Dolts in High Places

homer brain Among the rules described by Herman and Chomsky is the one that says, to rise to a position of power in our market-totalitarian society, you either have to be a moron, or unfailingly pretend you are one.

Want proof? Consider the answer Christina Romer, the recently departed Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, provided to Bloomberg Business Week when it asked why unemployment is “higher than expected”:

BBW: Why do you think that is?

Romer: My guess is the main reason has to do with…the fact that [the recession] was caused by a financial crisis. Since it was such an unusual event, firms may have reacted more forcefully than was usual out of a fear of the unknown. Also, firms that couldn’t get credit may have had to lay more people off than normally.

What an absolute crock. First of all, Romer, a supposed world-class scholar on this very topic, wants you to believe that the current Great Depression III is the cause, rather than the consequence, of the widening gulf between economic production and employment.

Worse, her proffered explanation is a meaningless cloud of farts covering an exceptionally simple and powerful fact: Between 1990 and 2008, U.S. businesses tripled their computer investment/labor spending ratio. Computers are used for administration and communication, but they are also the core means of automating production processes. So, the simple fact is that capitalists are continuing to be capitalists. Their system works, for them. Over time, it employs fewer and fewer people per unit of output.

Being too stupid to track (or too well-trained to mention) this elementary process is the kind of thing that gets you the Presidency and the American Economic Association and a seat in the White House.

Romer is a Homer (Simpson).