What Was the Point?

Reading through a few anti-stimulus sites today, I am unusually annoyed.

All of you that say this recession isn’t as bad as [pick recession and series of your choice], and are showing this or that graph to prove it, what, exactly is your point? That people are just a bunch of whiners, that it’s not really that bad?

It’s bad.

I’m guessing you’ll deny any responsibility, or say that you are on the right side of the argument (e.g. that the stimulus package will somehow hurt us on net), but I think you ought to feel guilty for contributing to the delay in putting policy in place to help people affected by the downturn. Or are you proud that you delayed policy until it was too late to help a lot of people who are now unemployed, people whose lives have been ruined by sudden unemployment? Do you hold your head high and tell people about your hard work to delay and trim back the stimulus package so it would be less effective and allow even more lives to be ruined? It’s not just politics like you tell yourself, there are livelihoods at stake, though I suppose it’s comforting to believe it’s all just a game, all about making Obama look bad, rather than about helping people struggling to make ends meet.

And those of you still saying it’s not that bad, or not as bad as [pick episode], what are you thinking? You were wrong to this point, very wrong, and people are worse off because of it. Many of you believe stimulus policies will work, but keep saying we can’t do them fast enough. You are still arguing, unashamedly, that you know a recovery is just around the corner and any attempts to help people will come too late to do any good. It’s the same argument you’ve been making for more than a year now and it was wrong then, and it’s likely to be just as wrong now. The end is not just around the corner, especially for employment which lags behind output, yet here you are dishing out more of the same.

So when you hear about someone who worked hard all their lives to provide for their family, someone who always did the right thing but is now unemployed and unable to meet the household’s needs due to unemployment, someone who might have benefitted from an earlier and more aggressive stimulus package, pat yourself on the back and say “I helped to make that happen.”

About Mark Thoma 243 Articles

Affiliation: University of Oregon

Mark Thoma is a member of the Economics Department at the University of Oregon. He joined the UO faculty in 1987 and served as head of the Economics Department for five years. His research examines the effects that changes in monetary policy have on inflation, output, unemployment, interest rates and other macroeconomic variables with a focus on asymmetries in the response of these variables to policy changes, and on changes in the relationship between policy and the economy over time. He has also conducted research in other areas such as the relationship between the political party in power, and macroeconomic outcomes and using macroeconomic tools to predict transportation flows. He received his doctorate from Washington State University.

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