Sunday, December 30, 2012

Kelly on Keynes specifically ....

This is a copy of a comment I made on the PG opinion pages. Today's Jack Kelly column is "John Maynard Keynes, the conservative (The economist was right about much, but his prescriptions have been misapplied)"

Well, there is a fair bit here that I would agree with. One thing I will say off the bat is that I would/am extremely reluctant to put words in Keynes mouth, but I do tend to go by what those who study Keynes say. Also, by now anyone paying attention knows how conservatives hate Paul Krugman, who Kelly (almost) subtly ridicules here.

The funny thing is that I swear when Kelly writes that Keynes said "The market system is "the best safeguard of the variety of life," preserving "the most secure and successful choices of former generations," " that Krugman has quoted (or at least paraphrased) Keynesian on exactly the same subject, to the same effect. Kelly writes that economists feel Keynes repudiated classical economic theory and that is true in the sense of changing policy prescriptions in economic downturns. But Keynes was neither Marx nor Lenin, and, as I understand it, Keynes firmly believed the basic economic tenet that the market is the most efficient method of allocating scarce resources, all things being equal. Now things are frequently not equal, so to speak, but then that is the entire study of economics.

Kelly also gives us this paragraph "The great flaw in Keynes' thinking was his assumption government could act wisely and impartially to stimulate the economy. Spending is popular, tax increases unpopular, in good times as well as bad. So politicians run deficits year after year. Debt mounts. Inflation eats away the savings and investments of the industrious and prudent." Well, there are several things wrong with this. If Keynes says that deficit spending is good only when you are in a economic downturn, but should be avoided when the economy is growing, then why blame Keynes for the deficits of Ronald Reagan and George W Bush? And by the way, why isn't Jack Kelly praising Barack Obama for running a deficit during the current deficit (which started on George W Bush's watch)?

But I have read on these comment threads time and time again liberals saying that balancing the budget and even running surpluses is a fine idea when the economy is growing. And liberals have referenced Bill Clinton as an example of a Democrat who not only said he supported government surpluses, but did his part to actually achieve them.

(A brief aside, something I did not put on the PG - one might ask about the cost of government programs to aid the poor and provide assistance. Strikes me they can be put into two groups, those like education and public transportation that are really sort of investments, and those like health care and food assistance that are humanitarian. Neither group is really that big an item compared to the big three of defense, Social Security and Medicare, and can likely be funded out of general revenue. And since Medicare and Social Security have their own dedicated taxes, they should be discussed separately as well. In any event, I believe spending that is an investment should be the last item cut. But efficiency standards should always be applied.)

I am not nearly as familiar with the theories of Hayek, but to the extent they involve going on the gold standard, I can not possibly agree. But to the extent they involve promoting market like efficiency in government, I believe Keynes, Krugman, certainly myself and apparently Kelly could all find ourselves in agreement. And to the extent that makes Keynes a friend to conservatives, I can believe and agree with that. But Republicans/conservatives/Tea Party types refuse to believe that liberals believe in economic efficiency as much if not more than conservatives (and this comment thread is likely to fill up with personal attacks and lies).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Taking away guns ...

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy I have tried to follow some of the discussions about possible solutions. In many, probably most instances I have seen comments about how liberals want to take away guns.

In my own comments in these conversations I generally preface them with a statement that we would be better off if there were no guns, or at least no handguns and no semi-automatic weapons that can hold more than seven rounds. This would hardly end violence, but it would make mass killings more difficult and would go some distance toward reducing gun deaths.

But then I go on to say I believe taking away guns or certain types of guns is a practical impossibility. Only a willful misreading of my comments would cause one to think I support taking anyone's guns away. And i believe no one else has suggested taking anyone's guns away. But that is what many, many gun rights advocates say that liberals are saying.

Which shows that a reasonable discussion is not possible, because gun rights advocates will actually lie, not to mention refusing to compromise in any real way.

And there is one other thing I want to take note of. The NRA is calling for a national database of the mentally ill. As I recall, the NRA has successfully fought against a national database of gun owners. I suppose the notion is that of "good" people versus "bad" people. However, the practical effect is to protect "straw" buyers, making it difficult to track guns that have found their way into the hands of criminals.

