Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Libertarian Utopia Is Only Moments Away!

Oops! Wrong hat.

Eenie meenie chili beanie, the spirits are about to speak:

Shorter Megan McArdle: Wall Street and DC are two separate entities that do not understand each other. Wall Street wants DC to raise the debt ceiling but DC thinks that Wall Street wants DC to cut spending. The GOP must compromise to keep the money flowing.

Shorter Megan McArdle's Commenters: Let the government burn. What could possibly go wrong?

Do you know what happens when you support the tea party on your blog, marry a tea-party astroturfer, and propagandize to tea partiers? You personally give the tea party permission to be insane idiots who will do their damnedest to destroy everything you value and love most: your money.

You broke it so you bought it. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

She's Just Not Very Bright

Megan McArdle is not very intelligent. She talks a good game but we all know people who pretend to be smarter than they are, who can talk so fast and so voluminously that they can fool people into believing they are smart, but when pinned down reveal that their facts are erroneous and their reasoning skills are non-existent. Let's watch Megan McArdle demonstrate her complete inability at reading comprehension. The important parts are bolded but we present the complete context so you can see why McArdle's readers don't notice her errors; most of them aren't very bright either.

Leon Jones 1 day ago in reply to plamus

yeah, reagan was promised 280 billion in cuts for closing 98 billion in tax loopholes. The Dems got the tax loopholes closed but the spending cuts never happened.

When will the Republicans realize they are dealing with the Politburo?
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Eric Treanor 1 day ago in reply to Leon Jones
Maybe around the time Republicans realize that when they were in power, they turned a trillion dollar surplus into a trillion dollar deficit, kept two wars off the books so they could pretend they were fiscally responsible, and took us into the worst economic crisis in 80 years.

Maybe the biggest difference between the two parties is that at least the Democrats don't pretend to be what they're not.
23 people liked this.

ajwpip 1 day ago in reply to Eric Treanor

This is awesomely silly. Did the republicans use dissapearing ink when the funding was written into "the books". Good thing you were too smart for 'em!

It was also really awesome when Clinton had that trillion dollar surplus. It was just piled up on the whitehouse lawn and Hillary swam around in it like Scrooge McDuck.
29 people liked this.

Eric Treanor 1 day ago in reply to ajwpip
Of course it was silly. It's awesome silliness doesn't change the fact that war funding under Bush was always part of what were called "supplementals" and were never included in the official government budget. So until Obama assumed office their cost were never part of the official yearly budget deficit.
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ajwpip 1 day ago in reply to Eric Treanor
Umm, no. All spending was included in every year's historical spending. It wasn't sitting in a secret file sprung on Obama when he took oath. The wars were accounted for each and every year towards the deficit.

Not as important but funding something like a war broken out into its own supplemental is actually good accounting (people can argue this either way). Rather than hiding it a supplemetnal appropriation highlights the spending. Think about it - is it easier to hide the funding of a war if you fold it into the general defense funding or if you make everyone vote on it all on its massive lonesome.

Also - the Clintons had about an $18 billion dollar surplus for a brief moment. There was never anything even close to a trillion dollar surplus. And the surplus we had was only possible if you didn't account for Social Security liabilities (which you can make an honest case shouldn't be counted till they are due).
19 people liked this.

Eric Treanor 1 day ago in reply to ajwpip

With all due respect, you're simply wrong. Bush's war spending was always submitted as "emergency supplemental spending" and was never part of the federal budget. This allowed him to bypass the federal debt ceiling which is presently the cause of much debate.

Google it.

Or read this, if you'd like:
13 people liked this.

JoshINHB 1 day ago in reply to Eric Treanor
You're just flat out wrong.

Funding the war through emergency supplemental appropriation did not prevent the public from knowing the cost of the wars, nor did it exempt the war funding from being subject to the debt limit.

What it did do was prevent the funding from being built into the next year's baseline, as happened with Obama's stimulus.
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Eric Treanor 1 day ago in reply to JoshINHB
I didn't say that funding the war through supplementals necessarily prevented the public from knowing the costs. I said the costs weren't included in the federal budget and, as a consequence, weren't subject to the debt ceiling. Both those claims are indisputable historical facts.

Follow this link:

Or at least read this, from the article:

"Why is a supplemental request the budget vehicle of choice? Because as an emergency measure, it doesn't count against the budget ceiling that Congress adopts to guide spending, and therefore isn't figured into government estimates of our annual budget deficit. So, for the last four years, these emergency spending bills have helped President Bush obscure the true cost of the war."
13 people liked this.

Trimalchio 1 day ago in reply to Eric Treanor
Indisputably incorrect. The supplements are in addition to the discretionary budget authorization from Congress, but are absolutely subject to the 14th Amendment. Your citation says nothing about the debt ceiling.
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JoshINHB 1 day ago in reply to Eric Treanor
Because as an emergency measure, it doesn't count against the budget ceiling that Congress adopts to guide spending, and therefore isn't figured into government estimates of our annual budget deficit.

That is true as far as it goes.
But that does not mean that the funding was not subject to the debt ceiling.

And it also is only relevant to the projected deficit during an ongoing year.

The costs of the war are most definitely accounted for in the historical budget deficit statistics and in yearly net debt levels.

Look, I was and am a huge opponent of all of Bush's wars, but this line of argumentation has always been idiotic.

The cost of the wars was not hidden in any meaningful sense. Yes it was not included in the deficits of the budgets passed by Congress, but it was always included in the estimated deficits that were routinely reported in the media and it was included in the actual yearly deficits that were recorded after the fiscal year was closed.

It's important to realize that the budgets passed by Congress are an estimate, the actual revenues collected can and do vary from those estimates and actual expenditures vary also.

Accounting for the wars in supplemental appropriations was a way to prevent their cost from being factored into the baseline budget for the next year and also a way to isolate all of the expenditures for the war. Ultimately, it may or may not have been the ideal way to account for those costs, but the idea that it was "hiding" the cost of the war is just plain nonsense.
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ajwpip 1 day ago in reply to Eric Treanor
The debt cieling was raised every year Bush was in office. Obama even voted against it for that brief moment he was in the Senate.

The only substantive debate about how to account for the war was whether you think it should be part of the baseline. On one hand you can say it is a discreet event that won't last forever so we shouldn't have the Pentagon expect his level of funding in perpetuity. On the other you can say that the war will last a long long time and we should account for it as the ongoing semi-permanent thing it has turned into. Both have their trade-offs. What you cannot do is say that the cost was hidden. that is just plain wrong.
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Eric Treanor 1 day ago in reply to ajwpip
I guess that in order to debate me you find it necessary to distort—or to willfully misread—what I've written.

I never said that the cost of the wars was "hidden." In my initial post I said that Republicans "kept two wars off the books so they could pretend they were fiscally responsible"—a claim I stand by. As that claim seemed to have confused you, I clarified that by it I meant that war funding wasn't included as part of the federal budget until Obama became president. You can walk your way around that fact as much a you'd like, but it doesn't change the fact that Republicans used "emergency supplemental spending" to make their deficits look smaller than they were and to be sure that war spending didn't "count against the budget ceiling that Congress adopts to guide spending," as the Boston Globe editorial states.

TreeJoe 22 hours ago in reply to Eric Treanor

You've been rebutted on several of your assertions (which you are no longer making, so I can only assume you realized you were in the wrong). But let's go to the next step.

Several people have outlined the reasons why you'd make war spending a supplemental spending item. In addition, supplemental spending gets its own vote - so what you are saying when highlighting it is that Republicans advanced a supplemental spending bill every year that highlighted the war's cost independent of the overall budget? And this continued after the 2006 elections when the Democratic congress & senate took control of their respective processes?

Just to be clear, people have told you the reasons for putting war spending either in a yearly budget or in a supplemental spending bill. There are good reasons for either.

In both cases though, the deficit is always clear at the end of the year - and has always been reported. A deficit planned at the beginning of a year is a joke, considering how much supplemental spending occurs in general as well as how much tax receipts fluctuate.

Your argument is nothing but partisan talking points, and that has been illuminated here by people whose policies represent both sides of the aisle. Why don't you cease, as you are simply hurting your own credibility.

McMegan 1 day ago in reply to Eric Treanor
With all due respect, you're wrong. This is a weird meme that shows up regularly on the left, having mutated from a reasonable complaint that Bush was submitting budgets that didn't include the cost of the war, to a ridiculous belief that that war spending somehow disappeared down the memory hole and was never accounted for anywhere. If anyone says this, they do not understand how the budget works.

It's entirely true that most of the war funding (not all) was done as supplementals, and wasn't accounted for in the prospective budgets that Bush submitted. But it was always tallied in the historical figures, which is what we use to discuss the Bush budgets now, since he isn't submitting any more of them. Any comparison of Obama to Bush includes the war spending. The OMB did not just pretend it didn't happen. And the Congressional Budget Office, whose forecasts are generally used in preference to the OMB (White House) forecasts, hasn't changed their methodology for this stuff either.

We know how big the Bush deficits were, including the war spending. And the Obama deficits are several times larger.
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susanoftexas 23 hours ago in reply to McMegan
You misunderstand.

"This is a weird meme that shows up regularly on the left, having mutated from a reasonable complaint that Bush was submitting budgets that didn't include the cost of the war, to a ridiculous belief that that war spending somehow disappeared down the memory hole and was never accounted for anywhere."
Eric Treanor did not say that the war spending disappeared down the memory hole and was never accounted for. He said it was kept off the books to avoid budget ceiling debates. If you read the linked articles you will see that the accounting tricks also prevented Congress from debating non-emergency military spending slipped into the emergency spending.

