Archive for July, 2012

Red-Ink Republicans, Revisited and Reviled

July 29th, 2012 2 comments

The post-New Deal Republican party has delivered endless strings of deficits and debt. That is their historic legacy to America, the bare fact on the ground that unfortunately requires endless repetition to impart the reality, and counter the tea-party fantasy of fiscally irresponsible Democrats.

Also required is a catchy moniker that encapsulates that reality:

Red-Ink Republicans

Use it. Everywhere. Make it a meme. Republicans are irresponsible profligates. We can’t afford them anymore. We’ve run their experiment. It failed. Disastrously.

With the ever-vigilant likes of The Heritage Foundation continuing to promulgate debt/deficit hysteria using what they openly call “A toy economic model,”  “a back-of-the-envelope calculation,” stating outright that “the numbers and events used in this model were made up” (they call themselves an academic think tank?), it seemed like time to revisit the big picture of American government debt and deficit since the last great depression.

Here’s the make-believe story Heritage wants to tell:

Here are the actual facts on the ground over eight decades:

In the 35 years following World War II, (some) Republicans and (mostly) Democrats steadily and responsibly reduced government debt from 130% to 45% of GDP. (And worth noticing: that 130% figure preceded two decades of the fastest prosperity growth in American history.)

Then came 1980. The Reagan/Republican revolution. Aside from a brief respite under Clinton, government debt has been heading rapidly north ever since.

Debt was reduced under every president since World War II, with three exceptions: Reagan, Bush, and Bush. (And Obama, who had the numerator, GDP, pulled out from under him before he even set foot in the oval office.)

Eighty years of history tells us one thing for certain: if you want to get debt under control, don’t rely on the Red-Ink Republicans.

 Cross-posted at Angry Bear.

Red-State Teat-Sucking Rendered Invisible. Conservatives Howl Tyranny.

July 17th, 2012 3 comments

In response to this graphic in my reprised post from yesterday:

Commenter rjs points us to this depressing Economist post — the government data source for this graphic has gone dark, part of the Obama administration’s cost-cutting measures.

The real irony I discover, though, is to find right-wingers at The Heritage Foundation screaming about the Obama administration’s hypocrisy and opacity for cutting that budget item (which they would undoubtedly label “redundant” and “wasteful” if it hadn’t been cut).

With the Obama Administration outspending all prior Administrations while adding to the astronomical federal debt, the fact that taxpayers can no longer rely on access to where and how their money is being spent at the county and city level is disquieting. So far, Administration officials have been able to brush the lack of transparency under the rug. For the good of the country, that needs to change. Citizens should demand to know what is happening to their tax dollars once they are sucked up by the federal government’s vacuum cleaner.

Indeed — including which states, exactly, are doing the sucking.

Another example:

The Transparently Hypocritical Barack Obama | RedState

You just can’t make this shit up.

Cross-posted at Angry Bear.

Karl Smith: Why Is The US Government Still Collecting Taxes? THE DEFICIT EARNS A PROFIT!!!

July 15th, 2012 3 comments

I hesitate to excerpt from this because it says it all so well and so briefly. But:

…the more taxes the US government collects, the more money it loses.

When the US government declines to sell a 10 year Treasury bill at a real rate interest rate of –0.57 percent it is agreeing to pay, to the bond market a fixed rate of 0.57 percent over the next ten years. …

Now you say, sure but interest rates can turn [on] you. And, they absolutely can. But, at minimum you must recognize that you are arguing that the US government enter into an interest rate swap with the Global Financial system because [you that] your intuition about the path of interest rates is superior to that of the Global Bond Market. 

And, be aware, the Counterparty in this swap is folks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and yes Barclay Capital.

Are you sure that you want to buy this swap?

Why Is The US Government Still Collecting Taxes?: Should Lambs Lay Down With Lions Edition – Forbes

Cross-posted at Angry Bear

Are Conservatives Deluded About Their Happiness?

July 8th, 2012 2 comments

Arthur C. Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute does the usual uninformed thing this week in his NYT op-ed, Conservatives Are Happier, and Extremists Are Happiest of All.

He cites the well-known and long-standing research showing that conservatives report themselves to be happier than liberals. (I was not aware, though, that moderates are the least happy of all. Makes sense to me. Bryan Caplan has made the strong case that ideology is a valued good — something people will sacrifice time and money to acquire and maintain. Unhappy moderates suggests that rigid and extreme ideologies are more valued.)

But Brooks skips two key facts:

1. There are two ways to measure self-reported happiness. A. Ask people randomly in the course of the day how they’re feeling. B. Ask them how they feel about their life in general, in retrospect and in prospect.

The results don’t correlate well at all. People are really bad at remembering how happy they were, and they’re even worse at predicting how happy they’ll be in a given situation. Brooks seems to be talking purely about the retrospective/prospective rather than in-the-moment research. (There’s been a lot more of the former than the latter.) This doesn’t invalidate the findings, but it does make you curious about conservatives’ (self-perceived and reported) happiness in the moment. How accurately do they remember and predict that happiness? Are they more self-deluded about their happiness?

That brings up the other point:

2. Those who are less happy are more accurate in perceiving the true facts in the world around them. For example: When pushing a button that supposedly affects a (randomly) blinking light, mildly depressed people are much more likely to say, “no, I had no effect on whether the light turned on.” Non-depressed people think they’re controlling the thing.

Brooks does the typical thing, arguing against the weakest counterargument (yes, some liberals have some very weak and stupid arguments):

“Liberals may be less happy than conservatives because they are less ideologically prepared to rationalize (or explain away) the degree of inequality in society.”

So liberals’ realistic perception of inequality is what  makes them less happy. Yeah, right. How about instead: they’re more realistic about  the frequent cruelty and random evil and misery that the world offers up. They understand that God is either omnipotent or compassionate, but clearly not both.

This makes me wonder: is a self-perception of being happy a more valued good for conservatives than for liberals? Or, does reporting themselves to be happy make conservatives happier than it does liberals?