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While Americans grow increasingly worried about debt, economists fret about stimuli

Were I not so busy visiting a good Mormon friend in Utah — where I get to play uncle to his kids — I might have more to say about Mortimer B. Zuckerman’s piece, The Most Fiscally Irresponsible Government in U.S. History, that Glenn Reynolds linked yesterday.

Suffice it to say that I read the piece shortly after my friend and I discussed this very issue, how the growing federal debt threatens not just our economy, but even the very greatness of this nation.  The passage that Glenn included on Instapundit very much reflected the tone of my recent conversation:

People see the stimulus, fashioned and passed by Congress in such a hurry, as a metaphor for wasted money. They are highly critical about the lack of discipline among our political leaders. The question that naturally arises is how to forestall a long-term economic decline.

But, something else struck me:

In a usnews.com post on July 26, Jodie Allen of the Pew Research Center reported that in recent weeks more academic and market economists have been urging the government to defer budget cuts and tax increases and instead provide additional stimulus to a still-fragile economy, some by continuing the Bush tax cuts. But among the public there has been a suggestive shift of opinion the other way, reflecting worries about debt. “Deficit and government spending” has jumped from 10th or 11th place as a priority for the federal government to one that is second only to job creation and economic growth.

While I of course so favor deferring tax increases into perpetuity, I do favor making budget cuts immediately.  Does this make me more or less representative of Americans?

That said, there does seem to be a disconnect between what the “élite” economists favor and what the people want.  People just don’t believe government stimuli work.  But, as per my conversation with my friend, would they support the drastic spending cuts we need to put our fiscal house in order?

Consider this:  “Why plan a second stimulus,” Zuckerman asks, “if the first stimulus couldn’t prevent high unemployment?”

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38 Comments

  1. These words appear in the first blockquote:

    the lack of discipline among our political leaders

    There is great discipline among the political leaders.

    It is our elected representatives who will not put politics aside.

    The financial crisis bomb that was dropped on the nation in late September of 2008 was the wake-up call. Seemingly out of nowhere, we had to put nearly a trillion dollars into banks and investment houses in order to prevent cataclysmic financial collapse. Bush, Reid, Pelosi, Skippy the Clown, Couric, Paris Hilton, Maddow, Mike Tyson, and the MSM were all aboard the runaway TARP train. McCain and Obama mumbled along with it.

    That was the last time conservatives looked on in disbelief and said that there must be things that the government knows that require speed and and a radical plan. We will just have to trust that they know what they are doing.

    Then came Obama and he and the Democrats exposed themselves as treasury depleting carnies who have the morals and planning of Gypsies on steroids.

    Now, a growing number of little people look at their elected representatives and see only politicians playing power games.

    More than that, the internet exposes the clowns and sticks a “kick me” sign on their backs.

    Everyone knows that Pelosi wouldn’t last a shift pouring coffee at a truck stop. Everyone wonders how Rangel got so rich on a Congressman’s salary. Everyone watches the Obama’s party like the kings of France while trying to sell their commoner’s credentials by going to a burger joint.

    The great “political leader” circus has gone off the tracks. The messiah has fallen off the wall and all the political leaders can not put him back together again.

    Damn that talk radio. Damn that internet. Damn those little people.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 29, 2010 @ 9:36 am - August 29, 2010

  2. And where will you cut the budget, they will ask. I will answer.

    1. Reset spending levels for all Federal agencies to 2007 levels (the last budget authored by a Republican Congress.) {That’s $800 Billion right there}

    2. End the Stimulus and further bailouts.

    3. Repeal ObamaCare.

    4. Break up and Privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and get the Federal Government out of the housing business entirely.

    5. Eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, subsidies for public broadcasting, and other non-essential luxuries.

    6. Privatize AMTRAK and eliminate pork transportation projects.

    7. Eliminate Agricultural subsidies to corporations like Archer Daniels Midland and Tyson’s chicken; but keep a program for small family farms. End ethanol subsidies.

    8. Eliminate all foreign aid to unfriendly and undemocratic countries.

    And if you really want to tackle the problem.

    1. Reform Social Security. Means-test SS for higher income people. Let them receive a lump sum of their contributions upon retirement, but not ongoing benefit.

    2. Abolish Medicare and Medicaid and replace them with leaner, market-based alternatives.

    3. Streamline the tax code from 67,000 pages to no more than 100. Eliminate special interest tax breaks, leaving only mortgage interest and charitable contributions. Eliminate the capital gains tax and the death tax. Enact a wealth-tax on large trust funds.

    4. Eliminate the Federal Departments of Energy, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, and fold their vital functions, if any, into other departments.