"Some of the so-called emergency replacement items in the 2007 request won't even be available until 2010 or later. We've been asked to replace two $20 million fighter aircraft with $200 million Joint Strike Fighters, which are still in development.
At the same time, the emergency request skimps on equipment badly needed by troops being deployed to Iraq as part of the surge. Why was Congress told that the Army can't even meet the basic needs for these Iraq-bound units?

Millions and millions of dollars are included in supplemental appropriations requests that should be spelled out, prioritized, and justified through the regular congressional authorization and appropriation processes. Instead, they are hidden behind an emergency label." (US Representative Neil Abercrombie, Democrat of Hawaii, chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces.)
Whether or not the spending was later tallied in historical figures is irrelevant to the issue. The spending was put off the books to eliminate Congressional oversight over the Pentagon's spending decisions, pad the appropriations, and help Bush avoid politically dangerous battles over the debt ceiling and the Administration's priorities in fighting the war, such as scrimping on battle armor while funding spending on non-emergency Pentagon projects.

Both sides were upset by process; Republicans as well as Democrats don't like it when the president takes away some of their power.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., doesn't like the way the Bush administration is paying for the Iraq war. Neither does Rep. David Obey, D-Wis. Granted, the two don't agree on much. But they do agree that funding the war piecemeal and off the books -- through "emergency" supplemental spending bills -- is a phony way of doing business.
"It needs to be in the budget," said Coburn, a conservative budget hawk, in an interview about the cost of the Iraq war. Likewise, Obey, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said that supplemental bills are "a good idea if you want to hide the cost of the war. It's a bad idea if you want to be able to offer an accounting of what our war costs are."
The Bush administration, with Congress's cooperation, has insisted on paying for the Iraq war through supplemental spending bills. The funding is not included in the president's annual budgets or, in most cases, in the congressional budget resolutions, and it is considered separately from the regular appropriations bills. The money is not counted in the budget deficit estimates that the administration routinely releases. Nor is it counted against any budget caps that Congress has set for itself to abide by throughout the year.

Since U.S. forces invaded Iraq in March 2003, Congress has approved about $250 billion in supplemental spending for the mission. Now, with another big wartime supplemental pending -- the House signed off on a $91.9 billion bill in March, while a $106.5 billion package awaits Senate approval -- the talk is increasing on Capitol Hill about ending the shell game.
"At the outset [of the war], a justification could be made that it was an emergency," said William Hoagland, budget adviser to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. These days, Hoagland added, "it does seem that this is not something that is unexpected."
But if Congress and the White House actually put the Iraq war properly on the federal books, other budget priorities -- not to mention local pork projects -- would feel the squeeze. That explains why, particularly in an election year, the game is likely to continue.
The status quo is fine with the Bush administration. Although the Congressional Research Service recently estimated that Iraq war costs would come in at $9.8 billion a month beginning in fiscal 2006, administration officials continue to insist on paying for the war in small chunks. They say that war is unpredictable and can't be budgeted a year in advance.
"The traditional annual federal budget takes up to 12 months to formulate, it takes another eight or 12 months to pass Congress, and then it takes another 12 months to execute -- a total of something like two and a half to three years," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate Appropriations Committee in March. "Needless to say, in war, circumstances on the ground change quickly. The enemy has a brain -- is continuously changing and adapting their tactics."
Despite Rumsfeld's entreaties, a growing number of lawmakers -- Republicans as well as Democrats -- are raising objections to war-by-supplemental. "Last year, we were pretty clear, on both sides of the aisle, in this and the other body, that we think supplemental funding needs to stop," said Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, at a February hearing on the defense budget. "Congress and the American people must be able to see the full cost of the war, and it must be done through the regular process, not through supplementals."
For his part, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H., fumed in a March interview with National Journal: "The administration is running two sets of books here.... There are two sets of books, and one is not subject to the budget controls."
5 people liked this.

Eric Treanor 16 hours ago in reply to McMegan
I know they didn't disappear down a memory hole; I know they're part of historical figures. I never said otherwise. Kindly refute what I wrote, not what you read. Sadly, those appear to be two different things.

Thank you, susanoftexas, for saving me the trouble of once again spelling it out.

Poor thing. McArdle tries hard, but what can she do when she is not able to understand what she reads? It is no wonder she is wrong so often, but surely pride should keep her from frequently demonstrating it in public? She makes from about $1-200,000 a year from The Atlantic, plus speaking fees and a $25,000 fellowship, yet she can't even understand what she reads. It's a wonderful time to be a pundit, but it's a terrible time to depend on a pundit for information or opinion.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Attention Must Be Paid!

Conservatism, defined:

"The challenge is convincing many people, in particular those who are conservative, that [a streetcar system] is something that is not simply a luxury but something that is a necessary ingredient in terms of transportation and economic development," [Rob] Henken [president of the Public Policy Forum].

Henken said. "That's where it has been a difficult sell. People tend to ask, 'Is this something that I will use?' And if it's not something they are convinced they'll use, they don't want to pay for it."[my bold]

I would add one thing: they don't want to pay for it even if they are convinced they'll use it.

You can dress it up with labels but end the end it all amounts to one thing: children who grow up afraid and insecure or afraid and angry will be so preoccupied with their own pain that they will not spare one iota of mental energy on anyone else's pain. They will be permanently aggrieved that their pain was ignored and if they have a spiteful nature they will take pleasure in others' suffering, because misery loves company. Children know when their parents are unable to love them, they just don't (ever) understand why.

This quote is via Ann Althouse, who posted the following about the article:

"It is the job of every generation to be the Van Helsing who slays the vampire that sucks the taxpayers' blood..."

"... that is, the train."

Ms. Althouse is conservative because she is spiteful and conservatives respond well to spite. No doubt she is spiteful because life has disappointed her grand expectations but that is between her and the psychiatrist that she will never admit she needs to consult. From an old post about Althouse's attack on Jessica Valenti:

But let me admit something. I do think they have the motive to try to destroy me, and I can see why the left treats me nastily -- unlike the right -- even though I share their opinion on practically all the key issues (except national security).
Althouse admits that she doesn't even particularly agree with conservatives politically, but she find the party congenial to one such as herself. The right will applaud her attention whoring and Tennessee Williamsesque bleats of genteel victimization, just as long as she spends her time insulting their enemies. Althouse and conservatives are natural allies in that they care more about themselves than anyone or anything else.

I have obviously disaggregated myself from the fortunes of the Democratic Party. I will say what I have to say without trying to protect the party's interests. That's dangerous to them, and they should be afraid for me to have clout in the blogosphere.
Althouse's delusions of grandeur often drive her to extremes. She is so eager to be important that she makes arbitrary and ludicrous accusations of public figures in the hope that liberals will get angry and attack her and/or conservatives will be delighted by her meanness and praise her.

They have reason to portray me as crazy, stupid, drunk, or whatever the latest attack is. They should worry. And, as I say in the video, I will stand my ground.

The source of this distance I feel is exactly what I was talking about in those posts that ignited the old blogosphere flamewar: the way so many Democrats changed how they talked about sexual harassment in order to defend Bill Clinton. (Specifically, I was monumentally impressed by Stuart Taylor's comparison of the way Clinton and Clarence Thomas were treated.)
Ah, it's Democratic hypocrisy that angers her! Not envy and malice.

Let's take a closer look at what I wrote back then, when I mocked that photograph.

Bill Clinton, apparently eager to influence bloggers to give his wife favorable coverage as she sought the presidency, sat down for a lunch and a photo shoot with a select group of them.

Althouse, of course, was not invited. She had thrown in her lot with conservatives and in no way would qualify as a prominent liberal blogger. Poor Ann was unjustly ignored again!

They ate up the lunch and the flattery it represented and posed looking thoroughly pleased.

They were getting all the flattery and attention and Poor Ann didn't get any.

I think bloggers should maintain their independence and their critical stance, so I hated to read their gushing posts and to gaze on their shiny, happy faces in that photograph. I meant to be cruel to them.
After a fraction of a second of thought, Poor Ann was able to come up with a laughably mendacious excuse to let fly with all the hurt, resentment, and jealousy that constantly molder in the dank recesses of her soul. How dare they be happy and successful when she is not?

(If they are cruel to me, I concede that I started it and that I meant to be nasty. In that sense, I can't complain... except for effect.)
Of course aging Althouse, who was once pretty and never tires of reminding people of that fact, focused her ire on the attractive young woman in the foreground of the picture. The only thing worse than getting more attention than Poor Ann is being young and pretty and getting more attention than Poor Ann.

My cruelty took the form of trying to ruin the picture they thought was so nice by merging it with the idea of Monica Lewinsky. The last thing Bill Clinton wants as he offers his prestige to the cause of his wife's quest for power is for us to think about Monica Lewinsky.
This is the photo that angered Poor Ann so:

So I called attention to the fact that Jessica Valenti, positioned right in front of Clinton, did look a bit like that woman, Miss Lewinsky.

Yeah, she had dark hair and breasts.

Actually, what Althouse did was drop a little red meat before her commenters, in the hopes that they would rip it to pieces for her emotional satisfaction. Here is the red meat:

September 13, 2006
Bill Clinton, lunching with the bloggers.

Come on, you'd fly to New York City, to eat "southern chicken" with Bill Clinton and pose for a group photo, wouldn't you? And then you'd go home and blog about how he's good on your issues and how you're totally impressed, right? And, omigosh, "He's got beautiful blue eyes."

