Sincere Question For “Keynesians”

I asked this in the preceding post but here’s a sincere question for all “Keynesians” who believe in “Keynesianism”, and who genuinely believe in something called “stimulus”:

Why wouldn’t a Moon Program count as “stimulus”? Why wouldn’t a Anything Program count as “stimulus”?

With a Moon Program, the government would be spending money. On something. And at least some of the money would conceivably be ultimately used to pay for some jobs. Isn’t that “stimulus”? As far as I can tell it meets all the criteria for being “stimulus” (let’s tick off the criteria: government spending money? – check; on something? – check; at least some jobs conceivably resulting? – check).

So then why is President Obama stupidly (and, perhaps worse, unkeynesianly) forcing through this giant anti-”stimulus” measure (scrapping the moon program)? I thought he, and you guys, totally believed in “stimulus”. Because of how seriously true and correct “Keynesianism” totally is. In particular, you all totally believe that (under certain vaguely-defined circumstances, i.e. if “there’s a crisis” or perhaps a “liquidity trap”) it’s an unalloyed good for the government to spend a wad of money. (On something.)

The Moon Program is something. Isn’t it?

Please help me understand. I know I’m not as reality-based and Scientific (and Keynesian) as all y’all who learned about “Keynesianism” in a Unit in your giant large-print economics textbook in your undergraduate econ class, but I’m trying. I want to understand. How can Obama be doing this, and going back on the utterly scientific and unquestionably correct “Keynesian” principles you all hold so dear? Why aren’t you crying out at this betrayal?

Instead of scrapping the Moon Program, shouldn’t we be getting more Moon Program? If there was a plan to go back to the Moon once, how about let’s plan to do it twice. Ten times! Better yet, let’s set up a Mars Program, a Jupiter Program, a Uranus Program, a Pluto Program while we’re at it.

Wouldn’t any of those count as “stimulus”? Which ones wouldn’t, and why not?

I know that the subtleties and intricacies of “Keynesianism” and “stimulus” are lost on a dummy like me. But at least give me some credit: I want to understand. I want to learn. I want to be a better, smarter person. Like all y’all “Keynesians”.

Why You’re A Racist

You may recall that there was a time, way way back in 2006-2008, when lefties pretended to care about high spending and the deficit (“Bush is spending so much on Iraq!”). LOL.

Of course that was before the events of late 2008 (in particular, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, and the Canadian CDO-based asset-backed commercial paper market froze and had to be restructured, stuff which I’m sure the average person totally understands why that was so very bad for them) all of which empirically proved the most ultra-dumbed-down Keynesianism that can be spouted by the likes of well-known economics expert Matthew Yglesias, and super-scientific formulas like “MV=PY”, to be 100% correct and meaningful. Thus the left, because they’re so scientific and reality-based, instantaneously stopped pretending to care about budget deficits and just as instantaneously started believing that all government spending (on stuff) is good and the more government spending (on whatever) the better. Anyone who disagreed with them was a stupid idiot who just didn’t understand the highly advanced undergraduate explanations of dumbed-down Keynesianism.

Now, don’t be confused by the fact that amidst all this, President Obama does things like announce “freezes” in such-and-such areas of the budget. You might think that given that dumbed-down Keynesian is so correct, any sort of budget “freeze” whatsoever is bad, thus there is a contradiction. Well, just stop thinking about that and being so logical. That’s not doing anyone a bit of good. Besides: you’re a racist!

UPDATE: And now Obama’s going to cut NASA and defund any future moon program. This, of course, makes no sense to a consistent undergraduate-Keynesian like economics MV=PY expert Matthew Yglesias. (Why wouldn’t a moon program count as “stimulus”? Why wouldn’t a anything program count as “stimulus”?) But it all makes perfect sense as long as you just accept the doublethink principle that whatever President Obama decides to do or not do is (even when patently self-contradictory) great and consistent and logical, i.e. as long as you’re not a racist. WHICH YOU ARE.

Reality Keeps On Biting

Keynesianism is idiotic, pass it on.

Indeed, I’ve found that a very effective way to shut up and humble a lefty is to remind him of the idiotic notions he supported of “stimulus”, in the guise of amateurish “Keynesianism”, just a few months ago – and then point to reality. Reality like the graph below.

