No one involved in creating this memoir felt it necessary to make her words memorable. Nor did they make her sound wise, self-aware, thoughtful, adult, educated, or even plausible as a fictional character. The book is a series of bromides, one after the other. Alaska is full of “pristine wildlife and beauty.” Voters were “clamouring for us to take the gloves off”. The night was “special” and “really nice”. We were “keeping it real”. We were having “the time of our lives”. Our families provided “incredible support”. Losing the election was “very, very disappointing”. Bad news was a “slap in the face”. She’d “do it again in a heartbeat”. When the clichés are not vapid, they are vulgar—ethics charges against her were “bass-ackwards”. The emotional tone is repeatedly off. Again and again she is “humbled” by cheering crowds. No one, but no one, is humbled by a cheering crowd. Real people are humbled by humiliation.
Claire Berlinski, “How to Skin a Moose,” American Review, May 2010
While writing up this post on Sarah Palin (I try to avoid covering her, but sometimes I get drawn in), I was reminded of Berlinski’s review of Going Rogue. She’s a conservative, but her take down of Palin’s tome is bare-knuckle, blunt and brilliant. It’s probably better to read conservatives discuss Palin as a rule, because liberals are too tempted to be nasty. That’s natural; it’s so satisfying when our political opponents present an easy target, and as Judge Reinhold proved in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, it can be awfully embarrassing to be caught too vigorously pursuing our own satisfaction.
EDIT: Full disclosure: American Review is published by people who pay me.
Here’s the problem: As a matter of simple arithmetic, total spending in the economy is necessarily equal to total income (every sale is also a purchase, and vice versa). So if people decide to spend less on investment goods, doesn’t that mean that they must be deciding to spend more on consumption goods—implying that an investment slump should always be accompanied by a corresponding consumption boom? And if so why should there be a rise in unemployment?
Paul Krugman, “The Hangover Theory: Are recessions the inevitable payback for good times,” Slate, December 4, 1998
I know, it seems weird seeing Slate’s masthead attached to an article with a date beginning with a 1, doesn’t it? Anyway, Yglesias linked to this today, and it’s a good read.
Other choice quotes:
The hangover theory is perversely seductive—not because it offers an easy way out, but because it doesn’t. It turns the wiggles on our charts into a morality play, a tale of hubris and downfall. And it offers adherents the special pleasure of dispensing painful advice with a clear conscience, secure in the belief that they are not heartless but merely practicing tough love.
That’s a particularly seductive campaign story to tell, too; that it was the understandable weakness of the opposition that led to the current situation, and only the alternative part has the toughness required to fix things. Medicine is supposed to taste unpleasant, and as every gym junkie knows, if it’s not hurting, it’s not working.
Yet the theory has powerful emotional appeal. Usually that appeal is strongest for conservatives, who can’t stand the thought that positive action by governments (let alone—horrors!—printing money) can ever be a good idea. Some libertarians extol the Austrian theory, not because they have really thought that theory through, but because they feel the need for some prestigious alternative to the perceived statist implications of Keynesianism.
And it’s this cart before the political horse thinking that’s infected the Republican party these days. This all falls under my “sometimes it’s a good idea to do things that sound plain unfair" theory of economics.
Entirely unrelated: Here’s why economists don’t get hangovers.
(Cross-posted at the USSC)