The title is merely the vibe I got from listening to the latest Lew Rockwell Show podcast starring Ron Paul delivering a speech at the Mises circle in Houston, Texas.
When we watch Ron Paul give interviews on television he rarely has a chance to attempt humor or reveal the man behind the message. This speech is very different. He makes humorous remarks (sarcastic mostly) and reveals a bit of the Austrian economics grandfatherly figure he has become.
The evidence is hard to ignore. The stimulus bill that Barack Obama is pushing today is nothing more than the Progressive’s version of the Patriot Act. Ron Paul should peel away the stimulus stamped outer shell to reveal the massive growth of government in the meat of the bill.
Nurses Recovery funding: $600 million A key component of attaining universal health care reform will be ensuring the supply of primary health care providers – family medicine, internal medicine, pediatricians, dentists, and nurses.
As Mike Miller’s extensive list (posted here this morning) shows, there is little immediate stimulus found in this wrongly-titled bill.
In fact, even the Congressional Budget Office put out a study of the bill showing that most of the provisions won’t even take effect for years.
The CBO said that provisions to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy use would ultimately be spent within seven years. It also estimated that would take five years to spend 85% of the money dedicated to highway and other infrastructure projects. Keep in mind that this is the government’s own estimate as to how quickly the plan will be implemented, which is likely very overoptimistic.
The CBO report even specifically states that “congressional authorizations for sharp increases in spending have typically been followed by a noticeable lag in actual spending.” No Ship Sherlock. The government is a large, inefficient beast. This plan isn’t going to be nearly as stimulative for the economy as many would like us to believe.
So all of this evidence left me thinking: why? Why is Obama pushing so hard for this right now? Well, it’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Obama’s approval ratings are now at their highest they will ever be. It is his golden opportunity to push through a massive far reaching leftist/progressive agenda rolled up in stimulus wrapping paper, much like it was a golden opportunity for the Bush administration following 9-11 to push the Patriot Act into law.
Another masterpiece in the Lew Rockwell collection is an article based off a talk he gave at the 2009 Jeremy Davis Mises Circle in Houston. This is a must read:
We are fortunate to be living in these times, for we are seeing the unfolding of events long explained and predicted by the Austrian tradition.
Maybe that sounds implausible. What is fortunate about our times? The economy is tanking, stocks have been pummeled, unemployment is rising, and Washington is pursuing the worst combination of economic policies since Hoover and FDR. Nor does the new guy in charge seem to have a clue about the limits of what government can do.
Consider what it means to live through our times in the light of economic understanding. Even in the face of calamity, there is no mystery and hence fear is reduced. You look at department stores going belly-up, and you know why. You see parking lots empty, and you know the reason. You have friends losing their jobs, and there is clarity concerning the cause. You see depositors in failing banks lose their money, and you are not surprised. Prices behave in ways that shock and surprise everyone else, but you know what’s what.
In many ways, it is like watching the movement of stars and planets with the scientific knowledge provided by astronomy, or observing the effects of a plague with medical knowledge.
Without the understanding, the events look mysterious, like a curse from the gods, and their patterns appear random. With the knowledge, with the understanding, we can make sense of the events. Patterns of cause and effect emerge. You see events before they happen, like turning the page of a script before the movie catches up to you. This gives you a sense of intellectual coherence and inner peace – even in the midst of calamity.(Continue reading).
Quotes of the Day: “Is it too much to ask that someone criticizing (John Maynard) Keynes actually, you know, read Keynes…?” – Paul Krugman
Okay Mr. Krugman, let’s read what Keynes wrote in 1942 . . .
“Organized public works, at home and abroad, may be the right cure for a chronic tendency to a deficiency of effective demand. But they are not capable of sufficiently rapid organisation (and above all cannot be reversed or undone at a later date), to be the most serviceable instrument for the prevention of the trade cycle.” — Keynes, Collected Works, vol. XXVII, p.122
Subject: Can public works stimulate the economy?
John Maynard Keynes originated the idea that government spending could reverse an economic downturn, but even he was skeptical of using government construction projects for this purpose.
Nevertheless, Congress, and people like Paul Krugman, want to spend hundreds of billions on public works.
