22 June 2011
Non-Idiot of the Week
The most remarkable thing about this article by Alan Blinder is its source. It was published in the Wall Street Journal, the daily bible of free-market ideology and Republican economics. What the editors may have liked about it is that Blinder, a Princeton economist, doesn't refute "The GOP Myth of Job-Killing Spending" in order to promote specifically Democratic economics. Instead, without endorsing "big government" or indefinite deficit spending, Blinder goes after the self-evident absurdity of current Republican doctrine, including the corollary argument that cutting government spending will automatically result in private-sector job creation. This line of thought is little more than faith-based economics, the faith being placed not in God but in the entrepreneurial class or, in Paul Krugman's phrase quoted by Blinder, the "Confidence Fairy." Fairy tales are just about all Republicans can offer these days, though Democrats have little more than fairy tales of their own. Nevertheless, Blinder holds out hope that bipartisan support can be rallied behind his pragamatic proposal of tax credits for actual job creation instead of tax cuts in the hope of job creation. But he closes on a note of doubt for which he blames Republicans. "And as long as one political party clings to the idea that government spending kills jobs, it's hard to see how we extricate ourselves from this mess," he writes. A cursory glance at some of the recent comments on his article will give neither him nor us much cause for more confidence. The consensus among the WSJ's regular Republican readers is that any money spent by the government on non-military purposes is money that would otherwise automatically fuel consumer demand and/or job creation. The problem with this sort of thinking isn't its presumption about what government does with the money, but its assumption about what the private sector would do with it. The more I see this sort of thinking expressed, the more I seem perversely to desire a Republican victory in 2012, as long as everyone understood that it would be supply-siders' last chance to prove the timeless power of their voodoo.