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Government and Employment

Elections are primarily driven by the Economy. For all the grand speeches and important issues, every election starts and depends most on the voters' sense of their welfare. This observation led directly to the subsequent observation that the United States would exist as a free and functioning nation only up to the point that Congress began buying elections by promising voters they could have whatever they wanted at someone else's expense. The arguments between the major parties have generally been built on the accusation by one party that the other does not care about the average American, but is hurting the nation to benefit a few. Some of these charges have been true, but more often this claim is not true, even where the intent of the action is such. Economics is like weather, in that you can understand some of what is going on, but never to the point that you can precisely predict what it will do, and claiming to control the economy is as laughable as the king in the fable who imagined he could command the waves to stop.

The present economic condition is a prime example. The Democrats in general and President Obama in particular, have discovered all too late a political liability in the continuing unemployment figures. As the possibility of losing control of the House and Senate has crept towards probability, the Democrats have finally begun to consider how to address the problems their own policies made. This is not to say that the initial recession was their doing; recessions happen from time to time, and a review of the past shows that neither Republicans nor Democrats have been able to prevent their occurrence. However, it is possible to reduce the length and severity of a recession sometimes, and to make it worse as well. The best example of this would be the Great Depression, a serious recession made worse by the foolish policies of both President Hoover and President Roosevelt (each chose an extreme solution that led to unintended consequences) The mistakes made by Hoover were built on the assumption that government did not need to do anything, while Roosevelt's mistake was that anything government did would help. It seems likely to me that Barack Obama sees a parallel between himself and FDR (and he likely considers his predecessor as a new version of Hoover, as well), and hopes to enjoy the same political dominance that Roosevelt held. The problem here, is that FDR served in government for a long time before he became President of the United States, including time as Governor of New York, which presents issues in rather large scale for an executive, so FDR had relevant experience which helped him recognize blunders and redirect his efforts.

President Obama inherited a recession, this is true. However, the recession was relatively mild, and most economists (the serious ones, not the ones who chase television stations and go hunting for book deals) say the recession itself actually ended earlier this year. The problem is that the jobs never came back, and we have to ask why. For that, we go back to the Depression era. The Depression is not often examined carefully for cause. Most people assume it was due to the stock market crash of 1929, but if so you would have to ask why. The value of a stock is subjective but does not directly change substance. If the price of a stock drops, say 25%, does that mean the company now has 25% fewer jobs, or that 25% of its sales orders have been cancelled? Not directly, no. The effect of a change in the stock market, then, is tied to the financial structure of the company's relationship with creditors and its banks, but more directly it influences confidence. If a single company loses 25% of its stock price while its competitors maintain their value, then the public is likely to perceive that company as less stable and weaker, and that loss of confidence will cost it new orders and cause the company to cut costs. When a whole industry loses stock value, the effect is magnified subjectively even though the company is still level with its competitors; if the public believes the industry is sound it will continue to support it, but if they lose confidence the entire industry will suffer.

[ continued below the fold ]

The present economic condition was created through three principle causes - the housing market bubble burst, the financial market crisis from CDOs, and stagnant strategy from the U.S. government. The job loss was due at first directly to the first two causes, and has not recovered due to the third. The housing market crisis is the first cause, because most Americans consider their home their primary financial investment - if the house loses value, then their investments are not safe and they cannot count on any system for financial security. This leads directly to reduced spending on luxuries and discretionary costs, like going to restaurants or taking family trips to places like Disney World. It also means keeping old cars longer before buying a new one, not buying clothes and appliances if that can be put off, and in general an economic slowdown. If consumers stop buying, the economy slows, and that is too strong a force to ignore or imagine that government can control. It should be noted at this point, that nothing done by the Obama Administration has been directed at improving consumer confidence. What improvement has occurred, has happened in spite of his policies.

