Before we entirely despair over the sorry state of the Art scene today, despite so many terrible examples, it would behoove us to recall that the very idea of the Artist who exists for Art is a rather recent product of the Romantic age. It is indeed the very idea that all subsequent art movements sought to deride, negate, abolish.
It is said that in a crisis everyone is a Keynsian, but why would this be? There is ample evidence that a Keynsian response is often, if not always, counterproductive — especially if a rapid recovery in employment is desired, as it should be.
The trouble is that in a crisis, when suffering is palpable, it is not politically correct to advocate effective measures that would trade short-term pain for long-term gain — measures such as cutting or eliminating minimum wage levels, reducing unemployment and welfare subsidies, and generally addressing disincentives to find some kind of work. This is not unlike the need for politicians to get “on the right side of history” even if the arms we supply to various “freedom fighters” wind up killing Americans instead.
Politicians will be politicians, but if the study of economics is to be a real science then political concerns have no place in policy prescriptions its practitioners advise, no matter how difficult the message may be to swallow both for politicians and electorates.
Just because radicals rarely win sufficient power to implement their agendas does not mean that they labor in vain, for it is without a doubt that — when widely heard — their voices serve to move the mainstream center in their direction. Thus, for example, it has been in the United States that leftist radicals have moved consensus ever leftward from their violent beginnings in the strikes and bombings of the early 1900s and beyond. This also is today’s right wing is trying reverse this pattern. It would be unwise to discount heir influence, despite their recent losses. After all, left-radicals skated quite a long time to see their views affect the mainstream and its choices.
It is not controversial to state that after a full two trillion dollars in various stimuli have been injected into the economy that sooner or later at least some of the injection will have to be reversed. It is also not controversial to state that any fiscal contraction is likely to result in a certain amount of economic pain. Given that the so-called “fiscal cliff”, or slope, whatever we wish to call it totals only about 30% of the prior largess and that the economy has been expanding for almost a full four years, the question must be posed: if not austerity now, then when?