    5. Reduce the US Military presence in Europe and Northeast Asia. This would take many years and would not result in immediate savings, but having countries that can afford to defend themselves pay their own freight would be a long-term structural savings.

    Comment by V the K — August 29, 2010 @ 10:20 am - August 29, 2010

  3. Consider this: ”Why plan a second stimulus,” Zuckerman asks, “if the first stimulus couldn’t prevent high unemployment?”

    The first stimulus is preventing higher unemployment, but Obama was too much of a chickensh*t to get enough money to actually reverse the increase in unemployment. It’s simply irrational to actually believe that the government spending a few hundred billion dollars doesn’t create jobs somewhere along the line.

    Every liberal economist on the planet knew that Obama had exactly one chance to pass a large enough recovery bill to get the economy moving again, because it would be easy for Republicans to pretend like the bill didn’t do anything if unemployment was still rising. Once again, Obama proves to be his own worst enemy, trying to court unattainable conservative approval while hamstringing his own agenda and betraying the constituents that put him in office.

    I hope you know that dozens of Congressional Republicans have talked about how many jobs it is creating in their districts. Watch this clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VOE6JRfDs8

    They voted against the bill, and every time they go on Hardball or Fox News they’ll go on and on about fiscal responsibility, but when it’s time to press the flesh and suck up to your constituents, these guys can’t stop talking about how effective the stimulus package was at creating jobs. Again, it’s undeniable that government spending creates jobs. It’s so undeniable that the Republicans that pretend to oppose government spending don’t deny it – at least when they’re in front of the right audience.

    For all the doom and gloom about how government spending and increased debt is supposed to destroy this country in the future, those are some fairly unrealistic and intangible claims compared to joblessness in the present. The government of the United States borrowing money is not like you or I borrowing money, there’s not going to be anyone knocking at the door of the United States. This country is too important and too large a player in international politics and economics to be…. well, I don’t know, whatever the hell it is that you guys are so irrationally worried about. Do you think a repo man is going to come and take our aircraft carriers back or something? We’re good for it. We’ll be around long enough and we’ll grow the international economy by so much that borrowing 1.5 trillion for a stimulus package is well worth it.

    Comment by Levi — August 29, 2010 @ 10:25 am - August 29, 2010

  4. Zuckerman’s column was interesting but the real value is in the reader comments – most of which are along the lines of “Now you tell us.”

    VtK: all your ideas are good ones and should be adopted immediately. But, they won’t.

    We’ve done this to ourselves – the signs have been obvious for years to anyone who cared to look… I’m reminded on the scene in Jaws where Mr. Hooper says to the mayor (We, the People in this case):

    I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you on the ass!

    Comment by SoCalRobert — August 29, 2010 @ 10:31 am - August 29, 2010

  5. Levi said: The first stimulus is preventing higher unemployment.

    To which I say: prove it. How does going trillions into debt in order to bail out bloated, overpaid bureaucracy help to improve the economy? As Reagan said (paraphrasing), for government to give Joe a dollar, it must first take it from Steve (or borrow it from her-yet-to-be-born or him-that’s-still-in-kindergarten).

    Another question: If the government spends $1 trillion to address 20 million unemployed, that works out to $50,000 per unemployed person. So is it worthwhile to spend this sort of money and still wind up with ten percent unemployment and record numbers of people on food stamps?

    I don’t know what the answer is but I’m pretty sure that more of the same is NOT the correct answer.

    Comment by SoCalRobert — August 29, 2010 @ 10:42 am - August 29, 2010

  6. Taking Levi’s idiocy to its logical conclusion, if US Debt doesn’t matter, why not just raise the amount of borrowing and spending and put millions of people on permanent six-figure welfare incomes? Or make all of us into six figure Government bureaucrats (but I repeat myself).

    I mean, if the USA is so important that it can borrow limitless trillions without ever having to worry about paying them back, why do any of us ever need to work again?

    Using what Levi calls logic, of course.

    Comment by V the K — August 29, 2010 @ 11:06 am - August 29, 2010

  7. Deficit spending aside, let’s take a look at the track record of countries who have tried Levi’s “Let’s give everybody a Government job” approach to economic development: The Soviet Union, Cuba, Zimbabwe… it sure worked great for them, didn’t it?

    When even the Swedes are cutting their corporate tax rate and reducing their Government programs, you would think some people would wise up and get a clue. Unfortunately, it’s Ideology-Uber-Alles for the Progressive Left.

    Comment by V the K — August 29, 2010 @ 11:15 am - August 29, 2010

  8. Levi said: The first stimulus is preventing higher unemployment.

    To which I say: prove it. How does going trillions into debt in order to bail out bloated, overpaid bureaucracy help to improve the economy? As Reagan said (paraphrasing), for government to give Joe a dollar, it must first take it from Steve (or borrow it from her-yet-to-be-born or him-that’s-still-in-kindergarten).