The problem in restoring jobs, is that this needs corporate confidence, the buy-in by business owners at all levels to the concept that they will profit by hiring more people, and by increasing wages to keep their key employees. When the economy begins to fail, companies begin cutting costs and one of the most controllable costs for companies is payroll. Hours are cut, wages are frozen or cut, and in many cases a sustained economic downturn leads to layoffs. In every case, however, a weaker economy means less job growth and people find themselves displaced. While governments are quick to condemn layoffs, outsourcing and other measures which increase unemployment, those actions happen for economic reasons and will end only when the conditions are addressed which caused them. To bring jobs back, business owners and boards of directors must be convinced that they can afford to do so, and that there are sales increases to justify the increased expense. When government actions threaten higher taxes, obstruction of business opportunity, penalties for apparent political orientation or simply being a target for a politician's campaign strategy, businesses will choose to avoid the risk and control costs.

There are three driving forces at work in the present situation regarding unemployment. The first is the obvious fact that President Obama's actions have ignored unemployment, or made conditions worse by attacking major potential employers. The second is that Republicans, sensing significant opportunity in the fall midterm elections and bitter about the contemptible treatment they have received from the most partisan President since Nixon, have for the most part decided to let Obama and the Democrats receive the due consequences of their decision. And the third force is the nature of the economy itself. The American economy in general has been shifting from manufacturing to service for decades, and we are now seeing the effects of that transition in the lack of ability of many workers to transition to the new demand.

The most recent bill of debate has been the option to extend the amount of unemployment benefits. Those in favor of the bill argue for it on compassionate grounds, while those against it observe that extending those benefits will not help the majority of unemployed, will not help the underemployed at all, and the bill does nothing to improve employment conditions. In fact, since employers will bear part of the cost of extended benefits, such a bill increases costs for employers and therefore further reduces the opportunity for companies to hire new employees. The bill then is largely superficial in effect, and may be said to do more harm than good to the nation as a whole.

The argument has also been put forward that government money should be used to help the unemployed, but that argument fails on principle. Money has to come from someplace, and so benefits paid by government agencies must come from public revenues through the government bureaucracy, and so the amount provided to beneficiaries will be significantly less than the amount taken from the public to provide those benefits; holistically the government action is parasitic and does more harm than good by definition. The action is morally valid only to the extent that something should be done for a limited time to reduce the difficulties which unemployed workers suffer, but the focus must always be on the limited and temporary nature of such benefits, in order to create incentive for the unemployed person to find a new position. The most effective incentive will always be the knowledge that the safety net is not permanent, not comfortable. I speak from personal knowledge, having been on unemployment in the past and all too aware that the clock was running. It's not enjoyable or an experience I would recommend to anyone, but even so the limit to duration and amount is important and valid.

Finally, it is important to consider the role of different bodies in the use of governmental power. Neither liberals or conservatives, Republicans nor Democrats, enjoy perfect knowledge of how government should operate in all cases and situations. It is therefore vital for a discussion, even debate, to continue on specific actions the government may take or consider, in ever aspect of the public welfare. We should be able to agree that as situations change, perspectives on all the major issues develop from former positions to more considered or sometimes evolved opinions. Accordingly, for all the strong emotion present in our debates, it is important to listen to the other side and consider what they offer. Even if rejected, the dialogue and respectful consideration of alternatives is a quality much in need and short in supply.


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Comments (40)

The start of the current re... (Below threshold)

The start of the current recession can be laid at the feet of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid et al. The Democrat take over of the Congress laid the foundations for all of what is happening now. How? Simple. The increase in the minimum wage that was instituted when they regained the majority in the Congress starting in January of 2007.

Granted the Republicans went along with this idiocy and can share part of the blame. President Bush could have stopped the wage hike dead in its tracks by simply vetoing the bill. The Dems did not have the majority to override the veto. That was proved with later spending bills the Congress sent up to Bush

Stan, raising the minimum w... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Stan, raising the minimum wage from $5.35 to $7.15 did not cause the recession. What a silly thing to say. Unserious.

Mr Drummond, pretty good article. Although there are points I disagree with, at least it was well thought out and didn't rely quite so much on naked, unsupported assertion as some of your other pieces.

But I have one quibble, Mr I-used-to-be-an-English-major. If you put something in parentheses, it's not necessary to italicise it, too. Just saying.

In this discussion, it is g... (Below threshold)

In this discussion, it is good to remember five words that I first heard in reference to a third world country:
"Government employment is hidden unemployment."

The present econom... (Below threshold)
jim m:
The present economic condition was created through three principle causes - the housing market bubble burst, the financial market crisis from CDOs, and stagnant strategy from the U.S. government.

