In this age of instant information gratification, we rarely look at articles from last week, let alone early last year. But Kevin Phillips’s “Why the economy is worse than we know”:http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/05/0082023 in Harper’s is that good. In it, Phillips describes a problem with how the U.S. government talks about economic output. The system is so deliberately skewed to deny accountability that, going back more than a decade, we began to conflate economic fantasy with reality, to the point where now we can hardly distinguish our own spin. Unemployment numbers, for instance, ignore the people who’ve been out of work the longest, those who’ve actually given up the job hunt. The deception has gotten worse under both Democrat and Republican administrations. It’s an American brand of denial carried out to an absurdist extreme. What’s fantastic about the piece is that Phillips calls this obscured transparency by its true name: corruption. But he is careful to stipulate: “The deception arose gradually, at no stage stemming from any concerted or cynical scheme. There was no grand conspiracy, just accumulating opportunisms.” Here’s his book on the same topic: Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism.
Bio: Joel is a founding editor of Guernica. His last article, “The Genocide Myth”:http://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/1031/the_genocide_myth/, appeared in Guernica’s May 2009 issue. Read his last recommendation “here”:http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1137/staff_pick_joel_whitney_1/.