    Well, it’s not as if we can turn back the clock, or recreate the exact same economic conditions of Feb. 2009 and try again without a stimulus package. But it should be provable that government spending effects the unemployment rate by either increasing stimulus and seeing if the rate decreases and ultimately reverses, or by reducing the government budget to 2007 levels and seeing if that makes it worse.

    Another question: If the government spends $1 trillion to address 20 million unemployed, that works out to $50,000 per unemployed person. So is it worthwhile to spend this sort of money and still wind up with ten percent unemployment and record numbers of people on food stamps?

    Yes, if the alternative is to have 14% unemployment and even higher numbers of people on food stamps.

    I don’t know what the answer is but I’m pretty sure that more of the same is NOT the correct answer.

    Spending money generates economic activity. This should be fairly intuitive. If there is $100 billion more in the economy than there was a month ago, then more people have more money than they would have had without the $100 billion. If you want to hate the idea that this money is coming from the government that is your prerogative, but it’s undeniable that this is effective. The financial crisis evaporated about 2 or 3 trillion dollars overnight, and while it would be nice if people had enough savings and there were enough successful corporations in this country to absorb that kind of deficit in economic activity, that just isn’t the case. The only institution that is large enough to withstand such a blow is the federal government. If they can pick up the slack for a few years, why shouldn’t we want them to do that? This is the very reason we have a government and why we pay taxes, so that there are more options when crises hit.

    If it were a phone company investing a billion dollars in its network infrastructure, or an oil company spending ten billion on oil exploration, you wouldn’t deny that those measures stimulate economic activity, so why pretend like the government spending many times that amount does? Go ahead and get upset about the fact that you’re paying taxes that are going to some road project in another state, or that you’re covering unemployment for people you’ll never meet, but that’s the social contract that a government has with its people. And the costs of those taxes are insignificant compared to the costs you could incur from continuing national economic stagnation and contraction that may claim your job at some point.

    Also worth noting – between the Bush tax cuts and our stupid invasions in the Middle East, we’ve spent about $3 trillion dollars. Enough to cover the economic havoc wreaked by the financial sector. Would be nice to have that back, wouldn’t it?

    Comment by Levi — August 29, 2010 @ 11:20 am - August 29, 2010

  9. If it were a phone company investing a billion dollars in its network infrastructure, or an oil company spending ten billion on oil exploration, you wouldn’t deny that those measures stimulate economic activity, so why pretend like the government spending many times that amount does?

    Because the Stimulus didn’t spend money like that; it primarily went to pay unionized public employees to stare out the window all day. And when they weren’t doing that, many of them… in the EPA particularly (whose budget doubled under Obama)… are specifically engaged in preventing economic activity through promulgating and prosecuting excessive regulation.

    And it’s interesting that Levi cites “oil exploration” as an example of job creation considering one of the first acts of the Obama was to cancel exploration leases granted under the Bush Administration. Add to that the stupid, ill-considered offshore drilling moratorium that cost 23,000 jobs, and you will see why many of us are skeptical of the assertion that Big Government = Big Economy argument of the progressive left.

    And even in Japan, where they actually spend Stimulus money on infrastructure, they still could not break out of recession.

    Unlike the private sector, Government is simply has no incentive to spend money efficiently. Which is how we end up with bailouts of public employee unions and bridges to nowhere.

    Comment by V the K — August 29, 2010 @ 11:37 am - August 29, 2010

  10. The government of the United States borrowing money is not like you or I borrowing money,

    So all the liberal pissing and moaning about it two years ago was pure bullshit meant to strike fear into the hearts of voters for political purposes? All the liberal whining about China owning the U.S. was a fraud? Is that what you’re saying?

    The Summer of Wreckovery isn’t going as advertised.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — August 29, 2010 @ 11:41 am - August 29, 2010

  11. The first stimulus is preventing higher unemployment

    Naw, Levi, the first stimulus stopped unemployment in its tracks. I can’t prove it, but if you will send me the formula for the proof of your statement, I am sure I can use the same math to prove my assertion.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 29, 2010 @ 11:48 am - August 29, 2010

  12. Levi wrote: Spending money generates economic activity.

    That’s true – if the money is spent on things people are willing to pay for. There’s the old question about whether or not a vandal that breaks a store window is generating useful economic activity. (Short answer: no.)

    Spending on telecom or oil exploration is useful activity since it adds value… the fruits of both activities generates value that exceeds what was spent (i.e. the $100 the trucker spends on fuel moves more than $100 of goods from producer to consumer).

