Friday, May 06, 2011

A bad economy and the out-of-touch Beltway Village

Nero fiddling: that's Rome burning in the background

Last December, Robert Reich observed, "Rarely before in American history has there been more disconnect between Washington and the rest of the nation. Washington is obsessing about the projected federal budget deficit. Everyone else in America is worried about jobs." (The Truth About the Federal Budget Deficit That Noone [sic] Is Willing to Tell 12/02/2010)

Things have moved on in the six months since then, of course. Now the Beltway Village is obsessing not only about deficits, but also about a nonexistent inflation threat, a meaningless S&P report suggesting that someday they might think about downgrading US credit ratings, and - the latest fad way to avoid worrying about unemployment - the possibility of the dollar falling in world exchange rates.

Paul Krugman sums up this pitiful situation in Fears and Failure New York Times 05/05/32011:

From G.D.P. to private-sector payrolls, from business surveys to new claims for unemployment insurance, key economic indicators suggest that the recovery may be sputtering. ...

It’s not as if our political class is feeling complacent. On the contrary, D.C. economic discourse is saturated with fear: fear of a debt crisis, of runaway inflation, of a disastrous plunge in the dollar. Scare stories are very much on politicians’ minds.

Yet none of these scare stories reflect anything that is actually happening, or is likely to happen. And while the threats are imaginary, fear of these imaginary threats has real consequences: an absence of any action to deal with the real crisis, the suffering now being experienced by millions of jobless Americans and their families.
And he asks parenthetically, "Who sends out the memos telling people what to worry about, and why don't I get them?"

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