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Bloggingheads 02-05-2009 04:58 PM

The Case for Big Government
 

Lemon Sorbet 02-05-2009 06:57 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
What an awesome, awesome, diavlog. Thank you SO much Mr. Madrick, and you too, Jim, for bringing him to us. In my case he was preaching to the choir, but rarely, in fact never, have I ever encountered anyone who's made the case for big government so clearly. To top it off, unlike every other economist I've heard as yet he gives a moving and sincere speech on the effects of this market on human lives. Even though I'm hurting myself I'm fairly well insulated by family who can help me, but I know that is not the case for many if not most people. This is my favorite vlog in the 2+ years I've been coming to BloggingHeads. Thank you once more.

StillmanThomas 02-05-2009 07:00 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
A fascinating conversation. Jim does a superb job of allowing Jeff to develop his arguments, which surely go against much of what Jim himself believes. This is a great example of what a very classy guy Jim is. He's taken some pretty hard, low shots from the BHTV commentariat, but he always comes back in good humor. He's a wonderful spokesman for his point of view. I disagree with him much of the time, but he's about my favorite conservative commentator, and I always pay close attention to his arguments.

As I was watching this I kept thinking of the quotation from Evelyn Beatrice Hall (often wrongly attributed to Voltaire), "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." This is democracy (and BHTV) at its best.

Thanks Jim and Jeff!

Titstorm 02-05-2009 07:54 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
fantastic NEW guest. thank you, bob. wow! conservatives are even dumber than i thought they were. and, double wow, libertarians are officially the stupidest, most cocky and delusional morons ever. thanks, Alan G! nice job;)

bjkeefe 02-05-2009 07:57 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
I'll add my vote: this was a good diavlog, and I was happy to hear the case for big government made so compellingly. I especially liked that Jeff pointed out that one of the problems in recent years is the growth in attitude that government can't help, only makes things worse, and so on. Perhaps with executive pay caps in place and other suggestions that there aren't easy fortunes to be made in the world of finance, we'll get some more smart people back into public service.

Some questions for you, Bokonon ...

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bokonon (Post 103297)
A fascinating conversation. Jim does a superb job of allowing Jeff to develop his arguments, which surely go against much of what Jim himself believes.

I appreciate that Jim conducted this as an interview rather than a debate, too, and that he gave Jeff the space to answer his questions. Still, I do have to wonder two things.

First, do you think that toward the end of the diavlog, Jim was hinting that recent events have caused him, if not to change his views, but at least to be less sure of them? (If true, kudos to Jim for having an open mind. It should also be said that I'm not clear on what Jim's economic views are/were, apart from knowing he describes himself as a conservative.)

Second, I almost detect a degree of surprise from your comments that Jim would be courteous. Is this the soft bigotry of low expectations, directed at conservative commentators in general? I mean, yes, it was nice that this wasn't a shoutfest, but you seem to go on at some length raving about what I'd considered expected behavior.

Wonderment 02-05-2009 08:05 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Joan Walsh has a Salon piece posted on the Stimulus Package, Obama's message and Jeff's book.

It deserves a sidebar link.

bjkeefe 02-05-2009 08:37 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 103306)
Joan Walsh has a Salon piece posted on the Stimulus Package, Obama's message and Jeff's book.

It deserves a sidebar link.

You're right. A good read. Thanks for the link.

I guess I disagree with her a little in that I think Obama is already making the case that she wants him to make, but she might be right that he needs to simplify the message. I also think he can't do it alone -- one voice, no matter how good, has trouble against a chorus of howler monkeys, and the MSM is letting an awful lot of them on air without significant challenge. I'm speaking here not only of Rush and GOP members of Congress, but many of the Villager pundits, too. I wish we could have ten Barney Franks and ten Paul Krugmans just to balance out the talk shows.

Oh, and by the way? How happy are you about this?

Slightly O/T, I know, but it's worth pointing out that significant things are being accomplished, despite what many seem to think.

bjkeefe 02-05-2009 08:43 PM

Re: Two Trillion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kidneystones (Post 103308)
... the politics of porky fear, with the poor communicator ,himself, squawking ...

The self-referential aspect of this cannot be overstated.

Wonderment 02-05-2009 09:25 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Oh, and by the way? How happy are you about this?
Great. An important piece of legislation.

