Paul Krugman is one of the nation’s best and most coherent economists and today he authored both a column and a follow-up that show why. In arguing for ACTION NOW to address our ongoing economic crisis, he says the following:
“The answer, I’d suggest, lies in the way claims that our problems are deep and structural offer an excuse for not acting, for doing nothing to alleviate the plight of the unemployed.
Of course, structuralistas say they are not making excuses. They say that their real point is that we should focus not on quick fixes but on the long run — although it’s usually far from clear what, exactly, the long-run policy is supposed to be, other than the fact that it involves inflicting pain on workers and the poor.
Anyway, John Maynard Keynes had these peoples’ number more than 80 years ago. ‘But this long run,’ he wrote, ‘is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the sea is flat again.’
I would only add that inventing reasons not to do anything about current unemployment isn’t just cruel and wasteful, it’s bad long-run policy, too. For there is growing evidence that the corrosive effects of high unemployment will cast a shadow over the economy for many years to come.