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December 15, 2011

DOOM: All that once was is lost...for none now live who remember it


Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Ron Wyden propose a premium-support revision to Medicare. It sounds like they're trying to put out a housefire with an eyedropper to me, and I doubt the rest of the Donks will go for it any case. Medicare is un-salvageable in anything like its current form. However, I think Ryan is simply trying to move the ball forward however he can; he's trying to go the "realist" route. But the inevitable will happen: Democrats will hate it because it goes too far for them, the GOP base will hate it because it doesnít go far enough (I am in this camp, frankly), and nothing much will get done.

Good news! I was wrong about this whole DOOM thing! Everything is perfectly fine and thereís no reason to worry about anything any more. Go about your business, citizen, and be happy!

Wait, hold on here. Remember what I was saying about that DOOM thing being a mistake and how everything was fine? Well, it turns out that we really are DOOMed after all. At least until 2031. Sorry about the mix-up. It's DOOM as usual for the forseeable future.

Teh Krugman has many confusions; his shaky grasp of Depression-era history is only one of them.

Sarbanes-Oxley: yet another government mandate that, at best, has no practical effect; and at worst costs businesses a huge amount of money in compliance costs to no good purpose.

Job creators fight back. Democrats seem to be doing their utmost to totally alienate the most productive sectors of the American economy. It's hard to tell if this is ideological blindness or just stupidity. (I guess there's no reason it can't be both.)

Those crappy existing-home sales numbers are about to get even crappier: realtors overcounted home sales for the last five years. I guess it stands to reason -- they are in the business of selling houses, and if no houses are selling, it makes them look bad.

The Euro project was supposed to bring European nations closer together, but itís having the exact opposite effect.

The simpletons.

Do something. Is there a two-word phrase in politics more loaded with disguised ideological content? Embedded within is both an urgent call for powerful government action and an up-front declaration that the policy details donít matter. The bigger the crisis, the more the urgency, the sparser the detail.

Another week, another Eurozone crisis.

America's growth gap.

America's economic condition is not yet as dire as Europe's, but it soon will be if we do not correct the root cause of the problems that we face in our own country.

Since 2006 America's growth rate has also declined. America now has 15.5% less GDP than it otherwise would have had if we had continued to grow at our post-World War II historic rates. Growth estimates for 2012 have been reduced. Unemployment remains nearly 9%.

Hard times and the liberal dream of a painless world. People tend to forget that pain is natureís way of telling you that something is wrong. It is an alarm. When you turn off that alarm, you stop listening to what nature is telling you -- not only about yourself, but about the world around you. Wealth alleviates many of lifeís routine miseries, but it does not provide any real insurance against pain and suffering.

The newest inductee into the LOTB: Kansas!

Do you have enough money saved for retirement? The odds say no. And I wouldnít count on Uncle Sugar making up for the shortfall, either.

The marginal cost of perfection. This is sort of like Zenoís Dichotomy Paradox, where if you continue to iteratively halve the distance between you and a fixed point, you will get very very close without ever actually reaching your destination. Each iteration brings you closer to your goal, but at radically increased cost and effort. This kind of thing crops up in engineering all the time.

Europe made one of the classic blunders. The most famous one is never to get involved in a land war in Asia. The second most famous one is never to go against a Sicilian when death is on the line. Only slightly less well-known is that one should never implement a monetary union without implementing a fiscal union at the same time.

Democrats may drop their demand for a surtax on millionaires. (I emphasize may; this story may change as Democrats hear from their outraged liberal constituents.) In return, the GOP will probably cave on the demand to go ahead with the Keystone XL pipeline project. All things considered, itís probably a reasonable deal to make: the GOP only added the Keystone demand to make the Democrats flinch, which (it appears) they did. And itís still up to the Democrats to find some other way of paying for the tax holiday theyíre proposing, which is likely to lead to some storm and thunder in their own caucus. I guess the GOP can count it as a win, though I think the tax-holiday itself is bad policy because of the increased costs later for making up the shortfall in Social Security.

When the government talks about the economy, you need to remember the famed words of George Costanza from Seinfeld: "It's not a lie if you believe it."

Manufacturing numbers in east Asia (China and Japan) are showing continued weakness.

UPDATE 1: I hope China has some hot black coffee and aspirin at the ready, because they're going to wake up with a hell of a hangover. (h/t Andy.)

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posted by Monty at 09:00 AM

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