Today Larry Summers gave a speech that won high marks from Swampland’s Michael Scherer, who follows a long and approving quotation from the speech, paraphrases it thusly:
So what is Summers really saying? He is approvingly quoting Daniel Patrick Moynihan‘s argument that increased government involvement in the health care sector is a risky idea… He explained his position in his 1996 book, Miles To Go, in the context of William Baumol, a friend of Moynihan’s, who had arrived at this observation: a classical orchestra simply does not become more efficient over the centuries if it intends to play the same Mozart quartet with all the required musicians. As a result, musicians have not benefited from the efficiencies that have raised the productive values, and the salaries, of other professions. Nonetheless, as others get paid more, the musicians demand more, and it ends up costing more to hear the same music.
Now, I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking…But hey wait, Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s friend, I just read in the Washington City Paper that classical musicians in this town are rapidly going the way of oil lamps and unaccountable teachers! So when they tell you things like ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’, Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s friend, they are probably just trying to escape being held accountable, because there is almost always another sector of the economy and/or genre of consumer entertainment that might be a lot more ‘efficient’ if you got someone like Michelle Rhee to replace all the union workers with an iPod Touch (maybe some prison labor?) and also, paid a consulting firm to concoct a new brand name for your venture ideally emphasizing words like ‘choice’ but throwing out non-relevant geriatric buzzwords like ‘classical.’ And sure you might piss off some little old Easy Spirit wearing LLadro collectors in the process, but what if Medicare never gave them all hearing aids to begin with? Which was of course exactly your point, Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s friend. That given the fact that we are all in the long run dead like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, we might as well not bother even remotely trying to make sense, because obsequious journalists like Michael Scherer will only continue to hang on the every slobber-soaked word of disgraced egomaniacs like Larry Summers, and as long as guys like him are going to be plagiarizing someone else plagiarizing our quippy little analogies and anecdotes to advance their plutocrat-serving agendas, they might as well sound as absurd as they truly are while doing it, not that I needed anymore absurdity in this lifetime, which is why it’s just as well that the government turned off my hearing aid already…”