Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"Dream On"

...and some dreams can seem a bit "glamorous" for a while, at least until they're not, yet again. A word of caution for any unprepared readers: this is a rather "detached" and tongue in cheek post.

There's been a subtle shift of late, which took me a while to put into perspective. It almost feels like a reset, where one senses some factions remaining in place or moving ahead, while other factions revert back to the starting gate. Hopefully the latest round of "beginners" have still got plenty of energy for the race. Aahhh, now I know what it is...that's the sound of recently deflated unemployment concepts getting swept under the rug. It must not take long, historically, for such concepts to lose their practicality. What is it with the idea that everyone needs to be economically engaged, anyway? Or that it matters one way or the other whether statistics get it right, or don't?

What was all that hoopla about unemployment? Especially given the fact that even the president hardly noticed. After all, the real drivers now are to enact policies that increase unemployment, and many people are in full agreement about them. Prisons have always got room for a couple more unemployed, I suppose. And that's good money for certain Republican investments...Or just allow the Democrats to claim the unemployed as "victims" of the system - what harm is there in that, minimum wage hikes or no?

And yet it seemed as though something significant might result from economic access concepts, hence lots of dialogue and lively imagination ensued in recent years. All were reminded how vital the concept of unemployment "really is" as a base for economic thought, for instance. And politicians could be quick to take up the "cause", if it might sell their actually important messages. A few are still picking up broken bits of unemployment concepts and examining them, to see if any remaining political benefit is left. But the shine is already off the recent "belle of the ball", plastic surgery or no. Now, the hour is well past midnight (recovery), unemployment has mostly gone back wherever it came from, and the main dialogue fest is over.

For a while, unemployment concepts became the recipients of substantial "makeovers". Once picked up and dusted off, they "cleaned up" quite nicely and caught quite a bit of attention. One might occasionally find them being wined and dined in some of the highest places and the "right spots". Indeed, economic access concepts in general received a significant breath of life, or "wind under their wings" if you will, so long as people agreed that substantial output gaps remained. Therefore, quite an audience congregated, to see what might come out of the shake up. Was a real economic housecleaning in order? Inquiring minds wanted to know, and the ensuing get togethers had far more than the "usual suspects" in attendance.

Of course all the extra energy gradually gave way, like a slow tire leak. At least the moral equivalents provided some leverage for other goals. Supposedly, we are long past the point when it should be necessary to feign outrage, or express real outrage for that matter, as to the suffering which created the initial drivers of emotion. Or, this is the point in time when we're all moving on, if we know "what's good" for us. And yet a few onlookers had naively expected that somebody, somewhere, somehow, would actually do something. Were they disappointed when nothing really changed, and normal life routines finally intervened?

The lead up, the social engagement, the attentive focus of a larger percentage of the population: all seemingly the elements that would mean a new level of focused efforts after the storm passed. But the waters returned to calm, and it didn't happen. Just as Keynes worried about economic storms finally "blowing over" and - sure enough - no one really being the better for it. Nothing changed this time either, and one can almost feel the sigh of relief from numerous VIPs, that it didn't. Why did anyone bother with unemployment concepts in the first place? Better just to have left them in the gutter.

"Dream on, dream until your dream come true."

Clarification is in order, as to the intent of this post. It wasn't written from a place of "hot anger", and neither was Bonnie Carr's recent reaction which she explains in a related post. Rather, I'm experiencing some consternation that a lot of time which should have led to productive action, fizzled out unexpectedly. At least, unexpectedly to me. Some cynics would say, "what did you expect?"

At the very least, I would have expected concerted efforts with the larger ramifications of unemployment, to continue. Because the reset seems to imply a cancellation of carefully thought through arguments as to what might be done in years ahead. Who is really up for another restart? After all it's just "grunt work" left now, right? Even as macroeconomists are washing their hands of the matter, microeconomists should be ready to accept the passed torch...oh wait, what microeconomist should have to sacrifice a far more lucrative career for that?? Is this going to be like the last time when everyone tired so much of the the mundane and boring matter of economic access, that a U.S president ended up imposing a New Deal? Let's hope not.

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