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  #1  
Old 02-03-2009, 08:37 PM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default A Humbler Stimulus?

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  #2  
Old 02-03-2009, 09:20 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Must ... not ... be ... sarcastic.
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  #3  
Old 02-03-2009, 09:22 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
Must ... not ... be ... sarcastic.
Don't watch, don't snark.
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  #4  
Old 02-03-2009, 10:15 PM
rcocean rcocean is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Megan,

The obvious libertarian solution is more deregulation - bring back Phil Gramm - and tax cuts. After all, we can trust Bank of America and AIG, (i.e. the "free market") to make us all richer.

Also, we also need open borders and more out-sourcing and H-1V's because more competition for labor means more jobs and higher pay for American workers. And don't forget the one-sided trade deals - because giving the Chinese more control over the dollar is a good thing.

I'm shocked the Republicans haven't offered this vote getting solution.
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  #5  
Old 02-03-2009, 10:23 PM
brucds brucds is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

rocean - that's mean. Asking libertarians to put forward a libertarian agenda isn't fair. Until our universities produce more sophomores who've read Atlas Shrugged, the world isn't ready.

Last edited by brucds; 02-04-2009 at 08:27 AM..
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  #6  
Old 02-03-2009, 10:35 PM
student123 student123 is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Megan seemed knowledgable, and she argued her points well. There were a couple of times where she should have allowed Brian more opportunity to speak. She often insisted on finishing her statements, but the statements were a couple of minutes long, which wasn't so fair.

Unfortunately for Brian, in the instances where he did speak, he revealed a fundamental lack of knowledge about basic economic theory, and even the "Keynesian School" of economics that he supports. He seems like a really intelligent guy, but I don't think he should blogginghead about economics until he does a lot more homework. I know he gave a disclaimer that he got his ideas from reading economists he admires, but he really hasn't retained enough substantive information. I don't mean to be so harsh- Brian seems like a nice and smart guy, and I hope that he will really wow us if he does an econ bloggingheads in a year.
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  #7  
Old 02-03-2009, 10:38 PM
Titstorm Titstorm is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

libertarian philosophy got us in this mess! now they think we're interested in hearing how they'll fix it? got news for you - your opinion is not wanted.
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  #8  
Old 02-03-2009, 11:16 PM
Lemon Sorbet Lemon Sorbet is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

This was good vlog. Putting aside that Libertarian philosophies offend me deeply, Megan did a great job outlining her concerns and though Brian obviously does not have expertise in economics, I thought he asked the questions and made comments that most of us non-experts would have asked of someone who is “against” the stimulus.

As for my own non-expert opinion, observation of what’s going on locally in my state in response to the stimulus package, plus hearing what Megan has to say, equals total ambivalence and disappointment. Believe me, I want this to work. I am hurting, my family’s hurting, my friends are hurting. I am also in a field that is very dependent on people having disposable income so things are not good. But, I am just very weary of spending this much money and putting this much risk on a plan that for me evokes a lot discomfort as opposed to confidence, mostly for three reasons.

1) This is just parroting what we’ve all heard already, but I have to say it here because I see it with my own eyes. Though many agree that our national infrastructure is badly frailing at the edges, there is no way that most of that can be planned and addressed in time to be shovel ready. This is exemplified by many local projects in my area which were nixed previously (for good reasons I thought) that are now getting geared up to qualify for federal money. So yes, I strongly suspect that many projects will be wasteful. So for me the question is to what degree are the benefits really going to outweigh the conceivable massive waste?

2) I am completely and unequivocally for a universal healthcare proposal, but again, I agree with Megan. What is the COBRA thing doing in the stimulus package? Or aid to the arts, or to reproductive health, or to whatever else? All of these things are things that I support, but given the situation and dire need, I’m disappointed that a clean, straight, and to the point stimulus plan focusing directly and solely at the economic recovery has been shuttled for a politics as usual fattened up bill attached with goodies for everyone. Some might say that this is the way things work in congress and it was necessary for it to go through, but I say we are in the worst crisis most of us have known in our lifetime and a strong leader would have done a good enough job of communicating that to both the people and the congress and pushed it through. I’m very surprised and disappointed that Obama has not turned out to do that.

3) Nothing about Timothy Geithner nor Lawrence Sumners inspires confidence. Nothing.

Now here are things that Megan said that I didn’t understand or agreed with:

1) She made the comment that building a bridge with concrete and steel takes it away from somewhere, so it’s non-stimulative. Why would that be? It’s not like that bridge would be built in place of my house, it would be built in addition. It seems pretty simulative to me and thus faulty logic, but maybe someone can better expand on what she might have meant.

