For the Steven Pearlstein’s (and Tea Partiers and other right-wingers), the problem is not unemployment or capitalist exploitation but the fact that we’re “living beyond our means.” For them, the sky is falling and it’s a result of high levels of private and public debt:
a level of debt that leaves us vulnerable to that inevitable but hard-to-predict moment when creditors lose faith, interest rates rise and debtor countries get sucked into a vicious downward spiral in which increasing debt payments, slower growth and currency devaluations all feed off one another until the economy collapses.
The only choice they see is to make “painful adjustments to our standard of living” now or later:
Inevitably we’re talking about higher taxes, higher interest rates, reduced government benefits and services, delayed retirements, higher prices for imported goods and slower growth, all of it lasting several years until things are brought back into balance.
The fact is, these “painful adjustments” have been going on for over two decades and the majority of the population, not the tiny minority at the top, are the ones who are suffering—with lower pay, longer work hours, more unemployment, increased insecurity, and so on. If the sky is falling it’s not because of federal deficits and private debt but because people who work are being squeezed for the benefit of those few on top who are making out like bandits. And all Pearlstein can think of is to squeeze them more.