Here are a few items I’ve thought about posting about, but never got around to:
First, I’d like to congratulate the Cato Institute for submitting this
ad to major newspapers debunking the claim that there’s near-unanimous consensus among respected economists that a package like the one the House recently passed is necessary and productive for economic recovery. It’s a lie, and Cato making that widely known is a great service to the debate.
Speaking of the stimulus, one of the best commentaries on it that I’ve seen recently is this one by Steve Horwitz. Among other things, Horwitz points out that this bill is, for economic libertarians, similar to what the Patriot Act was for civil libertarians…
Just as the Patriot Act was a bunch of laws waiting for a political “crisis,” so is much of the stimulus package a bunch of programs waiting for an economic “crisis.” The current crisis is just a convenient excuse.
Best of all his his “Bottom Line”:
The more that those of us who are skeptical continue to even refer to this as a “stimulus” plan, the more we play into the other side’s hands. This isn’t a stimulus package, it’s a whole bunch of programs designed to extend the state’s role in the economy and in our personal lives, and to do so at enormous cost to us, and to our children and grandchildren. Let’s challenge the rhetoric of fear and crisis and name this for what it is: the current majority’s attempt to do exactly what the Bush Administration did post-9/11, which is to use fear and crisis to pass programs that will impoverish us and curtail our freedoms, and to do so with the minimum of serious debate possible.
So, I’m with Will Wilkinson and now think of this as the Economic Patriot Act.
Speaking of Wilkinson, I’d like to second his recognition for our need of “cynics”.
“Trash the cynic” is a stock tactic of popular politicians, used to weaken remaining resistance to their agenda. The admiring public gets a warm sense of cohesive uplift while the loyal opposition is cast in an unflattering light: outmoded, small-spirited, irrelevant. Those who would argue are made to look petty—whether or not they have a good point. Obama is a master of this game. And George W. Bush was no slouch when he, too, had a gale of popular opinion at his back and a mandate to “do something” in a season of crisis.
Obama’s convictions clash with Bush’s. They disagree. And many Americans disagree with Obama and stand in the way of his big plans. There is no cynicism in pressing the argument. Lively public debate annoys the partisan fixed on the main chance. But in a crisis like this, the last thing we need is another blank check. We need balance. We need those who will push back. Call them cynics, if you must.