Hey, this blogger wrangling... it's easy when you've got blue eyes and chicken.

And check out the photo:

[above photo]

Let's just array these bloggers... randomly.

UPDATE: This discussion continues here.

Her commenters did what she admits she planned and wanted:

The first commenter, Goesh, picks up on my prompt -- "Let's just array these bloggers... randomly" -- and wisecracks: "Who is the Intern directly in front of him with the black hair?"

Eventually, Jessica from a blog called Feministing, shows up and says:
"The, um, 'intern' is me. It's so nice to see women being judged by more than their looks. Oh, wait..."
Snarky but somewhat conciliatory, I say: "Well, Jessica, you do appear to be 'posing.' Maybe it's just an accident."

Jessica Feministing returns and says:

It's a picture; people pose. And I'm not sure I understand your logic anyway. If I "pose" for a picture (as opposed to sulking and hunching over?) then I deserve to be judged for my looks? I don't see anyone talking shit about the other bloggers smiling pretty for the camera.
Provoked, I decide to actually give her a small dose of the kind of judgment for brains she seems to demanding:

Jessica: I'm not judging you by your looks. (Don't flatter yourself.) I'm judging you by your apparent behavior. It's not about the smiling, but the three-quarter pose and related posturing, the sort of thing people razz Katherine Harris about. I really don't know why people who care about feminism don't have any edge against Clinton for the harm he did to the cause of taking sexual harrassment seriously, and posing in front of him like that irks me, as a feminist. So don't assume you're the one representing feminist values here. Whatever you call your blog....
Making this colloquy into this new blog post, I actually click over to Jessica's blog, and what the hell? The banner displays silhouettes of women with big breasts (the kind that Thelma and Louise get pissed off at when they're seen on truck mudflaps). She's got an ad in the sidebar for one of her own products, which is a tank top with the same breasty silhouette, stretched over the breasts of a model. And one of the top posts is a big closeup on breasts.

Sooooo... apparently, Jessica writes one of those blogs that are all about using breasts for extra attention. Then, when she goes to meet Clinton, she wears a tight knit top that draws attention to her breasts and stands right in front of him and positions herself to make her breasts as obvious as possible?

Back to the justification:

I thought the photograph was set up in a way that was detrimental to the Clintons' interests, and I thought that was funny and that it presented an opportunity for some painful satire.

Althouse, like McArdle, has amusingly transparent motivation. She is not fooling anyone but must justify her actions so she can live with herself and have an excuse for continuing her malicious acts.

I made it quite nasty, and I did it deliberately. I'm not sorry I did it. I mean to castigate feminists and so-called feminists who cozy up to Clinton. They were surely justified in fighting back at me, and I can understand why they want to ruin me.
Brave, brave cultural warrior! Unfortunately the past didn't appear in a puff of smoke and we can see her true motivation quite easily by reading her old posts.

But I did achieve my goal and ruin the photograph. You've got to admit that you cannot look at it the way the shiny, happy posers meant you to.

Poor Ann did try her very best to spoil the occasion for the liberal bloggers but she could never succeed in making younger, prettier, more famous bloggers as miserable as herself.

The photograph is -- as they say -- reframed. If I must suffer for that achievement -- which I sought -- so be it.

Martyr Ann bravely suffers for all of humanity. It's not attention-whoring, it's, um, principle!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hypocritical Oath

(It says, "Nothing says 'I'm an idiot' than trying to one-up someone with better credentials than you.")

Yes, Megan McArdle is commenting on someone else's appeal to authority, despite her own deeply ingrained habit of doing the same thing.

For once I have to agree with McArdle. In fact, this tweet reminds me of a terrific comment made by aimai, in response to McArdle's famous claim to be the heiress to great knowledge:

McArdle, to a commenter who had the temerity to correct her errors:

You never had any realistic hope of intimidating me into conceding to your superior intellect, because as I mentioned, I come from a family of academics who are actually intellectually intimidating. But any hope you had was long ago squandered in our various interactions, where you have demonstrated a tediously mechanical grasp of talking points you've heard elsewhere, an imperfect familiarity with your intermediate coursework, and what seems like some sort of nascent personality disorder.


Hm, lets see if the site lets me post. Can I ask whether this long, incoherent and off point attack by Megan on poster zosina is, in fact, by Megan? I mean, look--for one thing the "Megan" in this post claims to be the child of academics when the real Megan, as far as I know, is the child of a former public employee turned lobbyist and a realtor. Second of all the real Megan presumably grasps that "being the child of academics" doesn't actually amount to an argument. No, really it doesn't. Actually, and for real, I'm the child of a Nobel Prize winner and for kicks I'll add I'm a third generation Harvardite. So what? This really, really, really, never comes up in academic arguments which are actually won and lost not by some kind of bizarre blood test but by concrete arguments. The "you are tedious and lack charm" argument is also one that I have yet to see adduced in a respectable discussion. Certainly, on the basis of the evidence from this thread, its hard to tell which of the two of you, the "megan" poster and the zosina poster is the younger. If I didn't know that the real Megan is 37 I'd have had to award this avatar the palm for most juvenile approach to intellectual discussion. Finally, I have yet to see the imaginary comments "Megan" refute any of Zosina's points. If this thread "Megan" isn't the real Megan I think the real Megan might want to step in and clean up the comments by deleting her. But if she is the real Megan I think the Atlantic might want to step in and jerk the blog entirely. This is a positively craptacular piece of incoherent special pleading on Megan's part, from the first post to the comment thread. Really, its shameful. And you don't have to be the "child of academics" to know that.


Heh. That never gets old.

McArdle's utter lack of self-awareness contributes greatly to her inability to understand both her actions and her motivations for those actions. She chooses to believe that she is a respected public intellectual because she is terrified to take a good look at herself and find out the truth. It makes her a perfect patsy for David G. Bradley.

Big Thinkers Solve Nation's Problems!

Big Thinker Kitty puts on her thinking cap.

Megan McArdle once again gets all Big Thinkerish, this time attacking the vexing problem of massive unemployment. After much cogitation, some rumination and a little logicalization, she determines that the best way to tackle long-term unemployment is to give businesses tax credits for hiring long-term unemployed. She does not address the obvious issue of lack of demand but what do you want, America? It was hard enough for her to pretend that she cares about anyone but bankers, do you expect her to look for flaws in the arguments she is forced to dredge up as well?

But McArdle gets her revenge on the commenter who does point out that hiring depends on demand and also pointed out that Hoover wasn't a big spender. On the Rupert Murdoch post, she and the commenter have another exchange.

David Blum 4 hours ago

I have to post another thing that counters the nonsense this writer posted about Hoover.

Don't reply conservatives, I'm not interested in lies.
Btw, look at the chart, when did government spending go off the chart? 1941? Ah world war 2. Interesting. The same time we started spending tons of money the economy improved.

How would one explain that, outside of Keynes?.

McArdle's reply:

McMegan 50 minutes ago in reply to David Blum

Tee-hee! I am only interested in the truth, so don't bother telling me why I'm wrong!

Her shocking-but amusing--lack of maturity shines though all her work, as does her dishonesty. We will return to the Murdoch post later, but let's look at one tiny bit before we move on:

"It emerged last night that Neil Wallis, the former News of the World deputy editor who was arrested last week, worked for the Conservative Party before last year's election. He gave "informal" advice to Andy Coulson, his former boss at the NOTW, who resigned from the paper over the hacking affair but was later appointed Mr Cameron's director of communications."

Similar pattern as Roger Ailes but even worse.

Actually, if you knew anything about British politics, you'd know that Murdoch's ties were, if anything, closer to Blair/Brown than to Cameron.

I do not think I have ever seen a writer who revels so very much in the idea that she knows something you do not. Asymmetrical Information indeed.

McArdle is not the only Big Thinker at the Atlantic. Ross DeVol (of the Milkin Institute) thinks cutting corporate taxes will help unemployment. Again, the commenters (those not paid to say otherwise, that is) mention the lack of demand.

Peter Wallison (AEI) thinks that we could solve our economic problems by getting rid of Democratic programs, which are depressing good, job-creating Republicans and dragging us all down.

As we know, corporations are now sitting on enormous piles of cash but are unwilling to deploy these resources, and the small businesses that are profitable are refusing to expand. The conventional interpretation for this is that there is little demand because of unemployment and a weak housing market. However, in our current straits I believe cause and effect run the other way. Successful businesses are always ready to expand and gain market share. That is a manifestation of the "animal spirits" that Keynes observed in a growing economy. There is a reason why those spirits are now dormant.


Accordingly, the single most important step that the United States can take to restore job growth would be to repeal both the health care act and the Dodd-Frank act.

It's genius!

Mike Haynie (professor at Syracuse University) tells us that if it were easier and cheaper for banks to make small loans, more small business would prosper. He does not tell us where they will get their customers.

Bill Clinton tells us to paint our roofs white. We would have to hire people to paint them; problem solved. Thanks, Bill! Our nation is saved!

Clive Crook says we should provide more unemployment benefits. This solution would actually address demand in the short term, which means he win the Golden Cup For Big Thinking by virtue of addressing the obvious.

Julian Castro (mayor of San Antonio) says we should educate our youth for this high-tech world. He does not explain how expanding the labor pool will provide jobs.

Michelle Ree (" Founder and CEO of StudentsFirst and former Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools") thinks our problems will be solved if we are able to fire teachers. Ree runs a non-profit dedicated to eliminating tenure and imposing teach-to-the-test standards. Teachers are currently being fired by the hundreds, by the way.

