Tag Archive for 'O’Brien'

Paul Krugman: Hanrahan of the Econ-Blogosphere

I’ve got a lot of time for Paul Krugman. People just love to hate the guy, or at least dismiss him as a crank and wonder what he’s going to do when Mr. Bush moves back to Texas, but the man was – for years! – practically the lone beacon of criticism of the Whitehouse in a country that seems to want to beatify its presidents. You can debate the good and bad points of the W. Bush presidency all you like, but the fact remains that America is a country that doesn’t like dissing their sitting president. It seems to make them feel dirty or “unAmerican” or something.  Try asking the Poms to lay off their P.M. for a week.

Anyway, this latest piece by Prof. Krugman got me thinking:

But the plunge in consumer confidence in recent weeks is pretty startling. The chart below shows the University of Michigan index; consumer confidence is now lower than it ever was during the 2001 recession and aftermath, and close to its worst levels during the early 90s, when the unemployment rate went well above 7 percent.

Bit by bit, the evidence is mounting that the wheels are coming off this economy.

I don’t want to dispute the facts of the brief post, just the sentiment. The “wheels are coming off”? Come on. The U.S. is probably entering, if it hasn’t already entered, a recession. That is not the wheels coming off the economy. That is a perfectly normal phenomenon and Professor Krugman knows it. It’s also arguably a necessary phenomenon and I’d be stunned if Professor Krugman didn’t know those arguments. If you want an example of an economy with the wheels off, look at Zimbabwe. Now that, to mix our tired metaphors, is a train wreck.

All of which reminded me of a famous (in Australia, anyway) poem by Patrick Hartigan (1878-1952) writing under the pseudonym of John O’Brien:

Said Hanrahan

“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
As it had done for years.

“It’s looking crook,” said Daniel Croke;
“Bedad, it’s cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
Has seasons been so bad.”

“It’s dry, all right,” said young O’Neil,
With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
“It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

“The crops are done; ye’ll have your work
To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke
They’re singin’ out for rain.

“They’re singin’ out for rain,” he said,
“And all the tanks are dry.”
The congregation scratched its head,
And gazed around the sky.

“There won’t be grass, in any case,
Enough to feed an ass;
There’s not a blade on Casey’s place
As I came down to Mass.”

“If rain don’t come this month,” said Dan,
And cleared his throat to speak —
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“If rain don’t come this week.”

A heavy silence seemed to steal
On all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed a piece of bark.

“We want an inch of rain, we do,”
O’Neil observed at last;
But Croke “maintained” we wanted two
To put the danger past.

“If we don’t get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

In God’s good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
Way out to Back-o’-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“If this rain doesn’t stop.”

And stop it did, in God’s good time;
And spring came in to fold
A mantle o’er the hills sublime
Of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet,
With harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
Nid-nodding o’er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face,
As happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey’s place
Went riding down to Mass.

While round the church in clothes genteel
Discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed his piece of bark.

“There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”