Arthur Worries For Win Quigley

June 17th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

By Arthur Alpert


We should talk abut Winthrop Quigley’s  “Money & Medicine”column in the Albuquerque Journal’s Business Outlook Monday, June 14, page 4. (Bonus: It’s a link you can read even if you don’t subscribe to the Journal).

But let’s be quiet, very quiet. We wouldn’t want to get him in trouble with management.
It’s subversive stuff, you see, in content and approach.

Quigley writes that the subject of  “public budget deficits” is complicated and rues the “simplistic, bombastic diatribes” that are “the order of the day.”

Immediately I flashed on simplistic Journal editorials, Op Ed columns and AP Washington “news” stories on the subject. But Quigley must have been aiming elsewhere.

Still, I wish he’d be more careful.

Next, he quotes an investment strategist who believes today’s big government deficits stem more from weak economic activity than “out of control government spending.” If so, time and economic growth “could prove a very effective solution.”
That perfectly contradicts the laissez-faire advocates and partisans who dominate the Journal’s Op Ed pages. And deficit hawks in both parties who are out to cut government spending. (Corporate welfare excepted.)

Sometimes, Quigley seems foolhardy. “Taxation,” he continues, “is the part of the solution no one wants to talk about.”

And I shudder for him.
He also notes the deficit owes a lot to the Bush tax cuts and the TARP bailouts from Bush and Obama.
That’s risky, mentioning the Bush tax cuts. Worse yet – and let’s keep this sotto voce, everybody – he writes, “Fixing the deficit is dangerous, too,” and notes the economy is doing “pretty well” despite deficits.
Now Quigley, a business reporter and health biz specialist, is generally kind to business; that’s why the Journal lets him opine. But as my sketch makes clear, he’s not just unfazed by complexity but is soft on it.
Which is why we’re whispering. As you may have noticed, Journal management is not big on complexity. It complicates partisanship, you know.
I worry for Quigley.

Which isn’t to say he’s perfect; though a glowing star in the Journal’s dark night of the intellect, Quigley doesn’t always examine assumptions or plumb depths.

Thus, he ends his deficit column by plugging an “America Speaks” national town hall meeting on fiscal matters at the Albuquerque Convention Center June 26. He lists the “America Speaks” sponsors and think tanks without mentioning they’re Establishment.

Nor does he note that singling out deficits is itself a political statement. That it’s the “haves” talking. That it’s superficial, too.

Why not begin by asking how to build an economy in which markets produce wealth and a modicum of economic justice? It happened during the New Deal and Fair Deal.

Quigley might not agree, but no matter – his business IQ, fairness and tolerance for complexity make him a valuable journalist, anyway. So here’s wishing that he remembers where he works.

And walks softly.


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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Jeremy

    By “simplistic” you gotta mean today’s Journal hack job calling the BP mess Obama’s Katrina. The op/ed went some thousand words without mentioning “deregulation” — you know, that Reaganistic principle that ultimately led to this screwup. Then the Journal, shunning the basics of its own argument, blamed “big government.” What’s it gonna be, Journal? What an increasingly weird little (and shrinking by the minute) paper you’re becoming.
    P.S. Any way to find out how the paper opined on Bush during Katrina? Probably in his defense.

  • Tracy Dingmann

    So noted, Jeremy. We are working on something about that right now.

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