A while ago, I discussed how ‘fiscal conservatism’–that is, radical deficit reductionism–is an extremist ideology, not a moderate one, and that radical deficit reductionism has real-world consequences for people’s lives. Steve Rhodes generalizes the problem by describing the discussion we are not allowed to have:
We are not allowed to discuss an economic structure that keeps those on the bottom at the bottom – on purpose.
When the unemployment rate, for example, gets “too low,” the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to slow down the economy.
In other words, the Federal Reserve – at the behest of policymakers and elected officials from the White House on down – purposely keeps those at the bottom out of work to prevent inflation from eroding the assets of those at the top.
Economists also talk about the importance of a flexible labor market; by this they mean a labor market that keeps a certain number of potential workers unemployed or partially employed to put downward pressure on the wages of those who are fully employed. They also mean that it’s important under our system to have a flexible labor pool that can be dipped into when needed and set aside when not.
This is not a discussion we are allowed to have. The discussion we are allowed to have is one about morals and character and personal responsibility – of the poor, not the wealthy, even though it’s always the wealthy who plunge our nation into economic disaster.
While not everything is zero-sum, much of what is seen as ‘sensible’ policy has underlying assumptions, that when clearly stated, are awful. Consider healthcare: legislation that reduces coverage or increases individual cost relative to a strong public option means that people will go bankrupt, will become sick, will die needlessly.
But this must never be said.