August 22, 2019

What We Talk About When We Talk About "Easy Money"

“H.L. Mencken would have understood Nicole Gelinas. And not just because she’s a talented and entertaining writer like he was.

Mencken famously described puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” The latter increasingly describes Gelinas.

Formerly a libertarian like Mencken, the modern Gelinas is seemingly just mad. And in a puritan way. Even though businesses can’t start or grow without capital, and even though investment bankers heroically find the capital without which businesses would fold or wouldn’t exist to begin with, Gelinas scolds Wall Street for the size of the bonuses earned by its leading lights.

When the Chinese people, working feverishly to emerge from desperate poverty, have the temerity to direct their steel production toward the U.S., Gelinas wags her finger yet again. The source of Gelinas’s frown is that “American and European steel mills simply can’t compete. Over three years, the American metals industry has lost 21,500 jobs.” Who cares that the world was a poorer and much more dangerous place when the Chinese were dying and destitute, the puritan in Gelinas moans about the 21,500 individuals who will allegedly lose their steelmaking jobs so that hundreds of millions of Americans can enjoy higher living standards.”

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