Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. Karen Kerrigan is President and C.E.O. of the Council and is chairperson of the Coalition to End Union Violence, a project of the Small Business Survival Committee (of which she is chairman and founder). These folks and organizations share an office suite on L Steet in D.C. with Grover Norquist and his American's for Tax Reform. Get the picture? Cogs in the vast right-wing Wurlitzer.
Keating also happens to have the distinction of being the only economist the Sandwichman knows of who has published a commentary on Dean Baker's shorter work-time proposal.
These are serious and rather grim economic times.It may be germane to point out that Keating is one of those climate change denial guys and that Kerrigan's outfits are funded by the likes of Exxon and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco. According to her bio on Inc., "A seasoned player in the conservative movement, Kerrigan made a name for herself by playing a key role in derailing the Clintons' health care plan." Smoking good. Health care bad. Tax cuts good. Unions bad.
After all, the current recession is over a year old, and real GDP growth in the fourth quarter of last year registered a dire -3.8 percent. And nobody sounds cheery about 2009.
Belying such seriousness, however, there are a lot of silly ideas being kicked around when it comes to economic policy.
Consider the suggestion made by Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in a commentary piece in the Jan. 28 New York Daily News.
Baker argued that President Barack Obama and Congress should be "creating incentives for companies to reduce the workweek and work year for many Americans." He claims that this would "provide a quick boost to the economy and jobs - and lasting gains in reduced unemployment."
Hmmm, working and producing less somehow translates into higher economic growth. Lower productivity then must be a plus for the economy. Baker claims that with certain tax incentives, workers could get paid the same for less work, more workers would have to be hired, and apparently all this would be just ducky for business.
Does any of this make sense? Of course not. Lost productivity, higher business costs and reduced economic growth would result if this were implemented.
But the Sandwichman only brings up the matter of Raymond J. Keating's silliness to underscore the fecklessness of prominent liberal economists whose silence on Baker's proposal for shorter working time amounts to a tacit endorsement of the Keating/Kerrigan/Norquist growth-at-any-cost paradigm.
Raymond J. Keating is silly. The silent liberals are feckless.