Paul Krugman has a right to be pessimistic. The powerful elites on both sides of the Atlantic suffer from group think. And, instead of proving the truth of the old adage, “great minds think alike,” they offer a vivid illustration of the flip side of that coin: fools never differ.
The movers and shakers are entirely out of touch with the people whose interests they are supposed to serve:
The disappearance of unemployment from elite policy discourse and its replacement by deficit panic has been truly remarkable. It’s not a response to public opinion. In a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, 53 percent of the public named the economy and jobs as the most important problem we face, while only 7 percent named the deficit. Nor is it a response to market pressure. Interest rates on U.S. debt remain near historic lows.
And, more than that, they are stunningly ignorant of history — which could provide them with some guide posts when attempting to find their way through the present crisis:
For those who know their 1930s history, this is all too familiar. If either of the current debt negotiations fails, we could be about to replay 1931, the global banking collapse that made the Great Depression great. But, if the negotiations succeed, we will be set to replay the great mistake of 1937: the premature turn to fiscal contraction that derailed economic recovery and ensured that the Depression would last until World War II finally provided the boost the economy needed.
When historians review the record of our times, they will surely conclude that our so called “best and brightest” were neither. As Krugman reminds his readers, they will recall another old adage: “You do not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed.”
Owen Gray grew up in Montreal, where he received a B. A. from Concordia University. After crossing the border and completing a Master’s degree at the University of North Carolina, he returned to Canada, married, raised a family and taught high school for 32 years. Now retired, he lives — with his wife and youngest son — on the northern shores of Lake Ontario. This post is cross posted from his blog.