Paul Kedrosky and Karl Schramm (both of the Kauffman Foundation) tells us to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses, and that one way would be to give out more green cards.

Ryan Avent (The Economist) wants us to print more money.

Bruce Katz and James S. Rubin (Brookings Institute) says globalization of small businesses will do the trick. Evidently they have given up on increasing demand here and hope that we will be able to become China's China.

Fredrich Hess (also AEI) doesn't have any Big Ideas but says that getting rid of regulation on community and for-profit colleges will help hiring.

Eric Speigel (CEO of Siemens, a Research and Development firm) thinks we need tax credits for R&D.

And, finally, very special snowflake Matthew Yglesias, whose entire career is based on having graduated from Harvard, which convinced the right people that he actually understands what he is talking about, says that if we only had higher inflation, surely the unemployment crises would cease.

Higher inflation expectations would have a number of benefits. For starters, they would reduce real interest rates, mitigating the problem of the zero lower bound on nominal rates. They would also increase the cost of hoarding cash. This would encourage wealthy individuals and cash-rich firms to purchase real goods and services, or else invest in productive assets. Last, since mortgage debt is denominated in nominal terms, a faster rate of inflation would speed the deleveraging process and let households repair their balance sheet. When he proposed the idea over a decade ago, Bernanke castigated Japanese authorities for falling into self-induced paralysis. It's tragic that he's fallen into the same trap. The best way to get things moving again is to halt the paralysis.

Sadly, the unemployed would see the cost of living rise and those on fixed incomes would become poorer, but as we all now know, thanks to The Atlantic's Big Thinkers, the best way to help the poor is to help the rich.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking Part 4

A modern day aristocrat (just like Francisco d'Anconia!) protests against the looters and moochers.

Chapter 5 The Climax Of The D'Anconias

It's not easy being a Galtian Overlord. Sure, you are perfect, if by perfect you mean arrogant, emotionally stunted, and obsessed with personal glorification, and Ayn Rand most certainly does. They are burdened by the existence of lesser creatures who are too stupid to understand and appreciate them and all existence is a constant struggle against the mediocre and depraved rabble. Yet the scum prosper and spread their socialism everywhere like the silver trail of a slug. Fortunately Ubermensch are simultaneously born perfect and achieve perfection entirely by their own efforts, and every self-obsessed thought and action committed by the superior ones as they stomp lesser mortals into the dirt is perfectly justified.

Previously on Atlas Shrugged, The Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Act has reshaped Dagny Taggart's railroad empire but has not defeated her or the other Galtians such as whiz-bang industrialist Hank Reardon, inventor of Reardon metal. A notable exception to this stalwartness is Francisco d'Anconia, a Spanish nobleman and Ubermensch and the closest thing Dagny Taggart had to a childhood sweetheart, considering she was never a child and is devoid both of sweetness and a heart. Dagny washed her hands of D'Anconia after his descent into playboy irrelevance but since she has the emotional range of a perpetually angry teenager it's not surprising that she is unable to understand his behavior. Still, as our story continues, she must visit him to find out what he knows about the earth-shattering events that threaten both their empires.

We are now on Chapter 5 and it's become painfully obvious that if any action is going to occur, Rand is going to put it off-stage, the better to fill her tale with static conversations and dull meetings. Megan "Jane Galt" McArdle complained that the movie version of Atlas Shrugged did not show any action and it is obvious why: there isn't any. We have 1,078 pages remaining and it appears that they will be nothing but political proclamations and improbably socialist board meetings and cocktail parties, with a choo-choo train running in circles in the background to simulate the appearance of action. Rand lavishes attention on one thing only: the infinitely superior people on whom the entire world depends, the scapegoats of mankind who hold up the world. How marvelous they are! How misunderstood! How sexually alluring, so strong in mind and body, so brilliant and cutting and clear and fine, like a diamond, like a God!

How tiresome, how unreal, how inhuman. But nobody ever said Rand wanted to be part of mankind, to form human connections, to share and give and love, and receive in return. There are no bonds of affection, friendship or love. Rand was far, far above the lesser mortals and their petty emotions---which brings us back to the subject of this chapter, Francisco d'Anconia.

Evidently Ubermensch are just like characters in the light romance novels and bad Lifetime movies; they are all in love with the heroine of the story, whose modest yet winsome charms ruthlessness wins their hearts. As we discussed earlier, this was a habit of Rand's, an amateurish bit of wish-fulfillment that reveals a great deal about Rand's reasons for writing her fantasies.

Rand referred to Atlas Shrugged as a mystery novel, "not about the murder of man's body, but about the murder – and rebirth – of man's spirit".[6] Her stated goal of writing the text was "to show how desperately the world needs prime movers and how viciously it treats them" and to portray "what happens to a world without them".[6]

Remember that Rand grew up in a world of prime movers, men who shook the world, started revolutions, committed genocide. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler. And also Roosevelt, Churchill, De Gaulle. That's quite enough greatness and moving and shaking for most people, but not for a young woman who was determined to remake the world in her own image--or rather, the image of the B-movie, starring herself, constantly running in her head. Rand had an iron will and a forceful personality and such people attract authoritarians to them by giving the latter a creed to live by and a purpose in life--spreading that creed and making it a reality for the entire world. It's no fun to be the only one who has The Secret Of Life; you constantly need others around you to reassure you that the rest of the world is wrong and you are right. Which is why Rand was able to dismiss history so easily; if facts will kill your fantasy world the facts will be rejected for the self-flattering, sexy fantasy.

Rand remarked that the core idea for the book came to her after a 1943 telephone conversation with a friend who asserted that Rand owed it to her readers to write a nonfiction book about her philosophy. Rand replied, "What if I went on strike? What if all the creative minds of the world went on strike?"[7]

It is easy to see why Megan McArdle chose Jane Galt as her avatar. When you have been raised to believe that you are a member of a very special club of gifted elites yet your eliteness has not--yet!--manifested itself upon an eagerly anticipating world, you tend to grow a little bit resentful of the lack of appreciation. Sure, you are still a member of the elite; you went to the same schools as the elite and you socialize with the elite after all, but where is the brilliant career and wealth and power you were promised? Doesn't the world understand that if it weren't for the elite the rest of the world would crumble into nothing and disappear? What if the Megan McArdles of the world just walked off and refused to put up with the humiliation any more?? Ayn Rand was a marginally successful writer of movies, plays and books. She didn't take Hollywood by storm out of sheer talent, drive and creativeness. She didn't conquer Broadway, although the play she wrote was quite popular after someone else re-wrote it. She didn't become a best-selling author. (Yet.) Where was her fame, admiration, sycophants, wealth? It's time to strike!

Ordinarily, when a person proclaims that they are a mover and shaker and threatens to go on strike, his mother tells him to stop complaining and finish cleaning his room. Yet Rand was easily able to convince McArdle and millions of more McArdles that every resentful, angry teenage fantasy was true; that they were really a a princess in a castle who can do magic superior human being whose intelligence, drive, ambition, and ruthless brilliance is the foundation upon which all mankind depends. And thus a philosophy was born, which proudly proclaimed that selfishness was a virtue and if they didn't want to clean their rooms, nobody could make them.

If I were Queen of the Universe, do you know what I'd do? I'd have a boyfriend who adored me and was the smartest guy in the school because stupid people are a waste of my time and he'd be so good-looking all those shallow, empty-headed girls would envy me and he would take me in his arms and I would tell him I love him more than anyone else in the whole wide world....

She wondered why she felt that she wanted to run, that she should be running; no, not down this street; down a green hillside in the blazing sun to the road on the edge of the Hudson,at the foot of the Taggart estate. That was the way
she always ran when Eddie yelled, "It's Frisco d'Anconia!," and they both flew down the hill to the car approaching on the road below.

He was the only guest whose arrival was an even in their childhood, their biggest event. The running to meet him had become part of a contest among the three of them. There was a birch tree on the hillside, halfway between the road and the house; Dagny and Eddie tried to get past the tree, before Francisco could race up the hill to meet them. On all the many days of his arrivals, in all the many summers, they never reached the birch tree, Francisco read it first and stopped them when he was way past it. Francisco always won, as he always won everything.


Francisco found it natural that the Taggart children [Dagny and Eddie] should be chosen as his companions; they were the crown heirs of Taggart Transcontinental, as he was of d'Anconia Copper. "We are the only aristocracy left in the world--the aristocracy of money," he said to Dagny, once, when he was fourteen. It's the only real aristocracy, if people understood what it means, which they don't."


He pronounced his name as if he wished his listeners to be struck in the face and knighted by the sound of it.

He spoke five languages, and he spoke English without a trace of accent, a precise, cultured English deliberately mixed with slang.

When d'Anconia was eleven he ran away to sea as a cabin boy. When he was twelve he sneaked off to work on the Taggart railroad. Naturally he was the best call boy that Taggart Railroad ever had. Francisco hit a baseball perfectly every time, from the first time he picked up a bat. Francisco drove a motorboat with perfect skill and daring the first time he ever stepped into one. Francisco taught himself differential equations when he was twelve.

An Argentinian legend said that the hand of a d'Anconia had the miraculous power of the saints--only it was not the power to heal, but the power to produce.

Yes, I remember how Jesus laid his hand on the merchants in the Temple, blessing their power to produce.

The d'Anconia heirs had been men of unusual ability, but none of them could match what Francisco d'Anconia promised to become, It was as if the centuries had sifted the family's qualities through a fine mesh, had discarded the irrelevant, the inconsequential, the weak, and had let nothing through except pure talent; as if chance, for once, had achieved an entity devoid of the accidental.

