Tag Archives: american spectator

Economists vs. Economics

Are economists ruining economics? Over at the American Spectator, I say why that may well be be the case. Key points:

-Economists can’t even predict whether the stock market will go up or down tomorrow. Yet many economists tell everyone who will listen that they know how to solve the financial crisis and dig out of a near-global recession. No wonder people aren’t taking them as seriously as they used to.

-Economics isn’t the problem. The economic way of thinking is as powerful a tool as any for understanding the world around us. But it has its limits. Too many economists have pretended those limits away out hubris, or for political reasons.

-Any economist saying he understands global business cycles when he can’t even understand the pencil poking out of his breast pocket is a charlatan. But the discipline he dishonors is as beautiful as poetry. Interested readers should take a look at Leonard Read’s classic short essay, “I, Pencil,” as a case in point.

Will the Jobs Bill Create Any Jobs?

Over at the American Spectator, I explain why it won’t, but a deregulatory stimulus would. Main points:

-Anything that Washington giveth, it must first taketh away from somewhere else. The jobs bill is a zero-sum game.

-When government borrows more, less investment capital is left over for the productive sector.

-Taxes will have to be raised later to pay for today’s increased borrowing.

-Deregulation is a better approach. The biggest obstacles to job creation and economic growth are all in Washington.

Unfunded Mandates

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Today’s American Spectator Online has a piece by CEI VP Wayne Crews and I on curbing Congressional abuse of  unfunded mandates. If the term is new to you, unfunded mandates are basically an accounting gimmick that lets government understate how much it costs taxpayers:

rather than fund a new federal job training program through a Department of Labor appropriation, Congress could mandate that all Fortune 500 firms provide, and pay for, such training. The first appears on the federal budget, the second does not. For politicians, it’s the perfect scheme. The government can spend — or, rather, force other people to spend — as much as it wants without adding to the deficit.

Decency demands this trickery stop; a bill from Rep. Virginia Foxx looks like it would do some good on that front.