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July 07, 2011

In the Beginning, there was DOOM!

DOOOOM

Joseph Stiglitz, as reliable a liberal dunce as America can produce, laments the rhetorical power of "free market ideologues". Stiglitz (like his idjit confrere Paul Krugman) is usually wrong but never in doubt. Come for the snide demagoguery; stay for the unintentional comedy.

This story pretty much reiterates what we all already know: the so-called "stimulus" mainly stimulated government growth. Private business? Not so much.

I often get the feeling that writers at The Nation think of the Tea Party as some supervillain cabal straight out of a James Bond novel. In some underground bunker in one of those Jesusland flyover states, a fat guy holds a purring white cat in his lap and directs the nefarious activities of Tea Party activists nationwide; and only the brave agents of The Nation can stop their dastardly plans! (Alternatively, you can put yourself into The Nation's mindset by simply imagining that real life works very much like a Scooby-Doo cartoon. Zoinks!)

Commenters have made this point many times, and now columnists are picking up on it: Deregulation is an essential ingredient of a revitalized private sector. Over-regulation is killing many small businesses.

Here's more "spinning bad news into good news", kids: "Private Sector Jobs Surge; Weekly Claims Post Decrease". I wouldn't call the anemic private-sector job-growth numbers a "surge" -- more like a "trickle". And many of those jobs are seasonal, part-time, or temporary positions.

Via Insty: President Obama wants a bigger deal on the debt. He wants a big deal because a temporary one will leave him open to further pummeling as the campaign season goes into the late innings, and he definitely doesn't want that. He wants to salvage something he can trumpet as a victory to his base. From the article, we read this rather ominous-sounding passage:

The move from Obama comes after a secret meeting the president held last weekend with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), as well as new signs of flexibility from Republicans on including new revenues as part of a package to reduce the deficit.
"New revenues" means a tax hike, kids.

NOTE: I favor tax reform, and if that leads to higher taxes in some instances, I'd accept it. I would be in favor of eliminating loopholes and certain tax breaks (like the mortgage-interest deduction) if it were part of a tax-code overhaul -- to a flat tax, perferably, or an abolishment of income-taxes and a move to a consumption-based tax regime (though I don't like the VAT proposals I have seen because they are inaddition to rather than in place of the income tax). Income tax regimes don't work well in countries with aging populations and slow-growth economies, and that's the future we're going to be living in for some time.

For all the fireworks about the debt-cieling here at home, don't forget about the extreme sovereign-debt crisis in Europe. The Eurozone is teetering on the edge of a knife right now. In fact, I sometimes wonder if the collapse hasn't already happened in essence, and we're just waiting for the consequences to play out. I'm struck at the lack of contingency planning on the part of the ECB and the EU -- there really is no "Plan B". If the bailout of Greece (and Ireland, and Portugal) fails...that's it. And every indication seems to be that the bailouts have failed. So now what?

The compensation monster is eating American cities and towns. The burden of public-employee pensions and healthcare costs (especially for retirees) is going to literally destroy some municipalities as the decade wears on. A city can't support half or more of its total revenues going to pay for retiree benefits. It's just not -- shout it out loud, my children! -- sustainable.

Extortion, the Left, and the make-work fallacy. The take-away from this piece: you cannot consume something until it has been produced. As Kevin Williams says, "I can't eat an omelet made from theoretical eggs."

UPDATE: Larry Kudlow reminds us that in Washington-ese, a "cut" really means "a reduction in the rate of increase". Spending never actually decreases.


That Night Train is a mean wine.

Dead Tired Cat

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posted by Monty at 09:28 AM

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