Agreed. However, one could claim that items 1 and 2 are very nearly the same. The housing bubble caused the government to react by punishing lenders. That in turn lead to restrictions on lending that have exacerbated the problem rather than easing it.

The government has gone for the typical big government solution when faced with a problem: stop bad things from happening by applying regulatory measures that prevent any potential risks from being taken. The result is that the economy has remained in a torpor with key players such as lenders unwilling to resume business in anything but the most risk averse manner.

The market is based on risk. Politicians until recently have tried to sell the public that if elected they can create a life free of any risks. Markets reward successful risk taking. The government by penalizing risk taking up front has circumvented the market and hampered the recovery.

While in the past the government would have played a lesser role, this time they have tried to step in, freeze the state of play in the market, prevent even the most mismanaged of companies from failing and in doing so has prevented the market from efficiently adsorbing losses and redistributing risks.

Additionally, corrupt politicians have seized upon this to reward various constituencies and donors. This is not merely a one sided affair. Both parties have blundered in supporting the auto bailout and TARP. These measures were born of panic and have failed to achieve the best results. For anyone suspecting that the auto bailout was a success I would suggest looking at the performance of Ford, which refused the bailout and has done far better than either GM or Chrysler.

Over and over we are seeing demonstrated that bailouts are only postponing the inevitable restructure of business and finances. In drawing out this process it is also making it far more expensive. Even Europe is falling into this trap with politicians fearing to do what is necessary and bailing our Greece. A far better situation would be to abandon the Euro in an orderly fashion and return to the former currencies where exchange rates would adjust allowing for the comparative differences in economic health of nations and thereby allowing for sick economies to recover rather than continuing to be crushed under the weight of their debt.

Mr. Drummond,I hav... (Below threshold)

Mr. Drummond,

I have to disagree with your statement:

"The mistakes made by Hoover were built on the assumption that government did not need to do anything..."

Actually, Mr. Hoover, an engineer, felt that he could influence the economy through government action. He proposed big government projects to put people to work (Boulder Dam is now call Hoover Dam for a reason). He, and his party, raised taxes in 1931 and he signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff bill in 1931 to "protect American workers" from foreign competition.

The "Laissez faire" myth is taught by uneducated history professors in order to justify FDR's actions and, often, their own ideology.

I can of course prove nearl... (Below threshold)

I can of course prove nearly every single statement in this article wrong. But DJ has previously warned that any attempt to do so will result in that comment being erased.

If he changes his mind and makes that not the case, I'm happy to move forward.

SER,The fear of la... (Below threshold)
Rick Caird:


The fear of laissez faire brings up the comment by Ludwig von Mises:

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of mans fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action."

That is the great conundrum for all who advocate more government regulation: How, exactly, do you know that people who are least familiar with the general area can actually regulate well rather than making any situation worse.

We have just seen a stimulus that failed to stimulate anything other than increasing debt. But, that only comes as a surprise to politicians and Keynesians.

Jim X,It is doubtf... (Below threshold)
Rick Caird:

Jim X,

It is doubtful you can refute a single statement let alone "prove nearly every single statement in this article wrong".

However, if you supply us with the url of your blog where you do this, I will be happy to read it. Otherwise it is merely an empty, but arrogant, boast.

Jim MI think DJ ha... (Below threshold)
Rick Caird:

Jim M

I think DJ has confused CDO's with MBS's. CDO's were not a major problem, mortgages were. We can also throw in the mispriced Credit Default Swaps of AIG as another major problem.

To follow on from an earlier post, government is unable, over any significant period of time, to adequately regulate anything. Government is unable to purchase and/or develop the talent and expertise to understand any developing industry. Government was unable to regulate CDO's, CDS's, and MBS's because they did not understand them. The regulator could not keep up with the regulated.

MMS could not regulate BP because they had no deep water well engineers or detailed experience. Any disagreements came from Haliburton and TransOcean, not MMS. I am beginning to look upon regulation as little more than a "best practices" manual that is constantly out of date and being renegotiated by the regulated.

I am glad to see you state "Markets are based on risk". That is the way it should be, but sadly, all too often markets are based on government interference. Citi should have come down (more than once). It should not be propped up. AIG should have been partitioned. The insurance and annuity business should have been sold off as a going concern. Everything else should have gone bankrupt.

