Sunday, August 28, 2011

Living in a Bubble

Atrios comments,
Pampered over-privileged scribe finally discovers that it's kinda bad when people don't have any jobs or money. Better late then never I guess.
It's difficult to argue with that summary of Kristof's column. How can you not notice unemployment or its impact on the lives of ordinary people unless you live in a bubble? Would there have been too much risk of a paper cut, were somebody to suggest that Kristof scan down the page from his own column and occasionally take note of Paul Krugman? Kristof has realized,
Unless more people are working, paying taxes and making mortgage payments, it’s difficult to see how we revive the economy or address our long-term debt challenge. While debt is a legitimate long-term problem, the urgent priority should be getting people back to work. America now has more than four unemployed people for each opening. And the longer people are out of work, the less likely it is that they will ever work again.
I had thought that this stuff was pretty obvious, even back in 2009. I wonder if, two or three years from now, Kristof will suddenly realize that the choice to focus on economic factors other than unemployment (and the difficulties of individual homeowners) was a deliberate policy choice, even if we grant the decision-makers the benefit of the doubt and assume that they believed that their choices would lead to lower unemployment.

I think Kristof is sincere - I believe that all of this passed below his notice, and that he truly believes we need to focus on lowering unemployment. But given how long it took him to produce this column, I feel like I'm damning him with faint praise.

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