I am pleased not to have had any knowledge of this Lil Wayne degenerate until now.
Rod Dreher, “Sizzurp,” The American Conservative, March 29, 2013
Oh conservatives. Is this what Jonah Goldberg envisioned when he said you should leave pop culture to the liberals?
Also, in the comments on the Dreher post, from MH - Secular Misanthropist:
I never heard of him before, but this isn’t a big achievement as I live under a rock with respect to pop culture. My only awareness comes third hand from TV shows and music my kids watch (which are still fairly juvenile) . But if one of the ponies from Equestria makes the news I’ll know all about it.
…after peaking in 2009 at $1.4 trillion, the deficit began coming down. The Congressional Budget Office expects the deficit for fiscal 2013 (which began in October and is almost half over) to be $845 billion. That may still sound like a big number, but given the state of the economy it really isn’t.
Bear in mind that the budget doesn’t have to be balanced to put us on a fiscally sustainable path; all we need is a deficit small enough that debt grows more slowly than the economy. To take the classic example, America never did pay off the debt from World War II — in fact, our debt doubled in the 30 years that followed the war. But debt as a percentage of G.D.P. fell by three-quarters over the same period.
Right now, a sustainable deficit would be around $460 billion. The actual deficit is bigger than that. But according to new estimates by the budget office, half of our current deficit reflects the effects of a still-depressed economy. The “cyclically adjusted” deficit — what the deficit would be if we were near full employment — is only about $423 billion, which puts it in the sustainable range; next year the budget office expects that number to fall to just $172 billion. And that’s why budget office projections show the nation’s debt position more or less stable over the next decade.
So we do not, repeat do not, face any kind of deficit crisis either now or for years to come.
Paul Krugman, “Dwindling Deficit Disorder,” New York Times, March 10.
Does this come as a total surprise to anyone else? Another question this raises—are most of the people who talk about the state of the economy on TV news networks totally ignorant? I don’t understand why I’m not hearing this anywhere else.
I’ve been seeing this argument around — I’d have to look a bit closer before I jump fully on board — but the basic principles seem sound. But are the TV talking heads actually ignorant?
- Maybe. Some of them are operating from different economic principles than Krugman, so they get different answers. Are their economic principles reasonable? On paper, sure. As applied to the current situation, perhaps less so.
- But also, some of them really are ignorant. Commentators who think they understand a bit about economics, but don’t really, tend to pathologize deficits. They don’t understand that just because deficits are often bad, that doesn’t mean deficits are always bad, or all deficits are equally bad. So, for instance, they don’t consider the difference between a structural deficit and the big scary number the Republicans have on their debt clock. (Which, n.b., is a debt, not a deficit.)
- There’s a strong tendency amongst commentators, politicans, and the public to treat deficits as a sign of not merely poor policy, but of moral failure. We have a strong ethical sense that a society of responsible adults should not spend more than it borrows: that thrift is virtuous and profligacy a sign of weakness. That’s not how economics works though — it’s not a morality play. A lot of sensible economic policy sounds paradoxical if you look at it through a moral lens.
- I suspect overzealous commentators are pretending real future problems are non-real current problems, either to focus attention on an issue they think isn’t getting its due or because they don’t understand that the problems aren’t real yet. The skewed proportion of the US economy devoted to health care spending, coupled with changing demographics, is a problem for America, and addressing deficits will be a part of solving that. It’s not the problem right now though, which is something everyone who wants to talk about it should remember.
- Also — and here’s why I’ll need to look a bit closer at Krugman et al’s argument — I’m not sure that the US deficit is innocuous. The Bush tax cuts are still largely in place, and they blew a hole in the budget because, as a result, the government stopped collecting enough revenue. I don’t see the US growing its way into making those tax cuts responsible. The deficit from the stimulus doesn’t matter. Maybe even the deficits from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars won’t matter. But the Bush tax cuts were a structural change and I’m not persuaded they were a sustainable one.