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  #1  
Old 02-05-2009, 04:58 PM
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Default The Case for Big Government

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  #2  
Old 02-05-2009, 06:57 PM
Lemon Sorbet Lemon Sorbet is offline
 
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Default 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.
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  #3  
Old 02-05-2009, 07:00 PM
StillmanThomas StillmanThomas is offline
 
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Default 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!
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  #4  
Old 02-05-2009, 07:57 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default 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 View Post
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.
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  #5  
Old 02-05-2009, 10:29 PM
StillmanThomas StillmanThomas is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

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Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
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.
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  #6  
Old 02-05-2009, 10:41 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

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Originally Posted by Bokonon View Post
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.
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  #7  
Old 02-05-2009, 07:54 PM
Titstorm Titstorm is offline
 
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Default 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

Last edited by Titstorm; 02-05-2009 at 08:03 PM..
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  #8  
Old 02-05-2009, 08:05 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default 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.
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  #9  
Old 02-05-2009, 08:37 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
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.
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  #10  
Old 02-05-2009, 09:25 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default 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.
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  #11  
Old 02-05-2009, 09:37 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
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 ;^)
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  #12  
Old 02-05-2009, 09:47 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default 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.
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  #13  
Old 02-05-2009, 09:51 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
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.
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  #14  
Old 02-05-2009, 10:14 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

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Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
... 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.
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  #15  
Old 02-06-2009, 01:25 AM
harkin harkin is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post

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:

"Obamas 5 p.m. signing came barely three hours after the House approved the bill, breaching Obamas 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.



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  #16  
Old 02-06-2009, 01:29 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harkin View Post
One of the things accomplished here was that Obama broke yet another campaign promise:

As Politico notes:

"Obamas 5 p.m. signing came barely three hours after the House approved the bill, breaching Obamas 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!
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  #17  
Old 02-06-2009, 01:31 AM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

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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.
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  #18  
Old 02-05-2009, 09:41 PM
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Default ...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.
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  #19  
Old 02-05-2009, 09:49 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Nate View Post
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.
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Old 02-05-2009, 10:36 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

This was a really enlightening discussion. I especially enjoyed the historical aspects.
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  #21  
Old 02-05-2009, 11:07 PM
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Default 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.
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Old 02-06-2009, 02:02 AM
Lemon Sorbet Lemon Sorbet is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unit View Post
Sorry but I don't share his fascination with sheer power.
Unit, this is an extremely distorted paraphrasing of Mr. Madricks 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 cant argue with you on the history of economics because its 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 weve let that institution become so corrupt and inept I think says more about how weve handled our culture and value system than anything about the institution as a whole.
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Old 02-06-2009, 09:28 AM
Unit Unit is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemon Sorbet View Post
Unit, this is an extremely distorted paraphrasing of Mr. Madricks 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 cant argue with you on the history of economics because its 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 weve let that institution become so corrupt and inept I think says more about how weve 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.
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Old 02-06-2009, 04:56 AM
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unit View Post
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:
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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."
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Old 02-06-2009, 09:36 AM
Unit Unit is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

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Originally Posted by Francoamerican View Post
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.
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Old 02-06-2009, 11:23 AM
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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 View Post
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.

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Originally Posted by Unit View Post
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.
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Old 02-06-2009, 07:01 PM
Unit Unit is offline
 
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True, but since its purpose isn't economic it shouldn't be evaluated in economic terms.
Usually yes, but now they're making the case for huge interventions in the economy per se, and not as impartial arbiter but as an actual player and entrepreneur. We've just finished witnessing what happens when entrepreneurs are insulated from losses and are given monopoly privileges (see financial collapse) and now they want to take that model and deployed on an even grander scale.

Quote:
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.
Again, you are talking about the institutional role of govt, while proponents of big govt want it to produce hamburgers and flip house mortgages.