    On the other hand, spending on half-billion-dollar high schools (that will still graduate less than half of its students – and a lot of these graduates will be illiterate) may be good for a few connected construction companies but no real benefit is added.

    If just spending money was all it took, disasters like Hurricane Andrew or Katrina should have ignited economic booms. They didn’t. Just look at the activity generated by wars.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

    Comment by SoCalRobert — August 29, 2010 @ 12:03 pm - August 29, 2010

  13. I hope you know that dozens of Congressional Republicans have talked about how many jobs it is creating in their districts.

    Well help me out here. I can’t find any of the quotes Madcow used. I searched for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s, Kit Bond’s and Joe Wilson’s as samples.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — August 29, 2010 @ 12:06 pm - August 29, 2010

  14. Would be nice to have that back, wouldn’t it?

    It would be nicer to have the huge influx of treasury revenue due to the Bush tax cuts. It would be nicer to have the “record deficits” of $162 billion. It would be nicer to have multiple years of job growth and a 5% unemployment rate. All that would be preferable to Chairman Obama’s war on capitalism and the American people.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — August 29, 2010 @ 12:25 pm - August 29, 2010

  15. Levi, President Obama said the Porkulus would prevent unemployment going higher than 8%, yet unenployment is 9.5% with rigged numbers when the truth is it is really about 10.5%-12%–not including underemployed people & the people who have given up looking for work. Porkulus made things worse instead of helping the economy. Why? The government kept capital out of the taxpayers hands & took far more than any other in history with the previous 43 POTUS combined.

    Porkulus will be cancelled & repealed at some point since we’re on a unsustainable path with ObamaCare & every other Obama initiative.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — August 29, 2010 @ 12:28 pm - August 29, 2010

  16. Government “stimulus” of the economy only works in the short run at best, while weakening the economy in the long run. Kind of like a hit of some recreational drug.

    As the long run arrives, it stops working at all. And after 85 years of “stimulus” (starting with the Fed’s efforts in the mid 1920s to “stimulate” the Roaring 20s with low interest rates, then Hoover’s and Roosevelt’s efforts to “stimulate” out of the 1930 recession), our long run has arrived.

    Recessions are not exactly good, but they are necessary. Kind of like getting an operation to cure your cancer. They purge the economy of bad investment choices built up during the previous “stimulus”-induced boom. The more the government messes with the economy to create a boom or extend its life – that is, the more artificial the boom is – the bigger must be the recession which purges its mistakes.

    In that sense, government “stimulus” *causes* recessions, or at least bigger recessions. If government (or the central bank) policy causes an artificial boom – say, an Internet bubble, a real estate bubble or (today) a Treasury bond bubble – then government policy also caused the inevitable crash that comes after. The solution is to take the recession, then stop using “stimulus” at all. Let the government be reduced, let its budget be balanced, let interest rates float at market levels (not being pushed down artificially by the Fed).

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 29, 2010 @ 12:54 pm - August 29, 2010

  17. (continued) Just like a drug user needs to take the crash/depression of withdrawal, then stop using the drug – forever.

    The Democrats, as the top addicts in all this, have the greatest amount of denial going. They say, we can stop using “stimulus” – after we do that final, awesome round of really great “stimulus”. What drug user, if you confronted him, wouldn’t say “I’ll clean up my life, I just need one more really good hit to give me the energy”?

    [2008-9] was the last time conservatives looked on in disbelief and said that there must be things that the government knows that require speed and and a radical plan. We will just have to trust that they know what they are doing.

    Then came Obama and he and the Democrats exposed themselves as treasury depleting carnies who have the morals and planning of Gypsies on steroids.

    Yeah. What’s great about the 2008-9 crisis is that it exposes the emptiness of the Democrats’ rhetoric. They have always *posed* as the party of the little guy – while in reality serving interests that get rich off government intervention in the economy, and other “stimulus” policies such as Fed money-printing, including Wall Street interests. But now Obama and the Democrats have openly bailed out Wall Street. So much for their mask.

    The Republicans unfortunately have been infected with Big Government, Keynesian, “stimulus” thinking themselves – as Bush originally proposed the bailouts and before that, a “stimulus” in the spring of 2008. But the Republicans have less work to do on themselves – a smaller distance to travel, morally and ideologically, to arrive at the small-government, balanced-budget, no-stimulus policies that are needed to save America.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 29, 2010 @ 1:08 pm - August 29, 2010

  18. V #2 – That would do it, sir!

    As for Levi: No, the Obama stimulus is *causing* higher unemployment. Not preventing it. Causing it. We would be better off today – the economy would be recovering better at this point in August 2010 – if there had been no Obama stimulus – and for that matter, no bailouts and no Bush stimulus (spring 2008).

