Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Best opening paragraphs to an article I read today...

Jamie Whyte. London Times. I'm going to share the opening: 

Those who favour “stimulating” the economy often employ a medical metaphor. The economy is a dying patient. Questions about the long-term effects of its treatment are irrelevant. All that matters now is keeping it alive.

They are foolish to employ this metaphor. Economies cannot die. Even during the Great Depression of the 1930s the economy lived on. The gross domestic product of most industrial countries dropped by about 30 per cent. I am not sure how to translate that into the medical metaphor. Moving 30 per cent less? Losing 30 per cent of your body weight? Whatever: it is not the same as dying.

So long as humans survive, we will have an economy. People will produce and consume food, shelter, clothes, entertainment and, with a little luck, much more besides.

This means that stimulators draw exactly the wrong conclusion from the sick patient metaphor. We should be relatively unconcerned about the economy’s immediate future. We know it will survive. What matters is its long-term quality of life. Crippling a patient who would otherwise die may be worth it. But crippling an immortal patient who would otherwise have to endure a brief period of intense pain is not.

Clever reasoning indeed.

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