Monday, September 14, 2009


Last week, regular reader Spiral, who I shall forever remember as Mark from Colorado, linked to an article by the WSJ's Peter Ferrara. It was so good I thought I'd post some exerpts here:


by Peter Ferrara, September 11, 2009.

"From the beginning, our representatives in Washington have approached this economic downturn with old-fashioned, Keynesian economics. Keynesianism—named after the British economist John Maynard Keynes—is the theory that you fight an economic downturn by pumping money into the economy to "encourage demand" and "create jobs." The result of our recent Keynesian stimulus bills? The longest recession since World War II—21 months and counting—with no clear end in sight. Borrowing close to a trillion dollars out of the private economy to increase government spending by close to a trillion dollars does nothing to increase incentives for investment and entrepreneurship.

The record speaks for itself: In February 2008, President George W. Bush cut a deal with congressional Democrats to pass a $152 billion Keynesian stimulus bill based on countering the recession with increased deficits. The centerpiece was a tax rebate of up to $600 per person, which had no significant effect on economic incentives, as reductions in tax rates do.

Learning nothing from this Keynesian failure, which he vigorously supported from the U.S. Senate, President Barack Obama came back in February 2009 to support a $787 billion, purely Keynesian stimulus bill.

Even the tax-cut portion of that bill, which Mr. Obama is still wildly touting to the public, was purely Keynesian. The centerpiece was a $400-per-worker tax credit, which, again, has no significant effect on economic incentives. While Mr. Obama is proclaiming that this delivered on his campaign promise to cut taxes for 95% of Americans, the tax credit disappears after next year.

The Obama administration is claiming success, not because of recovery, but because of the slowdown in economic decline. Last month, just 216,000 jobs were lost, and the economy declined by only 1% in the second quarter. Based on his rhetoric, Mr. Obama expects credit for anyone who still has a job.

The fallacies of Keynesian economics were exposed decades ago by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Keynesian thinking was then discredited in practice in the 1970s, when the Keynesians could neither explain nor cure the double-digit inflation, interest rates, and unemployment that resulted from their policies. Ronald Reagan's decision to dump Keynesianism in favor of supply-side policies—which emphasize incentives for investment—produced a 25-year economic boom. That boom ended as the Bush administration abandoned every component of Reaganomics one by one, culminating in Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's throwback Keynesian stimulus in early 2008..."

I'm not gonna rip off Baron Keynes completely. Back in the day he published The Means to Prosperity (1933) and especially his magnum opus the General Theory on Employment, Interest and Money (1936), two works which inspired the Roosevelt Administration to continue on the interventionist path already chosen under President Hoover, the flaws of his theories had yet to manifest themselves. After all, there had been no precedent.

The current administration does not have that excuse. There IS a precedent. The New Deal's total failure, an outcome which, handily for leftitst, was effectively overshadowed by Roosevelts steadfast, courageous and successful leadership during World War II.

Over at DowneastBlog, we've always been true acolytes of Von Mises, Hayek and Friedman. And it is in their theories that lies salvation for the West's economic woes.


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