    There is no “good stimulus”. Even if the money were spent with greater alleged wisdom (your favorite set of projects instead of mine), it would still be a drag on the economy – because it would still be interference in the economy. It would still postpone the necessary recession. And it would still be an institution that has no day-to-day incentives to be efficient – i.e., government – *preventing* decisions that would otherwise be achieved by real people in real markets, who do have incentives to be efficient.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 29, 2010 @ 1:19 pm - August 29, 2010

  19. Lying Levi, here are the facts.

    1) Barack Obama said the “stimulus” would keep unemployment below 8%.

    2) Barack Obama and every single liberal economist said that, without the “stimulus”, unemployment would rise to 8.8%.

    3) After the “stimulus”, unemployment shot up to over 9.5%.

    Therefore: Your “stimulus” made unemployment WORSE than it would have been without the “stimulus”, ACCORDING TO WHAT YOUR OWN LIBERAL ECONOMISTS CLAIMED.

    We understand that you won’t answer because you’re a coward. So we’ll hit you again.

    Also worth noting – between the Bush tax cuts and our stupid invasions in the Middle East, we’ve spent about $3 trillion dollars. Enough to cover the economic havoc wreaked by the financial sector. Would be nice to have that back, wouldn’t it?

    You stated that government spending is always a good thing because it always increases economic activity.

    Furthermore, unintelligent Levi, if you actually had read or researched anything on economics, you would know that the multiplier effect of tax cuts on economic activity has been proven to be twice to three times that of government spending.

    Perhaps you can explain why government workers like you who watch porn on their computers all day add to the economy. Can you do that?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — August 29, 2010 @ 3:51 pm - August 29, 2010

  20. The porkulus was used to fund the Florida Back To Work Program. When you look at the FBTW jobs on EmployFlorida.com, pretty much all of them are temporary, usually about 90 days, and pay about $7-8/hr. Not to mention, you have to be on some sort of welfare, I forget what it’s called, to apply for these jobs. To get that welfare, you have to have kids. If you’re single without kids, you’re SOL. And, of course, the feds have cut back the funding for FBTW.

    So that helps us how, exactly? It would seem that it benefits a select few and probably temporarily helps the unemployment numbers. We still have an unemployment rate of 13% in Polk County.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — August 29, 2010 @ 5:07 pm - August 29, 2010

  21. Levi: “Spending money generates economic activity. This should be fairly intuitive.”

    Levi: “Also worth noting – between the Bush tax cuts and our stupid invasions in the Middle East, we’ve spent about $3 trillion dollars.”

    SO is this Levi’s way of praising the previous administration for ‘generating economic activity’?

    Oh, and Levi, a tax cut is not the government spending money.

    Wow, science, the constitution, and now economics. Is there anything Levi does understand?

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 30, 2010 @ 8:50 am - August 30, 2010

  22. Taking Levi’s idiocy to its logical conclusion, if US Debt doesn’t matter, why not just raise the amount of borrowing and spending and put millions of people on permanent six-figure welfare incomes? Or make all of us into six figure Government bureaucrats (but I repeat myself).

    I mean, if the USA is so important that it can borrow limitless trillions without ever having to worry about paying them back, why do any of us ever need to work again?

    Using what Levi calls logic, of course.

    None of this is an argument that I would make. Increasing debt is only a good option when it is a worthwhile investment, and I consider pulling the US economy out of a recession to be a worthwhile investment. Good stimulus should do two things; it should put people to work immediately, and it should address meta-level economic issues. Infrastructure projects are great for this because it gets people to work and it directly targets the myriad of productivity, congestion, environmental, and national security issues associated with our oil-based economy. The government spending a few billion dollars on an infrastructure project can save and create hundreds of billions of dollars of private sector economic activity over the course of a few decades. We should be redesigning cities, we should be building high speed rail, we should be building nuke plants. Give people something to do now that pays dividends to the society as a whole in perpetuity – how does that not sound like a good idea?

    But I understand that this only makes sense if you’re taking the long view of civilization and can restrain yourself from whining about the federal witholding column on your paycheck. If you’re incapable of appreciating the tremendous economic opportunities that have been provided by government funded projects and programs, then there’s no convincing you.

    Comment by Levi — August 30, 2010 @ 9:10 am - August 30, 2010

  23. SO is this Levi’s way of praising the previous administration for ‘generating economic activity’?

    Oh, and Levi, a tax cut is not the government spending money.

    Wow, science, the constitution, and now economics. Is there anything Levi does understand?

