...when he says that Keynes's greatness is illustrated by the fact that he understood things that George F. Will does not. A six year old child could write more intelligent columns about economics than George F. Will. The fact that Fred Hiatt has not yet fired George F. Will and replaced him with a six year old child is yet another piece of the wreckage of the crashed-and-burned Washington Post detritus scattered around the landscape.
The greatness of Keynes...: ...is illustrated by the trouble people who consider themselves well informed have, to this day, in understanding the basic principles of how a depressed economy works. The key to Keynes’s contribution was his realization that liquidity preference — the desire of individuals to hold liquid monetary assets — can lead to situations in which effective demand isn’t enough to employ all the economy’s resources. When you don’t understand that principle, you end up writing stuff like this [from George F. Will]:
Obama’s “rescue plan for the middle class” includes a tax credit for businesses “for each new employee they hire” in America over the next two years. The assumption is that businesses will create jobs that would not have been created without the subsidy. If so, the subsidy will suffuse the economy with inefficiencies — labor costs not justified by value added.
That is, if the private sector wouldn’t have created a job on its own, that job shouldn’t have been created... [never mind that] the real choice is between having workers doing something and being uselessly, destructively unemployed....
Why do people still fail to get Keynes, after all these years? Keynes might have said that it’s the inherent difficulty of the concepts: "For—though no one will believe it—economics is a technical and difficult subject." But there’s also the Upton Sinclair theorem:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
But George F. Will's salary doesn't depend on his not understanding that we are now for the first time since 1982 faced with the prospect of a depression, or upon his not understanding that if Amity Shlaes disagrees with Ben Bernanke on the Great Depression one would be well-advised to bet on Ben Bernanke.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?