Archive for November 22nd, 2008

November 22, 2008

Hope and Keynes

OK, everybody try to act impressed by Obama’s “new” economic recovery plan:

American workers will rebuild the nation’s roads and bridges, modernize its schools and create more sources of alternative energy, creating 2.5 million jobs by 2011, Obama said in the weekly Democratic address, posted on his Web site. . . .
“We must do more to put people back to work and get our economy moving again,” he said. More than a million jobs have been lost this year, he said, and “if we don’t act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year.”

This is nothing but orthodox Keynesianism, and it won’t work, because Keynes was wrong. The secret to economic growth is not government “investment,” it’s increasing the capital supply. And it’s not exactly a secret, either.

Obama has fallen for the 20th-century liberal fallacy that government spending or government-directed spending has some magical quality that private economic activity does not. Republicans have claimed credit for “job creation” by cutting taxes, but Obama’s suggestion of “creating jobs” via government expenditure overlooks the fact that government doesn’t create money out of thin air. There are three ways in which government can get money to spend: (a) by taxing, (b) by borrowing, or (c) by inflation. And all three involve harm to the private sector, thus Jefferson’s maxim that the government that governs best is that which governs least. A tight-fisted Coolidge-style parsimony is always better policy in the long run than LBJ-style tax-and-spend liberalism.

Now, if Obama is determined to try to spend his way to prosperity (which won’t work), it’s at least nice to hear him talk about spending it on concrete-and-steel stuff like roads and bridges and school buildings. Take note, however, that the part of the country most in need of such “investment” are run by Democrats. There is a reason for this.

The social welfare policies of liberalism result in a greater share of revenue being devoted to government giveaways and to hiring more (unionized) bureaucrats. Spiraling costs for entitlements and personnel means less tax money for the concrete-and-steel stuff.

Go to a thriving Southern or Western state (North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, etc.) and you’ll find yourself traveling on well-maintained modern roads, occasionally obstructed by construction of improvements — extra lanes, upgraded exit ramps, repaving, etc. Now travel around the Rust Belt states and note the general dilapidation of the highways. You can’t miss the poorly-designed freeway ramps built 40 years ago, or the narrowness of highway shoulders because the state went cheap on right-of-way acquisition.

The classic example of this syndrome is Washington, D.C. For 40 years, the District has poured its money into “programs” — programs for the elderly, programs for teenagers, programs for drug addicts, programs for the homeless, programs for drug-addicted homeless teenagers, etc. — and shortchanged its infrastructure. The sewer system is falling apart, and the streets are a lumpy patchwork.

Obama’s Keynesian “pump-priming” expenditures will likely be targeted at states and localities that have squandered their own resources and neglected their own infrastructure. It won’t result in economic recovery, but at least when it’s spent on concrete-and-steel stuff, some of the money will end up in the hands of people who do actually work for a living, rather than worthless social-service bureaucrats.

And I guess Obama’s more wild-eyed supporters will be disappointed to discover that the “Change” for which they were so enthusiastic turns out to be a discredited Keynesian agenda that was already obsolete when Hubert Humphrey was pushing it.

November 22, 2008

I’m with you, Attila

Rampaging Hun that she is, Little Miss Attila has moved her blog to a new domain, and decides to announce her hypocrisy:

I get bent out of shape when people want to knock Palin out of the running prematurely for 2012, but I’d love to do the exact same thing to Huckabee. It isn’t about immigration, of course; that ain’t a hot-button issue for me. It isn’t even about welfare. It’s about the fact that he doesn’t seem to have a libertarian cell in his entire body. Not even a libertarian molecule.

Today’s Holiday Book Sale feature items are just the ticket to cure LCDS (Libertarian Cell Deficiency Syndrome). Have a very Austrian Christmas!

UPDATE: Gary Bauer plays whack-a-mole with the Huckster, criticizing him on . . . foreign policy? To my mind, Huckabee is just “compassionate conservatism,” without the conservatism. I’m all about the Spirit of ’94 — abolish the federal Department of Education, defund the National Endowment for the Arts, zero out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. And then once we’ve done that kind of minor trimming, then the real cutting begins. In my book, you’re not really conservative until you’ve been called “mean-spirited.” I like Grover Norquist’s idea of steadily shrinking the federal government until it’s small enough to drown in a bathtub.

November 22, 2008

Holiday Books: Mises & Hayek

Only 33 shopping days until Christmas!

The 2008 Holiday Book Sale continues with two free-market classics from two giants of Austrian economics: Socialism by Ludwig von Mises and The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek. First published just five years after the Russian Revolution, Socialism prophetically explained why socialism wouldn’t work — a prophecy that the Bolsheviks spent the next 70 years proving true.

It was Mises’ pupil, Hayek, who helped spark the free-market revival in the West with his 1944 triumph, The Road to Serfdom. Indisputably one of the most influential books of the 20th century, The Road to Serfdom warned that the social democratic Welfare State was steadily leading the West down the path toward totalitarianism. Chapter 10, “Why the Worst Get On Top,” is a famously cogent explanation of why successful socialist movements (and make no mistake, fascism and Nazism were as socialist as Bolshevism) are inevitably led by evil men.

