No folks, it's not a rerun of the Three Stooges, it is Washington Post columnists pretending to say wise things about economic policy. They apparently decided to work overtime to criticize the more progressive Democratic candidates, which is what Jeff Bezos pays them to do. (No, I have no idea if Bezos is especially pernicious among rich people, but if the Washington Post was owned by people who were not rich Steven Pearlstein, Charles Lane, and Fred Hiatt would not be getting paid to spout ignorance on its opinion pages.) I don't have time to deal with all the misinformation in these three columns, but let me just take some highlights from each.
Pearlstein is very unhappy about the Democrats' big plans. For example, he is upset that a Medicare for All program will lead to some inefficient hospitals closing and some people losing jobs. Of course, we will not be getting less health care, so this is just a story of people moving from one hospital to another facility.
That can be traumatic, I would never minimize the seriousness of job loss, but almost 1.8 million people lose their job every month, and this is in an economy with 3.6 percent unemployment. How much does Pearlstein think Medicare for All will add to this?
Similarly, he is angered about the job loss from a Green New Deal. He tells us that the new jobs won't replace the lost jobs in the coal mines. This is true, and we currently have just over 50,000 people working in coal mines. We lost 3.4 million manufacturing jobs due to the explosion of the trade deficit in the last decade, sparking very little concern on the Post's opinion pages, but the risk to 50,000 jobs in coal mining is worth berating the Democratic contenders over.
Of course, the loss of jobs attributable to the trade deficit was associated with an upward redistribution of income. A Green New Deal may lead to more equality.
Charles Lane is lecturing us again about the debt and deficits. Let's just deal with this one quickly. Lane says not a word about the trillions of dollars of patent/copyright rents (much of it for prescription drugs) that the government has committed the public to pay with its grant of monopolies. If Lane doesn't understand that these rents are equivalent to future taxes then he is far too ignorant to take seriously on the topic of debt. Alternatively, he is simply a dishonest propagandist.
Fred Hiatt, the editor of the opinion page, tells us that "the Democrats agree with Trump in a surprising way." What's Hiatt's big surprise? Well, both Trump and the Democrats are telling ordinary people that they have been screwed. Of course, Trump is acting to screw them even more and the Democrats say they want to reverse the process, but that is beside the point for Hiatt.
Hiatt's big punch line is that people actually are better off than they were fifty years ago, so what is everyone complaining about? Sure, the median wage has risen around 10 percent in the last forty-five years, while productivity has more than doubled, but hey, 10 percent is not zero.
Just think if we had the Washington Post at the time of the Revolutionary War. When Jefferson, Adams, and the other leaders of the revolution were complaining about their treatment by the British, Hiatt would be telling them how much better off they are than people in the Middle Ages.
Anyhow, this sort of nonsense on the economy may not be taken seriously elsewhere, but it apparently will always have a place at the Washington Post.
To be clear, there are many serious criticisms to be made of some of the policies put forward by progressive Democrats, and I have made some myself. But it is hard to see these criticisms as being in good faith, as opposed to an effort to clamp down on the party's move to the left.