Sunday, August 31, 2008

Change We Dare Not Believe In: Audacity of Hype

Economist Thomas Sowell unloads on Obama.

9 Comments:

At 8/31/2008 4:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very little economics in the article...I guess the election fever is on :-)

 
At 8/31/2008 6:09 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Very little economics in the article"...

ROFLMAO!

So what's this? "Despite the incessantly repeated mantra of "change," Barack Obama's politics is as old as the New Deal and he is behind the curve when it comes to today's economy.

Senator Obama's statement that "our economy is in turmoil" is standard stuff on the left and in the mainstream media, which has been dying to use the word "recession."

Not only has the economic slowdown failed to reach the definition of a recession, the most recent data show the U.S. economy growing at a rate exceeding 3 percent-- a rate that many European economies would die for, despite our being constantly urged to imitate those countries whose end results are not as good as ours.
"...

Its called the most basic lesson in economics, observation of real conditions...

 
At 8/31/2008 11:27 AM, Anonymous QT said...

"You must be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi

Sound familiar?

A self-made man with a mere 3 years Senate experience, and no major legislative achievements is running for the most important job in the free world on the basis that he is a nice person who "asks good questions"?

Given the number of times, this messiahic leader changes positions do we have any idea what he would actually do?

Still more changes (oops, nuances) in the change you need.

 
At 8/31/2008 3:05 PM, Blogger randian said...

We need more of that kind of commentary.

 
At 8/31/2008 5:50 PM, Blogger the buggy professor said...

Though I agree with Mark that our economy has done much better than most media coverage portrays its recent performance --- a testimony to its remarkable flexibility and efficiency, a result of several decades of desirable change --- I don't share the concerns about Obama's tax and spending plans voiced by him or Sowell (another very good social scientist like Mark) or the most of the posters in this thread.

And though I don't expect to alter anyone's opinion of those plans, I would like to underscore two or three points that might add some perspective on your concerns.

...

1) Obama has assembled an impressive group of economic advisers --- not far-out left-wing zealots, let alone socialists. They include Austin Goolsbee, a professor in the University of Chicago's economics department --- not know for harboring socialists, and three highly respected specialists at the Brookings Institute and Harvard . . . as well as financial wizards like Richard Rubin, Bill Clinton's first Secretary of the Treasury.

Greg Mankiw of Harvard, a former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the first George W. Bush administration, has openly praised these advisers.

Click here: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&refer=politics&sid=a7Zdp3HDltW4

....

2) Mankiw's predecessor as Chairman of the CEA, Glenn Hubbard of Columbia, also openly praised Goolsbee . . . though, alas, a google search didn't bring the link up. I do recall reading it in the last few months.

.....

3) Alan Blinder, a professor of economics at Columbia --- and a former member of the Federal Reserve (Vice Chairman) --- has openly espoused Obama's plans for infra-structure and other federal spending . . . even as he reminds us, citing a very good book by a Princeton political scientist, that our economy has grown faster under Democratic administrations in the first term than under Republican ones, and for a long time.

Click here for Blinder's views and a summary by a good economist (linked to at the Marginal Revolution by Mark Perry's former Ph.D. superviser, Tyler Cowan . . . a convinced libertarian):

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2008/08/the-great-parti.html

Cowan, I should add, frequently cites Mark Thoma, the economist in question.

......

3) Mark has just cited a good commentary by Ben Stein, a conservative who is regularly used by the NY Times. Well, here is a different take on a Stein commentary on Obama. Take it or leave it: as I say, I don't expect to change anybody's views --- only, I hope, encourage less slamming of the opposition with name-calling and excessive fears, and more thoughtful criticism of Obama's plans.

Click here for the parsing of the Stein comment (not the sound one that Mark himself linked to: thanks Mark, a good link!):

http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/market-movers/2008/08/31/ben-stein-watch-august-31-2008?tid=true



....

4) Oh, as for which presidents and party in control of Congress --- Republicans or Democrats --- have run the biggest fiscal deficits and added the most to national debt (a big concern for many of you, not for me as things stand), it turns out that Republican presidents since the start of Nixon's presidency and especially Reagan (with a Republican Senate) have been the worst offenders.

.....

5) To repeat, Obama's intended programs are hardly perfect --- but then (to the extent we know them) neither are McCain's. And I for one think that a major fiscal spending shift to infrastructure would do more good for the country's economy in the next decade would be a big boon for the right kind of sustained growth in the future.

The same is true of subsidies aimed at weaning us off imported oil from utterly corrupt gangster-regimes in the Middle East . . . the same imports funding the aggressive behavior and threats posed by anti-democratic autocratic regimes in Russia and Iran, which otherwise would be basket-economies.

As for energy subsidies, remember: we do not live in a world of competitive free markets: not at home, not in the international arena. The Bush administration has spent tens of billions of dollars on oil, gas, nuclear energy, and coal subsidies in this decade; and proposed $18 billion additionally for that industry this spring.

To analyze global oil markets as free-markets in the light of such distortions and spillovers --- OPEC (a cartel that would be illegal in all democratic industrial countries) and enormous subsidies spent by Republican presidents and Congresses (when they controlled it) --- strikes me as unsound, even unwise.