Sheldon Richman, of the Foundation for Economic Education, gives us more reasons to be skeptical. He draws attention to a major investigation of public works projects by David Leonhardt of the “New York Times.” Three points stand out . . .
First, it’s a myth that the government has neglected public infrastructure. Politicians point to the collapsed bridge in Minnesota as evidence that we need more spending on roads and bridges, but if the Minnesota bridge is evidence of anything, it’s government incompetence, and not a lack of infrastructure spending. According to Mr. Leonhardt . . . Read More »
Aren’t we being told that the $850 billion so-called “stimulus” bill being discussed in Congress would be to prop up our failing economy? Forgetting for a moment the fact that economic stimulus can never work or that it’s unconstitutional, isn’t the intent of any economic stimulus bill to stimulate the failing economy?
In reality, our new President and the Big Government Democrats and Republicans in Congress are again using this crisis as an opportunity to fund their pet project and fulfill some of their liberal/progressive agenda.
If the goal is to stimulate the economy to alleviate the effects of the “deepening recession”, then why does the bill contain the following (which is definitely not an exhaustive list):
$87 billion for Medicare outlays and related spending
$20 billion toward nutrition assistance program (food stamps)
$2.8 billion to expand broadband Internet service in rural areas
$4 billion for programs “to develop rural communities…”
Libertarians and true Conservatives have been bemoaning the fact, for quite some time now, that those who have hijacked the Republican party are not who they represent themselves to be. They consistently call for smaller government, less spending, and appear to bow reverently to the tenants of free-market capitalism. But in truth, and in practice, they are enemies of capitalism, as Briggs Armstrong points out in this article from the Ludwig von Mises Institute:
photo via mises.org
New Rule: neomercantilists, neoconservatives, and statists are no longer allowed to call themselves “free marketers.” People who call themselves free marketers such as Bush, Paulson, Greenspan, and Bernanke are the primary threat capitalism faces. These false prophets of capitalism are the greatest friends that proponents of socialism have.
Many prominent American figures claim to be proponents of free markets but in practice advocate neomercantilist, corporate welfare policies. These policies eventually, and unsurprisingly, lead to disastrous economic and social consequences. These catastrophes are then blamed on capitalism, free markets, and deregulation, at which point, socialists are easily able to convince the distraught public that capitalism is a failed experiment and only massive government intervention in the markets can save them. Such is the way that capitalism dies, eaten away by a cancer from within. (Continue article)
Media Alert! Jim Babka will appear on the Liberty Roundtable tomorrow morning. See the Postscript for details.
Quote of the Day: “The USDA claims it needs to be able to move fast in case of an outbreak of disease. At first blush it sure sounds fine and good, until you consider that people are in the middle of a major epidemic on US dairy farms, and the USDA hasn’t moved at all to stop it.” – The National Association of Farm Animal Welfare
Subject: From “Voluntary” to Mandatory
Johne’s disease is a contagious infection of the small intestine of hoofed animals.
The appearance by Ron Paul on CNN’s American Morning today was supposed to be about Barack Obama’s foreign policy, but Paul ended up being asked exclusively about the economy. I suspect it ended up that way because the host (Kiran Chetry) was too shocked to hear someone suggest something other than socialist leaning views on the economy.
Ultimately Ron Paul rejected the host and many others’ view that more market regulation is needed. Paul called it a fallacy and an intellectual error. That is a gentlemanly way of telling someone they are wrong.
The most interesting point comes when Paul is told/asked that what he is suggesting is that Americans have to “suck it up and go back to a 1960′s standard of living. How is that a realistic pitch?” Ron Paul was too nice in his reply. He should have said, “Well, we are headed toward a 1930′s standard of living right now and when that takes hold a 1960′s standard of living would seem like a blessing.” Below are a few more choice quotes from the interview:
“The answer is to get out of the way.”
“We are taking a recession and working very hard to turn it into a depression.”
“We’re on the verge of destroying the dollar.”
“If you want to regulate, regulate government agencies regulate the Treasury, regulate the Federal Reserve!”
“To blame the free market for this calamity is absolutely an intellectual error”