The Business Reporters We Have
By Arnold Kling
Once again this week, the Washington Post Outlook section is an exercise in feeding its readers’ anti-market prejudices. One prominent feature is an article by Jia Lynn Yang, a business reporter.
The nagging problem with the consulting worldview, however, is that it easily loses sight of the human costs of business efficiency….they’ve rarely been asked to assess how a company fits into society, what its purpose is beyond raising returns for shareholders or what happens after an employee is laid off in the name of efficiency.
A reporter who understood economics could enlighten readers instead of reinforcing their ignorance. How does a company fit into society? A company tries to create sustainable patterns of specialization and trade by using resources to fill consumer needs. In general, when a company succeeds, society is better off. When a company (or a government, for that matter) tries to hold onto unsustainable patterns of production, in general society is worse off.
Elsewhere in the Outlook section, we have Jonathan Alter assuring us that it is a “myth” that the stimulus did not create jobs. He cites the usual suspects–econometric modelers–as if their foregone conclusions based on simulations were facts.