Paul Krugman Resorts to Ponyblogging!
Twitterstorm delong: November 7, 2011

Maintaining One's Mental Equilibrium as One Grows Older…

"We made it! We had it tough! Why can't you make it? What's wrong with you?" There is nothing that marks one as mentally ossified more than when one starts thinking (and, worse, saying!) such thoughts. Then there is nothing for one to do but to retire to the bar and drink Château de Chasselas as an object of general mockery:

Ryan Avent warns against this:

Unemployment: Those silly young people | The Economist: WITH interest growing in Occupy Wall Street and the troubled, underemployed, indebted young, newspaper editors are hitting the streets, tracking down representative individuals…. As Alex Tabarrok says, this seems to reflect less poorly on the unfortunate puppeteer than on the editor who thought this sounded like a true hard case. Mr Tabarrok's fellow blogger, Tyler Cowen, seems anxious to read great portent into this genre of stories, however. He links to a similar piece and writes:

She has heavy student debt and does not know how to pay it back; in the meantime she has become an activist against Bank of America’s proposed debit card fee. She doesn’t have a full-time steady job and her story is here.She majored in art and architectural history and spent her summers interning at art museums…. I should stress that I am sympathetic with some of her choices (not the tub of beer), and you can read this as reflecting some strengths of American higher education. Still, not all liberal arts students have her organizational and media talents, and this kind of story goes a long way toward explaining the current job market malaise for the young. Even she is having a hard time finding remunerative work and getting on a career track. Furthermore, she doesn’t seem to be striving for that.

Personally, I think this kind of blog post—Mr Cowen's—goes a long way toward explaining the current job market malaise for the young. It is remarkable to me how readily old, successful professionals dismiss the labour-market difficulties of young adults as the product of their poorly-chosen majors and general lack of ambition, and on what flimsy evidence they're prepared to base these views. There are now 3.3m unemployed workers between the ages of 25 and 34. That's more than twice the level in 2007. There are over 2m unemployed college graduates of all ages; nearly three times the level of 2007. There are many millions more that are underemployed—unwillingly working less than full-time or unwillingly working in a job outside their field which pays less than jobs in their field. As far as I know, the distribution of college majors didn't swing dramatically from quantitative fields to art history over the past half decade….

I am sure that many young graduates feel entitled to better work than they've managed to find, and some of them probably chose poorly when it came time to matriculate. But I see little evidence that high unemployment is due to the shiftlessness of youths and far more evidence that high youth unemployment is due to systematic weakness in labour markets associated with a shortfall in aggregate demand.

Four Yorkshiremen:

FIRST YORKSHIREMAN: Aye, very passable, that, very passable bit of risotto.

SECOND YORKSHIREMAN: Nothing like a good glass of Château de Chasselas, eh, Josiah?

THIRD YORKSHIREMAN: You're right there, Obadiah.

FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN: Who'd have thought thirty year ago we'd all be sittin' here drinking Château de Chasselas, eh?

FIRST YORKSHIREMAN: In them days we was glad to have the price of a cup o' tea.

SECOND YORKSHIREMAN: A cup o' cold tea.

FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN: Without milk or sugar.


FIRST YORKSHIREMAN: In a cracked cup, an' all.

FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN: Oh, we never had a cup. We used to have to drink out of a rolled up newspaper.

SECOND YORKSHIREMAN: The best we could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.

THIRD YORKSHIREMAN: But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.

FIRST YORKSHIREMAN: Because we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, "Money doesn't buy you happiness, son".

FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN: Aye, 'e was right.


FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN: I was happier then and I had nothin'. We used to live in this tiny old house with great big holes in the roof.

SECOND YORKSHIREMAN: House! You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, 'alf the floor was missing, and we were all 'uddled together in one corner for fear of falling.

THIRD YORKSHIREMAN: Eh, you were lucky to have a room! We used to have to live in t' corridor!

FIRST YORKSHIREMAN: Oh, we used to dream of livin' in a corridor! Would ha' been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woke up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House? Huh.

FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN: Well, when I say 'house' it was only a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpaulin, but it was a house to us.

SECOND YORKSHIREMAN: We were evicted from our 'ole in the ground; we 'ad to go and live in a lake.

THIRD YORKSHIREMAN: You were lucky to have a lake! There were a hundred and fifty of us living in t' shoebox in t' middle o' road.



FIRST YORKSHIREMAN: You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t' mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home our Dad would thrash us to sleep wi' his belt.

SECOND YORKSHIREMAN: Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at six o'clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of 'ot gravel, work twenty hour day at mill for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle, if we were lucky!

THIRD YORKSHIREMAN: Well, of course, we had it tough. We used to 'ave to get up out of shoebox at twelve o'clock at night and lick road clean wit' tongue. We had two bits of cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at mill for sixpence every four years, and when we got home our Dad would slice us in two wit' bread knife.

FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN: Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.

FIRST YORKSHIREMAN: And you try and tell the young people of today that ..... they won't believe you.

ALL: They won't!