The situation is grim. So why isn't everybody running around with their hair on fire?
Why aren't there irresistible political demands for more government action to steer us toward a better economic recovery --or at least to hedge against a double-dip in what seems likely to be called not a "recession" but a "depression" when historians get around to writing about it?
I have my theories:
1. widening wealth inequality and an upgrading of the class position of reporters and pundits, who are no longer ink-stained wretches immersed in mainstream America;
2. the collapse of union power, which ensures that nobody who sees real workers on a daily basis sits at the table when the deals are made;
3. increasing job security for the powerful in Washington, aided by the growth of the lobbying apparatus that envelops the mixed-economy government;
4. the collapse of professional integrity among the Washington press corps, which no longer dares to call balls and strikes as it sees them, preferring to say only that the Democrats say it was a strike and the Republicans say it was a ball, and that opinions on the shape of the earth differ.
I don't know which theories are right. But the situation does leave me feeling like one crying in the wilderness. (Say not "we are children of the market!") I cry out to boost aggregate demand -- by banking policy, by monetary policy, by fiscal policy, by spending increases, by tax cuts, by anything -- I don't care what! (Well, I do, but not by much)
This really gets at the heart of things. The American leadership (in government and the press) are failing their fellow citizens.
1. The President needs to pull himself together (cough fire Rahm cough) and address the country's suffering with that famous eloquence of his -- and then follow up with effective policies, or else risk destabilizing the country.
2. We on the left need to make ourselves way, way more active and visible to those who lead the country. We no longer have the luxury of self-indulgent despair. We need to get busy.