So you tell me, is the NRA being hypocritical, in both philosophical and real terms?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Kelly plays a card

This is a copy of a comment I made on the PG on Jack Kelly's column today "Racist Liberals".

What should we take away from this column? Jack Kelly praises Tim Scott and some successful NFL players. Mr Kelly does not express affection or concern for any persons of color who are not Republicans, and it is interesting that the only Black Republicans he does show an interest in are wealthy ones. Considering Mitt Romney's statement about the "47%" and repeated and insistent calls for an end to food stamps, Medicaid and unemployment compensation, what jack Kelly seems to really being saying is that any wealthy blacks who want to be Republicans are welcome, as long as they are willing to act to make all low income people (including a disproportionate share of persons of color) poorer.

Time after time when anyone raises the issue of treating Barack Obama differently or suggests attacks on the meager food stamps program, unemployment compensation and Medicaid are attacks on people of color, they are accused of "playing the race card". Yet it is fine for Jack Kelly to point to the maybe ten persons of color he can identify as Republicans and then screech that liberals are racist and "What does it say about liberals that so many think only losers and whiners can be authentically black?" ?

No one says Tim Scott is not black. He has joined a party that is attempting to find ways to not only protect the wealth of the uber rich, but actually increase by ending assistance to the poor and force the poor to have "skin in the game" and end all tax credits and deductions for the poor so they pay taxes not matter how small their income. Of course, when I say end all tax credits and deductions I don't mean the tax loopholes the rich use. Republican calls for fairness in the tax system are hypocrisy of the highest level.

And by the way I find it interesting that Jack Kelly has so far dodged the issue of gun control in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Jack Kelly's version of a cliff

This is a copy of a comment I made on the PG about Jack Kelly's column today "The real 'fiscal cliff' (It plunges down from our mountain of debt)".

I could say something about living through stagflation and Reagan's record breaking (in size) deficits (and remember the true hero was Paul Volker). I could say something about the "Dubya" years spending. But I will just reference Dick Cheney quoting Ronald Reagan - "Deficits don't matter". Not that I am saying that I agree with Reagan/Cheney, I was fan of Clinton's balanced budget and surpluses. Republicans, by their actions and statements when a Republican is in the White House, believe otherwise.

Conservative commenters here will disagree and screech I am playing the race card, but Kelly's largely unspoken message is that this is all the fault of and will not solved by the BLACK DEMOCRAT (socialist, communist, Islamic, terrorist). Now, surely there is a point where we can go so far in debt that we do get into a terminal level of trouble, but if we look at how the market for treasury bonds is behaving now, people still treat the US as so safe (compared to the rest of the world) they are willing to pay us a small amount to hold their money.

It is possible Republicans/conservatives like Jack Kelly will be able to damage us so much they can get more than just Citigroup to lay off 11,000 employees. Remember, Republican intransigence managed to get our credit rating reduced, according to the company that did the reduction.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

This is a copy of the comment I made on Jack Kelly's column today: "Freedom spawns prosperity (Economic growth depends on freeing our natural creativity)".

There are two significant lines in this column, in my opinion. "Most of us have difficulty seeing beyond the here and now" That is clearly the case for Jack Kelly. He sees an economic downturn and declares the growth of GNP dead. Actually, Kelly sees a black Democrat in the White House and calls the current government "overbearing". This despite the fact that someone with such unimpeachable conservative credentials as Bruce Bartlett calls Obama a centrist or even center right politician.

Which brings me to the other significant line in this column: "If Americans become again as free as once they were to pursue their dreams, economic growth will resume, probably greater than ever before.". American enjoy the lowest ax rates in at least thirty years, and really probably since income taxes began. Yes, there are safety rules for workers and rules for what companies can do to the environment, but is Jack Kelly really saying that workers have to work 60 hour work weeks, be maimed or killed at work and the rest of us be poisoned by corporate waste and pollution in order for people to invent things?

Jack Kelly truly is delusional at this point.