It's All a Big Nothing

Or so once said Olivia Soprano, played by the extremely talented and deeply missed Nancy Marchand.

As I write this, most of you in the USA are in various degrees of preparation for the “big ball drop” on Times Square in a couple hours.  Here in the Philippines, it’s just past 9 am on New Year’s Day morning, 1 January, 2010 … the first year in ten where there hasn’t been that foolish ‘oh’ in front of the last significant digit.  (see Just Joking, Lang if you haven’t already read my take on this ‘zeroeth’ decade.)

My friend Don Brown pointed out one of Paul Krugman’s final column of that decade you are still mired in, and it pretty much says it all abut how I view the ‘naughties’ …. take the time to read Paul in the morning as your hangover subsides and see if you don’t agree…

Pail Krugman --- NYT

Maybe we knew, at some unconscious, instinctive level, that it would be an era best forgotten. Whatever the reason, we got through the first decade of the new millennium without ever agreeing on what to call it. The aughts? The naughties? Whatever. (Yes, I know that strictly speaking the millennium didn’t begin until 2001. Do we really care?)

But from an economic point of view, I’d suggest that we call the decade past the Big Zero. It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true.

It was a decade with basically zero job creation. O.K., the headline employment number for December 2009 will be slightly higher than that for December 1999, but only slightly. And private-sector employment has actually declined — the first decade on record in which that happened…

(read more of Paul’s column here,) and please, just for one hour on one day, the first day of a new year, turn off you rabid political views and read what the man says and not what his politics say, ok, do that for me, please?  Thanks, and Happy New Year.  I have seen 2010 and it looks good.

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Dave – I don’t consider my political views to be “rabid”. I do, however, consider Paul Krugman’s political views to be rabid.

  2. says

    Hi Bob,

    Maybe they are, but consider reading the facts instead of discounting him because he is unabashedly a Liberal. Even Liberals can have a brain, and he makes a lot of good sense regarding economics. That’s the whole reason I used the word rabid … because many of the problems in our country today are people who refuse to listen to the truth unless it comes from Fox news.

    Anyway, it’s a free country … or it once was anyway.

  3. says

    Hi Dave – Actually, I never said that Krugman (or any liberal) didn’t have a brain. Truth is, I am willing to (and do) listen to other people’s views (like Krugman, and I did read the article completely). However, I feel that Krugman is not willing to listen to other viewpoints. People can be (and are) rabid on either side of the aisle. Whether they watch Fox News, CNN or MSNBC. I don’t see what relevance that has, because all of the networks have their bias, and also have biased followers.

    At least that is my opinion.

  4. Mike says

    Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t see anything “rabid” in this article, I think he makes very valid points that this past decade has a very bad one for almost everyone. I have seen Mr Krugman frequently on “This Week” but I am not completely familair with his political views and (I confess) his economic theories are a little over my head. He was very critical of Alan Greenspan and puts most of the blame for the housing demise on him, but that is a widely-held opinion. He’s also been very critical of both Bush and Obama, for different reasons.

    “Rabid” is a pretty strong word, I would be interested in hearing why Bob feels this way.

  5. says

    To Bob,

    I understand what you are saying, but Mike makes a very good point here. All the article is about is a very close approximation of how I feel. The first decade has essentially been wasted, and with some hard work and good luck we might be able to kick start the century and have better luck the next decade.

    I used the rabid term because one of the bigger reasons I chose not to live in the US any longer is the polarization and downright nastiness of people, politically. You are either a Conservative or a liberal, and especially for people in my generation there seems no room for liberal views. In other words, people jump on each other for the slightest appearance of holding different views .. and everything from a terrorist attack to a random nail in a tire is the fault of the party in power or the party trying to get in power … everything is politics. Those are the rabid people I’m talking about.

    As Mike points out, better than I, I fail to see anything ‘rabid’ about professor Krugmnan’s views. In this article and in others I have read, Krugman seems to give pretty balanced blame (or praise) to both the conservative and liberal side … but he does openly call himself a liberal. How that makes him “rabid” is a bit of a stretch for me, sorry.

    Actually the point of the whole article was to follow on with my own fun and faux pas regarding the proper thing to call the 2001 through 2009 years … I saw the connection immediately with my story about my 20-’o’-10 joke that fell flat with the waitress.

    I guess the joke fell flat again, perhaps I haven’t been watching enough John Stewart ;-)

  6. says

    The thing that really rubbed me the wrong way was that the way I read the article, if you did not agree with Krugman, your views were rabid.

    For me, I disagree with much of what the man says – politically and economically – yet, the way I read what was said here, if I disagree with him, I am automatically rabid in my views.

