<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d5529474\x26blogName\x3dDimmy+Karras\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dSILVER\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://dimmykarras.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://dimmykarras.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d2234159095245132931', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Saturday, August 16, 2003

"The Myth of American Prosperity"

That's the title of an article in the September 1 issue of The Nation by Will Hutton, and it seems to be crying out "I'm Important!" I'm usually a bit skeptical of titles like this; they seem to imply that the author is making a profound case for why the world is as it is, and such an endeavor is likely to end in failure.

I give Hutton a B for this effort, not nearly as bad as I could've expected, but far from perfect as well. The first half of the article contains some faulty reasoning about the implications of the US trade deficit. The second half is better, focusing on inequality of opportunity, especially in education. His rhetoric also improves as the piece progresses.

A major objection I have is that Hutton does not provide adequate data or examples to back up several of his assertions. He mentions in general language a report on economic data here, a company there, without delving into a full explanation of why the example fits his point. The space constraints of a magazine article make this a difficult problem to avoid, certainly, though his argument could also be tighter.

Additionally, Hutton, an Englishman, writes with a very pro-European outlook, and I'm sure this will lead conservatives to dismiss him entirely. Amateur psychologists will say Europeans have an inferiority complex, especially after the US got its way in Iraq, which makes them feel the need to assert that they are better than the Americans in some respects. (Hutton's weak attempt in his final paragraph to tie America's economic ideology to foreign policy in Iraq adds to this impression). I don't think I would go so far, but I do think the article's fixation on Europe as a model is misplaced. Hutton should look more at American problems in the context of what the US could achieve if they were solved.

So, there's a first cut on an article I expect will be generating some commentary from the chattering classes.