Thursday, September 19, 2013

"U.S. economic astonishing, horrifying failure"

From a couple of weeks ago, my favorite economist Paul Krugman on the economic toll taken by the Washington consensus in the wake of the banking crisis:

Years of Tragic Waste

Some of that immensity can be measured in dollars and cents. Reasonable measures of the “output gap” over the past five years — the difference between the value of goods and services America could and should have produced and what it actually produced — run well over $2 trillion. That’s trillions of dollars of pure waste, which we will never get back.  


And, on the other side of the ledger, we would be a richer nation, with a brighter future — not a nation where millions of discouraged Americans have probably dropped permanently out of the labor force, where millions of young Americans have probably seen their lifetime career prospects permanently damaged, where cuts in public investment have inflicted long-term damage on our infrastructure and our educational system. 

More here.

I totally missed this column when it ran on September 5th; it was Marxist economist Richard Wolff who spoke about it on his radio show last weekend inspiring me to check it out.  Because, you know, the amount of money we've lost just because Washington is so dead set on avoiding any kind of "socialism" is nothing short of staggering.  We've pissed away two freaking TRILLION dollars, real money that we could have made, but we'll never have.  And, as Krugman observes, it's a complete waste: if we had just done the simple textbook stuff, gotten a real stimulus going, a much bigger one than the hand-wringing, timid and feeble nod to Keynesianism the Democratic Congress was willing to pass, we wouldn't have lost all that money; instead, we'd have a functional, growing economy, one that would have eventually paid for the stimulus spending that got it going in the first place.

But no.  We've heard "government is the problem" so many times over the last thirty years that we just can't think straight anymore.  This has screwed up a lot of lives.  From mortgage holders who lose their homes through fraudulent foreclosure processes, to older workers who have lost their jobs and now cannot plausibly be rehired because of their age, to young workers facing a job market full of "opportunities" with McDonald's and temp agencies, to recent college graduates crippled by tens of thousands of dollars in debt, to public shcool students being shafted by lack of education dollars, and on and on, Washington has turned up its middle finger toward Americans from all walks of life.  "We don't give a shit about you," they say, "and we're totally willing to show how much we don't give a shit by clinging to a demonstrably fictitious ideology that would throw you out in the street and then call you lazy for not having a job."

Two trillion dollars.  Fuck you, Washington.