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Over at Quora

What is a K-shaped economic recovery?

Tim Worstall

A political invention.

No, quite seriously, that’s all it is. There are those who want to get their priorities to the top of the societal list of things that are going to be solved. Hey, that’s just what politics is, the argument over which thing gets done next.
So, when stuff happens you invent (yes, just make up) some description of events which means that your wishes are important and must move up that list.*

Of course, sometimes there are real new problems and we’ve got to have some method of distinguishing between the new and these inventions. The correct method here is to look at the proposed solutions and who is proposing them.

If the solutions are the same things the proposers have been saying for years, if what we need to do about it is just the same old thing, then this is a made up, invented, reason just to do the same old things. Not, actually, a new problem at all.

So, the solutions proposed to the K-shaped economic recovery are the usual list of stronger unions, higher taxes, more redistribution and so on. These solutions coming from the people who have been proposing stronger unions, higher taxes, more redistribution, for decades now. That is, the K-shaped recovery isn’t an actual thing, it’s just a made up, invented, justification for stronger unions, higher taxes and more redistribution.

As such we can ignore it.

*The archetype here is Cato.

“***Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem esse delendam*** (“Furthermore, I consider that Carthage must be destroyed”), often abbreviated to ***Carthago delenda est*** (“Carthage  must be destroyed”) or ***Ceterum censeo***, is a Latin oratorical phrase  pronounced by Cato the Censor (, a politician of the Roman Republic . The phrase originates from debates held in the Roman Senate prior to the Third Punic War between Rome and Carthage , where Cato is said to have used it as the conclusion to all his speeches in order to push for the war.”

His speeches really did run along the lines of “And so we should dig the drainage ditch and therefore I conclude that Carthage must be destroyed” “The price of olive oil is too high and thus Carthage must be destroyed” and so on. Eventually the Romans got so bored of this they went and destroyed Carthage.

Want stronger unions, higher taxes and more redistribution? This week it’s the K-shaped recovery, last month it was the recession, 3 months back Black Lives Matter, 6 months ago rising inequality and so on and on. If the policy never changes, only the justification, then the justification is the invention.

5 thoughts on “Over at Quora”

  1. I have of course noticed this with climate change. Whatever happens, more windmills and solar panels, electric cars etc. Nothing that would really do what they claim to want.

  2. If the unions want to be stronger, that’s their business, go ahead and be stronger. If the unions can’t persuade themselves to make themselves stronger, that’s their failing.

  3. All purpose Guardian article for the next 12 months (and, indeed, the last 8 months):
    “Covid-19 is a perfect example of why we must [insert madcap and foolhardy notion that I’ve been pointlessly banging on about for decades here]“.

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