Well, no wonder almost everyone else deserves to be trampled in the dirt. Our Ubermensch are, indeed, the most perfect specimens ever to walk the earth, seemingly designed by nature to rule the world. Who could blame them for wanting desperately to get away from the lice and scum, leaving the looters-n-moochers to their mutual and inevitable self-destruction?

D'Anconia is full of absolutisms. Industrial trademarks are the most important thing on earth. The greatest virtue of all is making money. The most depraved type of human being is a man without a purpose. There's nothing of any importance in life except how well you do your work. The only system of morality is the code of competence.

Naturally one Ubermensch recognizes another and Dagny Taggart worships d'Anconia's superiority. Rand believed that achieving greatness and appreciating greatness were the only source of joy in life and Dagny joyfully submits to d'Anconia's superiority. The defining moment of their existence together occurs when they are still teens. Dagny tells Francisco that she's unpopular at school because the other girls "dislike me because I do things well."

They dislike me because I've always had the best grades in the class. I don't even have to study. I always get A's. Do you suppose I should try to get D's for a change and become the most popular girl at school."

Francisco stopped, looked at her, and slapped her face.

What she felt was contained in a single instant, while the ground rocked under her feet, in a single blast of emotion within her. She knew that she would have killed any other person who struck her, and she felt the violent fury which would have given her the strength for it--and as she violent a pleasure that Francisco had done it. She felt pleasure from the dull, hot pain in her cheek and from he taste of blood in the corner of her mouth. She felt pleasure in what she suddenly grasped about him, about herself and about his motive.

Our little Dagny has become a woman!

She braced her feet to stop the dizziness, she held her head straight and stood facing him in the consciousness of a new power, feeling herself his equal for the first time, looking at him with a mocking smile of triumph.

When Francisco tries to wipe away the blood she won't let him.

She laughed, stepping back. "Oh no. I want to keep it as it is. I hope it swells terribly. I like it.

He looked at her for a long moment. He said slowly, very earnestly, "Dagny, you're wonderful."

"I thought that you always thought so," she answered, her voice insolently casual.

They become lovers and over the next few years Dagny is overwhelmed by the joy of being chosen to sleep with Francisco when he happens to drop by every few months. It is no coincidence that Rand has Dagny's sexual awakening happen through an act of violence. Rand equated superiority with strength, strength with violence, and violence with sexuality. Strength made you superior, violence made you a man. She notoriously fawned over a teenage kidnapper and murderer, William Edward Hickman, a self-proclaimed superior being..

At times, Rand -- who, we must remember, was still quite young when she wrote these notes -- appears to be rather infatuated with the famous and charismatic boy killer. She offers a long paragraph listing all the things she likes about Hickman, somewhat in the manner of a lovestruck teenager recording her favorite details about the lead singer in a boy band. Rand's inventory includes:

"The fact that he looks like 'a bad boy with a very winning grin,' that he makes you like him the whole time you're in his presence..."


Still writing of Hickman, she confesses to her "involuntary, irresistible sympathy for him, which I cannot help feeling just because of [his antisocial nature] and in spite of everything else." Regarding his credo (the full statement of which is, "I am like the state: what is good for me is right"), Rand writes, "Even if he wasn't big enough to live by that attitude, he deserves credit for saying it so brilliantly."


At one point, a sliver of near-rationality breaks through the fog of Rand's delusions: "I am afraid that I idealize Hickman and that he might not be this at all. In fact, he probably isn't." Her moment of lucidity is short-lived. "But it does not make any difference. If he isn't, he could be, and that's enough." Yes, facts are stubborn things, so it's best to ignore them and live in a land of make-believe. Let's not allow truculent reality to interfere with our dizzying and intoxicating fantasy life.

Punctuating the point, Rand writes, "There is a lot that is purposely, senselessly horrible about him. But that does not interest me..." No indeed. Why should it? It's only reality.

By the appraisal of any normal mind, there can be little doubt that William Edward Hickman was a vicious psychopath of the worst order. That Ayn Rand saw something heroic, brilliant, and romantic in this despicable creature is perhaps the single worst indictment of her that I have come across. It is enough to make me question not only her judgment, but her sanity.

Meanwhile, fictional psychopath Francisco starts work as a copper foundry boy for a competing firm since his father will not let him take over the d'Anconia enterprises at once. Because he is a shiny diamond of superiority, he is able to buy the foundry in four years at the age of 20, using his allowance and money he makes on stock market, which naturally is child's play for someone of his innate talents. But something strange, something utterly inexplicable begins to happen. D'Anconia's behavior undergoes a radical change. He warns Dagny that he must do things that she will find inexplicable and hurtful, but she must trust him and believe that he is doing the right thing, what he must do.

Despite her superiority, Dagny spends the next years wondering why d'Anconia began acting so strangely and hurtfully, seeming to become a wastrel playboy who produced---nothing!!!! If Dagny had spent less time over railroad timetables and engineering textbooks and more time with comic books she would have instantly recognized the famous tactic beloved of millionaire industrialist playboys everywhere: they are secretly part of an crime-fighting organization and must camouflage their derring-do with a false front of idleness and dissipation. Sadly, despite all the evidence before her brilliant mind, Dagny mourns the loss of d'Anconia instead of appreciating his clever plan.

But now the world is rocked by Atlas's shudders as he tries to relieve himself of the burden of humanity, and Dagny pulls herself together to visit d'Anconia, who just happens to be at a New York hotel. He brags that Mexico confiscated an empty mine and other sham facilities, that Taggart Railroads and Orren Boyle's steel mills and other businesses will lose millions in their investment, and the entire financial world might collapse. Then he laughs like a movie villain. Poor Dagny is devastated; she might be able to get A's in math without studying but she is provingly to be sadly inept at adding two and two and getting four and must wait many hundreds of pages before she starts to understand.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fear! Death! Paternalism!

Grind, grind, grind your little axe, Megan McArdle:

Take Obese Children from Their Parents?Business Jul 13 2011, 10:44 AM ET 6
So suggests a piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association, at least in "carefully selected situations". Apparently, a very obese girl who was put in foster care has lost 130 pounds. As Arthur Caplan points out, this is ludicrous--the foster system is already overstretched without adding obesity to catalogue of child abuse and neglect. It's also kind of creepy--the sort of thing that gives paternalism a very, very bad name.

You know who else gives paternalism a bad name? Elizabeth Warren! When are we going to hear about her again?

Meanwhile, McArdle throws a little red meat to the little group of soulless, upper-class office workers she calls her base, ginning up outrage over a simple report that recommends taking away morbidly obese children from their parents in special circumstances when their health is in immediate danger and all other methods are exhausted. Not exactly George Orwell territory, is it?


We have found more Jane Galts in the business world; persons whose only ambition is to achieve great things and not let the moocher-n-looters get in the way.

Massachusetts accountant Carl Sorabella had every reason to believe that his employer would grant his request for a more flexible schedule so that he could assist his wife, who had just been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer and given only months to live. After all, he'd been with Haynes Management in Wellesley, for 13 years, and had just been given a raise in November.

But instead of a more accommodating schedule, he got a pink slip in response to his request, even though he had made it clear that he was willing to work nights and weekends to make up for the time he intended to spend taking his wife in for treatments and tests.


Sorabella was sure that he would be able to arrange a more flexible schedule -- after all, he was head of the accounting department at Haynes, and had been with the company almost 14 years. But he says that his boss was afraid that if Sorabella wasn't there during regular business hours it could cause problems.

"It's business. I'm running a company here, and I need to make sure the department runs," she told him. Sorabella said that he assured her that he would see that the company runs well, working at any hour of the day or night to make up for the time he spent caring for his wife, but to no avail.

Sorabella says that his boss told him they were thinking about laying him off anyway, due to "modifications in workforce requirements." He thought, "you can't do that!" reports Boston's ABC affiliate WCVB. He says that he later saw an employment ad for his old job with the same company.

No one from Haynes Management has been available for comment, but in an email to WCVB reporter Susan Wornick, Vice President Mary Butler wrote, "this is a private personnel matter and we are not going to comment publicly."

Give those bosses a blog at the Atlantic! They have the right priorities; corporations first, last and always. Those losers are just dragging down the people who achieve great things, and must be jealous of the Galtians' superiority. What kind of people are they anyway?

For now, Sorabella is on unemployment, and his wife is on disability.


But the two have always been fighters, and have faith that they can get through this together. Kathleen was homeless when they first met. Sorabella was a bus driver and found her sleeping in the back of his bus. The two have accomplished much since then.

After they got married, he earned an accounting degree, she set up a homeless shelter and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in social science, the latter which she just completed three years ago. She's still paying off her $60,000 student loan.


Sorabella's COBRA payments for his health plan were too expensive, but the couple still has minimal coverage from his wife's disability. She had been employed as a social worker in the prison system.

Sorabella is still looking for work as an accountant -- he says that he'll take part-time -- anything he can find. But after they get through this and his wife recovers -- and they're confident she will -- he'd like to go back to school and get a nursing degree.

In the meantime, however, there are more urgent matters to attend to. "We don't know how we're going to pay our bills," says Kathleen Sorabella. "But we keep telling each other as long as we love each other -- it doesn't matter. We'll get through this. I'm going to get better."