2) The analogy that you can hire someone to water the lawn and can call that employment is ridiculous. We NEED infrastructure upgrades in this country. Most of the physical bones that made U.S. what it is today were made way, way back, and we are just not geared up for the 21st century in terms of roads, utility methods, transportation, earthquake readiness infrastructure, etc., etc. All of these things are items that are vital to the future of the country, and I find it disconcerting to say the least that she would diminish the importance of it by making such a petty analogy.

3) Are we trying to look for a solution that will almost immediately jolt us back to where we were? Brian thankfully made this point, but I am under the assumption that what we’re seeking from the stimulus package is to stop the bleeding immediately and gradually get back on our feet. Though it might take three years for the concrete to be poured, even the planning stages will need a fair amount of additional employees in all sectors to get it going. And most importantly, when companies have big projects down the pipeline they layoff on the layoffs. Isn’t this part of the blood staunching?

I obviously don’t have any answers as I’m just an interested observer to this debate but honestly, I didn’t see a viable one coming from Megan either. But I don’t think this should keep her or anyone from making counter arguments.

Last edited by Lemon Sorbet; 02-03-2009 at 11:18 PM..
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  #9  
Old 02-03-2009, 11:22 PM
Stapler Malone Stapler Malone is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

I really don't understand why Megan gets so much grief in this comments section. She's not being ideological, or obstructionist, or jerky in any way really. She freely admits that she's squishy and agnostic and at the end of the day pretty much for the Stimulus, but just wants there to be more rational discussion about it. After the experience this country had rushing to war in Iraq no questions asked, I think her warning of overconfidence and groupthink and lack of careful due diligence is 100% legit.

I'm not saying I agree with her that we shouldn't do anything infrastructural, I'm just saying she seems on the level to me here.
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  #10  
Old 02-03-2009, 11:27 PM
pampl pampl is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

I thought this was one of McArdle's better appearances. I agree with Beutler that it's not really Biden's fault that he is unaware of the state of conservative economics, but ultimately I do think that Obama should be aware that the House Republicans are a joke and getting a normal sort of democratic compromise requires going above and beyond listening to a handful of pols having a nervous breakdown about their ideology. I have the impression that Obama has listened/will listen to reputable conservative economists, but I don't know how much of that impression is real and how much was my buying into an image. I'll find out soon, I guess!
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  #11  
Old 02-03-2009, 11:33 PM
Lemon Sorbet Lemon Sorbet is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stapler Malone View Post
I really don't understand why Megan gets so much grief in this comments section.
You know, I don't either. I can see plenty of room for disagreement or even dislike, but not to the level where rocks are being thrown everytime she steps on stage. But I will admit that there are actually some guests on BH that inspire loathing in me. I directly blame them for lives lost and inexcusable violence in the world and sometimes I just want to call them names and nothing more.

Last edited by Lemon Sorbet; 02-03-2009 at 11:35 PM..
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  #12  
Old 02-03-2009, 11:35 PM
Unit Unit is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

A couple of points:

1. GDP during WWII doesn't make any sense because most market were not functioning and so there are just no reliable prices to compare it with normal times.

2. When government does a lot, the private sector freezes, everyone becomes really cautious, especially because people know that all this spending will have to be paid by tax-payers sooner or later.

3. Libertarian economists were not heeded by the Republicans when they were in power, why should they try to talk to them now that they don't count for anything? It's the Democrats that should be listening to the libertarian economists now, first and foremost. Here is a chance for Obama to break the mold: if the stimulus doesn't pass, the Democrats will go down in history as the fiscally conservative ones and the socially liberal ones. That would be incredible. That would also put all of the responsibility for the huge crisis that is coming square on the Bush administration. They'll be able to point to the Wall Street bail-out, the wars, etc...the trillions of stimulus spending that George W "tried" on us as the main cause of all our troubles. Instead, by spending a little trillion themselves they will become co-conspirators.

4. There are no tax cuts in the proposed stimulus bill. There are tax rebates. Smart tax-cuts change the incentives to risk and hire people.

5. Brian's partisanship was nauseating. I think BHTV should strive for a higher ground.
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  #13  
Old 02-03-2009, 11:45 PM
bramble bramble is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

McArdle annoys me, and this conversation helped me figure out why.

She is a policy tease!

She starts out arguing for, for instance, a libertarian proposal. Then when push comes to shove, she says, "I'd actually probably support the liberals on this one." Or vice versa.

