Arnold Kling makes the analogy. A few weeks ago, Instapundit either quoted an email, or linked to someone who said that the government stimulus package was like an ugly, clumsy person performing a lewd dance. The intent is to stimulate, but the effect is the opposite.
Some sobering thoughts on the financial future. We have to get spending (particularly entitlements) under control. And socialized health care is one of the worst things we could do in that regard.
[Update a few minutes later]
Some thoughts on the disaster that was the New Deal:
The New Deal tripled taxes, which meant consumers had less money to spend and employers had less money for hiring; a number of New Deal laws made it more expensive for employers to hire people, which also meant less hiring; New Deal soak-the-rich taxes discouraged investment, and it’s almost impossible to create private-sector jobs without investment.
Other policies hurt Americans in other ways. Several New Deal laws banned discounting, when desperate people needed bargains; the New Deal authorized the destruction of food when people were hungry; the New Deal established hundreds of cartels and monopolies; the New Deal centralized the power of the Federal Reserve, and the Fed’s first major policy decision was a blunder that brought on a crisis within a crisis (the depression of 1938); the New Deal broke up the strongest banks and did nothing about laws that prevented thousands of banks from diversifying their depositor bases and their loan portfolios (Canada didn’t have these laws, and it went through the Great Depression without a bank failure).
Unfortunately, we just put a lot of people in power who want to (or at least claim to want to) do it over again.
Larry Kudlow (ever the optimist) has some thoughts, and advice for Republicans.
My biggest concern is that there’s still a big housing overhang, with adjustables coming due over the next year, which will continue to exacerbate the real-estate market and finance.
It would be nice to say that I was surprised by Richardson’s…errrr…issues. But I wasn’t.
For one thing, it was hardly news. But it’s also not like this is anything new. There have been lots of shady behavior and associations with the New Mexico governor, going back to his stint in the Clinton administration. He probably didn’t know why the White House wanted him to find a job for former intern Monica Lewinsky, but unless he was stupid, he had to have figured out (at least after interviewing her) that it wasn’t because she was going to light the UN on fire with her diplomatic skills and encyclopedic knowledge of world affairs (though other types of affairs wouldn’t have been out of the question).
And as I noted a few weeks ago, when a state is characterized by insiders as “Lousiana with chiles,” it’s unlikely that the governor himself isn’t in the thick of the corruption. It also makes one wonder what kinds of deals that Virgin Galactic had to cut, perhaps partly under the table, to get the lease agreement signed. If so, was this really the Great
WhiteHispanic Hope for commercial space, in Washington or elsewhere?
Anyway, Jonah Goldberg has some more impressions from his book tour:
With the exception of Bill Clinton, it’s difficult to think of a major politician who has been plagued more persistently by troubling rumors of all sorts. When I was in New Mexico not long ago, it felt like I was visiting Little Rock in the way everyone had a sketchy story, theory or little-known fact. Some was very vague, some of it was clearly over the top, and some of it was quite plausible. My guess, and this is only a guess, is that Obama has dodged a bullet here.
Of course, the question is why did it take so long for the bullet dodging to occur? How did he get the nomination in the first place? Should the president-elect blame it on bad staff again? Why can’t this guy find good help? As a reader at Instapundit writes: “They told me if I voted for McCain, I’d have a President who didn’t properly vet his nominees –- and they were right!”
[Update early afternoon]
Pejman Yousafzadeh has some useful thoughts on a replacement:
The Richardson withdrawal represents a remarkable stumble by a transition process that has been notable until now for its sure-footedness and its ability to garner praise from both Democrats and Republicans for the professionalism of its execution and for the quality of its appointees. It promoted the president-elect to say that Richardson “would have brought to the job of commerce secretary and our economic team great insights accumulated through an extraordinary career in federal and state office,” just before throwing Richardson under the bus. To this comment, my RedState colleague Francis Cianfrocca replies: “That makes me feel wonderful! Hey Mr. Obama, how about picking a Commerce Secretary with great insights accumulated though an extraordinary career in COMMERCE?” It’s not a bad idea. One of the commerce secretary’s responsibilities is to be an advocate for the formulation and implementation of trade policies and nowadays, the political class doesn’t seem to have the first clue how best to conduct trade policy. One would think that with the memory of the misguided Smoot-Hawley tariff — one of the epic fails of the 20th century — still relatively fresh in our minds, we would not veer towards protectionism. And yet, we see that the incoming Obama administration sought to counterbalance the appointment of a pro-free trade United States trade representative in Ron Kirk with the appointment of the anti-free trade — and pro-card check — Hilda Solis to the Labor Department. Given this antediluvian personnel appointment, we need a commerce secretary who has both read and understands the powerful point behind Frederic Bastiat’s most famous parody, but since the president-elect seems determined to choose his commerce secretary from the ranks of government rather than from the ranks of those who actually have firsthand experience with, you know, commerce, I’m not optimistic on this front.
Neither am I. Let’s hope for a surprise.
This CBS report says that Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius is on the short list to replace him as the nominee. I have no idea what that means for space commerce.
Fox News is reporting that Bill Richardson is withdrawing from the Obama cabinet as Secretary of Commerce, probably over his pay-to-play problem. He was perceived by the space community as someone who would provide full support for the department for commercial space, based on his record of supporting space tourism and related ventures as governor of New Mexico. I wonder if the transition team had some backups to go to, or if it will be a while before we know who will replace him?
[Update a couple minutes later]
Jeff Foust is already on the case, with linkage.
Iain Murray says that he won’t miss this year. It was pretty amazing in the vastness of its suckitude.
Leonard David has a year-end report.
…in the media business, when Nat Hentoff is laid off from the Village Voice. He was an institution in his own right, after fifty years.
Arnold Kling vents:
De Rugy and the others also mention my other frustrations. First, that the Republican Party betrayed libertarians so badly on this issue. Second, that the media portrayed opponents of the bailout as unserious and ideological. Bernanke, Geithner, and Paulson were hailed as saviors, even though they could just have easily been portrayed as bumblers. The whole thing was portrayed as government having no choice but to come in and clean up the private sector’s mess, rather than an ill-conceived attempt to stop markets from adjusting to a mess that was created by a combination of market failure and government failure. Third, that even though much of the public instinctively and correctly opposed the bailout, it sailed through without costing Congressmen their seats.
The one upbeat commentator is Len Gilroy. He thinks that the high level of indebtedness of government will force politicians to scale back spending and to privatize. I’m sorry, but he comes off sounding like Mary Poppins on laughing gas.
As a commenter notes, the only hope is that a lot of non-libertarians are outraged, too. I hope it doesn’t end in riots, but I hope it ends.