As it is now, and it is in this latest financial horror of a bill, risk is not going away. It is being minimized and swept under the table ultimately to be borne by us, the taxpayers. As Milton Friedman warned, we are placing losses on the taxpayers and allowing profits to remain with the companies.

In other cases, we have companies such as GE coming to government to subsidize wind and solar so these companies can earn, via government, what they cannot earn in the marketplace. Where is the risk in that?

You are right in pointing out that when government steps in there is corruption and inevitably a costly delay in the ultimate solution. Losses not taken today become much bigger losses to be taken in the future. With failure comes pain, but our system now wants to defer pain. That just does not work for long. Pain is an educator and a measure of risk.

The more government does, the more it attempts to defer the consequences. Warren tells us we have $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare. So, what do we do? We run huge current deficits so we can "stimulate" the economy and defer the current pain a while longer. All the while ignoring the sword of Damocles.

Which brings us back to DJ's opening sentence (with a slight modification). Elections are about the apparent state of the economy. So, pain gets deferred for two more years. But, then there is the next election.

Rick,Markets are i... (Below threshold)
jim m:


Markets are indeed based on Risk. Governments intervene in markets to either increase (to dissuade certain activities) or reduce risk (to encourage certain activities). Government intervention does not alter the basic way the market functions it only alters the specifics of that function.

Of course it would seem that obama believes it to be his prerogative to control the market completely, or to eliminate it if he so chooses.

Wow, Mr Drummond, 10 hours ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Wow, Mr Drummond, 10 hours after you post and only ten comments so far?

Wonder why that is.

Hint: People love conflict. And they don't like cowards or bullies.

Well, Bruce - my son came b... (Below threshold)

Well, Bruce - my son came back from scout camp, my father (in an assisted living facility) needed to go out to varisou places, and then we had to do the weekly shopping, put together dinner, and then enjoy time together, ending up with the Van Gogh episode of Dr. Who.

Real life just sometimes has priority, ya know?

"Wow, Mr Drummond, 10 hours... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"Wow, Mr Drummond, 10 hours after you post and only ten comments so far?

Wonder why that is."

Everyone is out watching the World Cup of course!

Oh, okay.... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Oh, okay.

The housing bubble AND the ... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

The housing bubble AND the valuation problems with both MBSs and CDOs were directly the result of federal interference in the housing market, beginning with CRA and later with forcing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to back the subprime lending explosion. Republicans might have stopped this, but were weak and afraid of the inevitable cries of "RAAAAACISM!!!!!1!" if they did, so they bear partial responsibility. The terrible policies were Democratic ideas, though.

I don't really see how more dialogue would help. Democrats are stuck somewhere between the New Deal, Euro-socialism, and the sayings of Chairman Mao. They have no ideas which have not already been proven abjectly incorrect.

Not that Republicans are coming forth with bold new ideas - or even old ideas never tried - either. We are stuck with the single solution of tax cuts. Now, while the Bush tax cuts should be made permanent, and allowing them to expire will likely prove an albatross around any recovery's neck, they will eventually reach the point of diminishing returns.

When the top marginal rates were 90%, or 70%, or 50%, there were great economic gains to be made by reducing them. The lower the top marginal rates go, though, the less benefits available from rate reductions. Obviously, if we reduce rates to 0% we also reduce the revenue they produce to zero as well.

Nobody will speak seriously about the elephant in the corner of the room: spending. Government at all levels spends far too much, has made promises of future benefits it cannot possibly pay for, and refuses to even truthfully assess the long-term fiscal impact of budgetary policies.

Until we are willing to address spending in a serious way - NOT "cutting the rate of spending growth" or "reducing pension benefits for new hires" - we are only dealing with temporary stopgap solutions. The elephant in the room isn't going away (he's already way too big to get through the door), and keeps getting fatter until one day he will just crush us all, and it will be too late to talk about a diet plan for him.

As requested, here's my sta... (Below threshold)

As requested, here's my start at the pretty large task of proving wrong every statement I disagree with in this article.


I admit I may have overstated the case by saying "every statement" - but not by much.

