Two fine pieces from this week's National Review Online
September 28, 2010
Kevin Williamson, "70 Percent: The Myth of the Consumer Economy". This is a nice complement to a piece I linked to about two weeks ago about the "vulgar Keynesian focus on consumption".
Thomas Aquinas warned against homo unius libri — the “man of one book.” Harvard president Edward Everett followed that up, warning against “not only to the man of one book, but also to the man of one idea, in whom the sense of proportion is lacking, and who sees only that for which he looks.”
God defend us from man of one datum, particularly if that man is an economist, and particularly if the datum is wrong.
Exhibit A is the constantly repeated but entirely untrue statement that consumer spending represents 70 percent of the U.S. economy, and that it is therefore imperative that we give consumers some stimulus, in the form of tax rebates, more generous unemployment checks, or cocaine-monkey research grants, in order to put some schmundo in Joe Consumer’s hip pocket, the better for him to carry that seven-tenths of the economy he allegedly holds upon his shoulders like some debt-ridden Atlas chained to Mount Wal-Mart, his liver pecked by a winged and deathless Visa bill.
Mona Charon, "The Dog That Didn't Bark: Poverty is Up, Crime is Down. Is That Possible?".
Short answer: yes.