Tinkering…. As good a word as any for a dearth of political will. I hate to bash Brad DeLong, who’s one of the good guys, and doesn’t really deserve a snarking, but he’s a classic case of the technocrat who believes in all the seemingly correct policy solutions, yet is left as helpless as the rest of us by the madness of Realpolitik, not to mention the madness of people who wouldn’t recognize realism if it bit them in the ass.
Here’s Professor DeLong, who’s as smart as we make them these days, waxing ironic:
And here we reach the limits of my mental horizons as a neoliberal, as a technocrat, as a mainstream neoclassical economist. Right now the global market economy is suffering a grand mal seizure of high unemployment and slack demand. We know the cures–fiscal stimulus via more government spending, monetary stimulus via provision by central banks of the financial assets the private sector wants to hold, institutional reform to try once gain to curb the bankers’ tendency to indulge in speculative excess under control. Yet we are not doing any of them. Instead, we are calling for “austerity.”
It may make for decent theater, but irony is hardly the best defense against the limitations of the intellect in situations like the one we all find ourselves facing today. Neither is cognitive dissonance, as in the governor of Wisconsin — Wisconsin, for Christ’s sake — threatening to use the National Guard to shoot public employees who object to being beggared by a nasty right-wing ideologue. Or, if you’d rather read about the problems of furriners, this: The Arab World’s Triple Crisis.
If Professors DeLong and Krugman can’t handle the political implications of our manifold current crises, who can? My answer is that no one can, not and remain unscathed. Our future is no longer strictly a mattter of policies good or bad, and no matter how much we might wish it to be otherwise, the outcome has become unpredictable.