These two books are truly timeless, but for some reason, they seem particularly timely this year. If there’s someone on your Christmas list who doesn’t yet understand that there can be no freedom without economic freedom — or just a conservative buddy who needs to deepen his understanding of why socialism doesn’t work — then I strongly recommend you send both Socialism and The Road to Serfdom.

Books make excellent gifts, and with Amazon.com, you get discount pricing with delivery anywhere in the country. Why wait? ORDER NOW, and have a very Austrian Christmas!

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November 22, 2008

Spitzer’s hooker speaks!

(Via Hot Air.) Let’s face it, at least Spitzer got his money’s worth, compared to whatever action “Truckstop Jim” McGreevey was getting . . .

UPDATE: I find myself anonymously accused in the comments of a “sexist and offensive” attitude, because my “cavalier comments” are a “thin disguise for admiration for Spitzer’s sexual prowess,” an endorsement of the “exploitation of young, beautiful women in the sex trade,” etc.

Lighten up, Anonymous. Nearly all my comments are “cavalier,” and the destruction of the crusading anti-capitalist Spitzer in a hooker scandal was one of the most richly ironic political stories of the year. He hates capitalism — those evil, greedy, big corporations! — yet he’s paying thousands per night to shag a high-priced call girl?

I certainly don’t “admire” Spitzer for his “prowess.” Paying for the companionship of a prostitute is the opposite of “prowess.” But at least, as I said, he got his money’s worth. If a politician is going to destroy his career with a sex scandal, the means of his destruction ought to be something extravagant and glamorous, rather than McGreevey’s sordid truck-stop assignations or Tim Mahoney’s tepid affair with a middle-aged Hill staffer. Wilbur Mills and “the Argentine Firecracker” splashing around the Tidal Basin — that’s what I call a sex scandal.

And, please, Anonymous, spare me this crap:

I just feel sad for Dupree; as sad as I felt for Monica Lewinsky. Both were exploited by powerful men and learned a painful lesson about bad choices and narcissistic men.

Dupre was engaged in a fee-for-service transaction. Who was exploiting whom? She goes on TV with Diane Sawyer and does the poor-victim routine, and everybody’s supposed to feel sorry for her. Not me. Let’s call a money-grubbing whore what she is, OK? The whore and her john are equally contemptible, and if I express my contempt through sarcastic humor, well, that’s pretty much how I express everything.

Finally, as to Miss Lewinsky: She was a spoiled-rotten rich girl who grew up in Bel Air, Calif. I try to make a point of never feeling sorry for people like that — given every advantage and every opportunity in life, petted and pampered and sheltered from harm, and ultimately failing because they lack any strength of character. Oh, I know the type well: Selfish, weak, superficial and filled with self-pity. What act of charity or generosity did Monica Lewinsky ever do that would recommend her as worthy of 1/10th of what was lavished on her? And now, on top of everything else, we are supposed to pity her? It seems to me she’s had entirely too much of that.

UPDATE II: Little Miss Attila calls me a whore. I think she means that as a compliment.

November 22, 2008

Dear Governor Palin . . .

Every freelancer in the English-speaking world is angling to ghost your book and, of course, I’m available. But I noticed a former intern is also volunteering:

[T]he literary types quoted in this piece talk about how her rough introduction to the national stage will be the biggest selling point of the book. I disagree. If Palin wants a future in politics, she can’t dwell on a grudge match with the national media and various sneering feminist types who greeted the idea of a first female conservative VP with outrage. Her memoirs should serve two more forward looking functions. . . .

Governor Palin, if Laura Vanderkam needs any recommendation, I enthusiastically offer it. Her biography describes her as a “New York-based writer,” but don’t let that scare you off. She’s actually a homeschool alumna from Indiana and a working mom with a 2-year-old. The reason I happened to notice her volunteering for this book gig is that I was Googling to make sure I spelled her name correctly in a blog post at The American Spectator:

“Ivy” and “evil” aren’t necessarily synonyms. The very best intern who ever passed through The Washington Times in my 10 years there was Laura Vanderkam of Princeton. Her first day, she got an assignment at 11 a.m. and filed 700 words by 2:30 p.m. Joe Curl — now a White House correspondent but then an assistant national editor — opened the story in the queue, read through it and said, “Damn. She can write.” The story required almost no editing at all. An astonishing thing to any editor who’s ever had to deal with journalism interns.

The girl can flat-out write, Governor Palin, and if you don’t want to take my word for it, just ask the managing editor at Human Events.

November 22, 2008

Holiday Books: White Guilt

Only 34 shopping days until Christmas!

We begin our 2008 Holiday Book Sale with Shelby Steele’s profound examination of one of the most underexaminef phenomena of our era, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era. This book has been praised at length by Rush Limbaugh. Reviewing the book for National Review, Abigail Thernstrom raved, “Steele is America’s racial therapist who attempts to lay bare the crippled emotional state of whites in positions of power who do bad by attempting to do good.”

Books make excellent Christmas gifts, and with Amazon.com, you get discount pricing with delivery anywhere in the country. Why wait? ORDER NOW!