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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Economics 101 at Harvard...

Must be a complete waste of time.

I know, I know. Who the hell am I to make such a claim?

Well, I apparently know more about economics than a senior Economics lecturer at Harvard.  He says to cut taxes but not increase spending in order to end or moderate the current recession.  And anyone who has taken even a basic Economics class at any university (or possibly even in High School) will be able to tell you that both methods are effective at minimizing recessions.

I understand he's saying not just to spend on insane projects, which I completely agree with, but his idea of what is an insane project seems to encompass everything.  Instead of increasing spending to repair failing bridges, highways, and roads, he wants to implement more tolls and higher tolls during rush hour.  Yes, this is definitely a good help for a battered economy where millions are struggling to survive as is.  New & Higher tolls will definitely help those people.  Oh, and how about we repeal some wage laws for construction and dangerous jobs too.  Make sure those poor people get poorer by both lowering their salary and increasing their expenses.

Spend some money on research for renewable fuels.  Who could argue with such a thing?  Well, Jeffrey A. Miron for one.  He says the appropriate policy is not increased research for renewable fuels, but raising taxes on fossil fuels, which will enhance the private sector's incentive to do the research on renewable fuels themselves.  The private sector in this case would be mostly oil and energy companies.  Do they really care if you raise the taxes? Nope.  They just pass on the taxes directly to the consumer.  Another case of adding to all American's expenses. Oh, and this won't increase any research at the same time it does this.  This is a horrid idea.

Education? No, don't spend more money there either.  He does make some good points about eliminating policies that limit efficiency (No Child Left Behind, anyone?), but at the same time, more spending on education in this country would be a good thing.  That's investment in the future and a huge step forward in eliminating at least some of the crazy hate speech by everyday Americans we saw so much of during the campaign season this year.  Standardized tests and funding based on "graduation" levels needs to go away.  If you want a reward system, randomly selected students from each district take a short essay test administered by each state, and reward based on the scores.  This prevents the whole "we'll pass you even though you're a brain dead moron, because we don't want to take a hit to our funding" crap that happens constantly under the current system.

I do agree that spending definitely needs to be done outside the normal scope.  We don't need 10,000 new Zoos. But repairing our highway and interstate systems is not a waste of money, and does put people to work and will help our economy.  Renewable energy will create long term jobs and will help us move away from OPEC oil. Ending the Iraq war would enable quite a bit to be done here at home, and increase the troop and equipment totals in Afghanistan, where we should be to begin with.  And while spending can "lag" in its effect to the economy, there are many projects already scouted out that can be started immediately.  They are sitting around, waiting on the go ahead from the government.  The "lag" would be 2-3 months at most.  And who really thinks we won't still be in need of some stimulus in March or April?

Oh, and I don't know who Mr. Miron is wanting to give these tax cuts too, but if it's the rich (as the Bush tax cuts were) they are pointless.  Reganomics and the "top down" ideas work great on paper, but fail in the real world.  The real world has something that paper tends to forget.  Greed.  You give a man who's made his millions in the cutthroat business/corporate world, do you really think he's going to allow that money to "trickle" down? He didn't become a success and a millionaire by allowing his money to trickle away from him.  Oh yeah, you Regan fans should remember, he spent tax money like crazy, more than tripling our national debt during his Presidency.