David Brooks had a busy day spreading nonsense yesterday. In the morning, he wrote a column incredibly asserting that Neocons Are Flaming Liberals.
Then, in the evening, he appeared on the PBS News Hour with his "liberal" counterpart, Ruth Marcus, and discoursed on the meaning of the jobs report. As detailed by Dean Baker, "they got just about everything they said completely wrong."
First, Brooks said "I think there's a consensus growing both on left and right that we -- the structural problems are becoming super obvious."
This "consensus" exists solely in the limited consciousness of Beltway Heathers like Brooks and Marcus. Clued in by Baker about the latest VSP* dogma, Paul Krugman writes about Structural Humbug and shows that the situation is actually the opposite: Now, even Republican economists agree that current unemployment is not structual.
As Baker points out:
There is nothing close to a consensus on either the left or right that the economy's problems are structural, as opposed to a simple lack of demand (i.e. people spending money). This is shown clearly by the overwhelming support on the Federal Reserve Board for its policy of quantitative easing.(If you have any interest in economic matters, Baker should be a regular stop for you. Like Krugman, he's a brilliant economist who is great at communicating complex ideas to laypersons like us.)
The structural changes, Brooks and Marcus assure us, stem from automation and lack of skills. Wrong again (see Dr. Cox, above). Says Baker:
If this claim were true it would mean that there are substantial segments of the labor market where we are seeing labor shortages. That would mean that workers in some occupations would be seeing rapidly rising wages. We should also see industries or occupations where the length of the average workweek is increasing rapidly. Employers would be trying to get the workers they have to put in more hours, since they can't find additional workers. In these industries/occupations we should also see a high ratio of job openings to unemployed workers. There are no major areas of the labor market where we see this evidence of labor shortages. In other words, Brooks is just making this up out of thin air.Later, the firm of Brooks and Marcus sagely counsel that we really, really, must do something about "entitlement reform," i.e., cutting Social Security and Medicare, and once again, Baker destroys this poisonous conventional wisdom:
As a result of the slower projected health care cost growth, entitlements are now projected to be a far smaller share of the budget than had previously been the case. For example, in their 1999 long-term budget projections CBO projected that Medicare and Medicaid spending would be 7.7 percent of GDP in 2023 (Table 1). In the most recent Budget and Economic Outlook CBO projected that these programs would cost just 5.7 percent of GDP in 2023.This is not Fox News, CNN or the networks. It is PBS spouting blatant falsehoods that real economists can easily debunk. Krugman ends plaintively:
In short, the data strongly point toward a cyclical, not a structural story — and there is broad agreement, for once, among economists on this point. Yet somehow, it’s clear, Beltway groupthink has arrived at the opposite conclusion — so much so that the actual economic consensus on this issue wasn’t even represented on the Newshour.*Very Serious Persons, a/k/a Beltway Heathers, a/k/a Sabbath Gasbags, a/k/a SOC-W Spouters of Conventional Wisdom.