Now we’re REALLY in trouble: The WSJ quotes ME on the economy

Just this morning, after taking two days off, I pondered my three-day growth, and the overused disposable razor by the sink (I really need to buy some more this weekend), and thought this would be a perfect time to grow the beard back, just in time for Christmas. But then I thought it might confuse the twins as to who I was, and no amount of convenience was worth that.

So I shaved, and then came in to work, to find that my boss, Publisher Henry Haitz, had e-mailed me a story from The Wall Street Journal, which started like this:

Growth Area: Beards on Laid-Off Executives
Released From Staid Offices, More Men Free Their Facial Hair; the Professorial Look vs. ZZ Top

    Call it the face of freedom.
    After Jorge Hendrickson lost his job at a Manhattan hedge fund three weeks ago, he stopped shaving. "I’ve shaved for so long, and it’s nice to be able to look at the positive side" of losing a job, says Mr. Hendrickson, 24. "I’m changing my lifestyle while I can."…

This, of course, is not the kind of message you want to receive from your boss after taking a couple of days off (and almost deciding to grow your beard back), on the same day you read that David Stanton — the only person at WIS I could name, a guy who went to work there the same year I joined The State — has been unceremoniously laid off.

But then I saw Henry’s note at the top of the e-mail, which read "Assuming you saw this in wsj yesterday, 4th para from the bottom….." Here was the graf to which he directed me:

Ben Bernanke’s furry jawline gives the Fed chairman the look of a trustworthy intellectual. But Brad Warthen, editorial page editor for The State, a Columbia S.C., newspaper, recently pondered what would happen if Mr. Bernanke were to shave. "Could this be the bold stroke that is needed to jolt the economy back to where it should be?" Mr. Warthen posited in his blog.

So now you know the economy is really, really in trouble. The collapse of credit markets, the swan dive of the Detroit Three automakers, the apparent refusal of consumers to spend on Christmas, on and on –all that was just preliminaries.

It has now come to this: The venerable Wall Street Journal quoting my meanderings about what the Fed chairman’s facial hair might mean in terms of the world economy’s future direction. Sure, Bernanke is from South Carolina — from the Pee Dee in fact, just like me — and that gives me special insight, but still…

The time has come to curl up into a ball and pull the blanket over your head. It’s the only rational response…

34 thoughts on “Now we’re REALLY in trouble: The WSJ quotes ME on the economy

  1. Tim

    Since becoming a stay-at-home dad, I still shave every couple of days. But I did wear sandals for about 183 straight days. If the Journal ever does a story on how the economic crisis is affecting men’s footwear, I hope you’ll point them in my direction since they are looking to you for inspiration.

  2. tom

    congratulations brad
    weren’t you wondering if blogging was worth it earlier this week? and now you score with the wsj. good for you.
    and the beard…not a good idea

  3. Rich

    They’re paying attention to you, Brad, because, unfortunately, they are also paying attention to Elmer Fudd, our do-nothing governor who could not be more hated by his own party than was Jimmy in the late 70’s by Congress.
    We are still Alaska when it comes to our national importance, and if people start probing too deeply, they’ll discover that the only well-run part of our state government is the South Carolina (Teacher) Retirement System. Under our Tillman Constitution of 1895, this is still a state with a detrimental imbalance of executive, legislative, and judicial functions.
    Fortunately, our governor has but to propose budgetary or other policies, and magically they are turned into dust by a Republican-dominated legislature that blessedly puts local patronage and pork above nescient, unreconstructed party “principle.”
    If we can’t have a competent governor of either party, then at least we can have one that the legislature can hate on and safely ignore into oblivion.
    Even André Bauer manages to be more effective–and he’s only lieutenant governor!
    Brad, I am glad that the State was noticed nationally because our state newspaper is a fine journal. My elderly parents are visiting from Massachusetts and they love the State paper and the ease with which everything is accessible within its pages (oh, and mom loves all the advertising–so keep that coming, too).
    Nevertheless, let’s keep things in proper perspective. If the nation ever were truly to pay attention to the way people think here, they would be alternatively amused and revolted–much as we all were by Sarah Palin mouthing nonsense while turkeys were being killed and bled behind her as she spoke.
    Our brief limelight should reveal the better angels of our nature–much as happens in other small states like Vermont or Delaware when national attention is briefly cast upon them.
    But I doubt that’s going to happen. The same people who read your blog surely also notice the many posts of yahoos like Lee Muller and P.M., who unfailingly take ungenerous, illiberal, and neanderthal view of American politics and culture.
    They’re not going to want to have any part of that.

