Sunday, August 21, 2011

There is no real difference between Republicans and Democrats...

Everyone in politics has someone to support. That's how you get power. Just hire out to one 'special interest' or another.

Stimulus thinking: Adventures in tea-party cognitive dissonance | The Economist
But what's amazing here, obviously, is that Mr Phillips is justifying building aircraft carriers because government spending creates jobs and stimulates the economy. And he's right about that! But it seems that there are no other things the government spends money on, apart from defence, that Mr Phillips believes can stimulate the economy. He appears to believe that while government spending on aircraft carriers leads to workers getting hired, spending their paychecks, and helping the recovery, government spending on highways, high-speed rail, education, and health care does not. Meanwhile, Mr Phillips also believes, as he argued in a Washington Post op-ed last week, that the government shouldn't borrow any more money, because that's leading us to economic ruin, like Greece. And he believes that the government shouldn't raise taxes, because that kills jobs. So where is the money supposed to come from? We're left with one possibility: Mr Phillips believes that we should build more aircraft carriers to stimulate the economy, and fund it by cutting other government spending programmes. But obviously when you cut other government spending programmes, the people who were working for those programmes lose their jobs, stop receiving paychecks, and stop spending money, which harms the recovery. And then there's the question of how many $2.6m prostitute-safe-drinking programmes you can find to cut. You need 3,500 of them to fund your $9 billion aircraft carrier.

The tea-party movement has spent the past year arguing that stimulus doesn't work and cannot, by nature, create more jobs or economic activity. The idea that a major tea-party figure can turn around and make a bog-standard argument for defence spending on Keynesian grounds testifies to a startling capacity for cognitive dissonance. I'm impressed. And just to make it clear: I believe that it is absolutely worthwhile to explore whether Chinese prostitutes would be less likely to contract HIV if they learned some techniques and habits to avoid becoming drunk in encounters with clients, and I have every confidence that the money for the programme Mr Phillips attacks was awarded in a proper merit-based fashion.

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