Assorted Political Thoughts
I’ve obviously neglected this blog for a few weeks now…I’m working on a lengthy post about vinyl, but for the time being I wanted to cover a few political notions I’ve been considering lately:
- If you’re arguing simultaneously for lower taxes, lower government spending, and lower unemployment, you fail it. It being critical thinking. The deficit is a big problem and will be for quite some time. However, there is still a massive credit crunch. In order for us to address unemployment, which is the most pressing issue, someone has to start spending. The private sector still can’t get the credit to do it right now, so the best available candidate is the government. Another point that is lost amidst all of the rampant deficit-hawking is that if the government is in debt, more money has to be in private hands. It’s zero sum. And China does not hold most of our debt, by the way – not even close. While they hold the largest amount of our foreign debt, the lion’s share of the national deficit is held in the United States itself, by the private sector. Finally, concerning spending, the federal government is far and away the largest employer in the United States. I don’t think it’s wise at this point for the country’s largest employer, and the only one has the ability to counteract market irrationality, to cut jobs in the middle of a deep recession. To summarize, anyone who is deficit-hawking right now has missed the point, and the ones who are simultaneously complaining about high unemployment are especially unhinged.
- Carly Fiorina was on Meet the Press yesterday slamming the Obama administration’s response to the BP disaster. When called out on the flip-flop most conservatives have made on this specific issue (“No government, no!” turned into “Where’s the government help!?!”), she responded that government should respond “efficiently.” Whereas efficiency is essentially doing the most while using the fewest resources, I would recommend to Ms. Fiorina that there is a baseline of resources that a government must maintain as a matter of readiness, because efficiency and readiness are inextricably linked. It’s the whole “ounce of prevention vs. pound of cure” thing. However, Ms. Fiorina seems completely unaware that her party has chopped that ounce of prevention down to almost nothing. The MMS under Bush was damaged much more thoroughly than 18 mos. of a new administration could ever hope to repair. Yes, I am COMPLETELY blaming Bush, because it’s his fault in this case, to the chagrin of the (Selective) Law and Order party.
- I’ve never been that great at articulating what I think is the fatal systemic flaw in Neoliberal/Austrian economic theory. Thankfully, economist Michael Hudson does a superb job at it in his recent paper. It is very dense, and some of the jargon escapes me, but his explanation in context of our departure from the relationship between actual pragmatic value and price is a very rewarding read. A better-formatted PDF version can be found here.