Yesterday -- in response to defamatory allegations from Barkley Rosser that he had "stepped over the line", engaged in "indefensible personal attacks" and "meretricious name calling," was "seriously misrepresentating" reported research and should "clean up your act" -- the Sandwichman asked for a vote of confidence from his EconoSpeak colleagues. So far, the response has been a resounding abstention. Even the plaintiff, Rosser, has expressed his wish that the matter be resolved without any drastic resolution.
Ever feisty but non-litigious, the Sandwichman confided to me that to drink the Hemlock now seemed sweeter to him than swallowing the bile of his colleagues' "impartiality". With that, the Sandwichman began reciting (a tad too melodramatically for my taste) verse from Dante's Inferno:
All of these made a tumult whose presenceIn the past, I confess I've been tempted at times to kill off Sandwichman just so I could write his obituary. That's how it is with personae and noms de plume. Brendan Behan once claimed there's no such thing as bad publicity, unless it's your obituary. Michael Jackson proved him wrong by cashing in on his. Given the dank limbo of abstentiousness, it seems reasonable, in a kind of Through the Looking Glass, way to publish Sandwichman's obituary -- or at least the first draft of his obituary -- in advance of the verdict and the execution. Sandwichman can always come back and say that reports of his death were greatly exaggerated. Or maybe not.
Whirled darkly through the timeless air like grains
Of sand in permanent turbulence.
And I, seeking to ease my brain's
Horror, said, " Master, what am I listening to?
Who are these people so defeated by their pains?"
And he to me: " The dismal souls who
Suffer this condition had lives neither odious
Nor commendable; having embraced neither of the two,
They mingle now with that chorus
Of cowardly, self–serving angels who were
Neither faithful to God nor rebellious.
To preserve its beauty heaven kicked them down here,
While deep Hell refused to take them,
Lest they be scapegoats for the wicked there."
Sandwichman, July 11, 2000 - October 24, 2009?
Sandwichman's remit -- believe it or not -- was never about the reduction of working time as "the answer" for unemployment. It was, from the moment of his virgin birth, concerned with discourse about working time. More specifically about how dialogue about the potential benefits of work time reduction has been vigorously and mendaciously suppressed by economists. For centuries. One of the perennial tactics of that suppression has been to ridicule advocates as kooks, quacks and monomaniacal cranks.
Alas, this latter tactic also works when defenders of the exclusion want to change the subject from censorship to some alleged personality disorders of those who document the censorship. But the Sandwichman was not "obsessed", it was his job to carry the prophetic, end-is-'nigh signs he bore. On the Sandwichman's front board was the quote (not from Mark Twain) "'Taint what a man don't know that hurts him; it's what he knows that just ain't so." and on the back, the lines by Bertolt Brecht:
In your houseThat, not Mary Steward's doggerel about decreasing the hours and increasing the pay, was the Sandwichman's motto.
Lies are roared aloud.
But the truth
Must be silent.
Is it so?
In the days before his execution, the Sandwichman posted a critique of policy proposals for dealing with unemployment put forward by Jamie Galbraith, Randall Wray and Tim Bartik for the New America Foundation. The substance of the critique hinged on a paradoxical statement by Jamie Galbraith that job guarantees were "the last taboo". The paradox was that two of the three contributors proposed this "last taboo" policy while none of them so much as mentioned work sharing or work time reduction. Sandwichman argued that the real last taboo must be that policy idea on which the contributors remained silent.
As if to vindicate the Sandwichman's snarky complaint, Tim Bartik of the Upjohn Institute responded with a comment that called Dean Baker's policy brief to offer tax credits for work time reduction "interesting" and called attention to an article on short time compensation in the Upjohn Institute newsletter for July. The article, by Katharine Abraham and Susan Houseman argued that "The absence of STC benefits is a significant gap in U.S. social insurance policy that should be plugged." So Tim Bartik obviously knew about Dean's interesting policy brief and the significant gap in policy but still there was no mention of work time policy proposals in the policy roundtable background paper. None. Which of course was the Sandwichman's point.
Job guarantees are roared aloud.As I was writing this obituary, I noticed a new comment appeared on the last taboo post containing an apology of sorts from Barkley Rosser, "I also apologize to anyone who has found my recent tone overdone or inappropriate." What the semanticists call a "no-fault apology." I turned to tell Sandwichman the goods news but was alarmed to see him slumped over in his armchair, the fatal drained cup lying on its side on the floor, just out of reach of his limp hand.
But work sharing
Must be silent.
Which, then, is the last taboo?
I must leave off at this point and see if I can revive my friend and avatar...