Perhaps it was not too early in my career to achieve the ultimate: a letter chosen as an "Editors' Selection" by the New York Times. As a small child growing up in a nondescript neighborhood, suffering through the anomie of the Eisenhower years, such an accomplishment seemed beyond my grasp, perhaps because (a) there was no Internet and (b) there was no such thing as an Editors' Selection at the New York Times. Maybe, however, such a prize, this Golden Fleece of the churlish Net-commenter, existed as a Platonic Ideal, one of those reflections or shadows on the cave wall he wrote about. No, I never understood what Plato was talking about, either.
"Not too many columns ago, Prof. Krugman wrote that 2009 would certainly be a bad year, but that he felt fairly optimistic about 2010. I didn't understand his sunny attitude at the time. This column seems to clear that up. The previous prognosis was probably a reflexive analysis about recessions in general: they run their course in a year or two, things improve. What makes this downturn sui generis, I think, is that it's the culmination of a number of very bad trends in America all converging at once. A hollowed-out, offshored manufacturing base, leaving Americans with the crap jobs of the service economy; over-development of the suburbs leading to an excess supply of houses vs. qualified buyers; and decades of flatlined earnings by the majority of Americans, who watched the uber-rich take a disproportionately huge chunk of all income. On top of this, we've had a ridiculously unbalanced trade relationship with China and the oil exporters, we've run large budget deficits, and we failed to prioritize away from military spending (and adventurism) toward technological innovation such as green energy, mass transit, universal health care and energy efficient housing. Now we're in a world of hurt, and we've taken a lot of countries down with us, including those we were counting on to finance our way out of this mess. I think we'll certainly have our own Lost Decade. If we don't get creative, innovative and more self-sufficient, then in the immortal words of the Sage of Crawford, "this sucker could go down."