Like Atrios, DeLong, and The Krugman, I’m old enough to remember when nine to ten percent unemployment was not only an economic disaster, but also viewed as an ethical and societal one. With that, I first bring you some ethics by way of the Slacktivist:
I’m not an economist, but we’ve got five applicants for every single job opening. If you tell me that the best response to that situation is to lay off hundreds of thousands of teachers, I will not accept that this means that you’re smarter and more expert than I am. I will instead conclude — regardless of your prestige or position or years of study — that you’re a moral imbecile. And knowing what I know about your inability to make moral judgments I will have no reason to trust you to make complicated macroeconomic ones.
Not that one should leave ethics aside, but what I don’t get is that the current policies don’t even make sense in terms of enlightened self-interest. Because we have lots of two things in this country (or, more accurately, we actively make these things):
1) Unemployed men.
We seem to have forgotten some history. While the Great Depression started in 1929, by 1932, the U.S. was on the verge of total societal collapse. In Kansas that year, when a judge attempted to foreclose on a house, he was dragged from his court, savagely beaten, and given a mock lynching–a rope, but they didn’t kick the bucket out from under his feet (presumably, the foreclosure didn’t proceed).
In other states, farmers would hijack trucks with produce and either destroy them or give the food to the needy, in a primitive attempt at agricultural price supports. Labor clashes were common place and violent and bloody.
Do we really want to go there? Because both the volume of firepower and the willingness to use it seem to have increased since then. Eventually, a very angry man is going to figure out that his problems aren’t caused by those people, ‘feminazis’, or Unitarians (?).
Can you say jury nullification?
What many of our ‘leaders’, political and otherwise, don’t seem to get is that, if history is any guide, their positions offer them far more opportunity for arrogance than they do protection.
And the weakest among us, as always happens in those circumstances, will suffer the most for others’ foolishness.