Losers. Are they building railroads and bridges across this great land of ours? Inventing new energy sources? Of course not. They are worthless, and just giving them taxpayer money to survive will only increase their dependency and give them an incentive to not work.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Selective Amnesia

Megan McArdle thinks it's just fine to use "Obamacare" and "Bush tax cuts."

I will stop referring to it as ObamaCare when we stop calling them the Bush tax cuts for the rich. It is an effective shorthand for a law that is otherwise unwieldy to describe. If legislators wanted me to call it something else, they should have given it a catchy name like "Medicare", not a hypertrophied piece of propaganda like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I don't know why the left considers the term particularly perjorative [sic]; it is a health care program, and it is Barack Obama's signature legislation. Why is it supposed to be undignified to attach his name to it? One of James' commenters says, "ObamaCare sounds like a term someone would use, hoping it fails miserably, and wanting people to remember who did it. So it is not non-judgmental. Quite the contrary."

Personally, I have no such lofty agenda; I just don't have a better term for it. But surely progressives think it is going to succeed. Shouldn't they be thrilled that the rest of us are associating Obama's name with it at every turn?

Update: Apparently I need to make clear that I don't think there's anything wrong with "Bush tax cuts for the rich", though I get some snippy conservatives who disagree occasionally. It's the easiest description, and everyone understand what you're talking about. I'm not trying to trade one for the other; I'm planning to keep using both.

Except when she doesn't.

Another day, another chart from the "non-partisan" Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on what "accounts" for the public debt. At some level, these exercises are silly: all prior legislation could be equally said to "account" for public debt, including, of course, Social Security and Medicare. These charts are usually just a dog-whistle where we pick out the programs we don't like and show that without them, things wouldn't be so bad!

But what is ridiculous-to-the-point-of-metaphysical-absurdity is the labeling of that big orange section as "Bush-Era Tax Cuts". The actual level of the debt incurred by tax cuts passed during the Bush era is represented by the size of the wedge in 2010, plus perhaps a modest amount of interest (interest rates right now are low, and over time, inflation and GDP growth should call that debt to fall, not rise, as a percentage of GDP.)

No, what that ever-widening wedge represents is the tax cuts passed in 2010, plus the assumption that the Obama administration makes the tax cuts permanent. I know that many liberal groups still see the pernicious influence of George Bush everywhere . . . but does the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities really think that we are still in the "Bush Era"? Is he the puppetmaster who pulled the string and made Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress dance? And if so, how come we passed a gargantuan new health care entitlement, instead of reforming Social Security?

This raises a question, of course: when do we think the CBPP will decide that we've finally left the Bush era? I'm guessing the answer is "Only after we've elected another president."

Heh, I could do this all day. That's what happens when a "journalist" is really a propagandist; accuracy and consistency are irrelevant.

If I ran or worked for the CBPP I would be very concerned about the constant trashing of my organization's reputation by one of the country's more respected knowledgeable ideological and omnipresent journalists. If a person makes a "mistake" and refuses to admit it, correct it, or stop making the same "mistake" it becomes libel, not error.

Monday, July 11, 2011


This is just funny.

The blindness of the DLC-era "Third Way" Democratic Party continues to be an astounding thing. For more than a decade now they have been clinging to the idea that the path to electoral success is social liberalism plus laissez-faire economics – in other words, get Wall Street and corporate America to fund your campaigns, and get minorities, pro-choice and gay marriage activists (who will always frightened into loyalty by the Tea Party/Christian loonies on the other side) to march at your rallies and vote every November. They've abandoned the unions-and-jobs platform that was the party's anchor since Roosevelt, and the latest innovations all involve peeling back their own policy legacies from the 20th century. Obama's new plan, for instance, might involve slashing Medicare and Social Security under "pressure" from the Republicans.

I simply don't believe the Democrats would really be worse off with voters if they committed themselves to putting people back to work, policing Wall Street, throwing their weight behind a real public option in health care, making hedge fund managers pay the same tax rates as ordinary people, ending the pointless wars abroad, etc. That they won't do these things because they're afraid of public criticism, and "responding to pressure," is an increasingly transparent lie. This "Please, Br'er Fox, don't throw me into dat dere briar patch" deal isn't going to work for much longer. Just about everybody knows now that they want to go into that briar patch.

Instead of death panels we have the Supreme Court to frighten women into voting against their economic self-interest.

Value For Your Dollar

Corporations spent 1.8 million to advertise on The Atlantic On-Line last year. What did they get for that money?

Jonathan Rauch has been making fun of me for blogging for years. Now he makes fun of the entire medium: [snipped quote]

Naturally, he publishes this manifesto from the pages of . . . Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish, where he is guest-blogging for the week.

The opportunity to pay for Mrs. McArdle's catty in-fighting with other bloggers.

Congratulations, Atlantic! You're bringing the finest in journalism to the the upper crust of America.

Let us also remember:

Another source of significant revenue for the magazine comes from branded conferences, a new concept that the magazine implemented in 2006. By hosting events in places such as Aspen, Colorado, the project boosts both readership and publicity efforts and has contributed to more than 14 percent of the magazine’s revenue.

Such as from these folks, quote via Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars:

We do know some of what goes on at the Aspen Ideas Festival besides getting a chance to smell and touch sewer rats like Rupert Murdoch. Here is a great example of massive ego mixed with manipulative glee that was posted and quickly pulled from the Aspen site, but not before Fred Klonsky captured a copy for the world to see and hear.

In this Machiavellian masterpiece, we see Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children infamy (list of donors here) describe in great detail how great wads of hedge-fund and other corporate cash came to bear on the last legislative election in Illinois, how all the best lobbyists were bought up by Deform (including minority ones), how unions were outspent and how politicians followed the money, how teacher unions were lured to the table and how they were totally manhandled by the best lawyers and negotiators that money can buy, how union leaders became complicit, scared, weak, groveling.

Hear how Karen Lewis, head of Chicago Teachers Union was made a fool of, how she gave up the right to strike with less than a 75% strike vote (something that has never happened, as Jonah notes). Hear how Lewis gave the Deformer lawyers free rein to work out the details on a terrible agreement. As Jonah swaggers, "We got to decide all the fine print." In those details is the insurance needed to impose the same IMPACT teacher eval plan that DC has.

Truth Is A Matter Of Opinion

We have a terrible dilemma. It seems that there is some confusion surrounding spending and taxation during recessions. James Fallows of The Atlantic reminds us that when private industry is not providing jobs the government must take up the slack or the recession will worsen.

In the early 1970s, when I was studying economics in graduate school in England, the ruinous Great Depression was nearly 40 years in the past. One big focus of attention in our courses was how it could have happened. That is, what combination of moneyed interests, conventionally minded "thought leaders" in politics and the media, and destructive adherence to shibboleths like the Gold Standard and the moral evils of deficit spending allowed leaders in France, England, and America to turn a problem into a disaster. It was in exasperation at the needlessness of it all -- the folly of contractionary government policies even as businesses were failing because of too little demand -- that John Maynard Keynes had written The General Theory. Liaquat Ahamed recently re-told that story in his justly celebrated Lords of Finance. (For how the Chinese have absorbed this history in responding to the post-2008 slowdown, see this account.)

Those days of the 1970s are now nearly 40 years in the past. And this morning's jobs report makes me wonder whether, as a political system, we ever learn anything. Even this basic thing: That when tens of millions of people cannot find work because of an overall "failure of demand" -- not enough paychecks going to not enough people who can not make enough payments to create jobs for enough other people -- the main problem facing the nation is not "runaway government spending." Any more than it was when Herbert Hoover tightened up on spending as markets crashed, in the wave of folly that Keynes and Ahamed in their different ways chronicled. A lot has changed since the 1930s, and the 1970s. But not this basic principle.

Mrs. Megan McArdle disagrees.

I'm not quite sure what passages in Keynes and Ahmed [Fallows] is referring to, but the evidence is not ambiguous: Hoover did not tighten up on spending. According to the historical tables of the Office of Management and Budget, spending in 1929 was $3.1 billion, up from $2.9 billion the year before. In 1930 it was $3.3 billion. In 1931, Hoover raised spending to $3.6 billion. And in 1932, he opened the taps to $4.7 billion, where it basically stayed into 1933 (most of which was a Hoover budget). As a percentage of GDP, spending rose from 3.4% in 1930 to 8% in 1933--an increase larger than the increase under FDR, though of course thankfully under FDR, the denominator (GDP) had stopped shrinking.

This spending represented a substantial increase over the Coolidge years (outlays had been steady between $2.85 billion and $2.95 billion since 1924). And in real terms they represented a very substantial increase, since both nominal and real GDP were falling.

Hoover did raise taxes on high earners quite a bit in 1932, and perhaps this is what my colleague is thinking of--though as this did not produce any immediately noticeable increase in tax revenue, it's hard to say how much of a fiscal contraction this actually represented. (Even if it were, outside of the odd Cato paper, Hoover's name is never invoked to warn against the mortal dangers of what he actually did: raised taxes on rich people in the middle of a recession.)

Commenters helpfully add some facts to McArdle's assessment but they are only a few out of dozens who discuss in loving detail how they (and McArdle) are right and all the liberal professors and liberal writers and liberal history books and liberal facts are wrong.

Brad DeLong has a response.

So what is going on here?

I think that Megan McArdle's major problem is that she is looking at one table--Table 1.1 in OMB's Historical Tables. She is not reading Hoover's Budget Messages or any other documents from the Hoover administration, not reading histories of the Hoover administration, not identifying how what congress finally enacted and what Hoover signed differed from what Hoover had originally proposed--or indeed, at how as the Great Depression deepened Hoover decided at the very start of calendar year 1932--halfway through fiscal year 1932--to push for measures (Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Home Loan Bank, direct loans to fund state Depression relief programs) that increased spending--but did so alongside the Revenue Act of 1932 that increased taxes.