It’s wonderful yet depressing, and in a way strangely disorienting, to have been so thoroughly vindicated in my undisguised venom for everything the government has done to the economy in the past year or so. I am being THOROUGHLY, UNDENIABLY proven right by reality here, each and every day. That is not exactly a familiar feeling to me :-)



Catching up on posts I’ve starred.

  1. Patrick J. Michaels in a podcast:

    Either it seems you think the world is coming to an end from climate change, and pronto, or you say there is no such thing as climate change.…Now it’s gotten to the point where if you say climate change is real, but it’s not the end of the world, both poles of the debate get angry at you.…But, in fact, that is the truth: climate change is real; it’s modest. It’s proceeding at a rate that is below the statistical rates predicted by the climate models; in other words, those models are in the process of failing.

    My 2.1 regular readers know what I think about those models.

  2. Obama’s foreign policy as “Facebook diplomacy”:

    The focus here is on amassing “friends.” It matters not that you share no ideals or goals with these “friends.” The important thing is to collect them so that everyone can see how loved you are. You suspend judgement or discernment of any kind, and just “friend” everyone. Then you send your “friends” virtual goodies and wait for them to reciprocate.

    The only real thing about any of it is the time lost to silliness.

  3. The ‘Obama Bear Market’. It’s amazing, just six months ago, if the market was doing poorly, this was a valid reason to criticize the President, according to all the Smart People. I’ve been listening to people (a) whine about the economy and (b) blame President Bush over it, for practically the entire past 8 years. And the economy was doing well! It was in a freaking bubble! People were rich!

    Suddenly, those same Smart People, in the midst of a much much worse market, can find no words of critique for the President whatsoever. I wonder what has changed? Oh, right. Stupid question.

  4. Arnold Kling gives us Rachel Kling’s one-sentence summary of every sociology course: “There’s poverty and America sucks.”.

    I can take this further; I once observed that a sizable chunk of social-science education could be summarized by putting six letters (and some punctuation) on a chalkboard: “USA: Bad.” Just put that up, have the students look at it and copy it down, and then send them home. Think of all the man-hours, resources, and paper this would save!

  5. A commenter to Michael Totten asks a rhetorical question:

    I mean, how stupid are these guys? Do they think the reason why France & Germany didn’t join us in Iraq is because we weren’t nice to them– or that Britain joined us because we *were* nice to them?

    I’ll answer that: yes. Yes that’s exactly what some people on the left think. Or rather, it’s what they pretend to think, for the purpose of winning political arguments. (I’m not sure certain people know the difference.)

  6. Let me explain how the calculus works inside the heads of people, mostly on the left, who (unlike me) are paying close attention to The Great Jim Cramer-Jon Stewart debate of 2009:

    1. I’m a “progressive”.
    2. So, I like Obama, because Obama’s “progressive”. (After all he’s black and skinny and upper-class! He reminds me of the one black kid at my junior high. Anyone who was friends with him was automatically cool.)
    3. Obama did some stuff, like ‘Stimulus’, that I don’t know much about or have real arguments for, but Obama did it so it must be good.
    4. I heard someone latch onto “Keynsianism” as a justification for the policy, whatever it is, so I’ll just use that. The important thing is to unthinkingly defend the policy (whatever it is) against all criticism.
    5. Some guy named Jim Cramer on CNBC, which I’ve never watched before, criticized Obama. Obama! Therefore, regardless of the substance of the criticism, he must be STOPPED.
    6. Jon Stewart made fun of Jim Cramer? THAT’S AWESOME!!!!1 HA HA!!! Please keep making fun of people who criticize Obama, Jon Stewart, you’re my favorite! I’m totally linking that. Everyone go see a comedian make fun of someone who criticized Obama!

    Same thing happened to Sarah Palin and “Joe the Plumber”. Political debate conducted almost entirely through reflexive, unthinking ridicule and Comedy Central. That’s where we are.

    *Oh, sorry, I forgot to refer to the people with the preceding thought process as “the reality-based community”.

  7. The underappreciated scientific approach of Seth Roberts, in six words: “cheap frequent tests of something important”.
  8. We Giants fans have our problems with Barry Zito, and legitimately so, but just try to read this without tearing up.


