The Amazing Ezra Klein

Quite astonishing I sometimes find him. He\’s clever and all but manages to get the wrong end of the stick all too often:

 This is, in part, why you\’re seeing cutbacks in many newsrooms. I\’m not supposed to say this, but journalism has gotten easier, and fewer individuals can do more of it.

Excellent, productivity is rising therefore we need fewer people to do it.

But as productivity rapidly increases, either the market has to expand or staffs will be cut. And to make matters worse, much like in manufacturing, the rise of blogs and online magazines has created intense, low-cost competition that simply didn\’t exist before.

Indeed, just like manufacturing. what we actually see is both output going up and fewer people required….those people being able to go off and do something else even more productive, like cure cancer or wipe babies\’ bottoms. Excellent!

Which is why we need more projects like this one, or possibly some public subsidies.


So the world is getting better in every way, we\’re getting more journalism and more people doing other more important things and thus, we need public subsidies to stop this happening? How in hell do you get to that conclusion from that set of facts?


6 thoughts on “The Amazing Ezra Klein”

  1. As you know, Klein is quite fond of public subsidies for a whole host of things, ranging from transport to healthcare. This comes as no great surprise. There is a great deal of enlightened self-interest involved as it is his chosen career. There do not seem to be many things that Klein does not believe the state can and should do.

  2. I woukd never argue that I’m not something near to a collectivist Tim. But you omitted the critical part of the post, which is that the cutbacks are focusing on the wrong areas, and we may lose a public good unaffected by the Nexis revolution. You’ll still hate my conclusion, but you should quote the reasoning fairly.

    Tim adds: Ezra, I was being polite. I’ve not seen you demonstrate that there is a public good being affected adversely: scrutiny here in the UK and also there in the US is vastly greater as a result of blogs than any reduction there’s been from the newspaper industry. As I’ve said before in your comments my actual view of your thoughts here is “I’m a journalist, give me tax money”….as I say, I was being polite in not repeating that here.

  3. Tim,

    I have tackled you on this before. In the UK, at least, manufacturing output has not being going up. It has been almost completely flat, on average, since 1997. You can check this out on the ONS web site.

    It is, however, becoming much more productive and at a much faster rate than the rest of the economy. What is happening is that money has been diverted by the government, via the tax system and public sector spending, into other areas where productivity has not been rising much if at all and which it is not clear that there is any real market demand.

    There is nothing special about manufacturing, but unlike most of the growth areas in our economy, it is subject to real competition, whilst having to bear the costs of those that don’t have to compete. That’s the real reason why manufacturing employment is plummeting.

  4. Ezre:

    You need to begin to appreciate that guys like Tim and I are the true “collectivists.” Our collective includes everyone who makes contributions to the welfare of all the rest and actually permits the recipients to make the calls as to what they want to receive, how much of it, and what it’s actually worth. Nobody needs to use any force or violence, threatened or actual, tto accomplish all this. We call this collective “the market” and it differs from the others principally in that, its members, every one of whom is a willing participant, gets to express his “druthers” and actually have them respected and courted–at least to the extent that he provides for others. Believe it or not, our system is so accutely tuned to what people actually want most intensively that you can watch its operation daily, where the changes in desires are reflected continually in the price of things, whether stocks, commodities, etc.

    It’s not perfect but then, nothing ever is. The principal drawback is that there are always people around who want to “rig” the process to advantage themselves at the ezpense of everyone else. Believe it or not, these people, many of whom have their own personal agendas differing not only from the whole of “the market” but from each of the other crooked manipulators as well, have the effrontery to call themselves “collectivists,” knowing full well that their plans, if they were brought to power, would involve discomfitting nearly everyone for the benefit of their narrow group or coalition.

    It is a sad fact that, at any given time, between those trying to fix things to their unfair advantage and those who swallow their sales propaganda, the numbers come close or may even be a majority. Almost nothing carries such a positive message about our system as the fact that even though the other never delivers what it promises and even diminishes the productivity of our own through diminished incentive, ours so far has managed to survive and to pour forth, as from a horn of plenty, not only for its its adherents and supporters–but for its foully-intentioned enemies and their ignorantly malcontented followers.

    Viva collectivism!

  5. If out of work journalists in the US need a public subsidy, an extra 13 weeks of Unemployment should do the trick. Otherwise, I remember what Heinlein said about state supported artists.

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