2020年5月26日 星期二

The Grand Old Party of never-wrongers

Trump isn’t the only one with an infallibility complex.
Being Republican seems to be synonymous with never admitting to being wrong, says columnist Paul Krugman.Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
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By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

If you’re a member of the chattering classes, you hear a lot about the Never Trumpers — lifelong Republicans like William Kristol and Max Boot who, unlike the rest of their former party, have refused to make peace with the awfulness of the G.O.P.’s leader. Whatever you think of their former role, right now they’re showing impressive moral courage not just in standing up against pressure to conform, but in admitting that they misjudged the nature of the party they served.

But that willingness to face up to past errors in itself marks their defection from the modern Republican way of being.

Today’s column was largely devoted to the carnage wrought by Donald Trump’s inability to admit error. What I didn’t have space to point out is that while Trump’s insistence on his own infallibility is especially lurid, his party in general is now composed of never-wrongers, people who never concede awkward facts. And it has been that way for a while.

While I’m sure there were earlier examples, the inability of many on the right to admit error was really driven home to me in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

For several years following the crisis, the U.S. government ran large budget deficits, mainly because the depressed state of the economy caused revenues to plunge and certain kinds of spending, especially unemployment benefits, to soar. At the same time, the Federal Reserve intervened heavily in financial markets, “printing money” — actually crediting banks with deposits created out of thin air, but close enough — at a rapid pace.

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Many economists, including yours truly, considered these fiscal and monetary developments reasonable under the circumstances. It was, we argued, a good thing to run deficits in a slump, with little risk that these deficits would create any kind of crisis. It was also a good idea to print money, with little risk that doing so would lead to inflation.

But many on the right had a different view. In May 2009, with unemployment at 9.4 percent and still rising, The Wall Street Journal declared that deficits would provoke an attack by the bond vigilantes. Commentators on Fox warned about imminent hyperinflation. A who’s who of conservatives sent an open letter to Ben Bernanke, the then Fed chairman, warning that he was debasing the dollar.

Well, events proved one side of this debate right and the other wrong. There was no debt crisis, and interest rates stayed low. So did inflation. So you might have expected those who got it wrong to engage in some self-reflection about why they were so mistaken.

But they didn’t. Almost without exception, those who predicted disaster from deficits and monetary expansion continued thundering the same warnings year after year, never conceding that they had been wrong. Bloomberg News actually contacted many of the signatories of that open letter to Bernanke four years later; every single signatory who replied insisted that the letter was right, even though the promised inflation never came.

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And now we have an administration that, as far as I can tell, is entirely staffed by never-wrongers. For example, not only did administration economists push a really stupid “cubic model” that seemed to suggest an end to the pandemic around a week ago, they insisted (and continue to insist) that they did no such thing.

So in this, as in many other things, Trump is just a cruder, exaggerated version of what his whole party has become. Being a Republican, it seems, means never having to admit that you were wrong, about anything.

Quick Hits

Alan Greenspan (remember him?) warned vociferously about deficits, then declared it “regrettable” that inflation and soaring interest rates kept not happening.

Stephen Moore, who warned about hyperinflation in 2009, is now a leading advocate of reopening the economy now now now.

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Yesterday marked three months since Larry Kudlow, the administration’s chief economist (and a longtime never-wronger) declared that the coronavirus was “contained” and that the economy was “holding up nicely.”

We won’t have official statistics until next month, but independent estimates suggest that the unemployment rate is close to 25 percent.

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Facing the Music

Getting to Yes in quarantine.YouTube

I still have no idea what this song is about, but this performance from quarantine is amazing.

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2020年5月24日 星期日

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2020年5月23日 星期六

Can a Coach Save You From Divorce?

The blogger motivating men to care about emotional labor.
A roundup of new guidance and stories from NYT Parenting.

In a newsletter last year, I (cheekily) suggested that one way to get partners to do their fair share of emotional labor is to become physically incapacitated for several months, like I was when I was pregnant with my younger daughter. This week, Jancee Dunn offers a more viable solution to a mental load imbalance: Hire a coach.

Jancee profiled Matthew Fray, a Cleveland-based blogger who wrote a viral post in 2016 called “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes By the Sink.” He has since started a business where he motivates men to improve their marriages. His coaching isn’t meant to replace couples counseling; it’s simply encouragement from an average guy who has been through the same thing, he says.

Also this week: More and more parents are giving their children melatonin for sleep issues. Christina Caron, our NYT Parenting staff reporter, does a deep dive into whether it’s safe, and what the best practices are. Melinda Wenner Moyer answers all your questions about Covid-related pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or P.M.I.S. Though the symptoms are scary, the bottom line is P.M.I.S. is rare and usually treatable. Melinda also looked into whether virtual summer camps are actually worthwhile.

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Finally, we have a very sweet piece from Holly Burns, who interviewed the people who miss our kids, including teachers, nannies and even clowns. “I miss their singing,” Jonathan Zielinski, a teacher in Chicago, told Holly. “I miss laughing with them. I miss the stories they’d tell me in the odd moments between activities. I miss watching them work so I can see their thought process. As I tell them every day, I just miss their faces.”

We want to hear what creative family activities you’ve come up with to replace vacations and camps. Are you pitching a tent in your backyard? Building a makeshift water park out of sprinklers? Tell us all about it.

Thanks for reading!

— Jessica Grose, lead editor, NYT Parenting

P.S. Today’s One Thing comes from Simi Shukla, a mom of two in Manhattan who is getting her master's degree in art therapy. She has been challenging her 6-year-old and 10-year-old to make found object sculptures out of recyclables. “The novelty of it never gets old for them,” she said.

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Tiny Victories

Parenting can be a grind. Let’s celebrate the tiny victories.
We put my 18-month-old grandson, staying with us during the quarantine, in a laundry basket. I attached a belt and fastened it to the handhold on the side. We pulled him fast up and down the hallway while he squealed and held the sides of the basket. It became our version of an amusement-park ride. — Adria Rolnik, New Jersey

If you want a chance to get your Tiny Victory published, find us on Instagram @NYTparenting and use the hashtag #tinyvictories; email us; or enter your Tiny Victory at the bottom of this page. Include your full name and location. Tiny Victories may be edited for clarity and style. Your name, location and comments may be published, but your contact information will not. By submitting to us, you agree that you have read, understand and accept the Reader Submission Terms in relation to all of the content and other information you send to us.

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