  4. bud

    I can see Brad’s head swelling.
    I’ve been debating the depth of the current recession with my brother. Everyone but Lee Muller now acknowelges what most workers have know for a year: We are in a recession. But how bad is it? On the one hand, the various news stories paint a very grim picture of layoffs, factory closures and negative economic growth. Yet if you look at the numbers they say things like this: “Most people drawing unemployement in 26 years”. Well that sounds bad, but remember we have more people than ever before and 26 years is not THAT long ago. So yes, we’re suffering a recession.
    But if you drive anywhere or shop at Harbison, Sandhills or Trenholm Plaza, places I’ve been to in the last 2 weeks, there are very few empty stores. Even at Dutch Square I only saw a few empty stores. There seem to be lines at every restaraunt I go to. (Admitedly I don’t go very often anymore). The pizza business is slow but not drastically so. Even the DOW seems to have bottomed out. State agencies are cutting back on employees but only modestly as far as I can tell.
    So what is it, a new great depression or merely a modest slowdown? If things don’t get any worse I say this won’t even approach the depths of the Reagan recession of 1982. Could even be milder than Bush Sr.’s recession of 1990. Yet the MSM gets all worked up about this as if armageddon is coming. I’m going to predict that we’ve hit bottom already and by the summer the Bush Jr. recession will be nothing but a memory. Obama and the new Dem congress will make sure of it.

  5. Lee Muller

    The standard definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative growth. We have not had that since the last Clinton Recession which began in October 2000.
    We will no doubt be in a recession by the first quarter of 2009, but all the talk about it being here now is just political spin intended to brand it as President Bush’s recession. The truth is, this economic crisis is the direct result of corruption and meddling by Democrats, from the secret deals to set up junk mortgages for blacks and illegal aliens, to the current encouragement of the UAW to make no concessions.
    Democrats have passed deficit spending bills of over $1.2 TRILLION this year. The news reports today that Pelosi and Obama are cooking up another “fast track”, no debate spending spree in January of $500 BILLION, all borrowed.
    The stock market began crashing the day Obama sewed up the nomination, and it continues as he and the Democrats continue to threaten tax increases, record debt, massive welfare programs, and confiscation of retirement plans.

  6. p.m.

    Rich, I think my “neanderthal view of American politics and culture” balances your carpetbagger’s eye to South Carolina matters exquisitely.
    Be advised that from my point of view, wearing politically-correct blinders is not a “way people think” but an effort to march lockstep in fashionable laziness intellectually.
    I’m curious. Does being a part of the political nouveau riche always make it difficult to find a hat big enough to fit? Or is that just a symptom of wearing those infernal blinders?
    There’s something else my fellow yahoos want me to ask, too: Why are you buttering Brad up?
    A few of them also wanted me to ask if there was any chance you’d be going home with your parents, but I told them that would be just plain rude.

  7. Rich

    Well, P.M., you’ve just demonstrated once again what’s wrong with the thinking of many socially conservative, native white southerners in this state.
    It’s time to rejoin the Union!!

  8. p.m.

    Bud’s Union, Rich?
    “I’m going to predict that we’ve hit bottom already and by the summer the Bush Jr. recession will be nothing but a memory. Obama and the new Dem congress will make sure of it.”
    Sorry. I can’t get quite that starry-eyed. When that point of view gets too popular, a dictator springs up like a displaced yankee to tell everybody how they ought to live their lives.

