Paul Krugman’s latest semi-rant in the Gray Lady is no different from his earlier ones — except that he grudgingly admits to the “sin” of innocence. He should be faulted, he says, for his innocence of the political realities that keep our economy in this prolonged slump; that maintains a jobless rate near ten percent after more than two years. If only they had listened, he froths. Ah, but there is till time.
His solution? Why, another WPA project of government works, he says, one that repairs our fast decaying infrastructure.
Did I read that right? Another WPA? Krugman still believes that because it worked the last time — or almost worked, at least until FDR recoiled and tried to balance the budget — that it can work this time if only we carry out the program fully. He also seems to believe that the damned obstructionist Republicans are the only obstacle, but that because they are pitifully devoid of coherence and leadership now (no argument there), we might actually get the chance to do it right this time.
Provided Obama mans up and unifies his own party behind him.
Is that all there is to it? I think not.
What Krugman seems to overlook about jobs created as part of a frantic, jerry-built public program like that is that those jobs give no real boost to the economy at all, and that the increased debt only adds more dead weight. The marketplace doesn’t need that. What it needs is something that sharpens the public’s appetite enough so that they are willing to wait in line for the product. And, yes, I’m am talking about the IPad2. Only we need at least half a dozen more like it. Although this country no longer produces the absolute best in consumer goods, we remain the leader in marketing and distribution on a massive scale. I think we need government to partner with our largest employers, as well as our most promising startup companies, to break into foreign markets at a level of penetration that we haven’t seen for years.
Stoke the demand first; the jobs will follow.
The New Woody
Just a brief word on Midnight in Paris. Yes, it is a delight, and his wittiest script since Deconstructing Harry. But that Times article on the artists from the 20’s portrayed in the film slipped up big time. The mini gaffe was not to mention that hideous, and hilarious, faux Picasso. Supposedly a portrait of his fictional mistress, this goofy doodle was as witty a parody as any of the pretentious bilge uttered by his imaginary Hemingway.
But the bigger gaffe made that one a trifle. The article misidentified the Bunuel film about the dinner guests who couldn’t leave as The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. It was actually The Exterminating Angel (1962).