And it must always be humming, always be producing more and more and more and more outputs, and therefore must always be serviced by everyone, and for no other reason than to keep the great machine humming--all to the pleasure of those who operate it.
No time for love and friendship. No time for reflection. No time for dreaming. No time for anything at all but serving the grand and mighty machine that is called The Economy.
And if the machine should ever fail to produce all the outputs that its operators think it should produce, then everything and anything must be done to crank it back to full speed, whatever the cost.
The machine must always be fed, one pound of flesh at a time.
ADDENDUM: Just in time for Halloween, the ghost of John Maynard Keynes seeks to terrorize hapless Americans into spending, spending, spending, always be spending!--as channeled through the Nobel Prize-winning spiritual medium Paul Krugman:
The long-feared capitulation of American consumers has arrived. According to Thursday’s G.D.P. report, real consumer spending fell at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the third quarter; real spending on durable goods (stuff like cars and TVs) fell at an annual rate of 14 percent.Oh, horrors!
To appreciate the significance of these numbers, you need to know that American consumers almost never cut spending. Consumer demand kept rising right through the 2001 recession; the last time it fell even for a single quarter was in 1991, and there hasn’t been a decline this steep since 1980, when the economy was suffering from a severe recession combined with double-digit inflation...
So this looks like the beginning of a very big change in consumer behavior. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Consumer-comrades are not fulfilling their obligations to the collective greater good by buying as many cars and TVs as they once did! They have "capitulated" to their own individual interests! What to do? What to do???
Krugman, who just may be the Madame Blavatsky of the economics profession, acknowledges that most Americans are more deeply in debt than they've ever been, with overall savings that could be described as flimsy at best. So naturally, many now want to reign in their consumption to replenish their nest eggs. But as commendable as that common sense notion may be, however, it is detrimental to the greater good:
How, exactly, does Krugman the Great know what the overall rate of spending should be, or what "everyone's income" should be at any given time? (Which could be called, say, the paradox of presuming synoptic knowledge.) Why, I suspect he just looked into his magical crystal ball and it told him!
Some background: one of the high points of the semester, if you’re a teacher of introductory macroeconomics, comes when you explain how individual virtue can be public vice, how attempts by consumers to do the right thing by saving more can leave everyone worse off. The point is that if consumers cut their spending, and nothing else takes the place of that spending, the economy will slide into a recession, reducing everyone’s income.
In fact, consumers’ income may actually fall more than their spending, so that their attempt to save more backfires — a possibility known as the paradox of thrift.
Dr. Krugman's prescription for what he thinks ails Americans is, of course, more, more, more government spending:
"[W]hat the economy needs now is something to take the place of retrenching consumers. That means a major fiscal stimulus. And this time the stimulus should take the form of actual government spending rather than rebate checks that consumers probably wouldn’t spend."You see, government must rob you even more, for the "needs" of that great and mighty machine called The Economy. If you stubbornly "retrenching" cheapskates won't spend at Krugman's desired rate willingly, then you must be mugged by the state--which it usually prefers to do these days by issuing ever greater piles of debt that ultimately devalue the dollars in your pockets--so that it can spend your money for you.
¡Viva la Máquina!
(Nod to Bill Anderson at the LRC blog.)