  9. jfx

    Lee said:
    “We will no doubt be in a recession by the first quarter of 2009, but all the talk about it being here now is just political spin intended to brand it as President Bush’s recession.”
    Unfortunately, once again reality intrudes, as George W. Bush says you’re wrong:

    Ouch! So much for this being Obama’s recession, although he’ll certainly inherit it and have to manage the mess. Notice how Bush doesn’t hold too many press conferences these days? I also notice he didn’t say one word in there about any of this being all the fault of “meddling Democrats”.
    There’s plenty of blame to go around, but it’s awfully hard to pass the buck on something this big when you’ve been the chief executive of the country for 8 years, and it’s all happened on your watch.

  10. bud

    jfx, Lee operates in an alternative reality. It is rather pointless to try and use facts to counter his delussional rants.
    What’s interesting to me about the current recession is the poor state of the economy when it started. Consumer and public debt were at record levels. Wages were stagnant. The manufacturing sector has been in decline for 20 years. And that was BEFORE gasoline prices soared to $4, the housing bubble burst and the financial sector collapsed. Indeed there is plenty of blame to go around but frankly this can only be labeled the Bush, Jr. recession. Most of the policies that led to this mess occurred on his watch while the GOP was in control. Sure you can point out something here or there that dems did to enable the trickle down/no regulation crowd to have their way. But at the end of the day the GOP was in charge and the president was the leader of the land while this unfolded. Thankfully the democrats will control it all in a month and we can begin to climb out of this hole. It will be interesting see if the 58 senate seats will be enough to thwart most fillibusters. I’m betting 3 or 4 Republicans will cross over to the good side of the aisle so that positive legislation can pass. But maybe I’m just being too optimistic. Time will tell.

  11. gayguy

    I’m really turned on by Lee Muller’s unflappable authoritarian persona.
    I don’t care WHAT he’s talking about,all I’ve got to say is,”Yes,Sir!”

  12. Ish Beverly

    Rich is one of those fellows from “up north” with all the culture and intelligence we need down here if only we would listen to him. I know they are still executing innocent people as witches up there in Salem because Rich thinks we still live as we did in the 1800’s down here in SC. Rich thinks all Southern bred conservitive white men are ignorant, illiterate and racist. I’ll also bet that Rich does not know that what is left of the K K Klan, are now members of the Democratic Party. I feel that Rich’s ideology tends to narrow his scope of education. Bad for a teacher. Rich uses a lot of complex words and phrases but some of the points he trys to make in order to make a point are irrelevant. He reminds me of my friend Ed as we were discussing the performance of a football team last month. How to improve and etc. The only input Ed had was how ugly one of the Cheerleaders were. Most of the Obama supporters never post any facts or useful information on this blog. They post only liberal spin and propaganda. On the other hand, Lee, P.M., Slugger, Dave, Bart, Haskell, Doug and a few others make this blog readable. Don’t do anything to run them off.

  13. Bart

    I started to post some of the usual response to our “immigrants” from the North who come here to teach us and show us the error of our ways but declined this time. After all, it is the holiday season and we should be more forgiving and understanding.
    Why would I point out an obvious fact to Rich that I-95 runs North and South? He is a teacher and should be aware of that simple fact. He should understand simple deductive reasoning that if he is unhappy with us, there are no tolls to be paid on I-95 if he wishes to use the North bound lane to return to Massachusetts.
    It puzzles me when I read comments from the Rich’s of South Carolina as to why they stay here. According to Rich, the state is comprised of mostly “ignert” white social conservatives who are racist, homophobic, Republican, sexist, uneducated, and in his world, we still marry our kin. At least that is the impression I get from his posts.
    Why are you still here Rich? Are you on a mission from God? Have you been annointed as our deliverer? A reincarnated Ghandi? No, Ghandi wouldn’t be describing opposing views as neanderthal or calling those who express them “yahoos”.
    After all, it is the holiday season and in that spirit, thank goodness for the holiday break so Rich won’t be in front of our children for a short period of time. What a great present, a short break from an intolerant liberal.

  14. Lee Muller

    It doesn’t matter if President Bush, jtx, bud, the Democrats in the media, or even some economists want to declare that we are in a recession,…. the FACT is, we ARE NOT.
    The definition of a recession is “two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.” Last quarter, growth was +2.8%. Even if growth is below zero (an “economic contraction”) in the 4Q (Oct, Nov, Dec), that will still not meet the definition of a recession. If the economy declines again in 1Q 2009, then it will be a recession, AS OF April 1, 2009, which BEGAN in October 2008. But let’s wait until it happens, because we have had single quarters of negative growth which were followed by POSITVE growth in the next several quarters.

