Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mystifications of the deficit hawks

Notwithstanding that the word economics comes (partly) from the Greek word for house (oikos), the analogy between the economic affairs of a private household and the economic affairs of a country -- an analogy beloved by the so-called deficit hawks -- does not work. A government is not a private household and the principles of household economy have only a marginal relevance to economic policy at the level of a nation-state.

Regrettably, neither Pres. Obama nor his advisers have publicly confronted and rejected this false analogy, and as a result it has largely held sway in public debate. As F. Llewellyn and J. Schwartz write in the current issue of Democratic Left:
The mass media reinforces the dominant conservative ideological view that the government should manage its finances as if it were a private household -- instead of realizing its power to expand long-term growth (and fiscal balance) by engaging in productive public investment.... And as President Obama has refused to take this ideology head-on, he is likely to suffer political losses in 2010 and could lose in 2012.... Even if the Democrats retain control of both chambers of Congress in 2010 and the president is re-elected in 2012, a cross-party alliance of deficit hawks could prevent passage of the real reforms we need.
Llewellyn and Schwartz call attention to a March for Jobs on Oct. 2 in Washington, which "represents the first nationally coordinated grass-roots effort to push back against the right wing, tea party, deficit hawk politics that captivate the mainstream media and the political class."
I'm no longer much of a demonstration goer, but this is one demo I intend to make.

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