Now on the point about institutions, laws, conventions, yes sure govts are usually needed for that. But this can also be overblown. Norms evolve in society through the interaction of millions of people and it's a good thing when the govt limits itself to acknowledging what crystalizes in society.
A good example is the issue of gay marriage in California, where through a laborious process involving individuals agreeing to abide to a private contract and being able to find judge that would recognize it, had succeeded in evolving new norms and convention. Then came the majority vote and the legislative branch could now very well erase what had emerged spontaneously. There are many other examples of this ranging from the fact that half of all policing is done by private security forces, to the example of commercial credit card companies that are accepted around the world despite the fact that we don't have a global govt.
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  #28  
Old 02-07-2009, 06:21 AM
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Usually yes, but now they're making the case for huge interventions in the economy per se, and not as impartial arbiter but as an actual player and entrepreneur. We've just finished witnessing what happens when entrepreneurs are insulated from losses and are given monopoly privileges (see financial collapse) and now they want to take that model and deployed on an even grander scale..
So far the interventions in the economy--bailing out the banks etc.--have been emergency measures to prevent the whole financial system from collapsing, as it did in 1929-31. Letting the banks fail would have punished all Americans (and many foreigners too). It would have been sheer folly to let such a thing happen just to administer a lesson in free-market economics to the incompetent and rapacious bank executives et al. responsible for the crisis. Personally, I think it would have made more sense to nationalize, temporarily, the banks instead of taking over the "toxic assets." At least, the tax payer might then have expected to gain in the end.

The fact that emergency measures to save the economy in a crisis are necessary, and can only be undertaken by the government because the government alone has the means and the authority to act on such a scale, does not change the nature of government: to act for the good of ALL. That doesn't mean the government is becoming an economic actor. Hence I disagree with your next statement:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unit View Post
Again, you are talking about the institutional role of govt, while proponents of big govt want it to produce hamburgers and flip house mortgages..
This is nothing but an exaggeration for comic effect. Once again a stimulus package, such as the one Obama wants to introduce, intervenes directly in the economy only in order to stimulate demand by keeping enough people employed to prevent a recession from turning into a depression....which, by the way, it may not succeed in doing.


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Originally Posted by Unit View Post
Now on the point about institutions, laws, conventions, yes sure govts are usually needed for that. But this can also be overblown. Norms evolve in society through the interaction of millions of people and it's a good thing when the govt limits itself to acknowledging what crystalizes in society. A good example is the issue of gay marriage in California, where through a laborious process involving individuals agreeing to abide to a private contract and being able to find judge that would recognize it, had succeeded in evolving new norms and convention. Then came the majority vote and the legislative branch could now very well erase what had emerged spontaneously. There are many other examples of this ranging from the fact that half of all policing is done by private security forces, to the example of commercial credit card companies that are accepted around the world despite the fact that we don't have a global govt.
You have to distinguish between norms, or customs, and the framework that allows them to coexist. In the final analysis, it is the state that decides, whether by vote or by judicial ruling, what customs are to be allowed in the same territory (for example states that have a Christian heritage have decided that polygamy is unlawful...but in Saudi Arabia polygamy is perfectly legal). Since I believe that the state has the rightful authority to decide what is or what is not marriage, or what is or is not a civil union, I am not troubled by your example. Private security forces may be necessary in the US (in Europe they are rare),they are still subordinate to the law of the land. They cannot, for example, take part in a criminal investigation.

Last edited by Francoamerican; 02-07-2009 at 06:27 AM..
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  #29  
Old 02-07-2009, 01:04 PM
Unit Unit is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

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Originally Posted by Francoamerican View Post
So far the interventions in the economy--bailing out the banks etc.--have been emergency measures to prevent the whole financial system from collapsing, as it did in 1929-31. Letting the banks fail would have punished all Americans (and many foreigners too). It would have been sheer folly to let such a thing happen just to administer a lesson in free-market economics to the incompetent and rapacious bank executives et al. responsible for the crisis. Personally, I think it would have made more sense to nationalize, temporarily, the banks instead of taking over the "toxic assets." At least, the tax payer might then have expected to gain in the end.
You seem to have internalized Bush's narrative, but not everyone agrees. Kling, Cochrane, et al., for instance, think that the govt could have helped
with a rational dismantling of the too-big-to-fail banks. Again the analogies with eighty years ago might not be relevant here. So far the current strategy doesn't seem to work and it's not like pain is erased: it's just shifted to somebody else (the tax-payers and my kids in this instance).



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The fact that emergency measures to save the economy in a crisis are necessary, and can only be undertaken by the government because the government alone has the means and the authority to act on such a scale, does not change the nature of government: to act for the good of ALL. That doesn't mean the government is becoming an economic actor. Hence I disagree with your next statement:
The nature of govt is definitely NOT to act for the good of all. What's good for me might not be good for you. There's no such thing as the "good of all". Also time and time again we see govt acting for the good of some people to detriment of others. So I can't follow you here.


