It is hard to understand what is going on in the economy when you get Paul Krugman, after peaching for over a year now against profligate consumerism by Americans, come out and say, “Solid growth will continue only if private spending takes up the baton as the effect of the stimulus fades.” His point is that government deficit spending to provide stimulus for economic recovery has not been enough to do the job, now the private sector must continue the good work by its own deficit spending. And this from the guru who chastized Americans for spending too much to buy the “American Dream.”

It was Krugman and his ilk who convinced the American people that they were spending too much and they had to start saving more. Now that they are saving and not spending he is upset because this will insure that the unemployment rate remains high.

Being a hedonistic spendthrift I have constantly preached for spending the stimulus money fast and anything else lying around. I have also repeatedly stated that our economy will not regain the heights it reached in 2007 without a return of securitized debt and the vast increase in personal consumption it allowed. I am still betting that the American consumer will sooner or later shuck beans and rice and go back to steak and lobster.

But I could be wrong. Perhaps we have entered a “post consumerism economy,” and our reduced consumption will mean no new jobs for some time to come. Again, no expansion in credit means no increase in consumption, means no increase in production, means no new jobs.

In the meantime there is Thomas Friedman saying that people are not supporting President Obama’s efforts to solve several problems at the same time - health care, banking, economic, climate, energy, education and foreign affairs - because he has not combined these policies into a “narrative” about “nation building.” He needs to build a “motivated public and a spirit of shared sacrifice.” He needs a “narrative that will get the same voters who elected him, to push through his ambitious agenda - against all the forces of inertia and private greed.” He goes on to quote a Harvard bard who says, “….a narrative that challenges us to be citizens engaged in a common endeavor, not just consumers seeking the best deal for ourselves.”

So here we have Krugman saying that we need more spending by the private sector to carry on the good work of Obama’s stimulus plan while Friedman says we need to set aside “private greed” in pursuit of common action to achieve the commonweal. Is it any wonder people have lost all faith in the discordant voices telling us how to solve our economic problems?