BH - "Stan, raising t... (Below threshold)

BH - "Stan, raising the minimum wage from $5.35 to $7.15 did not cause the recession. What a silly thing to say. Unserious."

No, but I bet the age group between 18-25 having nearly double the unemplyment rate of the current 9.6 is a result of the higher minumum wage.

So, BH. Please explain how... (Below threshold)

So, BH. Please explain how it is possible for raising the minimum wage to NOT put people out of work?

Companies are not charities.

Didn't say that, Ryan.... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Didn't say that, Ryan.

I said that raising the minimum wage did not cause the recession, as Stan asserted.

I also didn't say, Jester Marc, that the higher minimum wage is not a factor in higher unemployment for the demographic you mention.

But, both you guys, don't let me NOT saying something deprive you of the pleasure of arguing with it. Knock yourselves out, geniuses.

I followed Jim X over to hi... (Below threshold)
Rick Caird:

I followed Jim X over to his web site where he posted his disagreements with DJ. So far, it is a pretty unimpressive effort. I added a couple of coments.


Yes, it's still a work in p... (Below threshold)

Yes, it's still a work in progress. I'll charge through the rest of it tonight.

But as to why raising minim... (Below threshold)

But as to why raising minimum wages doesn't necessarily increase unemployment - basically it's the Keynesian principle in practice. More money for the poor who are earning the minimum wage = more money spent in the economy = more money trickling up to all businesses = more hiring.

The direct effects of raising minimum wages on unemployment is murky, with contrary evidence for both sides. Since the effect, if any, is very unclear in either way, the other positive effects of having a decent minimum wage are pretty undeniable reasons for having Here's an interesting article on that:


Mr. X,If "Stagflat... (Below threshold)

Mr. X,

If "Stagflation" in the 1970's didn't completely discredit Keynesian theory, doesn't the negative "multiplier" of President Obama's stimulus do the trick?

Since FDR's policies prove ... (Below threshold)

Since FDR's policies prove that Keynesian principles certainly work when properly applied, I don't see how the Carter-era stagflation can completely discredit them.

Especially as Bill Clinton's administration also reaffirm Keynesian principles pretty well, as they resulted in an 8-year continuous economic expansion (which started at least 3 years before the Internet began effecting the economy, just to cut that meme off at the knees).

However, I'll look into Stagflation and have a more direct answer as to what they mean for Keynesian principles.

This is at least an interes... (Below threshold)

This is at least an interesting Keynesian answer to stagflation:


First, it seems the cause of the 1970's stagflation is based on Nixon's attempt at wage and price controls, and then also the oil shock which began in 1973. I personally think that the beginning of manufacturing and steel production being shifted overseas also had a lot to do with it - that's a base of skilled, decently paying jobs lost to the middle class which still haven't returned.

Thus the main explanation for stagflation under a classical view of the economy is simply policy errors that affect both inflation and the labor market. Ironically, a very clear argument in favor of the classical explanation of stagflation was provided by Keynes himself. In 1919, John Maynard Keynes described the inflation and economic stagnation gripping Europe in his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace....Keynes explicitly pointed out the relationship between governments printing money and inflation.

"The inflationism of the currency systems of Europe has proceeded to extraordinary lengths. The various belligerent Governments, unable, or too timid or too short-sighted to secure from loans or taxes the resources they required, have printed notes for the balance."

So to solely try to rescue an economy via deficit spending, without also at least increasing revenue with taxes on the wealthiest OR loans, results in a combination of inflation with stagnation i.e. stagflation.

Keynes also pointed out how government price controls discourage production.

"The presumption of a spurious value for the currency, by the force of law expressed in the regulation of prices, contains in itself, however, the seeds of final economic decay, and soon dries up the sources of ultimate supply. If a man is compelled to exchange the fruits of his labors for paper which, as experience soon teaches him, he cannot use to purchase what he requires at a price comparable to that which he has received for his own products, he will keep his produce for himself, dispose of it to his friends and neighbors as a favor, or relax his efforts in producing it. A system of compelling the exchange of commodities at what is not their real relative value not only relaxes production, but leads finally to the waste and inefficiency of barter."