    Yes, the wars have stimulated a degree of economic activity in the US economy. That’s as narguable as it is depressing – there are now American industries that have as a side effect the deaths of teenage military personnel. This is as clear an example of terribly inefficient government spending as it gets. Even though companies like Halliburton and Blackwater are generating profits, the costs to the US taxpayer are far greater in terms of deploying the military and the resentment that is generated from our occupations. It’s the exact opposite of what I described in my last post; we’re wasting money and we’re turning big problems into bigger problems.

    This seemed to be the design of the neocons, by the way. Rumsfeld and Bush helpfully privatized a lot of the military’s core functions and committed to open-ended and vaguely defined military excursions. Like so much else in this country, the taxpayers are baring the brunt of the costs and the corporations are reaping the benefits. Roosevelt said that he didn’t want World War II to create a single millionaire, in the case of Afghanistan and Iraq, creating millionaires seems to be the singular purpose.

    And a tax cut is essentially the government spending money on nothing, especially if there isn’t a commiserate spending decrease elsewhere in the budget.

    Comment by Levi — August 30, 2010 @ 9:23 am - August 30, 2010

  24. Good stimulus should do two things; it should put people to work immediately (…) Infrastructure projects are great for this….

    As I pass by the paving projects, I notice all the realtors, waitresses, software writers, shipping room people, clerical workers, brick layers, etc. who have been hired to shovel asphalt and hold stop signs.

    If they are not paving roads, they are working on that little bridge on the way to the beauty shop that Joe Biden explained to the stupid as a brick woman who did not see how infrastructure spending was going to give women money to get their hair done at her shop and I could make this run-on sentence go forever because make-work jobs have not got half the punch of money trickling laterally into the economy by road crew guys buying beer at the 7-11 as giving taxpaying people more of their own money to spend as they deem fit.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 30, 2010 @ 9:36 am - August 30, 2010

  25. If Levi can repeat utter nonsense as though reality doesn’t exist and no one else in the thread has said anything, then I can repeat statements having the virtue of truth. From my #18:

    There is no “good stimulus”. Even if the money were spent with greater alleged wisdom (your favorite set of projects instead of mine), it would still be a drag on the economy – because it would still be interference in the economy. It would still postpone the necessary recession. And it would still be an institution that has no day-to-day incentives to be efficient – i.e., government – *preventing* [the] decisions that would otherwise be achieved by real people [using their own capital] in real markets, who do have incentives to be efficient.

    Private money can and does work FAR faster at putting people to work, than government money does. As well as resulting in better and more sustainable jobs. Claiming otherwise is like calling purple yellow and yellow purple: the person saying it must be either insane or really, really, really stupid.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 30, 2010 @ 10:13 am - August 30, 2010

  26. (Or joking, etc.)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 30, 2010 @ 10:14 am - August 30, 2010

  27. “And a tax cut is essentially the government spending money on nothing, especially if there isn’t a commiserate spending decrease elsewhere in the budget.”

    And again, Levi fails economics. *sigh*

    Levi, Unlike in your socialist utopia, capital does not belong to the government. Capital belongs to the people who create/earn it. So when the government takes less of it, it means that the people who earn/create it, can invest it elsewhere.

    I’m not sure how the volume of your brain handles so much misinformation.

    It is nice to see you bring out the Haliburton canard again. Like a trained parrot I see. “Haliburton *squawk* Haliburton!”

    And now we’re back to the ‘Iraq and Afgahnistan are to create millionairs’ trope, yet Levi doesn’t consider spending government gold and treasure on GM, Goldman Sachs, et al as ‘making millionairs’.

    Go back to your Soros funded talking points Levi, you might get another cracker out of it.

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 30, 2010 @ 10:15 am - August 30, 2010

  28. As I pass by the paving projects, I notice all the realtors, waitresses, software writers, shipping room people, clerical workers, brick layers, etc. who have been hired to shovel asphalt and hold stop signs.

    If they are not paving roads, they are working on that little bridge on the way to the beauty shop that Joe Biden explained to the stupid as a brick woman who did not see how infrastructure spending was going to give women money to get their hair done at her shop and I could make this run-on sentence go forever because make-work jobs have not got half the punch of money trickling laterally into the economy by road crew guys buying beer at the 7-11 as giving taxpaying people more of their own money to spend as they deem fit.

    Tax cuts can be a useful way for the government to generate economic activity but it has its limits. While it would be great if everyone in the country made wise economic decisions, we can’t rely on that exclusively and assume that society is going to keep humming along. A lot of the private money that was freed up by the Bush tax cuts got invested into housing and the stock market and is now simply gone. An industry of charlatans eagerly vacuumed up all of the money that these corporate CEOs were supposed to use to create jobs, and you’d like to try that again? I want people to keep as much of their money as possible, but it’s simply irresponsible, and ultimately dangerous to the economy, to let that be the only consideration in a country of 300 million people.