  15. Ish Beverly

    The place you are from is not the determining factor. In most cases its who you join up with, who you get your orientation from, laziness, and the inability to think for yourself.

  16. Rich

    Agreed. And you conservative yahoos have hooked up to the losing team! The Republican Party is in serious danger of permanent marginalization as the party of racists, bigots, fundamentalist crackpots, and know-nothings. Get used to the fact that you have lost and will continue to lose!!

  17. Bart

    Rich, the Republicans were saying the same thing about Democrats a few years ago. Remember, the pendulum swings back and forth. You happen to be on the upswing for now. Once your side takes power come January and you are under the microscope, the pendulum will swing back once again to the conservative side.
    Sarah Palin, the antithesis of everything you stand for will be back, creating nightmares for you and yours. You have tried to marginalize her but without success. The fact that McCain hasn’t endorsed her for 2012 is the best indication that she will have a major role to play in the future.
    As far as being from Louisiana, even the Cajun country has misfits who must move on. Why don’t you go back to Louisiana and give them the benefit of your dazzling intellect and progressive viewpoints. I am sure Governor Jindal will welcome your social and political acumen and call on you often for advice. Hell, maybe some of the kids in the bayous can use your superior attitude as a role model.
    Its not that we South Carolinians are not friendly, we simply have an aversion to being made to feel irrelevant in our own home state by you and other “immigrants” who come in and tell us we are stupid, yahoos, rednecks, bigots, crackpots, know-nothings, and losers because we happen to vote Republican more often than Democrat.
    Your constant attacks against us has become a damn bore and your continuous lambasting us and our attitudes is getting nowhere.
    So, if you have forgotten, I-95 has North and South bound lanes. Use either one if you are so damn miserable living among the unwashed, uneducated, and ignorant residents of this state.

  18. Lee Muller

    Better act soon, Rich.
    If Obama screws up the economy the way he is threatening to, with tax increases, environuttiness, and this $300..$500…$700…now $1,000 BILLION deficit in the first 100 days, we may have to close off the southbound lane of I-95 to keep the starving Obamanites out of here.

  19. Rich

    Forty-six per cent of S.C. voted for Barack Obama. There’s a good possibility that these folks agree more with me than with you. As for my “attacking” S.C., history has a tendency to be a merciless judge of people. You are what you have done, not what you think of yourself. That is a fundamental existential truth about the human condition. Existence precedes essence. Anything else is mere metaphysics, i.e., wishful thinking.
    South Carolina is part of a string of states that risks being completely marginalized if it holds onto some of the ultra-conservative positions expressed routinely on this blog. A truly democratic reform of our federal system would marginalize this state’s influence even further (as well as Vermont’s).
    The Senate needs to become based upon population–not two senators per state. We are an indissoluble federation. The Civil War truly was the second American revolution since it irrevocably established the supremacy of the federal government over the states, whose sovereignty henceforth would be permanently and irretrievably secondary to the overall sovereignty and complete supremacy of the UNION. E pluribus unum, dawg. That’s whassup!
    Also, if you’ve read my blog entries in other parts of this public forum, you will see that I consistently argue for a reinvigorated Republican Party to balance the resurgent Democrats.
    The Democracy has never, ever seen a dollar it did not wish to spend, and that must be counterbalanced by a party equally committed to civil rights as its legacy from Lincoln, but also to fiscal conservatism and our tradition of rugged individualism and strict separation of the mullahs from the state. We don’t need a party dominated by religious fundamentalists who, while not only being wrong on the truly basic question of the existence of a deity, are also quite willing to trample on the liberties that the Radical Republicans of the Reconstruction era successfully enshrined in our constitution. The work of Thaddeus Stevens took a hundred years to achieve fruition, but ultimately justice prevailed over force and rural, white ignorance.
    While it is true that 95 runs both ways (I use this expression myself when I hear people complain about the fact that South Carolina is quite willing to enforce its laws), constructive criticism is exactly what this state needs.
    What we don’t need is to see our do-nothing governor on television lecturing the country about our financial crisis. Sanford would be Hoover if he could. I long for the days of Beasley and Hodges. These were governors who were quite willing to go out on a limb and govern publicly.
    They paid for it, too. The conservative yahoos of this state love the Confederate battle flag–and all the evil and race hatred it truly stands for.

