The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, Encapsulated

Here’s just about all you need to know (or quite a bit, anyway) about the Wall Street Journal editorial page, summed up in one unfortunate headline and subhed:

The Real Tragedy of Persistent Unemployment

It erodes the skills of the labor force and reduces future productivity.

The real tragedy of the little people being out of work for long periods, you see, is that Serious Men of Industry can’t get as much use out of their wage slaves. Serious Men of Finance won’t be able to skim as much out of the economy, either, if these people are out of work too long.

Meanwhile, all that stuff about people going homeless, kids suffering, depression, divorce, abuse—hey, all that’s the Fake Tragedy.

PIMCO’s Mohamed El-Erian, who wrote the op-ed but presumably not the headlines, does say this:

In addition to considering the welfare cost of substantial joblessness, policy makers should keep in mind the following four facts:

But even that’s ambiguous as to whether he’s talking about “welfare” in the sense of the Preamble or “welfare” in the sense of the social programs. I’m going to guess it’s the latter.

A little bit of unemployment’s a good thing in this worldview—keeps wages down. But get too many people bumming around for too long on and off the dole, and, well, that might interfere with medium-to-long-term profits.

So, uh, cut government spending. And kill those unemployment benefits. Also, don’t pass too many rules slapping these folks on the wrist for killing the economy and sending all those people they didn’t go to college with into the poorhouse.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.