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View Diary: Structural Stupidity on PBS, Debunked by Krugman and Baker (123 comments)

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  •  Yeah, But Krugman Is Wrong (2+ / 0-)
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    AnnCetera, Brooke In Seattle

    The underlying problem is structural, and it relates to trade and it specifically relates to shipping manufacturing overseas. Manufacturing is how we create wealth. Our decline in manufacturing tracks increases in unemployment. Since 1979, when manufacturing peaked, we've seen about 0.9% higher unemployment. That translates into a million U.S. workers out of work for 30-odd years. It adds up to trillions lost.

    This is structural. It comes down to a policy of keeping wages down and shipping jobs out of the country. Until we fix that problem we will see systematic problems with unemployment and wages, and therefore we will see systematic federal deficits and problems covering our costs.

    Yes, there is a cyclical component to all this, and we went down, and we seem to be headed up (not as fast as I'd like, obviously). But we should not ignore the structural component, which underlies all this. Adding on a culture of theft from Wall Street and the dominant role of money in politics you get huge crashes like the one in 2008.

    Congress is to blame and Congress can fix this problem. But someone has to talk about implementing an international minimum wage and uniform (and increased) tariffs, plus other fixes (like cutting military spending back to something reasonable, like 5X) or we'll never get there. I think Krugman ought to be talking about trade and its damage to the U.S. economy.

    •  Systematic doesn't equal structural. (2+ / 0-)
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      Liberal Thinking, JVolvo

      the systematic assault on manufacturing, the middle class, democracy itself is not the same thing as "structural" unemployment. Quite the opposite. "Structural" unemployment is something that is nobody's fault, really, and can't be improved except maybe in the very long run. It usually comes about because of an increase in technology rendering certain jobs obsolete. Although some say that it's a result of high costs of labor caused by things like the minimum wage.  

      This is why you should watch people who make the "structural unemployment" argument very carefully.

      Here's the link to the wikipedia entry--just a place to start.

      So, nothing to see here, no Wall St assholes, no P.O. boxes in the Grand Cayman islands, no outsourcing to Asian sweatshops, just an inevitable though sad result of advancing technology and Progress! that unfortunately screws over some people who just happened to turn up at the wrong moment in history with the wrong skill set. They'll just have to starve, but they'll die knowing that it's all part of the Upward March of Man.

      Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 11:04:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
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        SouthernLiberalinMD

        That means the problem is even worse. If by "structural" all you mean is unemployment that's nobody's fault, then we should have even less than we used to. It used to be that 4% unemployment was considered "full employment" because we knew it took people a while to find a new job. But with Monster.com and so on, that time should have gone to essentially zero. So, our unemployment "structurally" should be less than it was before the advent of the Internet.

        Perhaps I should have said "non-cyclical", but that's not a term I suspect people would think is any better.

        The unemployment I'm talking about is clearly somebody's fault and it's something we can do something about.

        •  Oh yeah. (1+ / 0-)
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          Liberal Thinking

          I'm with you, and I'm guessing Dean Baker probably is too. And I understand why people want to use the term structural to describe the deliberate, uh, restructuring of our society in a way that beats down those who aren't rich. We just have to be careful when we're talking to economists--or in the case of Brooks, propagandists who are talking the lingo of economists. Because economists don't exactly talk English--they talk an economists' lingo that bears some distant relationship to the language the rest of us speak.

          JosephK74 is worried about dumping the term structural. I understand why. The best I can think of to do is for everybody to be clear what they mean by "structural." A clunky solution, but the only one I've come up with.

          No hard feelings, BTW. I agree with you.

          Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 08:40:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Youre not using the term structural (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking, JVolvo, BradyB

      in the same way as Krugman.

      .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 01:19:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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