Isn't it a kind of unwritten law of polemics that you can only straddle the fence a certain number of times? McArdle has certainly exceeded that hypothetical number.
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  #14  
Old 02-03-2009, 11:55 PM
Unit Unit is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

6. The shovel-ready project run the risk of getting bogged down by law-suits brought about either for eminent domain reasons or because of environmental concerns.

7. I find strange that someone can be in favor of highway constructions and also want to cap carbon emissions at the same time.
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  #15  
Old 02-04-2009, 12:13 AM
hurt hurt is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

[QUOTE=Stapler Malone;103056]I really don't understand why Megan gets so much grief in this comments section. She's not being ideological, or obstructionist, or jerky in any way really. She freely admits that she's squishy and agnostic and at the end of the day pretty much for the Stimulus, but just wants there to be more rational discussion about it. After the experience this country had rushing to war in Iraq no questions asked, I think her warning of overconfidence and groupthink and lack of careful due diligence is 100% legit.

Yeah, I always preemptively balk at the libertarians on Bloggingheads just because of my preconceived notions grounded in Ron Paulites and college types, but Will Wilkinson, Kerry Howley and Megan McArdle have definitely proven to be formidable minds and make me want to learn more about libertarianism.
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  #16  
Old 02-04-2009, 12:33 AM
timba timba is offline
 
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Default just you wait, Megan McCardle, just you wait

...you'll be sorry but your tears will come too late
your libertarian health insurer
will leave you dying and much poorer
just you wait, Megan McCardle, just you wait
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  #17  
Old 02-04-2009, 12:39 AM
timba timba is offline
 
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Default Re: just you wait, Megan McCardle, just you wait

and if you're too young to know that song, you're also too young to realize why extending COBRA is not "welfare", and why the health insurance companies make Osama bin Laden seem like Mother Teresa.

Wait til that bronchitis you're so blithe about makes you ineligible for health insurance.
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  #18  
Old 02-04-2009, 01:53 AM
x9#z6 x9#z6 is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Really, a libertarian idealogue is the best you can do to discuss the stimulus. Not cool. This topic deserves a real debate by real experts.
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  #19  
Old 02-04-2009, 02:06 AM
x9#z6 x9#z6 is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

I wonder if Megan was so enthusiastic a debater when W was passing his equally gynormous tax cuts.
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  #20  
Old 02-04-2009, 02:19 AM
x9#z6 x9#z6 is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

I'm confused, Megan says no economist in favor of stimulus is willing to make predictions from their models. What about the Romer paper which is much discussed within this very same diavlog.
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  #21  
Old 02-04-2009, 02:40 AM
x9#z6 x9#z6 is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

So the problem with libertarian bloggers is they can often talk nonsensical circles around less verbose opponents. You need to matchup Megan against someone with a good gift for gab and also knowledgeable enough in economics to adeptly deflate the libertarian hypothesis. I think Noam Scheiber of TNR would be great.
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  #22  
Old 02-04-2009, 02:49 AM
x9#z6 x9#z6 is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Last post, I promise. Megan, Krugman and DeLong "attacked" you because you said something that was ass-backward...um...at an empirical level. It's ok to make mistakes but refusing to recognize your empirical misunderstandings is a little obtuse of you.
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  #23  
Old 02-04-2009, 04:16 AM
John Randoe John Randoe is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

I don't really like Megan, but this Brian Beutler character is just embarrassing. Forget macroeconomics, he doesn't even understand the mechanics of the bidding/contracts process that everyone outside of the blogging and table waiting community deals with every day. What the hell, Bob, is this the plan to make bloggingheads more financially viable?

Alright, I've finished the video now, and I can promise I will punch those caterpillars off Brian's smug face if I ever see him.
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  #24  
Old 02-04-2009, 05:22 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by x9#z6 View Post
Last post, I promise.
No need for such promises; there is no posting limit.
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  #25  
Old 02-04-2009, 05:25 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by x9#z6 View Post
So the problem with libertarian bloggers is they can often talk nonsensical circles around less verbose opponents. You need to matchup Megan against someone with a good gift for gab and also knowledgeable enough in economics to adeptly deflate the libertarian hypothesis. I think Noam Scheiber of TNR would be great.
Brian's still new at this, and, like almost every other person who joined Bloggingheads, will improve with practice.

(ADDED) 75 minutes on one topic is probably excessive, too.

Last edited by TwinSwords; 02-04-2009 at 05:32 AM..
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  #26  
Old 02-04-2009, 06:03 AM
Francoamerican
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

I have only listened to this dialogue in distracted snatches, so my comments may be hit and miss.

