Character Building

by digby

I just love it when people who have screwed up on an epic scale turn around and tell you that the results of their handiwork are good for you because they build character. That's essentially what Michael Gersen is trying to sell in today's column.

After devoting some throwaway lines to the deteriorating mental health, loss of security and grinding poverty brought on by economic mismanagement like that he and his former boos just oversaw, he says that it actually makes society better because it brings people together and encourages old-fashioned virtues like thrift. Seriously. Hooray for the depression.

What he doesn't mention is just how much power a bad economy puts in the hands of the wealthy and how long it takes for workers to gain it back. But then feudalism is the aristocrats' system of choice, so what's not to like? Keep the workers fighting for the scraps as long as possible. The nobles may not make quite as much as in boom times but at least the serfs stay in their place.

I actually know people who were around in the depression and although they remember certain things fondly, as we all do about our youth, I've never heard any of them say they wanted to relive it. (And some of these people, by the way, are among the least virtuous I've ever known. If depressions create good values, they sure don't last.)