James Surowiecki Doesn’t Like Populism is a Populist.


James Surowiecki writes:

One thing voters do want is jobs. But even here populist sentiment is at odds with itself. People want the government to help provide jobs, but they also want it to cut the deficit. Of course, one can worry about rising long-term debt and still think that, right now, more deficit spending is crucial to the nascent recovery. But angry voters aren’t that nuanced in their thinking: they want the government to tighten its belt and fight unemployment at the same time. Not that they believe that the government’s efforts will do any good: three-quarters of Americans think that much of the money in the first stimulus program was wasted, perhaps because they can’t see all the jobs that the stimulus saved, only the nearly eight million jobs that the economy has lost.

The irony of this is that widespread dissatisfaction with government leads to…more government.

But the overarching point is that Surowiecki (whose name I have trouble spelling constantly) believes that we need technocrats who “know best” to guide us knaves because, well, we don’t know anything.

That is a sentiment that I whole-heartedly disagree with. I also disagree with this characterization of the causes of the (deep part) of the recession, and with his statement of fact that the stimulus was of obvious benefit. Ironically, the argument for fiscal stimulus is that it is highly visible and will create expectations of future growth. He can’t have it both ways…

…unless he wants to count himself among the populists…

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