Quote:
This is nothing but an exaggeration for comic effect. Once again a stimulus package, such as the one Obama wants to introduce, intervenes directly in the economy only in order to stimulate demand by keeping enough people employed to prevent a recession from turning into a depression....which, by the way, it may not succeed in doing.
You seem to have internalized Obama's narrative. But again not everyone agrees. The composition of the workforce is such that the direct intervention of govt instead of employing the idle resources, will steal away from healthy sectors crucial forces, hence making the situation doubly grim. Let me give you an example: right now people with higher-ed degrees are loosing their job, do you think they'll pick up a shovel to build the round-a-bouts and the "shovel" ready project that Obama likes so much? Or is it more likely that very few high-skilled and hyper-productive (think of all the machinery they are able to operate) construction workers will get the job?



Quote:
You have to distinguish between norms, or customs, and the framework that allows them to coexist. In the final analysis, it is the state that decides, whether by vote or by judicial ruling, what customs are to be allowed in the same territory (for example states that have a Christian heritage have decided that polygamy is unlawful...but in Saudi Arabia polygamy is perfectly legal). Since I believe that the state has the rightful authority to decide what is or what is not marriage, or what is or is not a civil union, I am not troubled by your example. Private security forces may be necessary in the US (in Europe they are rare),they are still subordinate to the law of the land. They cannot, for example, take part in a criminal investigation.
I see. So the state has the rightful authority to decide, but two individuals wanting to sign a private contract don't. Well that's where are differences lie. However, just because the state succeed in writing down a law black-on-white it doesn't mean it is a law in civil society. Just because the speed-limit is 60mph it doesn't mean the average speed on the highway won't be 70mph.
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  #30  
Old 02-07-2009, 03:10 PM
Francoamerican
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

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Originally Posted by Unit View Post
You seem to have internalized Bush's narrative, but not everyone agrees. Kling, Cochrane, et al., for instance, think that the govt could have helped with a rational dismantling of the too-big-to-fail banks. Again the analogies with eighty years ago might not be relevant here. So far the current strategy doesn't seem to work and it's not like pain is erased: it's just shifted to somebody else (the tax-payers and my kids in this instance)..
The vast majority of professional economists disagree with you. I have nothing to add, although I agree that your kids are going to be picking up the tab for the irresponsible behavior of the baby boomers and their kids.

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Originally Posted by Unit View Post
The nature of govt is definitely NOT to act for the good of all. What's good for me might not be good for you. There's no such thing as the "good of all". Also time and time again we see govt acting for the good of some people to detriment of others. So I can't follow you here. .
If you think the government acts only for the good of a few, there is nothing I can say to make you change your mind. But you will never make me change my mind about the market: it does NOT represent the common good.

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Originally Posted by Unit View Post
You seem to have internalized Obama's narrative. But again not everyone agrees. The composition of the workforce is such that the direct intervention of govt instead of employing the idle resources, will steal away from healthy sectors crucial forces, hence making the situation doubly grim. Let me give you an example: right now people with higher-ed degrees are loosing their job, do you think they'll pick up a shovel to build the round-a-bouts and the "shovel" ready project that Obama likes so much? Or is it more likely that very few high-skilled and hyper-productive (think of all the machinery they are able to operate) construction workers will get the job?.
Maybe, but you are missing the point. If demand collapses because of unemployment, the whole economy will collapse.

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Originally Posted by Unit View Post
I see. So the state has the rightful authority to decide, but two individuals wanting to sign a private contract don't. Well that's where are differences lie. However, just because the state succeed in writing down a law black-on-white it doesn't mean it is a law in civil society. Just because the speed-limit is 60mph it doesn't mean the average speed on the highway won't be 70mph.
Sorry, but you are simply mistaken. The state is the ultimate authority. Whether it be speed limits, marriage contracts, or the definition of first-degree murder, the state decides. Just try acting on some other hypothesis. Good luck--- although I agree that breaking the speed limit from time to time can be fun.
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  #31  
Old 02-07-2009, 05:00 PM
Unit Unit is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

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The vast majority of professional economists disagree with you. I have nothing to add, although I agree that your kids are going to be picking up the tab for the irresponsible behavior of the baby boomers and their kids.
Not true.

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If you think the government acts only for the good of a few, there is nothing I can say to make you change your mind. But you will never make me change my mind about the market: it does NOT represent the common good.
I never said the market represent the common good. Stick to your claims.