After he decided that he was President and that the Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon whom he had inherited from Coolidge worked for him and that Mellon should go off to be Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Hoover did decide to do something to fight the Great Depression. Tax increases to try to balance the budget in order to call down the confidence fairy made up the biggest part of his plan. But Hoover also sought to fund state relief. And he sought to set up GSE's (RTC, HLB) to restart broken capital markets.

But to say that "Hoover was no budget-cutter" misses most of the story. Hoover would have been a budget-cutter in normal times. Hoover was a budget-balancer. Hoover held the line against powerful political forces that sought to increase government spending in the Great Depression for fully 2 1/2 years before endorsing what seem to us to be half-measures.

Selective editing is one of McArdle's specialties; she can't acknowledge context because she argues by cherry-picking evidence and ignoring any contravening facts.

We wonder which side will win--the truth or the lies, when the history books are written. Either way, the results of the lies can't be hidden and one day the sheer magnitude of the destruction the lies have created will be too enormous for further denial.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Countdown To Doom: Day 351

We are thrilled to announce that we are almost at the one year anniversary of Megan McArdle's promise to give us the second part of her two-part series on Elizaabeth Warren. On July 22, 2010, McArdle told us her famous critique was the first of two posts. Let's enter Mr.Peabody's Wayback Machine once again to see what she said a few days after making her promise.

Megan McArdle says:
Monday, July 26, 2010 at 15:26
As I’m going to write in the next few days, the thing I don’t like about Warren is that she’s sloppy with data, and also that her mistrust manifests itself in paternalism. It’s one thing to think consumers would be better off without certain kinds of credit; it’s another thing to be positively certain that you’ll be making them better off by making such credit unprofitable.

Since McArdle had an entire year to work on her magnum opus we know it will be spectacular.

More Of The Same

Megan McArdle:

Probably the most controversial thing I've ever written is that the evidence for the effect of health insurance on mortality is not really that strong. This is not to say that insurance has no effect--this is possible, but not to my mind particularly likely.

That's right, America! You don't need health insurance because being able to go to the doctor will make no difference in your life.

Do we really need to discuss any other part of this post? McArdle is being paid to propagandize for the elite who do not want to pay taxes for social services. Her readers don't care about the truth because they also do not want to pay taxes and they have health insurance. McArdle's masters will get their way because they hold all the power; McArdle's sole purpose is to prevent any violence against her masters by convincing Americans that nobody needs social services and we can't afford them anyway.

Meanwhile, she takes her taxpayer-subsidized health insurance and taxpayer-subsidize mortgage deduction and taxpayer-subsidized itemized deductions and six-figure salary and lucrative fellowships and speaking fees and per diems and laughs, laughs, laughs all the way to the bank.

Fighting propaganda is a losing game. It can be amusing, which is why I do it, but it is frustrating and emotionally debilitating. Also, I need to take a break and work on my book, tentatively titled Supernatural Teen/Young Adult Adventure With Romance, Psychological Overtones, Lots Of Humor, And A Badass Demon.

Yes, I'm still working on the title.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Megan McArdle Is One Smart Cookie

The gift who keeps on giving:

Via Twitter:

Peter Suderman RT @7im: current and obligated cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? At least $3.2T, plus $1T in interest thru 2020
17 hours ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Via Brad De Long:

Department of Awful Statistics: Why Ask Y? - Megan McArdle:

DougJBalloon 16 hours ago: I see you're revisiting the brilliance of your arguments for the Iraq War on twitter. Any interest in correcting some of the order of magnitude errors?

McMegan 15 hours ago: Do I have any interest further interest in debating whether the direct cost to the taxpayer is going to be $2 trillion? An argument that is going to devolve--since there is at this point vanishingly little possibility that it will grow to $2 trillion--into the other side trying to argue that things which aren't direct costs to the taxpayer are in fact direct costs to the taxpayer, or complaining that it's not fair to just look at direct costs to the taxpayer, or claiming that it's innumerate of me to compare stocks to stocks and flows to flows? Surprisingly, not really. But Merry Christmas!

DougJBalloon 15 hours ago: How about putting a strike through the 0.1% at least?

McMegan 15 hours ago: You're not factoring in growth. The correct equation is not 20 * $11tt, which is what my interlocutor--and I presume, you--are doing. That's not even right by some weird arguable metric; it's just wrong unless you presume that GDP is actually going to shrink farther and then stay there until 2023. I was using the CBO's standard growth rate of 3%, which I freely predict was in error for the past few years, because I didn't see this huge crash coming, but no way of knowing how big an error until 20203. However, not an order of magnitude as you claim. At the peak of spending, the cost of Iraq was maybe 1% of GDP, and spending has now fallen sharply; how could you think that it was going to be that high over a 20-year period, when we are supposed to have withdrawn for half of it?

DougJBalloon 15 hours ago: You wrote this in 2003. Let's estimate the 2003 GDP as 11 trillion, let's estimate 4 percent growth (that's on the high side but I am a very generous person). Then over 20 years, the total GDP would be 327 trillion dollars. That estimate is probably on the high side, by the way. You wrote "But it is not going to run us several trillion dollars (though even if it did, that would work out to less than 0.1% of GDP over the next 20 years.)" Let's take "several trillion". I would say that several means at least 3 and probably 4. I'm not talking about how much the actual Iraq War costs -- though that would be a pretty good estimate in fact -- I am talking about your use of the phrase "several trillion". If I take 3 trillion and divide by 327 trillion, I get slightly less than 1%. If I take 4 trillion (really the kindest interpretation of "several trillion" I can think of) and divide by 327 trillion, I get over 1%. You meant 1%, not 0.1%. Are you really so quantitatively inept that you cannot see this, even after I brought it up again? Are you really so nuts that you're going to bs me about rates of GDP growth and not just divide 3 by 300? God help us all.

McMegan 14 hours ago: Sigh. Okay, so we are now not discussing the actual cost of the war, but the hypothetical cost of the war as represented by the term "several trillion", which to me means any sum over $2 trillion, but YMMV. As I recall--it was, of course, eight years ago--I ran nominal figures out to 2023 with interest to account for the borrowing that we were doing. You could probably quibble with my methodology if I could remember it. It's certainly possible there was an error in my calculations, though it was a spreadsheet so not all that likely. Probably a lot easier to have had this conversation if you had raised the issue eight years ago, but at the time your coblogger was still egging on my less sane moments, IIRC. At any rate, if I have time tomorrow, I'll try to figure out what I did, and see if I still want to defend it.

DougJBalloon 12 hours ago: Hypothetical??? It was your hypothesis. You are utterly and completely insane. God have mercy on David Bradley's soul for what he has unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Bring on the apocalypse.

Heh. God, she's fun.

Concern Troll Is Concerned

Click to see the smarminess in greater detail. Also, too: apalling [sic].

She doesn't even try to make an honest argument. And she ranks CEOs above the President Of The Exceptionally Exceptional United States Of God Bless America.

Just Deserts

Being a shill for the rich has many rewards. You can go to cocktail parties at the British Embassy and pretend you're British. You can travel all over the world and don't have to pay for it. You have lots of money to spend. But being a shill has a few disadvantages as well, such as the merry laughter of your critics as you are hoist in your own petard.

Mrs. Megan McArdle spent months telling her readers that the national debt, health care, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security were going to bankrupt the nation. She told them that governments are by nature incompetent and must be stripped to their bones so private enterprise can act without being dragged down by regulations or laws. She has spend years whipping up fear, greed and economic isolationism, and now she is getting her reward for all her hard work. Her success is threatening everything she has managed to acquire over the years, the only thing she cares about, her very raison d'etre: her money.

It finally--at very, very long last-- has dawned on our Missy Megan that she has wedged her own ass firmly between a rock and a hard place. She has spent years attempting to destroy regulation, concentrate wealth, and drown the government, and has helped whip up the populace into a frenzy of self-righteous spite. Every time she told her readers that teachers refused to work, street cleaners refuses to clear snow, mail carriers refused to do their jobs, or the DMV was too incompetent to survive, McArdle reinforced her readers' hatred of helping the less fortunate and preening self-praise for being born into good circumstances. McArdle mocked her readers' enemies, praised their leaders, and told them exactly what they wanted to hear: that their leaders were Galtian geniuses who had created unprecedented wealth that was sure to trickle down to them. Since her readers are mainly middle or upper class, they chose to believed her.

Her Lords and Masters told her what to say and she repeated it, for who could turn down hundreds of thousands of dollars a year just to repeat what someone wants to hear? And it was so very easy, so gratifying and pleasant, to be an important member of DC's blogging Smart Set, to tell your friends that you are flying up to NY to go on CNN or to China to report on its economic miracle. To see your pet theories treated like wise philosophies and even become a movie, your patrons grow in wealth and influence, your projects become written law. But then the unimaginable happened: McArdle's actions began to have consequences, and those results threatened to harm her. Not other people--who cares if they get hurt?--but her. Martin Wolf said dryly, "It should be noted, in passing, that a federal default would surely create the biggest financial crisis in world economic history." McArdle finally realized that the worst could come to pass: She might end up suffering along with the riff-raff.

