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What Would People Think?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Just To Be Contrarian......and Inexplicably Weird

Again, I'm a lawyer not an economist. But, since my friends have apparently become fiscal conservatives, I thought I would link to this op-ed. Your thoughts are appreciated.

Also, here's a link to a clown college. Your variations on "huh?" are appreciated.

That is all.

[Update:] Forgot to hat-tip. Got the link from Ian over at Overruled. The op-ed, that is. Not the clown college.


  • I read the op/ed. I am sure that if I weren't in the middle of the second hardest test I've ever taken I would formulate thoughts about it. I can say that, generically it seems like something I'd agree with, especially the parts about health care and funding education (two of my three biggest issues).

    I did not read the clown college page. That may actually have been the more appropriate link for how I'm feeling this evening.

    By Blogger Matthew B. Novak, at 2/24/2009 11:46 PM  

  • That billboard had no effect on me whatsoever...

    No real thoughts on the article, but in the wake of last night's speech, maybe you can tell me how we're going to cure cancer, raise military pay, halve the federal deficit in the wake of a nearly trillion dollar spending bill without raising taxes? If it was clarified, I missed it. :-P

    By Blogger Mike, at 2/25/2009 9:52 AM  

  • Mike, that's without raising your taxes. Rich people get to pay.

    The problem isn't necessarily that we have too many government services - it's that our desire to receive government services doesn't match up with our desire to pay for said services. So, if we side with Kuttner and say that we need to keep Social Security and Medicare at their current benefit levels, we had better be willing to pay for that. Politicians are loath to present that choice (as Mike notes, Obama is no exception), but that's the choice we have.

    And Kuttner's suggestion that the debt will take care of itself is absurd. The example he cites was in the wake of the largest war effort this country has ever seen. Of course that deficit took care of itself - the war forced us to boost manufacturing output while destroying everyone else's, and a lot of the deficit was probably war spending that went away. Oh, and the top tax rate then was, like, 70% or something.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 2/25/2009 1:25 PM  

  • Oh okay. Well, as long as rich people are the ones paying, I'll be sure to keep my salary comfortably below the 250K mark.

    By Blogger Mike, at 2/25/2009 2:51 PM  

  • I kid you not, the answering machine message at our apartment is as follows:

    Hi. This is Dave and Daran. You've stood in our way long enough and we've gone to clown college. But if you'll leave us your name and numbers, we'll give you a call when we get back.

    Debt is borrowing from the future. In the case of personal debt, it's borrowing from your own future earnings. In the case of the national debt, it's supposedly borrowing from future revenues but it's really just a promise to pay interest until the end of time, because we're not in the business of retiring debt.

    I think the Social Security argument is reasonably decent - the problem is that we do have a taste for expanding the program, a taste that I expect to see grow very strong as retired and SSI-dependent seniors continue to swell the voting ranks.

    Medicare is a huge issue, and it's messy and intricately linked to health care costs. I don't, however, think that faith in a perfect health care solution to make those costs go away really answers the problem, because it relies on something that is in itself still not terribly likely and has the potential to add a lot to the deficit gap (so using it as a deficit-reducing argument is hazy at best until you can show that universal health care would somehow cost less than just Medicaid).

    My biggest problem with debt and deficits is that it's addictive. Raising deficits is easy - you can cut taxes AND increase spending. Getting rid of them is hard. You have to raise taxes and cut spending, and that's nearly impossible. So I'm not terribly impressed when Obama says he'll cut the deficit in half, when it's already much more than double what it was in years past. Deficits breed deficits, and allowing the entitlement programs to go unaddressed is just another symptom of the unwillingness to make the changes that are necessary. Such largesse will hurt the country in the end, though perhaps not the politicians most responsible for it.

    By Blogger -Dave, at 3/03/2009 6:49 PM  

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