What has happened to David Brooks’ mind? In all of liberal-dom, (and you have to count Brooks as part of that, at this point) there is the most fantastic avoidance of reality. The game seems to be “explain away reality, no matter what”.
Today, he talks about why Germany is recovering, the the U.S. is not.
The two countries followed different policy paths. According to Gary Becker of the University of Chicago, the Americans borrowed an amount equal to 6 percent of G.D.P. in an attempt to stimulate growth. The Germans spent about 1.5 percent of G.D.P. on their stimulus.
This divergence created a natural experiment. Who was right?
The early returns suggest the Germans were. The American stimulus package was supposed to create a “summer of recovery,” according to Obama administration officials. Job growth was supposed to be surging at up to 500,000 a month. Instead, the U.S. economy is scuffling along.
The German economy, on the other hand, is growing at a sizzling (and obviously unsustainable) 9 percent annual rate. Unemployment in Germany has come down to pre-crisis levels.
So obviously, Keynesian economics is a joke, and free markets work. But that is not the conclusion he draws. No, he thinks the American people are foolish for not taking over control of the economy.
The crucial issue is getting the fundamentals right. The Germans are doing better because during the past decade, they took care of their fundamentals and the Americans didn’t.
But that’s complete nonsense. He just told us why they are doing better. It’s because they did not try to stimulate the economy with an idiotic, wasteful stimulus bill.
Everything is reduced, in Brooks world, to a simplistic academic theory of one sort or another. The world is a big, bouncy, confusing, contradictory place. But Brooks, with his lame imitation of a half baked college professor, pretends to have the sullen key to every problem. It’s because the Germans have a “consensus based economy”. It’s because they follow a “model”. It’s all wrong. It’s because they were more free market than we were. But he tries to pretend it was because the government manages everything better:
The situation can be expressed this way: German policy makers inherited a certain consensus-based economic model. That model has advantages. It fosters gradual innovation (of the sort useful in metallurgy). It also has disadvantages. It sometimes leads to rigidity and high unemployment.
Over the past few years, the Germans have built on their advantages. They effectively support basic research and worker training. They have also taken brave measures to minimize their disadvantages. As an editorial from the superb online think tank e21 reminds us, the Germans have recently reduced labor market regulation, increased wage flexibility and taken strong measures to balance budgets.
Yeah. They became free marketers, that’s it. It has nothing to do with government regulating everything.
It seems that for an Obama acolyte, nothing gets through.
If you look around the world today, you see that a two-class system is coming into being. Some countries are undertaking fundamental reforms. In those places, weaknesses have been exposed. Orthodoxies have been shattered. New coalitions have formed.
This is happening in Britain, where a center-right government is reining in a government that had spun out of control. It’s also true in Sweden and other consensus-based countries, where there is so much emphasis on consistent, long-range thinking.
In other countries, political division frustrates long-range thinking. The emphasis is on fixing things for next month or next quarter. The U.S., unfortunately, is struggling to get out of Group 2.
The worst thing about modern academics is that they take the simple and pretend it is complex. Western Europe has sucked off the American teat for quite a while now. Because they do not have to pay for militaries, they could spend on social welfare programs. But then they decided to cut their birthrate, and so now they cannot afford those social welfare plans even if we pay for all the security of the world. Now, Muslims are taking over in many cities, because they reproduce and the snooty Europeans don’t. The only reason they are breaking out of their “model” is that they are going broke. Because of government control of their economies.
How could an intelligent guy like Brooks get everything exactly backwards?
He has been hanging around Obama too long.