In the long run, we’re all dead
Post-recession America may be saddled with high unemployment even after good times finally return.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs have vanished forever in industries such as auto manufacturing and financial services. Millions of people who were fired or laid off will find it harder to get hired again and for years may have to accept lower earnings than they enjoyed before the slump.
This restructuring — in what former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker calls “the Great Recession” — is causing some economists to reconsider what might be the “natural” rate of unemployment: a level that neither accelerates nor decelerates inflation. This state of equilibrium is often described as “full” employment.
Forever is a long-time. It’s shocking to see experienced policy-makers and journalists talk about “forever.” We came out of the “Great Depression” and World War II and enjoyed a period of relative peace and prosperity for over 60 years afterward. Forever is for the universe. We should worry about making the immediate future more secure. Fretting over “forever” takes our focus away from the here and now.