As usual I find the libertarian drivel of Megan McCardle so detached from reality that I wonder if she inhabits the real world. Example: infrastructure. Megan disaproves of spending on infrastructure because it may not have the immediate effects that Keynesian stimulus promises. Maybe, maybe not, but it seems to me that Obama's efforts to combine economic stimulus with good public policy is more reasonable than looking for short-term stimulus that will just increase public debt without contributing to the public good. As an infrequent visitor to the US I am always appalled by how rundown much American infrastructure looks: roads, bridges, public areas are often in terrible disrepair. Admittedly, my impressions are subjective, but in comparison to western Europe the US needs some sprucing up. Moreover, I remember reading not so long ago that the Army Corps of Engineers gave something like 50% of US infrastructure a grade of C- to D+ (not sure of the exact numbers). Or take the distribution of broadband: Here too the US compares unfavorably with Europe, where broadband is widely available. I could also mention public transport, but I know how attached Americans are to their cars....

So if you want your country to continue to go to the dogs, listen to Megan McCardle. She's your man!

Last edited by Francoamerican; 02-04-2009 at 06:53 AM..
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  #27  
Old 02-04-2009, 06:31 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francoamerican View Post
As an infrequent visitor to the US I am always appalled by how rundown much American infrastructure looks: roads, bridges, public areas are often in terrible disrepair. Admittedly, my impressions are subjective, but in comparison to western Europe the US needs some sprucing up.
When I was a younger man, I was a photographer, and spent many hours driving through the rural back roads of America looking for good subjects. One thing that amazed me during my travels was how high a proportion of bridges were built by the WPA during the Great Depression. There are millions of little rivers, streams, and creeks criss-crossing the countryside, and everywhere one intersects a road, a bridge is needed. And still, decades later, a majority of these were built during the one time in our history when America made a determined effort to upgrade its infrastructure.

There certainly isn't any profit for investment bankers in a small bridge on some rural back road, but collectively, these bridges improve life for millions of Americans.

I learned something else on my travels: many of the bridges were so old they had to be condemned, with no plans and no funds for repair or replacement. In this sense, America is slow rotting and returning to a more primitive time in our history. There are thousands of places where people used to be able to drive a straight mile between points A and B, but now, because those old bridges are collapsing, we must drive several miles out of the way, going miles around to the next bridge. One typical example a few miles from where I type now: A stretch of road with an elementary school at one end, and dozens of homes down the road in the other direction. A condemned bridge between them. Until that bridge was closed, people could take their kids to school in 5 minutes. Now they must go several miles out of their way.

I liked it better when America was a first world country.
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  #28  
Old 02-04-2009, 06:52 AM
Francoamerican
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
There certainly isn't any profit for investment bankers in a small bridge on some rural back road, but collectively, these bridges improve life for millions of Americans.

I liked it better when America was a first world country.
That is the problem, as J K Galbraith pointed out long ago: Private affluence, public squalor. The free market is a wonderful mechanism for bringing together people with money (investors) and people with profit-making ideas (entrepreneurs) to increase their wealth. It is a terrible mechanism for improving the public good. Even Adam Smith understood this. But do libertarians actually read their hero?
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  #29  
Old 02-04-2009, 07:19 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Twin and FA:

Good thoughts from both of you.

I'm reminded of Kurt Vonnegut, who once said: the problem is, everybody wants to do design and nobody wants to do maintenance.
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Last edited by bjkeefe; 02-04-2009 at 07:22 AM..
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  #30  
Old 02-04-2009, 07:52 AM
liberrocky liberrocky is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Quote:
The free market is a wonderful mechanism for bringing together people with money (investors) and people with profit-making ideas (entrepreneurs) to increase their wealth. It is a terrible mechanism for improving the public good. Even Adam Smith understood this.
Hah Hah good one Franco!...Oh wait it just occurred to me that you might not be joking.
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  #31  
Old 02-04-2009, 08:38 AM
brucds brucds is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

I actually think Megan did a yeoman's job of runnng through the stock objections to the stimulus, but this guy could have done it more succinctly and with more passion - and contributed more effectively to the public perception of the GOP as a bunch of nutjobs :

NY Daily News
February 3, 2009

You’d think Joe the Plumber’s 15 minutes would be up by now. But , no, after a stint as a correspondent in Israel, he took his act to Capitol Hill today.

The first order of business: giving political advice to conservative Republican staffers at breakfast, which, Wurzelbacher told us, “Went really well.”

His advice, essentially, was to take no prisoners in standing up for their beliefs.

“It’s not politically incorrect to say you’re Republican or conservative,” Joe said. “They need to dig their heels in and fight for what needs to be done.”