    We can only ride this cycle of bubbles and busting for so long, at some point we have to make some upgrades. We can only trade long term viability for short term results until we’re simply not viable anymore It’s a lot more fun to think about an extra $500 of take home pay a year starting today than it is to think about the more abstract and indirect economic benefits of a new rail network in Chicago, but one of those things generates a lot more growth and opportunity than the other. Let’s see, everyone can have enough money for their individual yearly candy bar and soda budget, or we can upgrade to a modern, proven rail system that generates growth and opportunity for hundreds of millions of people over the course of decades… is that a difficult choice?

    Comment by Levi — August 30, 2010 @ 10:20 am - August 30, 2010

  29. #28 the shorter version.

    “Stupid people (like you) can’t be trusted to make good (i.e. decisions I agree with) decisions with your money. You should give (have it taken) the money to the smarter intelligent people (like me) who can make those difficult decisions for you. This way we can lead (drag kicking and screaming) you into the future.”

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 30, 2010 @ 10:55 am - August 30, 2010

  30. It is nice to see you bring out the Haliburton canard again. Like a trained parrot I see. “Haliburton *squawk* Haliburton!”

    I do believe it was you that brought up the economic activity generated by the war, was it not? Am I mistaken to have thought that this might be something you wanted to talk about like an adult?

    And now we’re back to the ‘Iraq and Afgahnistan are to create millionairs’ trope, yet Levi doesn’t consider spending government gold and treasure on GM, Goldman Sachs, et al as ‘making millionairs’.

    Go back to your Soros funded talking points Levi, you might get another cracker out of it.

    I guess my point sailed right over your head – which is that it is amoral to profit off of wars. When your profits are directly linked to human suffering, that’s an issue, because increasing your margins involves figuring out ways to increase human suffering. I’m not too keen on CEOs of car companies that required a bailout making millions of dollars, but at least they’re not making money off of dead kids.

    I’m seeing this more and more – conservatives simply sprint in the opposite direction at full speed when confronted with the twin disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan. It disproves their most coveted illlusions about themselves, that they’re the security experts and they’re fiscally responsible, so they’ll just pretend like people like me aren’t here. It’s true that the only thing that’s gone smoothly in these catastrophes is the ability of a few favored private corporations to extract obscene amounts of money from the war effort – but never mind all that. Your supposedly foundational ideas about government being inherently wasteful and corrupt didn’t apply back then because….. uh…. because you said so!

    Comment by Levi — August 30, 2010 @ 11:01 am - August 30, 2010

  31. “Stupid people (like you) can’t be trusted to make good (i.e. decisions I agree with) decisions with your money. You should give (have it taken) the money to the smarter intelligent people (like me) who can make those difficult decisions for you. This way we can lead (drag kicking and screaming) you into the future.”

    It isn’t like that. People have every right to do stupid things with their money, but it can become a problem when there are significant portions of the private sector dedicated to tricking people into doing stupid things with their money that have catastrophic, long-term effects on the economy. I’m not talking about the millions of people that buy useless products like gimmicky exercise equipment and Snuggies, I’m talking about a behemoth financial industry that basically gambles with billions of dollars. Do you really want the economy to be based around betting on when the next bubble bursts?

    It’s simply too volatile. I’d much rather have a slower, but sustainable rate of growth versus a cycle of extreme boom and bust. You can’t just depend on consumers being completely and on producers being completely trustworthy.

    Comment by Levi — August 30, 2010 @ 11:33 am - August 30, 2010

  32. which is that it is amoral to profit off of wars.

    Look up “amoral” and see if you really know what the word means.

    When your profits are directly linked to human suffering, that’s an issue, because increasing your margins involves figuring out ways to increase human suffering.

    So, rebuilding houses in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans should be totally non profit and we should expect the houses to collapse because shoddy workmanship is built in to assure repeat business. Fie on Habitat for Humanity. They pay profits to Lowe’s and they eat in restaurants that make profits and all just to give people a place to live so they can go to Lowe’s and eat in restaurants and get ripped off by the profit system. Why shouldn’t the Ninth Ward people just have the place made a reservation and operated on government cheese, free utilities and run by a tribal council? Everyone can be equal on other people’s money. Anyone who tries to get ahead gets kicked out. Profit sucks and is the downfall of all great communism.

    It’s true that the only thing that’s gone smoothly in these catastrophes is the ability of a few favored private corporations to extract obscene amounts of money from the war effort – but never mind all that.