Having said that, it was a bi-partisan law that was passed several times previously, and was only vetoed by the bungling Bush and his cohort of hardcore right-wing radicals.

This was, in other words, a slam dunk for Dems and not a bill that demonstrates Obama's clout or leadership qualities.

As the NYT article implies the big news may be the Daschle dumping. I was very disappointed to see Daschle go down, since he DID have the leadership qualities we needed to reform healthcare as promised by Obama. The replacement will be interesting.

sugarkang 02-05-2009 09:25 PM

Re: Two Trillion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kidneystones (Post 103308)
Build Nuclear Power Plants Now!

Why? Our coal plants are working so well.

bjkeefe 02-05-2009 09:37 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 103314)
Great. An important piece of legislation.

Having said that, it was a bi-partisan law that was passed several times previously, and was only vetoed by the bungling Bush and his cohort of hardcore right-wing radicals.

This was, in other words, a slam dunk for Dems and not a bill that demonstrates Obama's clout or leadership qualities.

Fair enough. But it was still good news. Given the waffling by the Dems over the past couple of decades, I wouldn't have been surprised if they had submitted to calls for it to be "debated" again. So, always be happy for what you get, I say.

Quote:

As the NYT article implies the big news may be the Daschle dumping. I was very disappointed to see Daschle go down, since he DID have the leadership qualities we needed to reform healthcare as promised by Obama. The replacement will be interesting.
Meh, I don't know. It could be that I'm just seeing a lot of piling on from people angry at him for screwing up in such a boneheaded way, but the lobbying connections he and his wife had was news to me, and it made me wonder if he would have been as great as he was cracked up to be. I do think that if we're to get national health care, it'll need to be shepherded by someone who understands the legitimate concerns of the industry, as well as those in Congress, but I don't think Daschle is the only one on the planet with these qualifications.

Who have you heard mentioned to replace him?

How about Bill Clinton?

semi ;^)

Nate 02-05-2009 09:41 PM

...and together we are Bloggingheads.tv
 
You could tell in the first few seconds that Jim's brain was screaming out to him to say "..and together we are..." to finish the shtick that he and David Corn do at the beginnings. I think everyone that comes on with Jim should be required to do the intro, but that might just be me.

Wonderment 02-05-2009 09:47 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Who have you heard mentioned to replace him?
Elizabeth Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee.

The only problem is that I am the mentioner.

bjkeefe 02-05-2009 09:49 PM

Re: ...and together we are Bloggingheads.tv
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nate (Post 103320)
You could tell in the first few seconds that Jim's brain was screaming out to him to say "..and together we are..." to finish the shtick that he and David Corn do at the beginnings. I think everyone that comes on with Jim should be required to do the intro, but that might just be me.

I really thought Jeff was going to say it, actually.

bjkeefe 02-05-2009 09:51 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 103323)
Elizabeth Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee.

The only problem is that I am the mentioner.

Heh. I don't think I could support either of the first two (I don't know Barbara Lee is). I like their politics, but realistically, I think, to get NHC passed, it's going to take someone who isn't seen as an advocate, but as a chief negotiator or deal-maker.

bjkeefe 02-05-2009 10:14 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 103318)
... but I don't think Daschle is the only one on the planet with these qualifications.

More on this from flory at Whiskey Fire and Amanda Marcotte.

StillmanThomas 02-05-2009 10:29 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 103303)
I almost detect a degree of surprise from your comments that Jim would be courteous. Is this the soft bigotry of low expectations, directed at conservative commentators in general?

Brendan,

If you want to know what I think, read what I write. Don't tie yourself in knots trying to read into it your own agenda. If I have low expectations, they're for some of our all too ubiquitous commenters.

I'll give you the last word, since you always seem to need that.

claymisher 02-05-2009 10:36 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
This was a really enlightening discussion. I especially enjoyed the historical aspects.

bjkeefe 02-05-2009 10:41 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bokonon (Post 103327)
I'll give you the last word, since you always seem to need that.

Thanks. Sorry for cutting a little too close to the bone.