And no reason to be subtle, he said, as long as folks inform themselves. “I don’t believe there’s two sides to every story. It’s black and white,” Wurzelbacher explained. “There’s right and wrong.”

One thing that needs to be done, he said, is killing this stimulus package, because it’s just another example of “American government” — Republicans and Democrats — “kicking our butts left and right.” He also called it welfare.
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  #32  
Old 02-04-2009, 08:39 AM
bkjazfan bkjazfan is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

I am an old fashioned low tech person who can barely operate this laptop. However, give me a book and then I'm comfortable.

Every once in awhile I see hear sarcastic comments made about Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged." Matt Welch of "Reason" magazine said he had never read her works. Granted, I don't think "AS" will not appear on any scholar's great books list but it isn't trash lit either.

I read it several years ago and enjoyed it. Sure, at 900 or so pages it may be too long. The characters come off as being too mechanical. She is constantly drumming her anti-collectivist thoughts into you at every turn. That said I found it worthwhile and found strong similarties between her objectivist philosophy and what has become known as the libertarian movement.

And yes, I wanted to find out who John Galt was.

John

Last edited by bkjazfan; 02-04-2009 at 08:44 AM..
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  #33  
Old 02-04-2009, 08:39 AM
Gapeseed Gapeseed is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

The bill as constituted would not only fail to immediately stimulate, but would sow the seeds for a permanent democratic majority through such stimulations as sending gobs of money to ACORN, rolling back welfare reform, socializing medicine, and the like. Implicit in the arguments for passing the stimulus is that such provisions must be included to ensure passage of the bill. Otherwise, why include these provisions?

What this bill really proves is that the Democratic Party has honed the permanent campaign to perfection, but is incapable of serious governing. They have no faith in their policy prescriptions and in their ability to address each on its merits, so must cram and ram before the light of due consideration illuminates the horrors of this monstrosity. That the Democrats have close to a supermajority to push through whatever their hearts desire, their timidity is nothing less than unbecoming cowardice, and it extends to their media defenders like Krugman.
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  #34  
Old 02-04-2009, 08:48 AM
brucds brucds is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

I can't remember the last time I could have written these words, but the President does an excellent job of taking on the GOP critics (of 1-2% of the package, incidentally) of the stimulus bill in his interview with Charlie Gibson:

http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=6795877
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  #35  
Old 02-04-2009, 08:53 AM
metalguy22 metalguy22 is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

As the WSJ say, "The real story is the massive transfer of power and wealth now underway from the private sector to the political class."

MM might be wrong about everything but she is right about this, the thing that counts. It is simply indisputable that this is happening and it is just as indisputable that, considering the corruption of the political class, this is a bad thing.
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  #36  
Old 02-04-2009, 08:58 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by metalguy22 View Post
As the WSJ say, "The real story is the massive transfer of power and wealth now underway from the private sector to the political class."

MM might be wrong about everything but she is right about this, the thing that counts. It is simply indisputable that this is happening and it is just as indisputable that, considering the corruption of the political class, this is a bad thing.
Yeah, because the private sector has shown itself to be filled with nothing but fine upstanding citizens who have nothing but the best interests of society at heart. What we need are more Enrons, more Exxons, more AIGs, more Lehman Brothers, more Citibanks, more Wachovias, more UBSes ... That'll solve everything, for sure!
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  #37  
Old 02-04-2009, 09:00 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gapeseed View Post
The bill as constituted would not only fail to immediately stimulate, but would sow the seeds for a permanent democratic majority through such stimulations as sending gobs of money to ACORN, rolling back welfare reform, socializing medicine, and the like.
Your exaggerations and mischaracterizations about this bill aside, what you really fail to understand is that a lot of us would like exactly these things.
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  #38  
Old 02-04-2009, 09:04 AM
Gapeseed Gapeseed is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

One other thing -

Does anyone find it strange that this huge, huge bill (hundreds and hundreds of pages) was ready to go so soon after inauguration? I want to know how long it took to cook, who the chefs were, what ovens were used, etc. Instead, we have ourselves an orphan. A bill this large must have taken weeks to craft. I want to meet the parents.

It seems that the only area where government is super efficient is in crafting legislation to make itself bigger.
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  #39  
Old 02-04-2009, 09:04 AM
brucds brucds is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

More GOPers like Gapeseed, our own Joe The Plumber ! I love these guys.

Except they make a liberal's life too easy.
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  #40  
Old 02-04-2009, 09:07 AM
brucds brucds is offline
 
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Default Re: A Humbler Stimulus?

bjkeefe - the guy said it was indisputable. That means you can't dispute it. So please delete your comment.
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