Robert Barro, one of my favorite economists, of Harvard in the WSJ about the effects of stimulus. This is the tradeoff that Obama and the government officials do not acknowledge- that they are essentially borrowing from our future to pay for this stimulus, but that it is not an even trade. Overall, we end up worse than we would have been just riding it out. Is such a short term improvement really worth these long term sacrifices, which have also been made every time the government borrows money? I don’t think so. If the barriers to enterprise were reduced and government cut uncertainty about economic conditions instead of increasing it by constantly proposing regulations and mandates, businesses could adjust to the new climate rather quickly. The more we try to force the economy to be what we want, the less it will be the best it can be.

PS- Steven Landsburg points out that Christy Romer is known among economists for research suggesting that the outlook is even worse than Barro’s prediction, which makes the stimulus look very unattractive. Either Obama doesn’t listen to his economic advisers (probable), she changed her statements sinced she joined a Democratic administration (also probable, see: Paul Krugman), or Obama panics in the face of public cries to do something (I hope not).


Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

Greece is crippled by nationwide strikes, as reported by the WSJ. I love the picture they lead with (to right).

All art aside, though, the situation is very troubling. This is one of the consequences of rampant entitlement policies, indeed those that we are moving toward in the United States right now. Greece has a socialist government, which has gone bankrupt trying to provide services to the people which the country cannot pay for. Now, when the government is cutting benefits in the face of fiscal reality, the people are rioting. The ignorance to think that government can avoid the price for things it buys or that pooling everyone’s money together allows them to buy more than when they were on their own is ridiculous, but it mirrors the sentiments of many in the US today. If Greeks want more services, they should work and earn money to buy them. Humanity evolved fighting for survival and we have achieved this state of advancement by a constant scramble to improve and compete; how some people can ignore the proven ways to success and demand that they be taken care of by others, to me, is a dishonorable display of weakness and selfishness.

“On average 80% of our members are participating in the strike and most public offices are closed,” [Christos Papahristos, President of the civil servants union] added. “The government and the EU must understand that the crisis must be paid by the rich, not the average civil servant. We will meet in the next couple of weeks to decide our further action.”

In other words, “I want things but I am not willing to be responsible for making them happen. The people who are responsible need to take care of me.” I just don’t understand how anyone who has food to eat, a house to live in, and a job making money can say that they are in desperate need of benefits and have nothing more to give. Isn’t this the kind of whining our parents got us off when we were 5?

I am amazed I never heard this before, but just today I learned of Davy Crockett’s speech to Congress about limited government. How interesting that history teaches us about the great exploits of a man but ignores the arguments for one of the most important ideas of all time.

Paul Krugman writes in the NY Times that conservatives are not following through on their statements that government programs must be cut. He lays the blame for the deficit on Bush tax cuts and the wars, exonerating Obama from any responsibility. He claims that no actual ideas are coming from the conservatives, discounting all of the suggestions, both from lawmakers and conservative thinkers outside, which are not mainstream enough for the consensus to accept but might hold real merit. How sad it is that a Nobel winning economist has devolved from evaluating ideas which affect people’s lives to simply finding ways to deface a group of people he disagrees with.

President Obama put forth a new health care plan today that will cost about $950 billion over the next decade. It includes clauses which limit the percent of a person’s income that health insurance is allowed to cost. Speaking of which, I have been wanting a Ferarri for a long time. The problem is that it just costs too large a percent of my income. I think they government needs to take care of this.

It is clear Obama has not improved his knowledge of economic efficiency or what kinds of things lead to economic growth and escape from recession. Reading this bill, I seriously felt furious- I haven’t been that mad at anyone in a long time, especially someone I had never met. To say the least, I cannot understand how anyone, especially while he has knowledgeable economists advising him (although mostly outside the government), can in good conscious push for policies which spend outrageous amounts of the people’s money and make things worse for them, not even the same as they are now. If liberty becomes a focus again, then this might be a worthy sacrifice, but right now I can’t even say that.

The WSJ reports on the unintended consequences of fertilizer subsidies in India. Why do governments think this is so necessary? The people are still paying, just in the form of taxes; all it does is prevent them from using the money in a more efficient manner, if there is one, and to use too much of it.

Courtesy of Jeff Miron’s blog, I discovered the OUR America initiative chaired by libertarian former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. He recently released his three-point plan for American prosperity. I’m a little confused by his stated policy of not supporting cap-and-trade or Pigouvian taxes- Dr. Miron is advising him, so I asked him about it and hope to hear back soon. In the meantime, check out his policies- other than that, they are a good representation of the positions of liberty.