Why, oh why, can't we have better public intellectuals?
There's a fauxtroversy among The Good Professors -- Thoma, DeLong, Krugman, and Black -- about a story* that Team Obama sat down, one day before the election, to figure out whether DISemployment is structural or cyclical. Thoma is shockedMR SUBLIMINAL Shocked!, DeLong says the story is a lie and there was general agreement on policy, Black asks what is that policy, then, and Krugman (via) sighs "If only the Czar had better advisors..." But each professor frames the problem (if there is a problem) at the level of discourse: Thoma ("The administration is still allowing the other side [they're the same side!] to take control of policy debates"), DeLong ("Can we please get the White House back on message?"), Krugman ("What I want to know is, who was arguing for structural?"), and Black ("Saying there was general agreement within the economics team is not the same thing as saying that they had united around some policy proposal that the communications team could reasonably sell.")
Well, the keys these drunks are looking for aren't under the lamp post of discourse, even though that's where the light is. The keys are back in the bar, by the cash register, where the political economy is. The whole controversy is faux, because:
1. If Obama decided to take a major meeting on DISemployment policy one day before the election, that means that DISemployment wasn't a priority for him in the election.
3. In fact, 10% nominal (20% real) DISemployment is the preferred policy option in our elites, of both legacy parties. You know that because the policy option that would solve DISemployment, a Jobs Guarantee, isn't even on "the table."
At some point, the best test of intention becomes outcomes. Obama's not into reducing DISemployment because his policy is to normalize it (just as with everything else Bush did). We get conservative policies from Obama because he is a conservative. It's not a question of discourse. It's a question of cui bono: Political economy.
Will one of our good professors ever recognize this? Or say it? Dr. Black?
NOTE * From one Richard Wolfe in the LA Times, who has just published a book on the Obama administration. Coincidentally.