Unit 02-05-2009 11:07 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
The arguments of both Friedman and Hayek were misrepresented throughout this diavlog. In the thirties the quantity of money did decrease by a third. Comparing that to now makes absolutely no sense. Hayek never said that businessmen are smarter than government officials. Talk about oversimplifying: Keynesians like to say that since profits in the maket are falling the govt needs to step in and make the investments. Well, the govt and the market are two very different things. If you look at the hierarchy of power, govts are much more like individual businesses ad thus are just as stupid as individual businessmen might be. The people that defend markets do not (usually) defend individual businessmen. Friedman always said that it's a "profit and loss" system. Don't bail out, in short. The market represent a complex web of activities which mainly take place with no one in charge, through delicate feedback loops that have evolved over time, such as prices. Govt is more like a giant corporation with monopoly power. Usually giant corporations with monopoly power screw up. Because the checks-and-balances of competition and profit-and-losses are wiped out. So comparing govt to the market makes little sense. One is a top-down system, the other is a bottom-up one. The guest wants a strong leader, a smart leader ("it starts at the top"). Sorry but I don't share his fascination with sheer power.

Silver~Guy 02-05-2009 11:31 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Doesn't this guy has it backwards? He claims government started performing poorly after people started clamoring for less. There would be a critical point during which the marginal utility of another dollar of government spending is less than another dollar not being taxed - this is common sense.

AemJeff 02-05-2009 11:39 PM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Silver~Guy (Post 103335)
Doesn't this guy has it backwards? He claims government started performing poorly after people started clamoring for less. There would be a critical point during which the marginal utility of another dollar of government spending is less than another dollar not being taxed - this is common sense.

It would be instructive to see the data his analysis is based on; but, in a contest between a priori (common sense) vs. empirical analysis, I'll bet on the latter every time.

claymisher 02-06-2009 12:22 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
I'm not sure how you would quantify it, but I think most people agree that over the last 30 years there's been a steady degradation of norms regarding civic life.

The Republican's 30 year war against government is a big problem. It takes two parties to govern effectively. You need the debate. The Democrats can't do it by themselves. You need the parties competing with each on offering the best solutions. Okay, I know some loyal Republican out there will think they are, but really, they're not. That's why so many Republicans (Douthat, Salam, Frum, etc) are trying to get their shit together and come up with a program that addresses real problems for real people. Taxs cuts! Taxs cuts! Taxs cuts! doesn't count.

I think Obama is doing the right thing by trying, but when Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist are calling the tune, it ain't going to happen. I think what's going on right now with the Republicans in Congress is even worse than Bush. I think Bush was a moderating influence on them. Ye gods.

Mostly though I think the plutocracy and their puppets tore down the state because it was good for the plutocracy. This shit goes way back.

bjkeefe 02-06-2009 12:30 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 103342)
Taxs cuts! Taxs cuts! Taxs cuts! doesn't count.

I think Obama is doing the right thing by trying, but when Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist are calling the tune, it ain't going to happen. I think what's going on right now with the Republicans in Congress is even worse than Bush. I think Bush was a moderating influence on them. Ye gods.

I think you're right, as I noted in a PS post in another thread.

I don't know if they're serious, or just deploying this amendment (knowing it will fail), just so they'll have another talking point.

claymisher 02-06-2009 12:34 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 103343)
I think you're right, as I noted in a PS post in another thread.

I don't know if they're serious, or just deploying this amendment (knowing it will fail), just so they'll have another talking point.

John Cole knows what I'm talking about:

Quote:

Instapundit, Malkin, and Joe the Plumber discuss politics for PJTV.

There is so much to love about this, I don’t know where to start, but certainly Joe the Plumber bemoaning the lack of spending cuts and general program cuts in the stimulus bill was a highlight. It is almost as if he doesn’t have the first damned clue what he is talking about. A close runner-up would be Instapundit heralding Bush’s MBA as evidence of his awesome managerial skills. There was just so much to love, it is hard to narrow down the “best” parts.

I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.

bjkeefe 02-06-2009 01:03 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 103345)

LOL! Indeed. He's been on fire lately, and 90% of his posts feel like he's reading my mind and putting the thoughts into words much better than I could.

(The 10% part where I don't feel that way is that he's more impatient that Obama Do. Something. Now. than I am.)

But really -- most of the Republicans with power, both in Congress and in the media, really have no interest in compromise/bipartisanship/whatever. It's important for the left and moderates never to forget that.

harkin 02-06-2009 01:25 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 103312)

Oh, and by the way? How happy are you about this?

Slightly O/T, I know, but it's worth pointing out that significant things are being accomplished, despite what many seem to think.