As to Carter's response, he didn't follow the specific methods of taxing the wealthiest to invest in work for the poor and middle class. He did okay, through the appointment of Paul Volcker, a restriction of the monetary policy which hurt the economy short term - (painfully for carter, during the 1980 campaign). The positive effects of this policy weren't felt until Reagan was in office - at which point he kept Volcker onboard.

Carter Wiki entry

Mr. X,My objective... (Below threshold)

Mr. X,

My objective measures (unemployment, GNP, etc.) FDR's policies were disastrous. The unemployment rate was over 10% until WW2. As FDR's Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, Jr. said, "I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. ... And an enormous debt to boot!" This was in May, 1939. I'm sorry, but I'll take FDR's Treasury Secretary's opinion of Keynesian economics over yours.

Mr. S,You are free... (Below threshold)

Mr. S,

You are free to take FDR's treasury secretary's word over FDR. However, I will take the word of not only FDR but also a majority of economists and economic historians up to the present decade, over Morgenthau's.

Especially as it was the Treasury under Morgenthau's attempt to stop using Keynesian principles and pay down the deficit, that was responsible for the 1937 dip.

I also don't see how it follows that the US' employment rate under FDR proves his policy was a failure - since a high unemployment rate was a consequence of the Great Depression. That, to me, sounds like saying a surgeon is a failure because a patient can't walk immediately after his leg was reattached.

And here it is - the fiskin... (Below threshold)

And here it is - the fisking of the 20 incorrect claims or implications in Drummonds post.


You may notice some repetition in answers. That's because a lot of what's wrong in Drummond's post is answerable by direct reference to

a) Keynesian economic principles, which are
b) provable in greatly improving our economy, with the Great Depression and the Clinton administration of 1992-2000 as good examples.

I don't even know what the point of posting all this was, quite honestly. I just hate seeing incorrect information propagate.

Jim the X: "I don't even... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Jim the X: "I don't even know what the point of posting all this was, quite honestly. I just hate seeing incorrect information propagate."

Ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the irony!

Ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh... (Below threshold)

Ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the irony!


That someone could post an article with this many things provably wrong in it - after pre-emptively declaring on another thread he'll delete comments that dispute - *and then* implying it's ironic for someone else to not want wrong information to propagate.

I mean, wow. That's like meta-irony.

Hate to break it you, Jim, ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Hate to break it you, Jim, but your opinion, however strong, does not count as fact.

And all you have posted, ultimately, is your opinion. Keynes was wrong in a number of important points, and most economists and people with a degree including business courses know that (cf Milton Friedman).

Seriously guy.

You flood other people's threads with claims and opinion, then imagine you have proven your case.

You fool only yourself. But then, that's actually common for a lot of folks.

I expect you'll come back with some version of snide insult or personal shot, twisting my own words in what you imagine is clever riposte. If you do follow that oh-so-predictable road, you only prove the limits of your rhetorical scope.

Then again, recent events have proven that even such limits don't keep a man from becoming, say, Senator and then Vice-President of the United States. So I guess you have something to shoot for.

Good luck with that.

Hate to break it you, Ji... (Below threshold)

Hate to break it you, Jim, but your opinion. however strong, is not fact.

Certainly. Neither is yours. However, I do try to back up my opinion with facts and reasoning, and admit when I am wrong proven wrong.

Keynes was wrong, and most economists and people with a degree including business courses know that

Except according to the majority of economists and economic historians, specifically regarding FDR's Keynesian policies hauling us out of the Great Depression. As I've cited, multiple times, and here again:


Care to prove me wrong? Cite a poll of economists that shows the opposite. Since Keynesian is so completely disproven, that should be easy for you.

(cf Milton Friedman).

...the number one antagonist to Keynes, whose policies were followed by the first Bush as well as the second, leading in both cases to recessions that increased deficits without providing anywhere near the economic recovery and expansion of FDR and Bush.

If facts matter to you.

Seriously guy.


You flood other people's threads with claims and opinion, then imagine you have proven your case.

How dare I challenge statements that are provably wrong? Dastardly!

I expect you'll come back with some version of snide insult or personal shot, twisting my own words in what you imagine is clever riposte.

Nah, I only like to do that when others insult me first.

Then again, recent events have proven that even such limits don't keep a man from becoming, say, Senator and then Vice-President of the United States. So I guess you have something to shoot for.