  20. Lee Muller

    History lesson for Rich – the USA is a Republic, not a democracy.
    Democracy is not a permanent form of government, merely a method of decision making for real governments.
    I don’t know why Rich is impressed that 46% of South Carolinians voted for Obama. 90% of Germans voted for Hitler, and they didn’t even vote twice.

  21. Bart

    gayguy, apparently you think your comments evoke some homoerotic images but truthfully, they are pretty damn disgusting. If you want to post on a sex blog, just enter gay sex on the computer and you will find an endless supply of sites to visit.
    Lee doesn’t need me to defend him but this isn’t about Lee, its about common decency. We hit each pretty hard on this site at times but we keep it within certain boundaries. You have overstepped them. If you want to flaunt your sexual orientation, find another place to post.
    I am surprised Brad allows you to continue since your comments border on sexual harrassment. No damn wonder gays continue to be viewed in such a negative manner. Apparently all you ever think about is what is in another man’s pants. Clear enough for you you damn pervert?
    Go find a “glory hole” and crawl through it.

  22. Bart

    Last night, I posted a pretty strong comment about the nature of the comments if you want to call them comments by “gayguy”. Another poster did the same thing except a little more friendly concerning the tone of “gayguy’s” comments. When I went to bed, the comments were there. Now, both are gone.
    I have no problem with freedom of speech and on this blog so far, we have hit each other pretty hard at times and all in an open atmosphere. Now that I have taken objections to what I consider inappropriate comments by “gayguy”, I have been censored.
    I have no problem with a person’s sexual orientation. I have many gay and lesbian friends but they would never consider posting the type comments “gayguy” has been posting. It is inappropriate. I would object if the comments were hetrosexual in nature as well.
    If my comments were over the top, so what? I consider “gayguy’s” last comment extremely offensive. This blog has been a good source of discussion, disagreement, and other opinions offered that gave me cause to think about some things in another light or from another perspective. But, if comments like the last one is the future of the blog, goodbye.
    Well Brad, you can have back now. I am out of here.

  23. Ish Beverly

    Bud and Rich make a very good argument for reinstating the draft. They both need a good old American reeducation like we used to give when I was in the Army.

  24. Bart

    Brad, have you stopped accepting posting to this thread? There are some responses that have not been posted and some removed that were here before?

  25. Bart

    Thanks for the response. You really should refrain from calling conservatives yahoos, etc. It gets you nowhere fast. As for the I-95 comment, I actually meant it. Just as one would expect someone who is constantly complaining about a television program but continues to watch it has no excuse. The remote is in his or her hand and with the simple push of one button, the channel can be changed. If living in South Carolina is really such a chore for you, in all sincerity, why stay here?
    As for the Confederate flag, while some find it offensive, I don’t. My family from both sides are among the original settlers and I take great pride in that fact. They were not slave owners but did fight for the South. In fact, they were adamantly against one human owning another for any reason. Reading some of the old letters from soldiers in the Confederate army to family back home never once mentioned slavery or anything other than fighting for their home. That is the crux of our devotion to the true meaning of the Confederate flag. Skinheads and the KKK have hijacked an important symbol of our heritage and believe me, it is resented to the highest degree possible. When I see a tag with the Confederate flag on a redneck vehicle, it ticks me off to no end.
    My family on both sides lost several members in key battles and several years ago, we participated in a ceremony when one of our relatives was moved back to the family cemetary and re-interred. He died in a northern prison camp without shoes, medical attention, and malnutrition. He never owned a slave.
    So, don’t judge us by the actions of a few or those who misuse the battle flag as a racist tool. Remember that the swastika was hijacked from an Indian religion and used for horrible atrocities against the world in general.
    We do need constructive criticism but not the type you have been engaging in with name calling. Again, it serves no purpose and you won’t change one mind using it.

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