    No Democrats are involved in any of this. No fat cat Democrats on Wall Street, no Democrat President, no Democrat Congress, no, no, no, no. In fact, I suspect that the vast right wing conspiracy has made it impossible for any competition to Haliburton to spring up anywhere else in the world.

    Levi, go read Miller’s All My Sons it will make you feel so much more vindicated.

    Also, let’s drop this all volunteer military crap and go to impressing all military cannon fodder and feed them only MRE’s and let their families rely on social justice and welfare or enter into temporary marriages until they see what comes back.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 30, 2010 @ 11:36 am - August 30, 2010

  33. “I guess my point sailed right over your head – which is that it is amoral to profit off of wars. When your profits are directly linked to human suffering, that’s an issue, because increasing your margins involves figuring out ways to increase human suffering. I’m not too keen on CEOs of car companies that required a bailout making millions of dollars, but at least they’re not making money off of dead kids. ”

    Good to see that Levi’s pro-life now. After all, we don’t want people making money off of ‘the suffering of others’

    “At least their not making money off of dead kids.” Well according to you, every auto accident that results in a ‘dead kid’ they’ve made money off of. To quote Wash, “How does your brain even comprehend speech?”

    “I’m seeing this more and more – conservatives simply sprint in the opposite direction at full speed when confronted with the twin disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    Funny, I seem to recall someone denying evidence when presented to them about Iraq… Oh, and I forgot Not condoning attacks on an allied nation.

    Runnign away? Levi, you’re the one who is running, but only to keep up with the goal posts you keep moving.

    Best of all is this.

    It isn’t like that. People have every right to do stupid things with their money, but it can become a problem when there are significant portions of the private sector dedicated to tricking people into doing stupid things with their money that have catastrophic, long-term effects on the economy.

    So in other words, people who make stupid decisions need to be protected from those stupid decisions. Oh, and apparently some products are ‘stupid’ because Levi says so.

    Again, Levi doesn’t want a Constitutional Republic or economics, because he doesn’t understand the Republic or economics.

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 30, 2010 @ 11:51 am - August 30, 2010

  34. I’m not talking about the millions of people that buy useless products like gimmicky exercise equipment and Snuggies, I’m talking about a behemoth financial industry that basically gambles with billions of dollars. Do you really want the economy to be based around betting on when the next bubble bursts?

    And who was it that said they wanted to gamble on the housing market by demanding that loans be extended to people with rotten credit?

    Oh, that’s right; Barack Obama and the Obama Party.

    House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003:

    Rep. Frank: I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing.

    Now watch as Levi runs away and refuses to answer when confronted with the clear evidence of how his Obama, his Obama Party, his “progressive” movement, demanded and pushed financial companies to extend risky loans and demanded no oversight for direct government interventions in the housing market.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — August 30, 2010 @ 12:39 pm - August 30, 2010

  35. It disproves their most coveted illlusions about themselves, that they’re the security experts and they’re fiscally responsible, so they’ll just pretend like people like me aren’t here.

    Sorry, Levi, but your Barack Obama just stated flat out that the war in Iraq has made America safer.

    Turns out we were right and you were wrong, liar.

    Also, as far as “profits” being “amoral”, how about the profits and kickbacks that “progressives” and the UN made off the oil-for-food program, eh? Why is it that you refuse to acknowledge that the UN and its bureaucrats made billions of dollars in profits off Saddam Hussein’s bypassing of sanctions and diverting money meant for food and medicines to purchasing luxury goods for himself and weapons?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — August 30, 2010 @ 12:43 pm - August 30, 2010

  36. Of course, even the libs in Congress understand that tax cuts work even if they don’t want to admit it.

    So even Pelosi knows more about economics than certain lying evasive vile individuals.

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 30, 2010 @ 1:00 pm - August 30, 2010

  37. The_Livewire:

    There is a huge difference between “dead kids” in the military and “dead kids” in the abortion clinc dumpster.

    1) The stuff in the dumpster was just a mass of cells like a tumor that would never have developed have interrupted the life of the host.

    2) The “dead kids” in the military volunteered to be used as propaganda by the leftist pinko-sickie crowd.

    3) The stuff in the dumpster at the abortion clinic would have volunteered if they had been sentient. (See: Sirhan Sirhan. “If Bobby Kennedy were alive, he would parole me.”)

    Comment by heliotrope — August 30, 2010 @ 1:59 pm - August 30, 2010

  38. Awww look, Levi’s redeployed to another thread rather than get hit by facts here anymore.

    Comment by The_Livewire — September 1, 2010 @ 11:40 am - September 1, 2010

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