That wasn't supposed to happen; all of the repercussions of her actions were supposed to affect people who were younger than McArdle or much older, or who had less money and influence. Social Security would end after she received it so she could take advantage of it, just like employer health insurance subsidies and mortgage deductions and all those other tax deductions. But the common rabble is not cooperating; they want the government to be destroyed now. Surely, they tell McArdle, if destroying the government is good then it should be done immediately, and McArdle is an idiot for interfering with what must be done.

necessaryevi1 5 days ago
If I engage in a personal strategic default then I am shirking the responsibility that I personally took on in order to benefit. I don't have the same sort of responsibility defaulting on a national scale. Most of this problem was put into place before I was even born, much less could vote.

McMegan 5 days ago in reply to necessaryevi1
Well, welcome to represenative [sic] democracy. You're also a beneficiary of decisions made before you were born--have you stopped using the interstate highway system in protest?

slacker12 5 days ago in reply to McMegan
Megan, your answer is not just stupid; it is downright asinine.

This idiotic post of yours framed the debt obligations as an ethical issue in which the U.S. owes its creditors, and it shall pay them come hell or high water; that it must pay them by taking more from its own citizens that were also not planning on having to pay that apparently slipped your tiny head. If your dad went into debt, would it be only moral to come after his progeny - you - and seize your house to pay his debts? Sorry Peter, but you have no right to be indignant because Paul was counting on getting your money this month...

Which is not even to mention that the debt is absolutely no way whatsoever a revenue issue. Revenue has gone up and up and up and up and up. Problem is, spending by irresponsible, selfish, and feckless politicians has gone up even more. The problem is 100% a problem with revenue. But because there are people who disagree with you, you call them stupid and unethical. The only dumbshit here is you.

And don't bother excoriating me for impoliteness after writing all that crap above with the title, The Lunatics Are Burning Down The Asylum.

Yes, it is incredibly bizarre to see McArdle play The Voice Of Reason, but this is her money at risk, and desperate times call for desperate measures. McArdle is terrified that her taxes will be raised after default.

Dann 5 days ago
This is a much larger tax hike than will be required if we do this the sensible way: leave things as they are now, and make a deal to raise taxes and cut spending in the future, when deficits will be lower, and more modest changes will be require.

There's the problem right there. The "cut spending in the future" part never happens.

Instead, when revenues increase, politicians find a plethora of new ways spend our money.

Nope. Sorry. No more.

No more agreements where I have to give up something today and then be welched later on when the things I want are supposed to happen. The Dems have been successfully gaming the system in that manner for the last 30+ years.

No more!

Our fiscal problems are the direct result of over-spending. Specifically, Social Security and Medicare are consuming more money than those designated taxes bring in.

The way you solve over-spending problems is to......CUT SPENDING!!!

Yesterday would have been soon enough.

McMegan 5 days ago in reply to Dann
So you're willing to pay higher taxes, so long as you can cut spending too?

eSGee 5 days ago in reply to McMegan
Yes. While I readily admit that it's absolutely crappy politics and guaranteed to piss off everybody, were I in charge I would repeal the Obama (formerly Bush) tax cuts but not raise the debt ceiling.

For ten years I've been listening to Democrats claim that the budget would be fine except for those tax cuts. Fine, they're gone. Now make spending match revenues.

Years of demonizing Democrats, claiming that they were crying and wailing and screaming, spending and taxing and destroying the nation, have born their very strange fruit. Her readers would rather destroy the nation than let Democrats prosper.

Dann 5 days ago in reply to McMegan
Based on my reading on the subject.....some of it courtesy of you - thanks very much!....I believe that we are going to have to raise some taxes at some point. Taking the cap off of FICA taxes comes to mind for me as one potential tax increase. There are other taxes that we might raise as well.

My larger point is that those tax increases should only be done AFTER we have cut the spending side of the equation until the fiscal blood runs deep and red across the DC. Shutter a few cabinet departments. Slash employee wages. Privatize SS and Medicare. Close some military bases. Close the DEA (and end the war on drugs). Close some federal prisons, too!!

Only after our federal Pandora has been returned to her box might we reasonably consider raising taxes.

History has shown that future promised cuts will never be made while current tax increases are pursued with gusto.

They want to put the cart before the horse. I'd rather have the horse out front.

Yes, McArdle--thanks to you!

Buckland 2 days ago
... that there is a sizeable faction on the right, and worse, in the GOP caucus, that is willing to default rather than make any deal at all.

As one of the unwashed who thinks a default at this time would be a good thing in the long term...

Right now there's a basic unseriousness in both parties. SERIOUS reductions in spending has to happen in every sector of government. Yes, that includes defense spending, but it also includes the great middle class spending programs. Also serious taxes will have to be raised. There's a difference between the parties on whether the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy should stay in place, but there's agreement that the cuts for the middle class should remain. All should be ended.

The crisis coming in July/August is minor league compared to the much larger issues coming. Our political leaders are having fun stroking their bases and delaying the date of reckoning. But this delay will make it much worse.

There may indeed be a minor crisis this year if the US suspends payments for a time. However it pales in comparison to the existential threat our country faces in a few years.

Several, like McMegan, seem to believe that our political leaders will be able to start taking economics seriously if they can just get past this crisis. BullS***. The political leaders have neither the intelligence nor information nor courage to make the changes necessary. Only in a real crisis will they focus long enough to do what needs to be done.

So, bring it on. Better a minor market crisis now then a much more serious one in a few years. Then, with luck, there will be a realization that government services aren't free, and must be cut to the point that they can be paid for by the people.

McMegan 2 days ago in reply to Buckland
No offense, but I think this is kinda crazy. Where is your evidence that countries that default thereby improve their political economy?

Buckland 2 days ago in reply to McMegan
Intriguing pieces are out there:

-- Greece's Socialist PM was able to push through a pretty credible austerity budget after their near default. Not nearly enough, but they'll have to find a way to get there eventually, as Germany's largess can't last forever (but their debts will at this rate). That would have never happened without the near death experience. Just 2 years ago they were still doing things like lowering retirement ages.

-- Various South American economies and S Korea have come through default/default contagion issues to become very strong economies. The old saying about the prospect of hangin' focusing the mind comes into play.

What evidence do you have that our current crop of political leaders will suddenly have a "road to Damascus" moment, turn from their wicked ways, and become more prudent financial managers without their hand being forced? I'm not seeing it. Indeed I'm seeing the opposite.

The reality is we're nearing Argentina of the 60's territory as politicians raid the treasury for their supporters while talking about how much they're doing for the poor. This can't continue. Selective default is much preferred to complete default. And keeping the second at bay will get difficult real soon without a real reformation of the process.

jackelpdw 2 days ago in reply to Buckland
Are you kidding? Have you seen what the default did to Greece's society? The place is coming apart at the seams. I wouldn't be surprised if you see some sort of governmental upheaval in the next few years. It is people like you who scare me.

Buckland 2 days ago in reply to jackelpdw
Indeed, Greek society is coming apart at the seams. The question is -- Is Greece coming apart at the seams because of a sudden desire to repudiate debt (which they haven't done, yet, but will)? Or is it because of decades of out of control spending?

I say the latter. Do you think that think the repudiation is totally unconnected to the lack of spending control? It seems to be what you're saying, and that is really scary.

McArdle has taught them well. If anything bad happens as a result of their idiotic decisions it's not their fault, it's everyone else's. Nothing must interfere with the free market. Or something.

tjic 2 days ago
I am getting the same sinking feeling that Brooks is having--that there is a sizeable faction on the right, and worse, in the GOP caucus, that is willing to default rather than make any deal at all.
Works for me. Let the bond markets burn. Let the US government's credit rating fall.

That will, yes, drastically increase borrowing costs...and it will also cut down on borrowing (e.g. stealing from future generations to fund welfare spending today).

We might get a balanced budget Constitutional amendment out it.

The Revolutionary war was worth doing, because it limited (for a while, at least) the scope of government. If it took 50,000 American deaths to throw off large government, that was a bargain.

If we can prune back the welfare state today with zero deaths (aside from smothering and then lighting on fire our credit rating), I'm all in favor of it.

Hell, an out right repudiation would be even better.

** I ** didn't vote for any of the inane social spending over the 20 years since I came of age, and I reject the assertion that the I have either consented to be governed or have any moral responsibility for the debt that socialists have racked up.

Let it burn.

Jay 2 days ago in reply to tjic
Yes, that is it exactly.

I didn't run up this debt. I don't owe it.

We don't have heredity debt in this country. The very idea is antithetical to freedom.

This is not my debt and I won't be responsible for repaying it.

McMegan 2 days ago in reply to Jay
You did run up this debt, as part of a representative democracy. Almost all of the debt that matters was incurred in the last ten years--much of it thanks to the Bush tax cuts.

Do you really think you'd be better off if the US government dissolved? This is the price of living in a country with other people who disagree with you; you need to compromise in ways you will often hate (just as they do).

Jay 2 days ago in reply to McMegan
To what extent can I be held responsible for things I didn't cause and never agreed to?

To what extent can I be held responsible for events that precede my birth? Can I be made to pay reparations for slavery?

Serious questions.

The real issue from my stand point is: Should "we" preserve "our" credit rating.

As Dave Ramsey says - you only care about your credit score if you intend to borrow more money.

I don't.

"Let it burn." The mantra and the motto of a bunch of spoilt, whining children who want all the comforts of civilization without paying for it. They have no idea how much their wealth and safety depends on the government they disdain, but one day they, too, will be forced to realize that burning down the house is not a very good idea when you are trapped inside.

First they came for the people who make $20,000 a year and I said nothing for I do not make $20,000 a year....