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07/08/2009

Unpersons

One of the mysteries of the way issues are covered in much of the news media is how certain views get ruled “out of the mainstream” and just don’t get covered — even when many well-informed people hold those views.

The most notorious example was during the buildup to the Iraq war: skepticism about the case for war was treated as a fringe view, even though the evidence being presented by the hawks was flimsy on its face, and the ranks of the skeptics included a number of people with excellent national-security credentials.

But in a way, the implicit censorship on the stimulus debate is even stranger. During the initial discussion of the stimulus, the debate was framed almost entirely as a debate between Obama and those who said the stimulus was too big; the voices of those saying it was too small were largely frozen out. And they still are — if it weren’t for my position on the Times op-ed page, there would be hardly any major outlet for Keynesian concerns.

And here’s the thing: in this case, there isn’t any hidden evidence — you can’t argue that the CIA knows something the rest of us don’t. And the voices calling for stronger stimulus are, may I say, sorta kinda respectable — several Nobelists in the bunch, plus a large fraction of the prominent economists who predicted the housing crash before it happened.

But somehow, the pro-stimulus people are unpersons. Who makes these decisions?


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