    I feel that I have an open mind and am willing to read and listen to both sides. I usually fall into the more conservative side – but not always. Does that make me rabid? According to the article, it would seem so.

  7. says

    But Bob, that’s not at all what I said, I said that overbearing, see it my way or else people were rabid .. and if you took that as a slam, well whenever writing is misunderstood, the fault usually lies with both the writer and the reader .. failed communication.

    Yet your response was not directed toward me, it was a personal slam against Krugman. Why? His article makes perfect sense and quite correctly distributes the faults of the first decades across all players, with no liberal agenda … quite willing to share the blame between both parties. I’m just mystified by that.

    Rabid is a poor word choice. My bad. Perhaps I should say,”overbearing” or “inflexible”, which is how I find a great many of our coutrymen, especially of my generation. Somehow, or country has come to conclude that everything that goes wrong has to do with a person’s political affiliation.

    Take one example. In 2001, despite a number of warnings from various government organizations (and the complete plan of the attack furnished by Philippine law enforcement authorities), terrorists boarded commercial airliners, fully in compliance with existing security regulations and killed a lot of people.

    After 8 plus years of investigating, regulating, re-regulating and one hell of a lot of political blame on both sides of the fence, a known terror suspect, also identified in ample time to cognizant US authorities, boarded an commercial airplane and was only prevented from killing a more people by an unarmed passenger’s actions .. (Sky Marshal’s, No Fly Lists, Terrorist watch lists, et al, not withstanding. Pretty piss poor performance, if you ask me.

    Did it matter who was in the White House or Congress … apparently not, since both have changed over the past decade … and I think that was one of Krugman’s main points. So little got accomplished in the “naughties”.

    Why am I on the ‘overbearing politics kick’? I watched quite a bit of coverage on CNN regarding the incident and most of it centered around the issue of how timely the president’s response was and even a huge amount of time spent on addressing issue of whether the president dressed appropriately. Trivial, meaningless pabulum. Luckily, I am not subjected to Fox News, so I didn’t get to hear their critique of the president’s choice of shirts, or however else they chose to cover the issue.

    One had to visit the BBC or the AusBC to really hear any discussion of the security flaws themselves. A guy’s own father contacts the US State Department and warns them his son is a security risk and the action taken is to deny him the right to renew his visa? Wow, talk about a ‘measured’ response….. and the main issue is, did the President “look Presidential”?

    America is mired in self-indulgent political wrangling and we have (perhaps?) “lost the bubble” when it comes to the important issues, that was my point in using the word ‘rabid’ as shorthand for folks whose political views so consume their minds that they can’t even look at the real issues that face the country.

    If you saw yourself in that group, sorry, I never considered you in the ‘spit when you say Liberal group’, but apparently you projected yourself there. Over and out.

  8. says

    Let me just clarify, it appears to me that my remarks have been misinterpreted.

    I never said anything bad about this column of Krugman’s. In fact, I quite agree with it for the most part. I do think that Krugman is inflexible in his political views, though. This particular article was not colored by that, nor did I say that it was. Here is my feeling, very clearly:

    1. This article about the “Zero” decade by Paul Krugman, I tend to agree with.
    2. I consider that Krugman is a very politically polarizing person. (I don’t believe that #1 and #2 are mutually exclusive)
    3. My comment is not aimed at you, Dave, only commenting on the contents of your article.
    4. When you said “put your rabid politics aside” it meant to me that if you don’t agree with what Paul Krugman sayd, you are rabid, or inflexible. Well, I feel that my politics are flexible, although I tend to come down on the conservative side more often than the other side. In fact, I feel that my politics are much more flexible than Paul Krugman’s are.
    5. I did not make a “personal attack” on Paul Krugman, I simply said that I feel his politics are rigid or rabid. I have nothing against the person, I am against his political style, though.

    I am not mad, I am not angry. Just stating my opinion. If you re-read my writing, although it is hard to get feelings across in our words, I think you will note that I did not say anything in an angry way, or hateful or anything. Just stated my opinions, as Krugman did, and as did you. I have no problem with you or Krugman stating your opinions, I just thought I’d throw mine in.

  9. Mike says

    Bob,
    I was asking specifically why you feel this way about Mr Krugman. The only thing even controversial that I could find about him was an article in which he seemingly endorsed sweatshops because the alternative of no employment is worse. But that article was 12 years ago.

    I don’t pay much attention to most of the opinions I read on the Internet but I have been reading your writings on your web site for quite some time (although I don’t post comments anymore) and I respect your opinion.
    Thanks

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