Work-starred = starred at work, for the uninitiated.

  1. Mario Rizzo has a great article explaining that all these “Keynesians”, who think Keynesianism supports the Obama ‘stimulus’ approach, don’t actually seem to have read or understood Keynes. Not altogether surprising now that I think about it.
  2. The Anti-Bono: A foxy African economist explains why “aid” to Africa sucks. Here’s a taste:

    What do you think has held back Africans?
    I believe it’s largely aid.

    I love it. :-) At least go look at the picture.

    (HT corner Derb)

  3. Some people actually think grades should be based on “effort”. The mind boggles. I had to read the following part twice to make sure I was reading what I thought I was reading, and I still can’t quite believe that any halfway intelligent person holds this view:

    “I think putting in a lot of effort should merit a high grade,” Mr. Greenwood said. “What else is there really than the effort that you put in?”

    “If you put in all the effort you have and get a C, what is the point?” he added. “If someone goes to every class and reads every chapter in the book and does everything the teacher asks of them and more, then they should be getting an A like their effort deserves. If your maximum effort can only be average in a teacher’s mind, then something is wrong.

  4. Important issue: the differences between Isla Fisher and Amy Adams. I once watched a whole movie starring Isla Fisher (Definitely, Maybe) thinking it was Amy Adams, the girl from Enchanted.
  5. Cobb actually made me laugh at work, which is worth bonus points:

    I have yet to see any comment on any blog noticing how ridiculous it is that there are commercials on television featuring talking babies that buy and trade securities. Think about it. How stupid are we? That stupid. My hat’s off to the marketing geniuses at ETrade. You are selling snow to eskimoes, no, you are selling salt and pepper to the grigoes in the cannibal stew pot. What a country! PT Barnum would be proud.

What Happened To “The Multiplier”?

Yahoo news seems to have made itself into a useful conduit for administration trial balloons and spin. Here’s a top story now: Obama plans to slash deficit in half.

Hold on. What? Cut the deficit?


I thought we were all Keynesians now! I thought it had been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Keynes was in fact correct in his ultrascientific macroeconomic theories, rather than wrong and antiquated and steeped in 1930s-1950s thinking that served Britain oh so well in its socialism.


After all, as we all now agree, there’s such a thing as a “multiplier”! (And it’s not a phony oversimplification at all.) And this multiplier has been tested and measured and it’s greater than one. Always. In English this means that the more money the government spends, the richer we all get. Which is one of the most scientific concepts I’ve ever heard of! (Because Keynesianism is, as I’ve said and wish to reiterate without any sarcasm whatsoever, totally scientific.)

But so then if the “multiplier” is bigger than 1, why would we ever want to reduce the deficit? Deficits are great. The bigger the deficit, the more money the government is spending (which is good!) relative to revenues. Reducing the deficit is bad according to Keynesianism.

That’s what we all supposedly now believe, because it was supposedly proven in September of last year, when the crisis spiked, conveniently right before the election!

What gives?

Ok, let me just read the article….oh wait, what’s this?:

The official … said the deficit will be shrunk by scaling back Iraq war spending, ending the temporary tax breaks enacted by the Bush administration for those making $250,000 or more a year, and streamlining government.

Oh. Oh I see. Oh yes I get it now.

Here’s another way this article could have been headlined:

“Obama plans to scale back Iraq war funding.” (But why? What about the “multiplier”? Spend spend spend, the more the better. Spending on the Iraq war = jobs for munitions factory workers and the like. Right?)

Or: “Obama plans to raise taxes on the high tax bracket.”

Or: “Obama plans to ‘streamline government’”, except “streamlining government” is a bogusly vague concept they tossed in there that doesn’t really mean anything.

Anyway, all this really proves is that – just as nobody really cares about “the deficit” when they find spending they like – it also seems that none of these newly-spun Keynesians really believe in “the multiplier” when they find spending they don’t.

P.S. Notice how once again we are treated to the “words=deeds” thinking of the Obama administration. A whole news story gets spun out of the (meaningless) fact that Obama “plans to” cut the deficit in half. Will he actually do it, in practice? Does anyone really believe that? Doesn’t matter! He “plans to”. Good enough for me.

Or at least, for most people.


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