One of the things accomplished here was that Obama broke yet another campaign promise:

As Politico notes:

"Obama’s 5 p.m. signing came barely three hours after the House approved the bill, breaching Obama’s promise to have a five-day period of “sunlight before signing,” as he detailed on the campaign trail and on his website.

“Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them,” the Obama-Biden campaign website states. “As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.”



Change you can believe in

bjkeefe 02-06-2009 01:29 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by harkin (Post 103354)
One of the things accomplished here was that Obama broke yet another campaign promise:

As Politico notes:

"Obama’s 5 p.m. signing came barely three hours after the House approved the bill, breaching Obama’s promise to have a five-day period of “sunlight before signing,” as he detailed on the campaign trail and on his website.

“Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them,” the Obama-Biden campaign website states. “As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.”

Boy, Politico's really becoming a reliable source of Republican talking points, aren't they?

In this case, technically, yeah. But it's not like this bill hasn't been around for a couple of years by now. Also, I'd imagine that if you had a sick kid and no health insurance, you'd say this falls in the "emergency" category.

But there's not nothing to this complaint, I'll grant. Keep the legitimate gripes coming!

AemJeff 02-06-2009 01:31 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 103355)
Boy, Politico's really becoming a reliable source of Republican talking points, aren't they?

They always have been, for the most part. I loved watching Nate Silver eat their lunch, last fall.

Lemon Sorbet 02-06-2009 02:02 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 103332)
Sorry but I don't share his fascination with sheer power.

Unit, this is an extremely distorted paraphrasing of Mr. Madrick’s views. Even looking at corporations the best ones are where a strong leader is able to effectively communicate his vision and values so that it trickles down to the lowest level and makes a tangible impact. Steve Jobs comes to mind immediately. History shows that leaders in government can have a profound effect on a nation through sheer leadership in conjunction with policy. Where is the faulty logic in that? Also, I can’t argue with you on the history of economics because it’s not something about which I have a lot of knowledge, but theories aside, we have empirical proof that when government works, it can really do some amazingly good things. The fact that we’ve let that institution become so corrupt and inept I think says more about how we’ve handled our culture and value system than anything about the institution as a whole.

Lemon Sorbet 02-06-2009 02:14 AM

Re: Two Trillion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 103323)
Elizabeth Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee.

The only problem is that I am the mentioner.

This made me laugh out loud Wonderment :-D. Also, thanks for the Joan Walsh link. Excellent article, I really wish it would have been linked at the side.

Quote:

Originally Posted by kidneystones (Post 103308)
.....Instead we get the politics of porky fear, with the poor communicator ,himself, squawking across the pages of the Wapo screaming in alliterated prose that this bad package is the Action Americans Need and must be passed OR ELSE....

Kidneystones! How I've missed you! You've abused me in the past and god knows I've been disgusted by your comments but you must have a certain masochistic hold on me because I'm so glad to see again your,... umm..., unique style of commenting (which has really mellowed, what's happened?).

bjkeefe 02-06-2009 03:11 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Obama makes the case for passing the stimulus bill now: five minute video excerpt.

timba 02-06-2009 03:56 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Wow - this one is amazingly good - I'm spellbound - thanks!

Francoamerican 02-06-2009 04:56 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 103332)
Keynesians like to say that since profits in the maket are falling the govt needs to step in and make the investments. Well, the govt and the market are two very different things. If you look at the hierarchy of power, govts are much more like individual businesses ad thus are just as stupid as individual businessmen might be. The people that defend markets do not (usually) defend individual businessmen. Friedman always said that it's a "profit and loss" system. Don't bail out, in short..

Governments can certainly act stupidly and often do, but comparing them to businesses is completely wrong, both conceptually and historically. For one thing, governments are not in the business of making a profit. They are "in the business" of defining and defending the public good, i.e. the good of all. What is the political equivalent of failure in business? As far as I know, there are only two: dissolution of the existing government (elections) and revolution.

On the whole, I would agree that the government has no business bailing out failed businesses, but that isn't the essence of Keynesianism. Keynes simply thought that in times of a credit crisis (in both senses of the word: loss of trust and evaporation of lending), the government needs to restore trust and steer the market away from the precipice of depression by injecting liquidity into it (in this respect Friedman wasn't exactly the anti-Keynes some people imagine), but also by investing in projects that reallocate capital to productive uses (Don't forget: Keynes was the enemy of the rentier class, the hoarders of capital who live off their interest payments---like Keynes himself!).


Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 103332)
The market represent a complex web of activities which mainly take place with no one in charge, through delicate feedback loops that have evolved over time, such as prices. Govt is more like a giant corporation with monopoly power. Usually giant corporations with monopoly power screw up. Because the checks-and-balances of competition and profit-and-losses are wiped out. So comparing govt to the market makes little sense. One is a top-down system, the other is a bottom-up one. The guest wants a strong leader, a smart leader ("it starts at the top"). Sorry but I don't share his fascination with sheer power.

This is a self-contradictory statement. On the one hand you compare the government to a giant corporation with monopoly power; on the other hand you say that comparing the government to the market makes no sense. Sorry, you can't have it both ways. Yes, the market is complex web of activities etc., but the market, as the Mr Madrick made clear and as historians have always known, has ALWAYS and EVERYWHERE depended on the government (or the state, as Europeans say) to provide essential services without which the market couldn't function.

The only real monopoly the government possesses is the "monopoly of legitimate violence."

Unit 02-06-2009 09:28 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lemon Sorbet (Post 103360)
Unit, this is an extremely distorted paraphrasing of Mr. Madrick’s views. Even looking at corporations the best ones are where a strong leader is able to effectively communicate his vision and values so that it trickles down to the lowest level and makes a tangible impact. Steve Jobs comes to mind immediately. History shows that leaders in government can have a profound effect on a nation through sheer leadership in conjunction with policy. Where is the faulty logic in that? Also, I can’t argue with you on the history of economics because it’s not something about which I have a lot of knowledge, but theories aside, we have empirical proof that when government works, it can really do some amazingly good things. The fact that we’ve let that institution become so corrupt and inept I think says more about how we’ve handled our culture and value system than anything about the institution as a whole.

Lemon,

My point is that at best with a strong and smart leader we would get a govt behaving like a successful monopolistic corporation, and yes maybe the impact could be profound, but it's far from the ideal of tending to a complex, evolving phenomena, like a thriving market. It would be like trying to cure the recession by giving unlimited powers to Bill Gates. Sure he's a smart guy, but he is not all of us, millions of people. He doesn't have the distributed knowledge that we collectively have, that was Hayek's point.

Unit 02-06-2009 09:36 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Francoamerican (Post 103369)
Governments can certainly act stupidly and often do, but comparing them to businesses is completely wrong, both conceptually and historically. For one thing, governments are not in the business of making a profit. They are "in the business" of defining and defending the public good, i.e. the good of all. What is the political equivalent of failure in business? As far as I know, there are only two: dissolution of the existing government (elections) and revolution.

I agree, but my point is that govts are more like an individual business than an entire market.

Quote:

On the whole, I would agree that the government has no business bailing out failed businesses, but that isn't the essence of Keynesianism. Keynes simply thought that in times of a credit crisis (in both senses of the word: loss of trust and evaporation of lending), the government needs to restore trust and steer the market away from the precipice of depression by injecting liquidity into it (in this respect Friedman wasn't exactly the anti-Keynes some people imagine), but also by investing in projects that reallocate capital to productive uses (Don't forget: Keynes was the enemy of the rentier class, the hoarders of capital who live off their interest payments---like Keynes himself!).
Have you seen this quote of Keynes himself? Apparently the latter Keynes disagreed with the former Keynes:

“Organized public works, at home and abroad, may be the right cure for a chronic tendency to a deficiency of effective demand. But they are not capable of sufficiently rapid organization (and above all cannot be reversed or undone at a later date), to be the most serviceable instrument for the prevention of the trade cycle.”


Quote:

This is a self-contradictory statement. On the one hand you compare the government to a giant corporation with monopoly power; on the other hand you say that comparing the government to the market makes no sense. Sorry, you can't have it both ways. Yes, the market is complex web of activities etc., but the market, as the Mr Madrick made clear and as historians have always known, has ALWAYS and EVERYWHERE depended on the government (or the state, as Europeans say) to provide essential services without which the market couldn't function.