I guess that was some sort of an attempt at an insult. But, you know what? This time, I'll even let that pass.

Here's the deal:

I know you don't want to ideologically accept that FDR and Bill Clinton did well for this country, and that Obama's policies for this country are far better than GWB's.

I am just not into letting you do it, in defiance of what I think are pretty clear facts which are backed by experts.

Good job, Mr X, both here a... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Good job, Mr X, both here and at your own website.

Thanks for making me look p... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Thanks for making me look psychic, Jim. You did exactly what I predicted you would do.

* sigh *

The funny thing, Jim, is you don't seem to see the effect of your own efforts. Over time, what a person writes sticks around and builds their reputation. You may not realize it, but Kevin brought the writers here at Wizbang on board two ways - they were either well-established writers at other blogs, or well-respected commenters here at Wizbang. Almost none of us are professional writers or directly involved in political campaigns. Yet the site is successful on many levels, on the strength of the writers' posts. Certainly our bias is right-of-center, but we pull in a very healthy readership. And while I am far from the best writer here, I carry my weight. You are free to disagree with my opinion, but my ratings tend to be solid, and in this article you may note that there have been 17 retweets - people pay attention to what I write.

With that in mind, I wonder if you realize the way you come across. Sure, you have your supporters, but they are people who already agreed with your position and don't mind a juvenile sneer if it attacks a position they can't defeat with reason. You seem to feel obsessed with posting over and over again, taking over every thread which says something you dislike. And in this post, as in so many others, you have not in fact 'proven me wrong', as opinion may counter other opinion but not trump it. In fact, having read your own site I have to say you have failed to respond fully, even using your love of Keynes. You failed to demonstrate, for example, how Morgenthau's observation is wrong just because you believe in Keynes. You failed to answer Jim M's observation regarding Risk, or Jim Addison's point regarding deficit spending, and your insistence that FDR and Carter should not be blamed for economic conditions during their terms actually works against your argument, since Keynes' contentions included the claim that government could and should take effective action which would show results in the short term. You have undone your own argument. That collapse on your part does not prove me correct, of course, but it certainly does nothing close to working against my argument either.

You failed to demo... (Below threshold)
You failed to demonstrate, for example, how Morgenthau's observation is wrong just because you believe in Keynes.

No, actually, I *did* demonstrate why. You just didn't like my answer. Nor has anyone demonstrated the opposite case: why Morgenthau's observation trumps FDR's views AND that of the majority of later economist and economic historians.

your insistence that FDR and Carter should not be blamed for economic conditions during their terms

That is not what I said at all. I am saying that FDR *improved* conditions that were already awful *when he came in*. So trying to blame him for the fact that the economy wasn't instantly healed - while **ignoring** the fact that his policy's **did** heal the economy - is ridiculous.

Second, Carter also inherited economic problem's - but I clearly note that his policies were not effective for specific reasons: that he didn't invest in programs that put the poor and middle class to work, he mostly worked with monetary policy. I also note that, even though he only worked with monetary policy, it *did* show results in the short term - unfortunately, the trough of the recovery was while he was beginning to campaign. You can go and read that response again, if you like.

Finally, I didn't respond to Jim M's statement at risk, nor I think the Jim Addison post regarding deficit spending, because I didn't see either statement directed at me. If I'm wrong, please give me the numbers of those posts so I know exactly which ones you're referring to.

There's a number of other factually incorrect things with your post, as gone into at length elsewhere.

But in any case, I hope this discussion at least brought some interesting facts to light. It certainly has caused me to research some interesting history.

Re: # 33 - thanks, Bruce He... (Below threshold)

Re: # 33 - thanks, Bruce Henry. :)

Now to get back to work and hope I don't fired for all of this writing about the economy and unemployment.

Oh, and DJ, as to not respo... (Below threshold)

Oh, and DJ, as to not responding fully on my own site - I have to say I heartily disagree.

Please tell me, either on here or there, which statement I did not fully respond to in my response to this article.

So many words from you, and... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

So many words from you, and yet so little comprehension, Jim.

1 - You have presented your opinion ad nauseum. You like your opinion, I know, but for all that your opinion is only your opinion.

