Thursday, January 24, 2008

Buying Our Goodwill

I know I'm exhausted because last night I said I had finished Day Four, but it was only Day Three. It just felt like Day Four. This is why the argument that anyone is too busy to do something small is phony. If you really care, you can always find five minutes. I'm bone-tired, but I'm happy to find a few minutes to write. Here's what's going on today:
  • On the latest episode of "Deal Or No Deal" there was a woman from Georgia (I think) who was the first person in her family to graduate from college, thought you needed a passport to go to California, and needed the money to afford health care so she could have kids. As foreign as that was to me, I might as well have been watching Univision. Plus, going on a game show to afford health coverage? If that's not a sign that the U.S. is behind the world in taking care of our citizens, I don't know what would be.
  • And speaking of taking care of American citizens, I can't let this "send a check to lower- and middle-class families" crap go without strenuous objection. Whether you're fiscally conservative or liberal, this can't make any sense. If you're fiscally conservative, the government spending any kind of money to help the economy is wrong. Adam Smith preached that the market will correct itself and a laissez-faire attitude is necessary. If you're fiscally liberal, you're in favor of the government spending money, but the way they are going about it is not economically practical. If my macroeconomics is right, the whole point is to get cash into the market, forcing an increase in production that will get us out of the recession that we won't technically be in until hindsight says we were (economists don't decide that a period is a recession until a few months of analysis after the period is finished). But there's no guarantee that the people actually will spend the money. Many may, but some might save it because of the mass uncertainty (even worse, "put it under the mattress" -- the term for saving money in a way that won't gain interest). So how can we guarantee that all of the money the government is sending out will be spent? The government can just spend it themselves! I think that FDR knew a little something about this. It worked in the '30s and an effort to spend money on programs that will help everyone would make me, for one, feel a lot better. Call me a fiscal conservative here though -- the government is trying to score political points by paying us off when they're already running a deficit. We'll be paying this back in higher taxes someday and we'll be angry about it. Let the natural economic forces take hold unless we can curtail other types of spending. Like, um, you know, that whole Iraq thing?

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