......

Michael Gordon, AKA, the buggy professor

P.S. As I tried to convince my students, undergrad and grad, before I retired at UCSB four years ago, you need --- in a productive debate between clashing viewpoints --- to be able to summarize fairly the other guy's position(s) as a starting point. If you can do that, you can then pin down concretely where you differ, how seriously, and why.

At which point, hopefully, the disputes won't be settled, but enlightened and maybe even narrowed in their clashing views.

 
At 8/31/2008 9:30 PM, Anonymous QT said...

Buggy Prof.,

I consider Alan Blinder to be a crackpot of the first order. Mankiw on the other hand, is fairly balanced.

The problem with Obama is that he has received a free pass-go by a left leaning media. When the Clintons raised legitimate questions about his scant record in the senate, Obama played the race card. The result is that the best qualified candidate with the greatest potential to win was passed over in favor of a very poorly qualified candidate. It is inconceivable that Obama would have been selected if he were a white man based on this record.

Neither Goolsbee nor Rubin are running for president of the U.S. Would either consider withdrawing from NAFTA or engage in such pandering? Ultimately, it is the president not the advisors who makes the decisions.

On foreign policy, Obama has chosen Joe Biden who proposed partitioning Iraq. How long would an Iraq split 3 ways last before it was cannibalized by its neighbours? Senator Obama has suggested that he would meet with the leaders of countries like Iran with no preconditions, an idea so inconceivably stupid that even he has tried to nuance his way out of it.

You're right. Senator McCain & the Republicans are no prize.

It seems to be a choice between the lesser of 2 evils.

 
At 8/31/2008 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm quite pleased that the Dr. Sowell corrected the prevailing paradigm that FDR's economic policies were effective and broke the Depression.

I always felt FDR sowed the seeds of socialism and elitism that would later threaten our nation's existence.

The "new deal" - particularly the ponzi-scheme-like social security program will become the "Raw deal" if it hasn't already.

Obama is everything bad of FDR's reign and none of the good. At least Obama hasn't hinted he would pack the Supreme Court like FDR tried.

 
At 8/31/2008 10:44 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Oh buggy professor, there are so many questionable points to your comment...

Maybe it was due to your comments that Professor Mark posted this: DAVY CROCKETT'S "NOT YOURS TO GIVE" SPEECH IN CONGRESS

If Austin Goolsbee is such a sharp individual and doesn't harbor any socialist tendencies, then why did he allow himself to be caught up in the NAFTA is off, no wait just kidding problem with Canada?

"three highly respected specialists at the Brookings Institute and Harvard"...

Hmmm, the bedrock of leftist, ivy league madrassas... Not a choice that gives me any comfort...

"The same is true of subsidies aimed at weaning us off imported oil from utterly corrupt gangster-regimes in the Middle East . . . the same imports funding the aggressive behavior and threats posed by anti-democratic autocratic regimes in Russia and Iran, which otherwise would be basket-economies"

WHOA there big boy!

Have you considered why we are importing so much oil when we have our own massive supplies of energy?

Maybe buggy professor you should talk to some of those Harvard educated Dems and other assorted liberals about why they continually prevented drilling on the continental shelf, eh?

"has openly espoused Obama's plans for infra-structure and other federal spending . . . even as he reminds us, citing a very good book by a Princeton political scientist, that our economy has grown faster under Democratic administrations in the first term than under Republican ones, and for a long time"...

ROFLMAO!

If both Harvard and Princeton are homes to such learned individuals such as this socialist economics professor who's made an attempt to whitewash Democrat domestic policy then explain why either institution would hire a clown like Cornel West...

"Oh, as for which presidents and party in control of Congress --- Republicans or Democrats --- have run the biggest fiscal deficits and added the most to national debt (a big concern for many of you, not for me as things stand), it turns out that Republican presidents since the start of Nixon's presidency and especially Reagan (with a Republican Senate) have been the worst offenders"...

Hmmm, it couldn't be the fault of the socialist nanny state starting with FDR and given added impetus by LBJ where the big money is wasted, could it?

I note how you didn't mention the reasons for the alledged fiscal deficits was for defense spending...

So buggy professor, what part of the US Constitution mandates federal interference in retirement programs, medical, educational, housing, agricultural, or automotive or the myriad other sectors of the economy?

The federal government is extorting wealth from those who make the economy work and pandering to the parasites that drag the economy down...

 
At 9/01/2008 8:56 AM, Anonymous QT said...

Buggy Professor,

Would like to know what economist supports a windfall profits tax or considers the foreign tax credit a tax loophole.

How about an economist who endorses fully refundable tax credits to folks who currently pay no taxes (Senator Obama calls creatively refers to these tax credits as tax cuts).

Would also like to meet the economist who thinks the U.S. should unilaterally withdraw from NAFTA. (aside from Alan Blinder, that is)

How many economists support giving tax cuts to 95% of America's middle class as outlined in Senator Obama's acceptance speech...or know where the money would come from to finance it?

Senator Obama is using 2 reputable economists to give himself some needed credibility.

Here's the plan. Does it look like the work of Alan Goolsbee or Robert Rubin to you?

 

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