Amity Shlaes mounts a stirring defense of Phil Gramm's "mental recession . . . nation of whiners" argument. I think it's telling that some strain of conservatism thinks that the debater's point that the economy's not technically in a recession until we see two consecutive quarters of GDP shrinkage should be at the center of how we understand this. The relevant point, it seems to me, is that the economic suffering is quite real, recession or otherwise.

[Among other things, if we experienced eighty straight years of 0.1 percent GDP growth, that would be an unprecedented recession-free span but also a large drop in per capita living standards]