Kirn is musing on the arbitrary definitions of recession and inflation.
The whole late 20th Century notion that your immediate experience is less reliable than information broadcast on electronic screens needs to be reconsidered. It was a case of mistaking science fiction for fact and stemmed from a kind of daft optimistic boom-times delirium.
Well, the hatred of experience is considerably older than TV, but comparatively recent on the broad scale of history.
Looking up the history:
Turning against experience seems to have been part of the 1700s Endarkenment, along with the monstrous anti-experience lies about “equality”. The Endarkenment deified Rationality and Science, which are brand names for arbitrary counter-experiential insanity.
Experience is the BEST teacher is an extremely common and extremely correct proverb. It was first written by Caesar and Tacitus, and found often in English writing since 1500.
Franklin, representing the Endarkenment, reversed it: Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other. Sir Walter Scott, a bit later, also reversed it: Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
On the specific subject of government economic fakery, we have the predictable dividing line. 1776 started it with the Self-Evident Lethal Nonsense. Lincoln used economic lies to kill 1/5 of the country. FDR gave us a break, telling the plain truth about everything and using the plain truth to solve problems. 1946 brought the liars back in full strength.
Frank Edwards, still running on FDR vapors, showed us the starting point of the current set of lies. In the one surviving newscast from 1954, he leads with a story about unemployment and economics.
“Last night the Secretary of Commerce had to admit that in his own words we are in a recession.” Edwards then reviews the fakery of unemployment statistics, “But of course you knew that”, and then details the plight of farmers, caught between forced low prices for produce and forced high prices for fertilizer and other supplies.
Sounds fucking familiar.