The only real monopoly the government possesses is the "monopoly of legitimate violence."
That's an assertion you are making ("always" and "everywhere" etc...). I'm not so sure about it. Yes there is a symbiosis between govt and markets that is hard to unfold, but I don't see why the solution is to grow big governments rather than growing big markets.

bjkeefe 02-06-2009 11:16 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 103363)
Obama makes the case for passing the stimulus bill now: five minute video excerpt.

The video of the full speech is now up on C-Span's site. About 21 minutes.

Francoamerican 02-06-2009 11:23 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 103375)
I agree, but my point is that govts are more like an individual business than an entire market..

True, but since its purpose isn't economic it shouldn't be evaluated in economic terms.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 103375)
Have you seen this quote of Keynes himself? Apparently the latter Keynes disagreed with the former Keynes:
“Organized public works, at home and abroad, may be the right cure for a chronic tendency to a deficiency of effective demand. But they are not capable of sufficiently rapid organization (and above all cannot be reversed or undone at a later date), to be the most serviceable instrument for the prevention of the trade cycle.”.

Point taken, but what if the public works are much needed in any case? I know far too little about Keynes and economics in general to pursue this question on my own.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 103375)
That's an assertion you are making ("always" and "everywhere" etc...). I'm not so sure about it. Yes there is a symbiosis between govt and markets that is hard to unfold, but I don't see why the solution is to grow big governments rather than growing big markets.

It is more than just a symbiosis. The relationship of the government (or state) to the economy is more like that of an all-encompassing framework of law and order which (1) protects the activities of individuals in society and (2) enables them to make decisions that concern the public good, i.e. the good of everyone. It makes possible economic activity, and other activities as well, by opening up a space of freedom and security. No society, except the most primitive, could exist without it. I think Americans, unlike Europeans and Asians, and for obvious historical reasons, are sometimes a bit naive about this relationship. They assume government (=the state) is somehow optional. But the alternative, as Hobbes et al. saw, is the war of all against all.

harkin 02-06-2009 11:40 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Krauthammer on the fraud of rushing a pork-laden $850+ billion dollar disaster:

He nails the obvious point that the dems just won't admit:

"So much for the president who in his inaugural address two weeks earlier declared "we have chosen hope over fear." Until, that is, you need fear to pass a bill..........."


"It's not just pages and pages of special-interest tax breaks, giveaways and protections, one of which would set off a ruinous Smoot-Hawley trade war. It's not just the waste, such as the $88.6 million for new construction for Milwaukee Public Schools, which, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, have shrinking enrollment, 15 vacant schools and, quite logically, no plans for new construction.

It's the essential fraud of rushing through a bill in which the normal rules (committee hearings, finding revenue to pay for the programs) are suspended on the grounds that a national emergency requires an immediate job-creating stimulus -- and then throwing into it hundreds of billions that have nothing to do with stimulus, that Congress' own budget office says won't be spent until 2011 and beyond, and that are little more than the back-scratching, special-interest, lobby-driven parochialism that Obama came to Washington to abolish. He said.

Not just to abolish but to create something new -- a new politics where the moneyed pork-barreling and corrupt logrolling of the past would give way to a bottom-up, grass-roots participatory democracy. That is what made Obama so dazzling and new. Turns out the "fierce urgency of now" includes $150 million for livestock insurance.

The Age of Obama begins with perhaps the greatest frenzy of old-politics influence peddling ever seen in Washington. By the time the stimulus bill reached the Senate, reports The Wall Street Journal, pharmaceutical and high-tech companies were lobbying furiously for a new plan to repatriate overseas profits that would yield major tax savings. California wine growers and Florida citrus producers were fighting to change a single phrase in one provision. Substituting "planted" for "ready to market" would mean a windfall garnered from a new "bonus depreciation" incentive."

bjkeefe 02-06-2009 11:45 AM

Re: The Case for Big Government
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by harkin (Post 103380)
Krauthammer on ...

So what's your position on the whole notion of a stimulus package, harkin? Don't spend at all? Spend, but spend differently? Do tax cuts instead? Something else?

It'd be nice to hear positive alternatives, rather than just picking at very small (in percentage terms)* bits of the stimulus bill.

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* I mean, I have no idea about the merits of, say, livestock insurance. But in the context of the whole bill, it's a small fraction of one percent of the total package. While I agree that "a hundred million here, a hundred million there, and pretty soon you're talking real money" can always be said, how much of the bill do you really have a problem with? And again, what would you do differently?


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