…us plebs, mens, tabula rasa?…

…or has the rubicon been crossed on this one?…

One would think that some of the exceptionalists would believe that the US plebs is an inseparable, indistinguishable, unthinking mass that would see no linkage to anything that obviously has some linkage? When will enough be enough? Before we get there, we look at this.

The greatest US economist ever, greater than even Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes, British or not, shines the light on himself – after some rehabilitation work by Paul Krugman who had mentioned that talk on ‘secular stagnation’. Here the Great One reviews Piketty’s work, ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’. We cite couple key passages from this auspicious review. The Inequality Puzzle, The excerpts:

If, as I believe, envy is a much less important reason for concern than lost opportunity, great emphasis should shift to policies that promote bottom-up growth. At a moment when secular stagnation is a real risk, such policies may include substantially increased public investment and better training for young people and retraining for displaced workers, as well as measures to reduce barriers to private investment in spheres like energy production, where substantial job creation is possible.

Look at Kennedy airport. It is an embarrassment as an entry point to the leading city in the leading country in the world. The wealthiest, by flying privately, largely escape its depredations. Fixing it would employ substantial numbers of people who work with their hands and provide a significant stimulus to employment and growth. As I’ve written previously, if a moment when the United States can borrow at lower than 3 percent in a currency we print ourselves, and when the unemployment rate for construction workers hovers above 10 percent, is not the right moment to do it, when will that moment come?

[bold added for emphasis]

He does certainly offer some superb recommendations on programmes and projects that would generate substantial employment in the US and restore the economy to development, growth and competitiveness. But in this world there is no shortage of naysayers. Here we have John Quiggin from August 2013, Larry Summers: not enough of a jerk (with added link) Excerpts:

The Keynesian analysis done inside the White House by Christina Romer and outside by Paul Krugman showed that what was needed was a stimulus of at least $1.7 trillion. Based on his subsequent commentary, it’s clear the Summers understood and agreed with this. If he had lived up to his reputation, Summers would have pushed this through the White House by demonstrating, beyond any doubt, that Emanuel was the kind of fool he is famed for not suffering gladly. Instead, he first made Romer reduce the estimate to $1.2 trillion, then dropped it from his brief without telling her, giving Obama a range from $600 billion to $800 billion.

Summers is great at saying the unsayable when it comes to things like shipping toxic waste to poor countries or making baseless speculations about genetics and gender. But when it really mattered, he couldn’t come up to scratch.

[bold added for emphasis]

Clearly, some mistake? Are we to infer from all this that Mr Summers was in the White House, and in a Very Senior Position for economic policy at that? So, then, if unemployment is high and entrenched and the country’s infrastructure is poor, decaying and the interest rates, very low and favourable, then programmes and projects to remedy this crisis would be recommended – especially if the Great One were in a position to do so? The ineluctable conclusion: Mr Summers held no such position – he must have been some McDonald’s employee, with some degrees at that?

Obviously, it would not be the ‘unkindest cut’ to mention this PBS Frontline documentary of aeons ago,


…there is that song, ‘Wake Up, Everybody’…