trapped in his own ever-so-judiciously-created paradoxes.
Mitt Romney: Lie, cheat, steal, and grin: it’s all he knows.
The American People: Once again, getting what we deserve.