Quote:
Maybe, but you are missing the point. If demand collapses because of unemployment, the whole economy will collapse.
"Demand" is an abstract aggregate concept that you are treating like an ingredient in a recipe. Stop the voodoo economics please.

Quote:
Sorry, but you are simply mistaken. The state is the ultimate authority. Whether it be speed limits, marriage contracts, or the definition of first-degree murder, the state decides. Just try acting on some other hypothesis. Good luck--- although I agree that breaking the speed limit from time to time can be fun.
Just because the state is declares pot to be illegal it doesn't mean people stop smoking it. So sure, stick to your nice theory, but it doesn't have much to do with reality.
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  #32  
Old 02-07-2009, 05:25 PM
Unit Unit is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

I posted this below, but let me post it here too, since it applies to what you were saying. This Hayek's Nobel lecture:

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/e...k-lecture.html
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  #33  
Old 02-08-2009, 07:48 AM
Francoamerican
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

PS

I read Hayek's speech and found myself nodding in agreement with much of what he said. The scientific pretensions of economists are largely quackery. For all the reasons Hayek gives---the complexity of the data, the large number of variables, the impossibility of knowing what the millions of economic actors know etc.---economics will never be an exact science, capable of making the kinds of causal predictions we expect of science with a capital S.

Unfortunately, politicians and the economists who advise them cannot afford to be sceptics about the possibility of knowledge. The future depends on what they do now. Even if they are completely in the dark.

Last edited by Francoamerican; 02-08-2009 at 07:57 AM..
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  #34  
Old 02-08-2009, 06:12 AM
Francoamerican
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

What I said about the state isn't a theory. It is a fact. Of course, people can disobey the laws, and do whatever they please---and as long as they are not caught I suppose you could say that they are "free". The fact remains that all actions that concern OTHER PEOPLE are regulated by the state.

That is what is usually meant by the common good.

Thank you for the Hayek. But I have already read him. By the way, in his Constitution of Liberty Hayek defends a theory of the state as the rule of law that I find perfectly acceptable.
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  #35  
Old 02-06-2009, 11:45 AM
piscivorous piscivorous is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

Let us make a direct comparison starting with Presidents Reagan and Mitterrand. Reagan was President of the US from 1981 to 1989 and was considered a very right-wing, free-market zealot. Mitterrand was President of France from 1981 to 1995 and was a socialist, the first socialist president of France. This would be an apples-to-apples comparison of free-market vs. socialist governance. How did that work out?

France was behind the US in 1980 and would fall further behind it in the following years. In 1980, France's GDP per capita was 84% that of the US. By 1989 it was down to 79% and by 1995 it was 78%. (For the various international comparisons throughout this article, see the US Statistical Abstract.) In 2006, the latest year for which data is available, it was just 74%. All that wonderful socialism in France just set it back further and further from the US
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  #36  
Old 02-06-2009, 11:59 AM
Francoamerican
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This has absolutely nothing to do with the exchange I had with Unit. But thanks anyway for the enlightening information. I always rejoice to hear that America is such a superior nation....except in the intelligence of certain of its citizens.
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  #37  
Old 02-06-2009, 03:21 PM
piscivorous piscivorous is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

Really? Statistics that show how big government lessons the per capita GDP of it's citizens, in other words lessons the productivity of it's citizens, had nothing to do with the stupidity of big government. And then have the adaxcity to comment about the intelligence level of others!
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  #38  
Old 02-06-2009, 03:54 PM
Francoamerican
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

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Really? Statistics that show how big government lessons the per capita GDP of it's citizens, in other words lessons the productivity of it's citizens, had nothing to do with the stupidity of big government. And then have the adaxcity to comment about the intelligence level of others!
There are three grotesque errors in your English, which cast serious doubts either on your intelligence or your education. Hint: it's and adaxcity

As for the benefits of "big government" spending I refer you to the following article from Slate, accessible even to someone of your low level of education.

http://www.slate.com/id/2210570/
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  #39  
Old 02-06-2009, 05:04 PM
piscivorous piscivorous is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

It is always such a pleasure conversing with someone as congenial as yourself that believes insult is a path towards understanding. But then again if you can't make rational arguments to repudiate the given data attack the presenter.
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  #40  
Old 02-06-2009, 05:54 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: The Case for Big Government

More whining about tone. Whatever. You know, I actually was going to hold back on that, but really. I'm serious. If you believe in small government, stay away from crap artists like Shlaes. I mean, when you've got Milton Friedman, why fuck around with a propagandist with English degree like Shlaes?
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