Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yes, you are stupid

In a New York Times editorial--ostensibly titled We Are Not Stupid--Charles Blow provides ample evidence that he is, in fact, stupid. Or at least grossly ignorant of economic realities. I've addressed his particular brand of self-assured smugness before, something very common in punditry world, but this latest piece is just too easy to poke and mock.

Blow attempts to "sum up" what happened, with regard to the economic recession:
Let’s just get this out of the way: Times are tough. But most people are smart enough to know that these tough times were long in the making and will be long in the fixing. There are no magic words or silver bullets or emerging bubbles that will quickly and easily return us to a pre-recession, pre-collapse sense of prosperity. 
That is because we were all complicit in a lie. The government spent too much (on tax cuts and wars), many banks gambled too much and many people borrowed too much. That was the economy. All that money swirling around lulled us into a false sense of security.
Now, a couple of things here, with regard to this sophomoric attempt at analysis: "long in the making" suggests something more than five or six years, doesn't it? Yet somehow, that "making" becomes nothing more than tax cuts and wars, from the standpoint of the government's role. That's it. Repealing Glass-Steagall didn't matter. Government growth in general didn't matter. Government policies and regulations were inconsequential. Business cycles--something way beyond Blow's ken--are unimportant. It was all wars and tax cuts (in other words, all Bush).

And sure, people with a clue know there was never going to be a silver bullet kind of fix. The problems run too deep. Yet, that didn't stop the Obama Administration from proclaiming that the Stimulus Bill would keep unemployment below 8%, did it?

Blow won't address that directly of course, but he offers up the Krugman-esque claim, anyway:
The government underestimated the crisis and underfinanced the stimulus package aimed at fixing it. So things got worse before they slowly began to get better.
Hysterical. Blow says the Stimulus was underfinanced--thus failed to "stimulate"--but he still wants to credit the Administration with causing things to get better.

But Blow is way out of his depth. He's barely competent as a political commentator, yet he attempts to assert absolutes with regard to the economy. He even has the audacity to say this:
In an oversimplified nutshell, that is what happened: a complex mix of poor choices and inadequate responses.
He says that as if he's simplifying things for his readership, as if he knows with absolute certainty exactly how the economic problems could have been prevented and exactly how the economy could have been fixed. Mein Gott, what gall! In an oversimplified nutshell, Blow is self-righteous idiot. Economists can argue about different approaches, but they can't predict the future with absolute certainty. They can't know what would have happened "if only." Romer and company's predictions about the unemployment rate are proof positive of that. Yet, here is Charles Blow above the world, telling us all the way it was, the way it is, and the way it shall be. Please.

The remainder of what he says is insignificant, for it is all predicated on Blow's rather weak grasp of economics, his dependence in this regard on op-ed articles from his own paper and nowhere else, it would appear.

That said, I'm sure he deserves his pension...

Cheers, all.

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