2 - The context of their statements shows that Jim M and Jim A were both speaking to you. You are, after all, the only person arguing I am wrong to any significant degree. Bruce Henry is cheering you, but applause does not even rise to the level of stated opinion.

3 - You have failed to respond to me in substance (see point 1), so I really do not see the purpose in answering your extended rant. I have stated my piece clearly here, and while you are not obliged to agree, neither am I obliged to respond to a rhetorical vacuum.

4 - In closing, two thoughts. You are more effective when you can manage to resist your compulsion to sneer and insult. I think you will gain more support when you can present your arguments cleanly and without rancor. And two, you have demonstrated an inconstant application of time. You seem on the one hand to blame one party's leaders for not being able to instantly correct situations, while granting an endless extension of waiting time for your own side. As I mentioned, Keynes' own prescriptions were designed to show rapid effects, and therefore the absence of such works against his claims. A bit of consistency in your standards would also improve their credibility.

1 - You have presented y... (Below threshold)

1 - You have presented your opinion ad nauseum. You like your opinion, I know, but for all that your opinion is only your opinion.

You have presented your opinion also. What you refuse to recognize is the tiebreaker for any reasonable conflict of opinions: the facts and the observed analysis of those facts by impartial experts. [ Sorry Jim, but your BizzaroWorld rules do not apply here - DJ ]

2 - The context of their statements shows that Jim M and Jim A were both speaking to you.

Then show me the specific numbers of those comments you're referring to, and I'll respond to those. I expect my other comments have covered the same ground as responses to those - but I am happy to respond. [go look up 'context' - DJ ]

3 - You have failed to respond to me in substance (see point 1), so I really do not see the purpose in answering your extended rant.

I have responded, and you have refused to accept my response. Which is your choice. I don't see much further purpose in this discussion, so at least we agree there.

4 - In closing, two thoughts. You are more effective when you can manage to resist your compulsion to sneer and insult.

I agree for the same re: you. I think you would also benefit from looking at what I am responding to when I "sneer and insult". I think it's pretty clear that any such action of mine is mocking your previous insult or sneer at me. Juvenile to respond, perhaps - but I see no reason to take childish abuse if it's going to be presented to me in such frequency by you. [ uh-huh, as expected. Be well, then - DJ ]

You seem on the one hand to blame one party's leaders for not being able to instantly correct situations, while granting an endless extension of waiting time for your own side.

I don't agree with this at all, and if we're going to continue this I'd like a clear example. [ go back and read, or - really - ask someone who is not wearing your team colors to look at your comments, all of them - DJ ]

As I mentioned, Keynes' own prescriptions were designed to show rapid effects, and therefore the absence of such works against his claims.

Some sort of vague and subjective definition as "rapid" does nothing to prove or disprove whether Keynesian policies, and thus FDR's and Bill Clinton's, worked. What shows they worked is what happened when they were used, and what didn't happen when they weren't. [ agaiin, your subjective opinion is not the same thing as fact. Doesn't prove you wrong, but then you're the only one claiming to have proven or disproven anything - DJ ]

A bit of consistency in your standards would also improve their credibility.

If you care about credibility, you might consider the same. Since there are a number of things proven wrong in this very article, that you have not responded to and will apparently not correct. [ again, the parrot act is predictable but does not build your stature - DJ ]

But a good day to you, and I hope that you will find it worthwhile to have your writing be more accurate in the future. [ about as close to courtesy as you've managed in more than a week. NIce effort! - DJ ]

And now you're stooping to ... (Below threshold)

And now you're stooping to editing my comments? OK.

- I'm sorry citing facts and figures to you is "Bizzarro World". Can't do anything about that.

- I'm not surprised you refuse to point out which of these other people's comments you're alleging I'm not answering, OR which statements of show I'm "granting endless extensions". You apparently have a problem with producing facts when challenged. I can't do anything about that either.

- I'm not surprised, sadly, that you're refusing to admit the economy improved under FDR and Bill Clinton. I wish I was surprised. I can't do anything about that either.

- I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "the parrot act" - unless you mean, continuing to repeat facts and expert analyses that prove you wrong because you refuse to acknowledge them.

- Finally, if you want courtesy, you should perhaps refrain from insulting people first. But, once again, good day.






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Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

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In Memorium: HughS

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