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October 12, 2011

DOOM: With a tear in my eye and an ache in my heart

DOOOOM

The solution to unemployment: a "negative income tax"? I've inveighed against the minimum wage for many years, because it is another example of price-control failure on the part of the government (your wage is the "price" of your labor, and when this price is artificially inflated, it damages the market for that labor). Still, Friedman's "negative income tax" would require a fundamental transformation of our tax system that would require buy-in from both Democrats and Republicans, which of course means that this will never happen.

The so-called “Supercommittee” will force some really unpalatable choices on the GOP. But as we learned in the movie Wargames, sometimes the only winning move is not to play.

If GOPers sell out for either of the first two reasons, then there’s really no hope. America will become Greece and we may as well stock up on canned goods, bottled water, and ammo.

California’s Kafkaesque rent-control laws. Rent control is one of those evergreen liberal manias that just keep failing, generation after generation. No matter that the efforts always fail to have the intended effect; liberals are all about good intentions, never about actual results.

Germans push for a “hard” Greek default. If they’d done this a year ago, things might not have gotten to such a horrible state. They’ve only delayed the inevitable, and made the damage far more expensive to mitigate.

To Democrats, it’s never their ideas that are wrong. Either the execution of the plan was bad, the timing was wrong, or the people were too stupid to follow the plan. It’s a variant of the academic belief that when reality trumps theory, so much the worse for reality. There’s always the argument that next time, if only we are better people, or move this lever or that knob in just such a way, things will work out better.

Pension funds, actuaries, and the law of unintended consequences.

The end of “comfortable Keynesianism”.

The Great Chinese Bank Bailout has begun.

If you piss hot...no welfare check for you!

S&P and Fitch to Spanish banks: BAM!

The world is full of chumps, and confidence men eager to exploit them. This is not a defect of captialism; it is an aspect of human nature and thus not amenable to the social-engineering so beloved of the Left. Incentives matter...and so do consequences.

The Greeks have no gas, and their world is littered with garbage. Wasn't there a movie about this?

Give it to me straight: how bad is it going to be?

As usual, Democrat initiatives to punish the rich end up hurting the poor the most.

Okay, pal: there’s a lot of s**t I’ll put up with. I’m an easy-going guy. Live and let live, you know? But you start taking shots at Milton Friedman, s**t’s gonna jump off right quick. I’ll throw down! (Dani Rodrik, I’m sure you’ll be shocked to discover, is a Professor of International Political Economy -- whatever the hell that is -- at Haaaaavahd. I’m so shocked that a tenured academic with no private-sector work experience thinks the free-market is too “free” that I’m going to have to sit down before I fall over in a dead faint.)

Those “Occupy Wall Street” hippies seem to have some sort of a problem with the Jooos. But in the leftist universe, everything always boils down to those Jooos and their money, doesn’t it?

When all your hopes and dreams rest on a decision by tiny, poor Slovakia, you’re probably boned already. But then: this is the Eurozone, where bad policy, bad planning, and general governmental incompetence are the order of the day. And by the way: Slovakia didn't give the EU the answer they wanted, so the Slovaks will fire those chumps and hire more tractable ones.

European leaders looking at the financial crisis like a rabbit at a snake. Richard Adams in his novel Watership Down coined a word for this state of immobilizing panic: tharn.

The next bubble to burst: consumerism? I dunno if I'd call it a "bubble" -- maybe we just finally have enough stuff. Even Americans can only absorb so many flat-screen TV's, jet-skis, iPads, and Coach purses.

The so-called “Supercommittee” was designed to fail, so we’re going to find out if the ratings agencies are serious about further downgrading US debt. The initial shot has already been fired, so I think further downgrades will come easier to the ratings agencies.

If only Eurozone nations would do things they either cannot or will not do, everything would be fine! Ultimately, Europe is going to be faced with a hard choice: save the Euro by going the fiscal union route (i.e., a "United States of Europe" where the Eurozone nations give up a large chunk of their sovereignty); or just give up the Euro as a really bad idea and deal with the pain and expense of reverting back to the various national currencies. I seriously doubt fiscal union is going to happen, but the Eurozone countries have not yet nerved themselves up to face the second option just yet. I'm not sure how much worse things will have to get before they decide that the game isn't worth the candle.

UPDATE 1: Crackerjack WSJ financial reporter Peter Wallison writes about "Wall Street's gullible occupiers". I note in passing that you can find people like this in any age, and any economy, boom or bust: the unlucky ones, the sad-sacks, the terminally helpless, the stupid, the lazy, those burdened with bad decision-making skills and poor impulse control. People like this remind me of those fart-machines you can buy at Spencer's: they serve no useful purpose, they make a lot of obnoxious noise, but ultimately they are harmless and will be forgotten shortly.

UPDATE 2: Via Jean in the comments: Harrisburg, PA files for bankruptcy. This was probably inevitable, but it took longer than I thought it would.


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They see me rollin’. They hatin’.


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posted by Monty at 08:51 AM

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